Out of This World

Sunday, June 13, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Day 44:  Fredericton, NB to Presque Isle, ME.  To get from Fredericton to Quebec City, we opted to go through northern Maine.  The adjacent areas of New Brunswick and Quebec are mostly small towns and rural areas, so when we found a hotel we liked in Presque Isle, Maine, we decided to stay there overnight.

On the way, we stopped in Hartland, New Brunswick, to see what is called the "World's Longest Covered Bridge." At 1,282 ft long, the bridge (pictured above) was built in 1901 by citizens frustrated by the long wait for the government to decide whether a bridge was needed over the St. John River in Hartland. Construction costs were funded by tolls until the structure was purchased by the province in 1906. 
To control traffic across the single-lane bridge, each end is equipped with a stop sign. After stopping, one looks to determine whether a vehicle is coming through the bridge before proceeding.  A simple but very effective system.

The gnats were heartless in Hartland, the worst we've seen on this trip.  Swarms of them accosted us the moment we opened the vehicle door and stepped out.  They were relentless in their efforts to get close to you.  We searched unsuccessfully for a letterbox commemorating the longest covered bridge. Whether we might have found it had we not had so much "assistance" from our persistent companions is anyone's guess.

When we stopped at the border crossing into the U.S. at Houlton, Maine, we were questioned briefly by an immigration officer, as we expected—where were we from, where born, what were we bringing in from Canada. 
US/Canada border crossing
What we didn't expect was that while we were being interrogated, another officer opened the tailgate of our van without notice and began searching through our belongings, including opening a cooler in which we had some food.  Since no one ever told us why this was done, we could only surmise that the officer conducted the search as a matter of routine.  We're guessing his previous assignment might have been at the southern border and he was checking to see whether we were trying to sneak some Canadians over the border illegally.
So that is what Jupiter looks like?
As we wound our way up U.S. Highway 1 in Maine, we were treated to another superlative sight, the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the solar system in the world.  Built by the people of Aroostook County, the model is 40 miles long and has a scale of 1:93,000,000 miles. The model extends along Route 1 between the campus of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, where the 49' 6" sun is located, to the Houlton Information Center at the end of I-95, where little 1" Pluto is on exhibit.  (The model was completed in 2003 before Pluto lost its planetary status.)

After checking in at the hotel in Presque Isle, we got our laundry done and, thumbing our nose at the rain, we headed up to Caribou to search for a series of eight letterboxes created to commemorate the once thriving community of Grimes Mill.  The stamps, depicting various buildings which had been in the town, were carved and planted by the great great granddaughter of one of the founding fathers of Grimes Mill.  She brought to life a community we would have never heard of had we not been letterboxing.

Another place we visited today seeking a letterbox was the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum, where we spent about half an hour musing over their collection of farm equipment on exhibit.  Taking a lead from Woodie, we're offering a contest here.  Wonderful prizes await the person who can identify this piece of vintage farm equipment.
Spoiler alert:  It's a potato digger.

  • Miles driven: 186
  • Planets visited:  7
  • Gnats removed from mouth, eyes, nose and ears:  17
  • Red barns:  131
  • Ghost towns:  1
  • Letterboxes:  9
  • Rainbows:  1
SUNDAY, 13 JUNE 2010