East Quoddy Ligthouse

East Quoddy Lighthouse

We had seen pictures of a particularly unique and beautiful lighthouse in all of the New Brunswick travel guides. This lighthouse dominated all of the souvenir fridge magnets and the covers of lighthouse books. It graced the fronts of T-Shirts and oven mitts, and could even be found on souvenir placemats, earrings and collector spoons. It had to be the most photographed lighthouse in New Brunswick, and we wanted to visit it. There was only one little problem: We didn't know what it was called, and we didn't know where it was!

While in Fredericton, we asked the sales people of a souvenir store about it. They had no clue. They looked it up in a book, and informed us it was in Maine. This didn't seem right at all! Why would a lighthouse in Maine dominate all of the New Brunswick travel guides?

We asked others in St. Anthony-by-the-Sea. "I think it's on an island between New Brunswick and Maine," said one. "You can't visit it, but you might be able to take pictures of it from Campobello Island!"

We consulted the travel books next, and sure enough, Campobello Island hosted several lighthouses. There were no pictures attached, however. How could we know for sure that one of these was our long sought-after destination?

Lighthouses were not the only attraction on this little island, sandwiched between New Brunswick and Maine in the Bay of Fundy. Campobello Island is also the home of the historic Roosevelt summer home, and since the descriptions of the lighthouses on the island looked interesting, we decided to go and see for ourselves.

One of the lighthouses in the tour book was called "East Quoddy". It was currently unmanned and couldn't be climbed. Visitors were welcome to explore the grounds around the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper's cottage however, but it could only be accessed at low tide!

To understand this, you have to understand that the Bay of Fundy hosts the highest tides in the world, tides that can rise and fall as much as 28 feet every 6-7 hours. We were fast learning that anything you wish to see along the Bay of Fundy has to be timed by the tides, and we had already learned that low tide on the day we would visit the island was around 10:00 a.m. We also knew from previous Fundy experiences that we would have about a two hour window of time after low tide before the rising waters could, potentially, leave us stranded.

We started out early from our campground, for in order to arrive at Campobello Island, we had to drive to Leonardville, take a ferry to Deer Island, drive to the other end of Deer Island, and take another ferry to our desired destination. And of course, the East Quoddy lighthouse was at the opposite end of Campobello Island from the ferry landing! But our imposed scheduled went like clockwork, and we now stood in the parking lot, just an hour after the lowest tide.

We could see the lighthouse now, and sure enough, it was our long-sough after destination. It stood on what, at low tide, appeared to be a peninsula of Campobello Island. We knew that at high tide, however, this outcropping of land would be its own island, and we would have to hurry if we wanted to visit it. Little did we know of the adventure that awaited us just around the corner!

"Be careful out there!" warned a gentleman at the top of the trail. "Those moss-covered rocks are treacherous!"

"No problem," we thought. After all, we'd climbed on rocks in the Bay of Fundy before! They were slippery, yes, but not "treacherous"!

And with these thoughts, we proceeded down the staircase that led to the now-bare ocean floor below.

Sure enough, we found ourselves surrounded by wet, gooey, slippery seaweed. "How will I get through this?" I asked to no one in particular.

My wife, sensing my discomfort, reached out a helping hand. Together we (or should I say "I"?) succeeded in finally reaching the pebbled beach in one piece. Whew!

Our kids were waiting impatiently: "What took you so long guys?"

We ignored them.

Our next challenge was to climb a staircase up onto the next cliff. It was missing its first step. "A big step for humanity," I muttered to myself, as I pulled myself up to the first existing step.

Trees were thick at the top of the staircase, blocking our view of the lighthouse. We were sure that we were finally on the island where it stood, however, and that a brief march through the trees would bring us to our desired destination. But it was not to be. This little outcropping of land also ended in a metal ladder leading down to another now-bare ocean floor.

The ladder proved to be my next test. There were several rungs missing, and the ones that WERE there were half eaten by rust. One of them was actually held up by a tiny rope tied to the rusty rung above! But the biggest challenge came when I reached the end of the ladder - and found myself still 8 feet from the pebbles below! The last three rungs had disintegrated completely! "A big jump for humanity," I mumbled, as I eased myself down.

Except for the fact that I was sweating profusely, I had arrived without a scratch. My wife seemed relieved (and somewhat surprised!) to see me in one piece. She knows how athletic I am!

To my dismay, I again found myself surrounded by a sea of wet, gooey, slippery seaweed! And this time, it wasn't just a small patch! It extended from that rusted ladder all the way across the ocean floor, and even covered the rocks that would have to be climbed to finally arrive at the lighthouse!

There was concern in my wife's eyes as she looked at me. I know that she was wondering if my "bravery" would make me turn around and climb back up that ladder! She also knew how much visiting this particular lighthouse meant to me, so she offered me her hand and smiled. "Come on," she said. "I'll help you!"

"Don't worry," I mumbled as I took the extended hand with a death grip. "I won't let loose!"

After what seemed hours of slipping, stumbling and twisting my ankles, I succeeded in arriving at the base of this beautiful lighthouse. I shamefully admit that my arrival wasn't based on my own merits, but thanks to the assistance of my better half!

I enjoyed the lighthouse grounds immensely, and overall, it was well worth the effort put forth to get there. But now I had to face my next dilemma: How to get back to the parking lot before the tide stranded us on one of these "islands" for 7 hours! The tide had already risen 4-5 feet while we attempted our first crossing, and we probably only had another hour or so before the "beaches" would again become ocean. At the rate of speed that I could precede over those slippery rocks and treacherous ladders, this seemed like an impossibility!

The two gazelles that I call sons helped me out this time (I am still amazed at how those two can walk effortlessly over seaweed covered rocks without slipping!), while my wife walked behind with all the cameras and water bottles. With their help, we all made it back at our van long before the beaches were covered with water.

In a moment of reflection, it occurred to me that some destinations are treacherous to reach, but they are well worth the risk, especially if appropriate help is available. It is no different with your destination in life. The road may seem so unsure, with potential disaster lurking around every corner. You may be facing unsolvable dilemmas, unconquerable mountains. Depression may try to trap you, to keep you from going on. Hopelessness may fill you to the core, and it may seem that you are surrounded by huge fields of unimaginable wet, gooey, slipper seaweed. You may very well wonder, "Is there any way out?"

There is. You have a friend who is willing to reach out to you and pull you out of your predicaments. He is willing to hold your hand and guide you through the yucky messes that you find yourself in, ever making sure you will not slip on the treacherous road that may be before you. He will guide you in the right direction and His light will chase all darkness out of your life. He will become your lighthouse, the One in whom you can trust. No situation will seem hopeless any longer, for you will find that you are never alone. You have a friend in whom you can trust.

Before this can become a reality, however, you need to grasp the hand that is reaching out to you. You can't do it by yourself, but with His help, you will succeed. Will you take His hand? Jesus is the answer to your problems my friend. He will set you free.

"I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6 NIV)

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12 NIV)

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36 NIV)

"Will I ever reach my destination?"

It all depends on who you trust.

Rob Chaffart

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