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Monday, May 26, 2014

St. Croix International Historic Site and My Accidental Hike

Looking out towards St. Croix Island - which looks a bit like an emerging submarine
After docking in Eastport early this afternoon,  I was quickly off again, north, to check out St. Croix International Historic Park. I took the turn off the main highway, but no park. So on I drove to Calais, and after checking out the town a bit, and an even quicker visit to the Baring Division of Moosehorn Refuge, I went to the Calais Visitor Center. It was raining – and the two ladies at the center looked bored silly. I told them I wanted to visit St. Croix, and where the heck was it? The ladies marveled I had managed to miss the park. Still, cheered up with someone to talk to other than each other, one gave me a St Croix post card, telling me the St Croix ranger would give me a gift if I presented it. I was again off south, and this time, when I turned of the main Highway, the park was a quick-like-a-bunny right turn. I wasn't surprised I missed it earlier in the day. 

The St. Croix International Park's Visitor Center. Note the clocks that show the US and Canadian times, which disagree by one hour. So just by standing there I was in a time warp of one hour. Where is the Tardis when you need it?
There were Plenty of 'show
& tell' items I enjoyed investigating

The lady Ranger was quite friendly, and though I think I may have been the only guest in the entire park, she gave me a personable tour. I was told the history of the lost French colony that settled in, almost perished in one of the worse winters ever and almost died before another Frenchman came – late – to collect up the colonists and take them away.

When she was done, I showed her the post card I was given in Calais, and she gave me the best possible present - a beautiful cloisonne pin. The pins must be leftovers from the celebration of the four hundred years - now four hundred ten years - when the original French settled on the island.

My Precious...!
I could not be happier with my present! The only souvenirs I bring home from vacations these days are a free ink stamping in my National Park Passbook, and one cloisonne pin. So, as this park is international and it has no stamp, I was able to get a beautiful sky blue pin - gratis! Yes, I am that lucky and easy to please to boot.

The ranger recommended I take the short park hike. Being my usual lazy self, I hemmed. hawed, thanked her and left. It was pouring down rain, and I raced to the car and left, driving along the shore, and in only a scant quarter mile I was on an overlook, that faced St. Croix Island which can only be accessed by the prudent tourist with a boat.  I sat and watched the rain beating down on the rip rap for a while.

A view from where I parked towards St. Croix Island, on the horizon to the right

The rain slowed a bit, and there were stone steps nearby so I climbed them. At the top I saw a gazebo, housing a bronze model of how the lost St. Croix colony may have looked in early 1600s.
Fairly impressive settlement if you ask me
Now, just outside the little brick gezebo I spied the first of several impressive bronze statues.

Pierre Dugua who is the size of a yeti at 8 foot tall. He was looking pretty dapper for a man standing out in the rain.

I picked up from the signage he was the settlement's leader who hoped to make a fortune in animal furs.

I looked further down the little winding trail, and spied a tall metallic settler, his head lowered in reverence. He glistened with raindrops, and if he weren't made of bronze he'd have caught his death.

 Now I was curious. What was with the statues? Interesting!  I meandered down the trail and found the next statue. A man of the continent as there wasn't yet an 'America' or 'Canada' for him to come from. He was an aboriginal whose people had lived on the land since the first grass grew.
He was a Maine Indian acting as a guide for the French.
There was then this guy is shown, 'helping to build a community'
Easy enough to figure out this man's activity
Next up was an Indian mother
with something on her back...
Her baby who was wet - with rain  -and I'm glad
he was bronze because he looked ready to cry
At this point, I realized I had walked the entire trial the lady ranger had suggested I walk. UGH! What can be more annoying than unintended exercising and stretching of the legs? It wasn't much of a hike, as the Wonessonuk Trail really was just a hop, skip and half a jump, but still. I turned back and headed for the car. .
I walked back down the trail
So I walked the trail backwards, but then, I am a bit backwards from time to time. I left the park and drove back north to Calais, where I checked into a cute & tiny International Motel. The Down East Birding Festival ended today, so I'll be on my own to explore this northernmost bit of Maine.

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