Friday, September 11, 2015

August 23: Cadillacs and Lobsters

Radar suggested rain was imminent when we woke up.  Putting ourselves into “get the hell out of here” mode, we broke camp and headed to Bar Harbor for breakfast.  Breakfast at Paddy’s was enough to feed 10,000 people (what happened to small serving sizes?).  While we entertained sticking around for another whale watching opportunity, we could tell the fog, while lighter, still stood the chance of goofing things up.  Plus, the threat of rain?  Whatever.  We opted to move along but not without a trip to Cadillac Mountain. 

Named after the car….no, wait.  Let’s start over.  From about 1534 through 1763, a substantial part of the North American continent was colonized and under the control of France. During this time, it was known as “New France” and at its peak in 1712, extended all the way from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains to the West and the Gulf of Mexico to the South. In 1688, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe Sieur de Cadillac was given ownership of over 100,000 acres of land along the present day Maine coast which included Mount Desert Island and areas next to present day Union River. Cadillac Mountain was named after Cadillac in 1918. Prior to this, it was known as Green Mountain.


Interestingly, there is a hawk watch on the top of Cadillac Mountain.  While numbers are not earth shattering, it counts for the greater good.  Our brief conversations with the staff really drove home a point – the waters off of MDI have been choppy for days.  Even if the excursions had not been cancelled due to fog, there was a god chance that they would have been choppy.  For this landlubber, generally speaking, chop – bad.  Smooth – good.  Nat and I had no regrets about skipping town.

Finally bidding Mount Desert Island farewell, we moved up the cost.  A few hours up the coast found us staring the open waters of the Saint Croix River at Saint Croix Island. Notthis one.  This one.

The tiny island (200 yards by 100 yards) was the location of a 1604 colony.  Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, established what would be one of France’s earliest North American colonies.

So how come most people have never heard of it?  Because it failed. 

Dugua made a decision that we can say today was abysmal, but at the time seemed fine.  He presumed the regional climate for the island would be the same as France because it was at the same latitude.


Ignorant of the Atlantic Ocean’s temperate effects on Europe’s climate and the brutality of North American winters, he chose the island for its defensive position presuming he would have access to the water and surrounding lands for food.  With winter setting in, he and the few scores with him (that’s right – 79 guys on an island only 6.5 acres big) found themselves with this neat fort in the middle of a frozen river.  Poor diets took their toll. With what was probably scurvy, half were dead by spring. Some Native American trading did take place, but the island was abandoned and those that remained moved on to settlements in Nova Scotia.  

The facts here are clear, however – the beginning of the French presence in North America was underway.

A bit more hiking in a local state park confirmed our willingness to not camp.  Opting to pursue a solid roof over our heads, we made our way to Lubec (LOO-bick).  Townsfolks had the foresight to convert the old sardine factory to a hotel and restaurant.  We stayed in the nice place on the bluff.

Dinner was at the restaurant where history was made. Natalie had her first lobster dinner.

Let’s be clear.  Red Lobster, where one can order lobster, is not actually serving lobster. I mean, it is lobster, but it isn’t.  It just can’t be because….it can’t. In short, Red Lobster lobster blows.  Fresh lobster doesn’t.   When you see the buoys in the water marking the lobster traps, you know your critter is about as fresh as it can get short of catching it yourself. How fresh can lobster be in Detroit?  Coming off the successes of her clam chowder in Portland Maine, it was time for more.

Long story short – she liked it.  Two for two on seafood.

No comments: