Campobello Island is in Canada but it should be in Maine. It sure feels like home to us. We spend a week every August at Campobello’s Island Chalet, and this year we added two new things: an exciting whale-watching adventure with Island Cruises and tea with Eleanor Roosevelt!

George

For more than a decade, once or twice a summer, we’ve rented one of Rob and Diane Lahey’s five two-bedroom, full-kitchen chalets with stunning ocean views. Each chalet is big enough to have your friends and family join you, as ours sometimes does.

Rob is a great host, making sure each day that we have everything we need. A native of the island, he knows everything about it, and makes sure your stay is memorable.

The chalets are immaculate, the living rooms are comfortable, the Adirondack chairs outside on the lawn are inviting, and there’s a full-sized fridge and stove — perfect for us, because Linda loves to cook — even on vacation.

From the boxes of colorful flowers on the porch, to the Eagles that have nested just off shore on an island for as long as we’ve been visiting here, this place is very special.

For the price of $149 a day these chalets are a bargain, and are available even for a single night’s stay — an unusual feature for seasonal summer rentals. Many require a week’s stay.

From our chalet, we enjoyed morning walks into spectacular Roosevelt International Park, jointly owned and administered by the United States and Canada. This 2,800-acre park is full of gorgeous beaches and picnic spots, where quite often we’re the only ones on the beach. Just amazing.

We harvest goose tongue greens, bird-watch, walk the beaches and luxuriate in the quiet and beauty of this unusual park.

At the “Tea with Eleanor,” Linda told a visiting tourist that we spend at least one week a year on Campobello and the lady asked, with an amazed look on her face, “Well, what do you do here?”

Really, if you have to ask that question, you just don’t get Campobello. Yes, the place can be annoying. Those eagles screech all day long. You often must don dark glasses because of the glare of the sun off the water. At night, the light from the lighthouse just up the bay flashes incessantly off and on. Don’t they ever shut that thing off?

Fortunately, I was seated at a different table or I might have caused an international incident while answering the woman’s question!

At the Head Harbor port, while waiting for our whale-watching trip with Island Cruises, we struck up a conversation with a fellow named Robert who was standing on the dock, helping a guy locate precisely the right place in the water to anchor his new platform. An island native, Robert lamented the fact that the island is down to 900 year-round residents and the smallest high school graduating class in the province.

A friendly guy (as many islanders are), Robert turned out to be the first mate on the Island Cruises boat. During the winter, he pilots a boat for urchin divers. In fact, one of the divers is from Maine and stays at Island Chalet for the entire urchin diving season.

But I was going to write about whales. I knew the trip was going to be good when the first guy in line waiting to board the boat was a summer resident who goes at least twice a year.

And now I know why. Capt. Mac Green knows his whales, and knows where to find them. This trip, we had to motor out for about a half-hour to find them — but oh my, they were everywhere just outside of Black’s Harbor.

We saw lots of finbacks — the second largest whale in the world — and some humpbacks. A couple whales were so close their spray hit the boat! For nearly two hours, we were awed and entertained by the world’s largest mammals.

Motoring back to the harbor, just past the gorgeous East Quoddy Head Light, Mac spotted a Bald eagle sitting at the top of a spruce tree and stopped the boat. For some customers, it was their first look at this magnificent bird. And he was right there, just above the boat.

Robert is also a knowledgeable birder, and helped Linda and I spot and identify several interesting sea birds, including two types of shearwaters we had never seen before.

But what I am still seeing, in my mind’s eye, is a huge finback surfacing in the water and heading right for the boat, no more than 50 yards away, as I stood on deck with a big smile on my face. And yes, we’ll do this again next summer!

Linda

When I want a getaway, I look for a place that’s cozy and comfy like home but with different scenery. If it’s by the ocean, that’s a huge plus for me. And if it allows me to cook most of my meals, that’s a bigger plus. So I was extremely happy to find Island Chalet’s cabins. Everything I need is already there, and all I have to do is take food and clothing. (Okay, I do admit to taking a favorite fry pan).

Going to Campobello is always special, and Island Chalet’s proximity to Roosevelt Park is yet another plus. A favorite walk for us starts right from the cabin, cuts through the information center’s parking lot and continues to Cranberry Point. It’s a four-mile walk on the park road through beautiful woods to the ocean. We also love driving through the main entrance to get to Herring Cove Beach, a rock collector’s paradise.

The cabins are homey, from the comfortable chair and couch to the quilts on the beds. The view from your kitchen table lets you keep track of the tides and the boats coming and going. I love looking across the bay to see Eastport’s lights at night.

But my favorite time of the day is sunset, where a different show is provided each night. People gravitate to their porches for a front-row seat as the sun slips behind Lubec and the islands close by. If you are lucky, the tide might be just right to hear the sound of rocks being gently tumbled.
Adirondack chairs provide the perfect place for reading, and the large lawn and grounds provide a world-class challenging bocce arena. Simple pleasures are the best.

IF YOU GO . . .

Island Chalet
www.anislandchalet.com.
Reservations 506-752-2971

Island Cruises
www.bayoffundywhales.com
888-249-4400

Roosevelt International Park
www.fdr.net
877-851-6663

Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.

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