Ants On the Beach, Otters On the Trail

John Clark reporting on the 2020 week Downeast. Beth figures this was our 7th weekly stay at Cobscook Bay Cottages. This time we didn’t get to stay at Seawall, instead staying in Sunrise which, had there been less fog would have lived up to its name. Unlike Seawall, where we walk kayaks over a plank walkway to reach the water, we carried them down a somewhat steep incline. I don’t dare kayak any more thanks to a bad knee, but Beth loves exploring and the serenity that comes with moving slowly along the tidal currents. After a heavy rain, the slope became extremely slippery and I lost my footing. I wasn’t on the ground for more than 15 seconds, but paid a price-two very painful bites by fire ants. Most Mainers scoff at the idea of these fierce critters in Maine, but people along the coast, especially in the Eastport area will tell you they’re plentiful and vicious.

The residents of Sipayik are serious about COVID-19. There’s one of these signs at the entrance to EVERY street in the community.

As you might expect, COVID-19 impacted what we did and where we went. However Washington County is perfect for relaxing and exploring and there are so many beaches, hills and trails we’ll never see them all. We were disappointed not to get out to Campobello as that’s a big favorite of ours. We visited Eastport twice, Lubec once and if you want to see first hand how the virus has hammered a local economy, look no further. On the Sunday before the 4th of July weekend, the main street of Eastport was eerily empty. Two stores were open and as you can see by the photo below, the impact is pervasive. Remember, towns like Eastport, Lubec and Calais depend heavily on tourism revenues in a short 4-5 month span, so the deserted streets and vacant buildings hit not only individual pockets, but municipal ones as well. At least Eastport is getting revenue from one, soon to be two, cruise ships waiting for business to resume.

Sunrise Cabin

All was not doom and gloom. We enjoyed a drive around Eastport to see new vistas, stopping to take photos of boats, lupines and beaches new to us. On our drive to Lubec, we got a laugh while watching clammers far out on the flats appealing to the weather gods to hold off impending rain. One friendly local pointed out a boardwalk through a marsh that was bordered by thousands of wild rose blooms, their scent beyond delightful. New to us was a trail to the top of Klondike Mountain that has impressive views in all directions. The round trip is ½ mile and even for old bad bodies was pretty easy.

These ants went to art school

Another find was our trek on part of the Downeast Sunrise trail, 87 miles long The rail-trail follows a section of a 19th-century railroad that ran between Calais and Bangor, later becoming the Calais Branch of the Maine Central Railroad in 1911. The branch closed after Maine Central was sold in the 1980s, and the Maine Department of Transportation acquired the railbed in 1987. The first section of trail opened in 2009, and crews completed the 2-mile-long final section in Ellsworth in 2016. We walked a portion that is in Pembroke, meeting only one other couple riding an ATV. There were two delights awaiting us on the two miles we covered. First was an abundance of big wild strawberries. We ate our fill, but barely dented the crop. The second came as we crossed a small bridge over a bog stream. We heard a splash, followed by two more and watched as Mom and Dad otter shepherded their little one upstream.

You otter come visit.

We always look for beach glass and pottery on the various beaches in the area. This year, I looked for unusual small rocks as granddaughter Piper is fascinated with them. I’ll let her pick five from what I brought home, with the rest going on the rock wall behind her house for future fun. She’ll get another surprise as well. I introduced her to root beer barrels, but haven’t seen any recently. The candy shop in Eastport had them as well as tons of other goodies. She’ll be treated to weekly surprises well into the fall.

Fog, you say?

I always take plenty of books with me, managing to read nine in between excursions. I was saddened to miss the book sales at the Peavey and Lubec libraries this year. If you want to do some good, I’m including the names and addresses of food banks and libraries in the area. Every one of our Maine food banks and libraries needs money right now, but these are really struggling.


Eastport—Labor of Love – Garrapy Food Pantry, 137 County Road Eastport, Maine 04631. Contact: Fern Garrapy at 853-2373 or Email:

Pleasant Point—Saint Ann’s Food Pantry: 853-2600 x 239. Pleasant Pt Perry, ME 04667. Email:

Lubec Community Outreach Center Food Pantry: 733-6113 44 South Street Lubec, ME 04652. Email:

Peavey Memorial Library 26 Water Street, Eastport, ME 04631-1599

Lubec Memorial Library 55 Water Street, Lubec, ME 04652-1122

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5 Responses to Ants On the Beach, Otters On the Trail

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a perfect vacation, except for the ants.


    • Judy Kraus says:

      Great post, thank you. I don’t understand how you can run any cruise ship at this time.

  2. I love Washington County and love knowing you had a good week there. It and Maine’s other rural counties are so vulnerable to the economic consequences of Covid-19. Thank you for listing the food pantries and libraries in the beautiful Sunrise County that can use a hand.

  3. Kay Garrett says:

    Can honestly say we do NOT miss the fire ants. When we lived in the southern part of AR, we were constantly trying to control them. Notice I didn’t say kill them because there is no way. They just move from place to place if bothered in any way. Now we live in the northern part of the state and we have NO fire ants. Such a blessing! Plus it saves me from being arrested from doing the strip and swat fire ant war dance. 🙂

    Can’t wait until we can visit Maine again!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. Sorry to hear fire ants have reached this far north. I remember encountering the nasty creatures on the west coast of Florida decades ago..I guess we can thank climate change and increased mobility, like on cruise ships, for this ecological challenge.

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