Things To Know Before You Go
Passports and Border Crossings
If you are coming into the US from Canada you will now need a passport. Security on the US side is tighter than in years past, but unless there is an expected breach of security, you will likely come through customs by showing your passport and answering a few questions. The process might take no more than a few minutes. Please do not even try to bring in any contraband. For a list of what documents you need to show and what needs to be declared at customs, see the US Customs' website or check the offered by the United States Embassy in Canada.
Some people have complained about long waits to cross the border. I have never had any difficulty crossing back and forth to shop. I have been asked a few questions and a quick glance at the back of my truck and a question or two about my dogs is all I have experienced.
The St. John River forms the border between Fort Kent, ME, and New Brunswick. It's a short walk across the International Bridge to visit New Brunswick; just remember to bring your passport so you can get back into the US!
While the border towns tend to be fairly liberal with each other's currency exchange, it is always a good idea to stop at the local bank (they charge a fee) or ATM to get local currency. Saves the headaches of daily exchange rates, par exchanges, and other minor annoyances. Local US banks tend not to change currency; Canadian banks are a bit more accommodating.
Wondering what to pack? Northernmost Maine's weather can be tracked online here.
Scroll down for real time pictures of Fort Kent and towns southward. The first picture, Dickey Bridge, is near where Coordinator Joan Lee lives. Fort Kent Main Street shows weather a few blocks from campus.
The St. John Valley typically experiences warm days and cool nights in the summer. It can get as low at 50 F at night. For everything, casual dress is appropriate. Sturdy shoes are a must, and if you are going into the woods, long pants and long sleeve shirts are recommended. Why? The brush can be thick and wild raspberries are everywhere; they can hurt. For going in the woods bring your favorite bug repellant. We will also have some samples here for you to try, from Burts Bees (my favorite) to Old Woodsman's Insect Repellant. You will not encounter biting insects in the towns.
Moose and Cars
Moose are common in all of Maine but especially in the north. Driving should be safe if you take a few precautions. First, moose tend to move about in the early morning, around noon time, and at dusk so you want to be especially alert if you are driving at those times. Last year was the first in the past eleven years that moose-auto collisions resulting in human death was zero. Between 2000 and 2002 there were over 600 crashes involving moose in Aroostook County, Maine. Fort Kent is in Aroostook County.
Moose are huge animals, up to a thousand pounds, and while they look awkward they are quite agile and can be fast. They blend well in foliage and can be difficult to see until you are very close. If you see a moose at the side of the road slow down. Moose think they have the right of way at all times. Moose are gentle creatures but unpredictable and they can be dangerous. Watch them from a safe distance. Do not attempt to pet a moose. Be especially aware in the woods and if you see a yellow caution sign with a moose silhouette on it. Those signs are only put up if there were multiple moose sightings at that location. For more information, download a moose safety brochure from the State of Maine's Safety Program.
The best moose sighting times, when they are most active, seem to be around sunrise, around noon, and again around dusk, although they can be sighted just about any time of day or night. When you see road signs that warn of moose, you know that is a "moose runway," which means they frequent that area and you need to be extra cautious. This year, we have scheduled two moose watching trips so you might catch a glimpse of these magnificent animals. As always, tread lightly; the less noise you make the more likely you are to see wildlife. Definitely bring your cameras. There are some great areas here where you often can see several moose together. Early July should be good for catching a glimpse at calves, too.
Internet Access on UMFK Campus
Wireless connections can be set up for laptops at the registration desk.