Aroostook County

I pack for a winter weekend and head towards Maine’s northernmost territory—the County, where the first snowfall of the year is beginning to cover the trails.

6:00 p.m. @ Fort Kent The snow is falling fast, and I can see only 100 yards in front of me. I proceed with caution as speed limit and moose crossing signs flash past. For someone who grew up in New Jersey a moose in the wild seems an unlikely sight, but here in Maine, on my way through Fort Kent on this snowy night, I spot one on the side of the road. I drive slowly and carefully past the massive, majestic animal.

7:30 p.m. @ Inn of Acadia After a friendly greeting from the staff of the Inn of Acadia in Madawaska, I locate my room, which is spacious, comfortable, and equipped with a kitchen, walk- in closet, and a view of Canada.

9:00 p.m. @ Jeff’s Pizza and Subs Jeff ’s Pizza is about to close, but still the staff motions me in. I am glad they did because I enjoy a delicious pastrami dish and get to know my server, who tells me about his dreams of a music career.

8:00 a.m. @ Dolly’s Restaurant I venture into Frenchville to this busy little diner, where I find great coffee and a tasty breakfast.

9:30 a.m. @ the St. John River The drive back to the inn is along the deep- blue St. John River, which divides the United States from Canada.

10:00 a.m. @ Davis Clothing and Footwear Unfortunately, I forgot my boots, and with all the snow and more in the forecast, I head into Madawaska to buy a new pair at Davis Clothing and Footwear.

12:00 p.m. in Fort Kent Fifteen miles away is Fort Kent, which holds some fascinating historical monuments. The Fort Kent Blockhouse is a two- story fortification from the Aroostook War, which took place from 1838 to 1839 when the United States and the United Kingdom disputed the international border between New Brunswick and Maine. The countries came to a peaceful compromise and never engaged in combat. Further into town is the sign for America’s First Mile along Route 1.

1:00 p.m. @ Lonesome Pine Trails The slopes are only lightly dusted, so skiing is not yet an option. Instead I chat with the owners of this small mountain, who predict that next week the trails will be covered with snow and skiers.

2:30 p.m. @ Fort Kent Outdoor Center The Fort Kent Outdoor Center was originally
built as a training center for cross-country and biathlon athletes. It still serves that purpose, but now has snowshoe and mountain bike trails and a full-service cross-country ski and snowshoe shop. I walk around and take in the sweeping views and envision all the world-class athletes that have come through here.

3:00 p.m. @ Long Lake Sporting Club When I talk to my friend from Madawaska, the first place she recommends is Long Lake Sporting Club. The road there is a scenic drive; I stop along the way to admire the breathtaking views. At the restaurant, the view is just as great. I grab
a seat at the bar, and I order the ribs, which are amazing. This place has great food, and from what I hear it is a great spot for dancing at night.

5:00 p.m. @ Inn of Acadia Dinner is a couple hours away, and after this day of exploration I seize the opportunity to rest.

7:30p.m. @ Voyageur Lounge The Voyageur Lounge is the Inn of Acadia’s restaurant. Tonight there is a themed event, a Great Gatsby dinner. The menu is prix fixe for the night, and staff and guests wear Gatsby- themed attire such as pearls, sequin dresses, and suits—it is an evening of glamour in the wilderness.

7:30 a.m. @ Inn of Acadia Today is the final day of my trip, and my plan is to explore the southern part of Aroostook County. I can’t wait to go see the potato fields I have heard so much about. The fields are covered in snow and stretch for miles, reminding me how vast this part of the state is.

10:00 a.m. @ Governor’s Restaurant In the center of Presque Isle is Governor’s Restaurant, where a line stretches out the door, so I figure this place must be great. It is. I have a pleasing portion of Maine blueberry pancakes.

12:00 p.m. @ Gateway Crossing A local tells me to check out the Gateway Crossing in Houlton. I drive to the Houlton Riverfront Park, which borders the Meduxnekeag River. It is a great little park that I imagine must be crowded in the warmer months. The Gateway Crossing Footbridge, originally built in the late nineteenth century, allows hikers to walk across the river.

2:00 p.m. on I-95 South I head south towards home. I really enjoyed my time in the County. I went with onlyone thing planned in advance, but with so many local options a weekend itinerary easily fell into place.

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