Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Of Lighthouses and Bogs

Tuesday August 20, 2013
Sunset Point RV Park
Lubec, Maine


First some things left out from yesterday.

Yesterday’s post with two days in it was just too long to include what we did after we got back from Campobello.  But it’s worth recording.

We had dinner outside at our picnic table with our GREAT view!!!



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We saw the full moon come up in the east behind us and the sun set in the west in front of us.   Life is definitely tough right here.


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After the sunset we took a walk around the campground which we usually do as soon as we arrive but hadn’t done yet.  The pictures suffered from lack of light but you can get the picture.



This is a darling campground with:

- a sweet tenting spot right on the point.  Put your tent under one side of the shelter and your picnic table is under the other so you are all set if it rains.   I would have loved this for the 30 years we tent camped before buying Winnona.


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- ducks and loons swimming right off shore. Not sure what ducks these were, too dark to tell.  But the water sparkled around them in the sun’s afterglow.


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- the latest in arbors over looking the boat launch

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- a great boat launch for kayaks.  Someone’s boat is there waiting.


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- an excellent swing for two overlooking the water.


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- a darling pond complete with working light house and row boat.


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AND an excellent bathhouse with wonderful warm showers and a laundry where $.75 will do a load and another $.75 will dry it.


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Before I went to bed last night, I took one more shot of that big beautiful full moon.


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-BUT for the past two days it has also had a very sketchy wifi  which seems to stop working about 9pm.   This has meant that I cannot post my blog in the evening when I write it but must wait until the morning.   We have a hot spot but unless you want international roaming charges it is best not to use your cell phone or your data devices this close to the Canadian border.


We get a much later start this morning and it’s 10:00 before we talk with the nice Canadian border guard again.


Crossing over the bridge into Canada, I take this picture of our first destination Mulholland Lighthouse on Lubec Narrows.


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We stop on the road leading to the light house and I take this panorama showing the Roosevelt International bridge on the left, Lubec in the center and the Canadian lighthouse on the right.


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This light house is one hundred and fifty eight years old.


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The Mulholland Lighthouse was built in 1855 to guide small coasters and freighters taking the shorter and foul weather protected route through the narrow passage between Lubec and Campobello Island.  Steamships carrying frieght and passengers could only pass through the narrows when the tide was high.  The tides this week are 27’.  The high 27.6’ and the low .7’.  

The tower is 32 feet high and covered in cedar shingles. On top is a 12 foot red iron lantern making the total height 44 feet.  The lens was visible 4 miles away.

Navigation lights on the bridge opened in 1962 made the lighthouse obsolete and it was decommissioned by the Canadian Coast Guard in 1963 and sold to Campobello resident Clifford Calder who later sold it to the Cook family of Maine.  In 1984 the family donated it to the International Park Commission.   It is not open to the public.





Overlooking the water behind the lighthouse, there are 4 information boards from which I get all of the above information as well as a history of the town of Lubec just across the water.  If the water weren’t so cold and rough, you could easily swim from one country to the other.  Lubec is visible from the top of the stairs going down to the lower walkway closer to the water.


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Love that lighthouse but look at these seals!


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The Lubec Narrows is apparently a favorite place for Harbor and Grey seals and we see them today both from up by the light house and from down by the water. 


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We spend quite a bit of time watching the seals and taking their pictures.  Here is a SMALL sampling of what I took.  They are SO cute, I could watch them all day long.


My EXASPERATINGLY slow camera gets only two shots of this roll over and misses the little flippers on the belly shot.  RATS!


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We are watching them play and fish at this spot in the narrows. They ride the currents and swim up to them on the left.  Not sure if fish are swept down but the current is pretty swift as the tide rushes out through the narrows to the sea.


Before we move on with our day and reluctantly leave the seals, I this photograph of the light house from near the shore.  The wildflowers on the banks here are outstanding.  As you can see from this picture and the one above it.


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David takes a few last looks at the seals through the telescoping lens at the lighthouse.  At the moment he can’t locate his binoculars.  And then we are on our way.

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We take a quick side trip to see a couple more cottages.


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Yesterday we saw two of the five “cottages” saved and restored by the park service.  They are the only two open to the public.  The other three can be visited but not inside.    They, and the Hubbard Cottage,  are part of the park’s Conference Program.   I was unable to find anyone who knew anything about the conference program so I looked on the website and found this very interesting description.


