The Easternmost city of the continental U.S. is the little coastal town of Lubec Maine. The town is home to fishermen, marinas, a couple of restaurants and (in the summer) tourists. Amber and I visited there after visiting Acadia as the completion of one journey and the beginning of another. It was the completion of the cross county trek we began in January as we could go no farther East and remain in the U.S. (The road East out-of-town crossed the narrows and onto Campobello Island, Canada.) It was the beginning of another journey – as we headed West out-of-town – as we will be traveling West clear to China! The last building on the East end of town was the combination customs office and post office located next to the bridge to Canada. We stopped there to mail a post card to my dad. A postal worker just happened to be picking up the mail at that moment and I was able to deliver it to her personally. Yep, we got to send a post card from the Easternmost post office in the Easternmost building, of the Easternmost city in the U.S.! Woohoo! And if that were not good enough, we found the Lubec Brewing Company open on that Thursday afternoon and got to chat with a few wonderful locals. Yep, we found the Easternmost brewery in the Easternmost city and sampled the Easternmost beer made in the U.S.! Woohoo!After spending the night a couple of hours inland, we headed West toward Canada and hit the little town of Coburn Gore in the ski and recreation area just on the US side of the border. The region was full of chalets and A-frames, and lots of enchanting looking places built for the mountain snows. That is a region we definitely want to visit again when we have time to linger! We got gas at a little convenience store there and chatted with the attendant about the region and weather. She had one of the most Maine-like accents we have heard yet. We passed through the quiet little Route 27 border crossing and noticed a few things right away.
The first thing I noticed was that the little kilometer per hour markings on my dashboard were way too small to read without the glasses I do not wear while driving. Amber looked up a miles to kilometers converter on her phone and we made a little cheat sheet on the back of a couple of our business cards to set on the dash so I could keep the kph in legal limits.
The second thing I noticed, of course, was that all the road signs were in French. And unlike the rest of Canada were they are posted first in English and then in French, here in Quebec they are in French – French only. Even the picture based road signs seemed like they were in French! We made our first gas stop and noticed something else. Everybody was speaking in French – speaking it casually – as if they spoke it everyday or something! Go figure.
We headed into Montreal and navigated the one way streets, bike friendly lanes, myriads of pedestrians and French traffic signs until we found our way to the Mile End neighborhood. We wandered the streets and took in the sights. Montreal is beautiful, varied, and rich in cultures. We passed people speaking in French, English, and at least three other languages just in the several hours we were there.
There were places to eat stuck in every other little corner, each with a unique cuisine.
We made our way to Fairmount Bagel and tried the famous sesame bagels along with the onion, chocolate and cinnamon raisin bagels. They were so good we just ate them right out of the bag while standing on the street. The bagels in Montreal are made differently than in the U.S. First, they are not as big as the ones we are used to – they are the perfect size to nibble on and not feel gross after eating the whole thing. Also, they are boiled in honey water and are wood-fired. Fairmount bagel is cranking out the sesame bagels like crazy all day, every day, to ensure their customers get fresh (and still warm!) sesame bagels. We headed West out of the city and logged a few miles before getting gas in a small road side area with not much more than a gas station, a few businesses and a surprisingly busy McDonald’s. We were really tired at this point and needed to get some sleep. The only place we could find in this little town to park was in a small parking area just behind the drive up lane at the McDonald’s. We did not realize, until after we had moved all of our gear into the front seats and had the sleeping bags rolled out in the back and had settled in to sleep, that from our location we could hear every order every Friday night drive up customer placed at the, open-all-night, drive up window.
We would hear an engine pull up to the kiosk, the speaker would crackle on, a loud voice, garbled in the classic drive up window way, would say: “bonjour”, the driver would lean out of their window and speak their order of Le Big Macs loudly into the microphone, the garbled speaker would blare it back, and the car would roar around the corner to pick up their order. And then it would start over with another loud speaker garbled “bonjour”. Did I mention it was an all night drive through?
The next morning we headed West again. It started to rain. We decided to just keep driving as long as it was raining. We thought we could log kilometers in the wet weather and stop to enjoy Canada once we had driven out of the storm. We did not stop driving until we reached the town of Spanish Ontario, on the North shore of Lake Huron (797 km/495 m). It rained a lot. We stopped in at the Spanish River Inn, weary from the road. We sat by the fire and ordered up a large serving of the classic Canadian dish, poutine. Amber had been trying to get me to try poutine for 1038 km (645 miles) and this was our opportunity! We also had the opportunity to meet our chef as I had told the waitress that this was our first experience with poutine ever and she in turn had let the chef know and he came out to meet us and wanted to know where we were from that we had never had poutine before. We had a nice time chatting with them about our travels and their Canada.We made our way into the U.S. via the spectacular Sault Ste. Marie bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The border crossing was deserted at ten o’clock that night so we had the border agent’s undivided attention. It was great! I felt very flattered that the agent took such interest in us and took the time to ask us so many questions about the details of our trip, our employment, our destination, our car’s contents, and even our relationship. When you consider how many people she must interact with every shift, it just makes me appreciate it even more that she would show such genuine interest in us. It really made us feel welcomed home!