The weather was glorious as I made my way north from Seawall Campground up to Madawaska, ME. At 240 miles on some pretty rutted backroads, it was a fairly long day pulling the camper. Other than a few stretches of precarious road conditions, Hwys 1/1A and 2/2A did not disappoint when it came to riverside homesteads and farms and dense forests on both sides of the road. There were just enough other vehicles on the road to give me a sense of comfort that someone would happen by if I needed assistance, but not so much traffic as to disrupt the serenity of the ride. I didn’t see any moose, although several signs alerted me to their presence, but I did see lots of deer, a porcupine, a beaver, a fox, rabbit, and even a bear!
There’s an official event called the USA Four Corners Tour. It’s a self-supported and self-paced event that you can do at any time. In a nutshell, it’s a 7000ish mile motorcycle ride that takes you to four corners of the continental U.S. – Madawaska, ME; Key West, FL; San Ysidro, CA; and Blaine, WA. It’s sanctioned by the Southern California Motorcycle Association and has strict rules that all four sites must be visited within 21 days to “count.” I like the idea of visiting the four corners, but I’m more of a journey than destination kind of gal, so I’m doing away with the 21-day time limit and only confining myself to the year 2022 🙂 No official completion patch for me, but lots more experiences to be collected on my extended timeline for sure! So, with it being the most northeast city in the continental U.S., you now know why I find myself in Madawaska, ME.
Besides the motorcycling angle, there’s also an ancestry aspect to my visit. My original plan was to go into Nova Scotia to visit the site of the original French Acadian colony from which my family line originates. It didn’t take long to realize that I needed a whole lot more time to explore this area though, so I decided to cut out Canada for now and save it for a later trip when I can dedicate much more time to exploring. During British rule in the 1770s, the Acadians who were expelled from the Canadian Maritimes were either deported back to Europe or further down the Eastern Americas coast, or made their way further into Canada. Although my direct Daigle ancestors were deported back to Europe, some of the Daigles who were not, led a group of Acadian families up the Saint John River and settled where they landed, in present day Madawaska, ME. The wooden cross that was erected to mark the occasion has since been replaced by a marble one recognized as a National Historic Place. It was weird to be in a town that has as many Daigles as back home in Louisiana. I visited the geneology section of the local library and had a great chat with the native librarian about life in Madawaska. I told her that the older generation back home speaks Cajun French – a bastardized form of French that includes English and made up words. She said that they have the same thing, but that they call it Valley French up here. I asked her how my name was pronounced in this area and she said that if used while speaking English, it would be pronounced dā′gŭl (like seagull); if used while speaking French, it would be pronounced dĕg (like leg). Fascinating!
Though it rained for most of my time in Madawaska, I strolled around town and took in the sites, including the Madawaska Edmundston International Bridge that connects the U.S. to Canada over the Saint John River. A new bridge and port of entry are currently being constructed, but it was pretty interesting to be on the border via the historic bridge.
I could never live this far north, but it truly is beautiful here and everyone I met was super nice and went out of their way to make sure I had a good experience despite the weather. I learned so much about the area, cuisine, and life in general from the ladies at the hotel who made amazing breakfasts and shared a bit of their life stories with me (both strong women!) and one of the volunteers at the Four Corners Park who came in on her off time to sell me a postcard for my niece, show me some Daigle pavers, and share with me the best route to take back south (she’s a rider too!).
Although way off the beaten path, Madawaska and the far north of Maine was well worth the effort! Now, time to head south!