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In the spirit of close and neighborly relations between the peoples of the United States and Canada, the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission developed a unique conference program as an expression of FDR’s interest in promoting goodwill and understanding. Through this program, the Commission welcomes small conferences in the kind of informal and relaxing setting that was an essential part of the Roosevelt political style. Here, men and women can examine the common issues that confront Canada and the U.S. - and the entire world - with both the seriousness and the humor President Roosevelt brought to his office and its cares.

Most conferences are international in scope and predominantly noncommercial, governmental, or academic in nature. However, for-profit groups may be accepted. Acceptance of all conferences is subject to approval by the Commission's Conference Committee. The Conference Center includes four turn-of-the-century cottages: Prince Cottage, Hubbard Cottage, Wells-Shober Cottage and Johnston Cottage. A more modern cottage, the Patterson Cottage, is also used to house conferees. These cottages have been handsomely redone and furnished to provide pleasant overnight accommodations for conference participants.





The Prince Cottage is located down a path immediately behind the Visitor’s Center.



Both the Wells-Shober Cottage and the Johnston Cottage are located across the main road on the other side from the other three cottages.





The Wells-Shober Cottage has the park’s green houses in its backyard.  I learn that there are two flower gardeners who plant and maintain all the beautiful flower gardens at each building and the fabulous dahlias in yesterday’s post.

I don’t take any pictures of the Johnston Cottage since when we come up they are working on the porch and have materials all over.  I think perhaps by early next week they will finish and we will return to take a look.  David’s maternal grandparents’ name was Johnston and they were from New York so He is hoping perhaps they are some distant relation.  Too late to do him much good now in terms of dropping in for a visit.



We do manage to get one short hike in today,  the Eagle Hill Bog trail.  Although I wouldn’t really call it a “hike”.


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It’s more of a walk on a .6 mile boardwalk with a self guiding tour.  Of course self guiding means we have to read everything about every stop.  So it takes us about an hour to walk just over half a mile.  Not bad for us actually.

The bog began as a pond in a glacially carved depression.  A cool moist climate and sphagnum moss have drastically changed that environment over the past 10,000 years.



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Sphagnum moss growing in dense mats dominates the bog.

The points on the star shaped sphagnum moss reach for moisture.  Sphagnum is a very absorbent plant, either when alive or dead, holding up to twenty times its own weight in water.  Over time, compressed subsurface sphagnum plants form layers of dark organic material called peat which is harvested in many parts of the world and used as a soil conditioner (peat moss), a building material and a fuel.

Over the centuries theses undecomposed mats become so thick that the surface vegetation no longer has contact with the ground water or with the mineral soil.  All of the water and much of the nutrition that the plants need to survive comes from the clouds in the form of rain, snow and fog.  The bog is “ombrotrophic”, or “cloud fed”.   Nature is just amazing.

All the plants here have special adaptations that allow them to grow in  a nutrient-poor, acidic, waterlogged environment.


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I see some familiar friends here in the bog, the flower of the pitcher plant gives it away.  These are nearly finished.  We saw them earlier this summer in full bloom in Vermont.  You can see the water in the “pitchers” if you look closely.  Inside each “pitcher” are several rows of tiny hairs.  These hairs point down into the pitcher and act as a fence, trapping any insects attracted into the pitchers by the plant’s nectar.  The plant releases enzymes into the water it has collected.  The enzymes aid in digesting the insects that cannot escape and that drown in the water.  From the insects the plant extracts nutrients not readily available in the bog’s poor soil.   I find this just amazing.  What a great plan!



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Throughout the bog there are some pretty sickly looking trees.  We learn that they are actually perfectly healthy black spruce as indicated by the cap of foliage at the top of the thin almost branchless trunk.  The tree’s roots grow first down into the peat and then often sprout new shorter trunks that grow toward the sun.  This often results in a pattern of concentric circles around a single tree trunk.  The concentric rings of foliage are very effective at gathering the rain and sunlight that the tree needs to survive.



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The boardwalk leads to an observation platform atop Eagle Hill.  You leave the bog and enter a forest on the way to the platform. 

A long set of steps takes you up to the platform from which we are told to look out and see the edges of the bog as it encroaches upon the neighboring forest.


After the flat terrain of the boardwalk, these stairs seem very steep.



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I would think the edges of the bog we are looking for should be visible to the naked eye.  Not to me.  David looks out with the binoculars but there is no view of the bog approaching the forest.  Apparently they haven’t kept it clear or we don’t understand what we are supposed to be seeing.   So back down we go to finish the boardwalk trail.


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There is no mention in the guide about Indian Pipe but I find several patches of it in the wooded area next to the bog. 


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While in Acadia we frequently ran across large patches of a white lichen.  Several readers told me it was Reindeer Moss and when I looked that up, they were absolutely right.  So when I see it here in the bog, I recognize it.  Actually it’s not a moss at all, it is a lichen just as I originally thought.  Lichens are phototropic meaning they use the sun for energy in manufacturing their food and they are epiphytic meaning they gather moisture and nutrients from the air.  Lichens are a diverse and fragile group of plants and are very sensitive to environmental changes.  In the little guide, I am told that this variety of reindeer moss has a potential lifespan of 250 years.  WOW!  Now that’s old!





But my favorite bog plant of all is the blueberry of course.  I have no trouble recognizing or eating them.  The only problem is all the plants next to the boardwalk have been picked over.  I can see the plants further back in the bog, off the boardwalk, are covered with ripe berries.  How frustrating not to be able to walk right out there and eat them up.



Time for lunch means time to search for the perfect lunch spot.


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Yes we are hungry and it is past time for lunch so we stop at a nice picnic area at the end of the gravel road leading to the bog walk for our lunch.  I like picnic tables for lunch.  David apparently does not since every time I suggest them he never says no thanks, he just goes off and sits on a rock or a log.  Today is no different.


We go down the long set of stairs to the beach.


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He walks all a round checking for a flat anywhere to sit.  Definitely a beautiful setting.  Anybody got a chair here??  Or a bench?


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No, so we just sit where we can for our lunch at low tide.


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  1. This blog was great! What a view and sunset from the coach. A seal spotting -how cool! The conference center use of the space is a valient one. They should have that very nice blurb at the site. Informational hike-I find those plants so amazing. So self sufficient. I like that Dad finds the el naturale lunch spots :)

  2. You've certainly found another beautiful and interesting area to explore. I can see a kayak trip in your future.

    The last time you photographed a seal it was barely recognizable...but not this time! Great seal pictures.

  3. oh yaaa. . .we did that bog walk too. . .and saw the lighthouse. . .although not the seals, we must have been there at high tide. . .great memories of it all. . .I'm so glad you guys are enjoying it!

  4. My favorite plant of the bog is the pitcher plant. :)

  5. I just love the little flowers. It seems there time is so short.... soon they will be gone for another season... unless you are fortunate enough to head south for a whole new crop. It seems to me that the seals just love to pose for picks.... now if you can just teach them a slllllloooooowwwww roll you will be set!

  6. So much I formation, and so interesting and beautiful. I did notice you are wearing clothes for cooler weather so it's nice tht it isn't too hot for exploring. Loved seeing the seals although nothing more frustrating than a slow shutter. I will remember that if I complain about lugging around my heavy camera, with the instantaneous shutter.

  7. Oh this is wonderful, but certainly not helping my "Maine" withdrawal;o)) Love the Moonup-Sunset Pictures. We were too early for the Seals...just have to return later next time!! If that Sea Eagle at the boat launch in the campground is a sailboat, it was there when we were there!! It looks like the same boat;-) Keep having fun, your post bring back great memories!!

  8. Great post today and wonderful pictures. I was going to pick my favorites but can't do it, they are all so good.

  9. Great sunset. I love the first "cottage" you posted in this blog ... of course, I'm not sure I'd describe them as a cottage ... at least not the way I think of cottages.

  10. Seal sightings -- awesome! Sherry, your sunset photos are stunning, and what a wonderful view from your campsite.

    $.75 each for a wash and dry??? In Maine??? Excellent!!

  11. Your pictures look great! I especially like the seal shots. I agree the observation platform in the bog left me puzzled. What did they go to all that trouble and expense for us to observe?

  12. The pictures of the pines at dusk and the sunset are lovely. Love the 2nd and 3rd seal photos! How cool would it be to live in a lighthouse for awhile? Have fun!

  13. Oh, I do so love the seals. How adorable! I know that you hated to leave. Love the flowers, too.

  14. Your new campground is sweet! This is the kind of place that I would like to move into for at least a month and just enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

    And wow on the sunset photo, moon shot, and various lighthouse images. Looks like more calendar quality photos. You really need to make a book out of your photos someday.

  15. Seems all of Maine is fantastic!


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