Showing posts with label Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Museum. Show all posts

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Summer Favorites in the "Other" Maine

Since I reside in the Bangor area, summer is a completely different experience for me than it is for Mainers who live in the "other" Maine—the Maine south of Augusta. So when we go there, it's almost like visiting another state.

Museum by the Sea, Oqunguit, Maine - © Gail J. VanWart 2013The town of Ogunquit is a wonderful coastal town known for hosting one of the largest  Patriot's Day celebrations in Maine. Patriot's Day, only celebrated in Massachusetts and Maine, is a big deal in the Ogunquit area where much of our U.S. history was born. Beyond it's historic significance, the town is blessed with culture. It's museum and theatre are both a testimony of that.

© Gail J. VanWart 2013 - Ogunquit Museum© Gail J. VanWart 2013 - Ogunquit Museum

Sally Struthers has been one my all time favorite performers since the TV hit All in the Family. I know, that's dating both myself and Sally, however, age happens, and she happens to get even better with it. My husband and I  try to make a special trip to the "other" Maine just to catch her summer appearances at the Ogunquit Playhouse whenever our schedules permit us to do so. This year, my husband is using my birthday as an excuse to take us to see Thoroughly Modern Millie with Sally Struthers starring as Mrs. Meers. (So be looking for me Sally,  I'll be right up front with my nose almost on the stage with you.) A colorful history drenches the playhouse in the afterglow of the many stars who have graced the John Lane's Ogunquit Playhouse stage over the years. I always leave there feeling the actors have given it more than a hundred percent. It's truly "Broadway at the Beach" and the love of performance art is vibrant there.


Of course, since we'll be in the area, we'll have to eat at Joshua's, my favorite restaurant, just a little north of the playhouse at 1637 Post Road in Wells. Joshua's priority is freshness first; organic, natural, and local. Many of the vegetables served are grown at the Mather's own farm. Meals are slowly prepared and thoroughly enjoyed. Reservations are highly recommended, and keep in mind Joshua's is not an atmosphere younger children will enjoy. Adults, on the other hand, will relish the relaxing environment as part of Joshua's fine dining experience. 

We also enjoy little side trips to the the Kennebunks, York Beach and Nubble Light—plus, we have to do a little snooping in the Scarborough area. Through my maternal grandmother's side of the family, I'm related to many of the Scots and Englishmen who settled the area. I can find remnants of my 5th through 9th great grandparent's by the names of Alger, Okeman, Milliken, Wilmot, Allison, Banks, and Norman in structures and landmarks still present, such as the Lary House (ca 1700s) which was once known as Milliken's Tavern and originally owned by a grandpa Captain Mulbury Milliken. Captain Benjamin Milliken took over the tavern from his father, running it for a time before moving on to the other towns he settled in Maine. His life's journey ended in St. Andrews, N.B., Canada. It is pretty fantastic to ride on roads and visit points of land named after these ancestors, who were living livestyles I can only imagine. My love of touching my history takes me there again and again. But, if the history wasn't there, I'm sure the ocean breezes that kiss the shores of the "other" Maine would probably encourage me to visit nonetheless. 

Milliken's Tavern (Ca 1700) © Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013
This building was once Milliken's Tavern, Post Road, Scarborough, Maine
Circa 1700s

Blae wants dog owners to know he has a special place where he likes to stay in Kennebunkport, The Colony. It's a classic portrait of a historic Maine summer resort, inside and out, and pet friendly, too. The Colony even provides access to a pet friendly beach and well mannered pets can join their owners at mealtime, if they dine on the outside patio. Just down a short ways from The Colony on Ocean Drive you'll find the summer residence of President George and Barbara Bush and a fantastic Maine coast view.

Can't wait for my birthday! 

Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine © Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013
Nubble Light, York, Maine © Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

Blae at The Colony, Kennbunkport, Maine ©Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

Blae & Dan at The Colony, Kennbunkport, Maine ©Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

Blae & Dan at The Colony, Kennbunkport, Maine ©Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Maine’s Historic and Beautiful Penobscot Bay

© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
View of Penobscot Bay at Castine, Maine 
Since the very beginning of the colonization of what is now the United States of America, Penobscot Bay has been witness to some very important moments in the nation’s history. Walking through the streets of Castine, Searsport, or numerous other coastal Maine communities along Penobscot Bay, will point you to memories of a rich maritime past, as well as the historic charm so delicately woven into its present day beauty.

© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
Castine provides signage for a walking tour of historic sights. 
By land or by sea, the area is well worth nosing around in for tourists and locals alike. I strongly suggest you enjoy it from both angles to fully appreciate Penobscot Bay from all perspectives. Guildive Cruises offers you an opportunity to do just that on its Down East excursions with Ports of Call in both Castine and Searsport scheduled through the end of September. Guildive's Captains, Zander Parker and Kate Kana, have both sailed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans extensively and are pleased to offer public sails onboard the vintage 1934, 56’ long, 46-ton, motorsail, Guildive as an added summer attraction on picturesque Penobscot Bay.

G Copyright Guildive Cruises
Guildive Under Sail
Photo Courtesy of Guildive Cruises
© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights ReservedThe Guildive is docked in Castine with excursions departing from Dennett’s Wharf at 15 Sea Street. It also offers two-hour sails departing from the Public Wharf on Steamboat Avenue in Searsport on Mondays and Saturdays with Penobscot Marine Museum admission included in the ticket price; a great way to enjoy a complete seafaring experience from start to finish as you can even take a picnic lunch along to enjoy during your cruise. Besides its regular excursions, Guildive Cruises offers customized and specialty sails for bird watchers, artists and writers, private events, and even a full moon sail for stargazers on July 14-16 and August 12-14. Reservations are suggested, as space is limited to six persons per voyage.

© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights ReservedIn either Castine or Searsport, you can’t help but want to tour the town and soak in the history that’s so evident in its buildings and preserved by its dedicated historians and community members. Just walking through Castine is a history lesson as you read signage of major events that have taken place there. To view more treasures of the past, a visit to the Wilson Museum on Perkins Street is always a good place to start. Admission is free, except for guided tours of the John Perkins House. The Castine Historical Society on School Street is another great resource.

2012 Exhibit at Penobscot Marine Museum
Summer Folk, Penobscot Marine Museum 2012 Exhibit
Searsport proudly hails the Penobscot Maritime Museum. It's Maine’s oldest maritime museum, and designed as a 19th century seafaring village, providing a home for a regionally important library and archives focused on maritime history—plus the genealogy of the Penobscot Bay area. The area has been a tourist destination for more than 150 years, the theme of Penobscot Marine Museum's 2012 exhibits and events is Summer Folk, The Tourists of Penobscot Bay, spanning time from steamship to motorcar.

For more information click these links:

© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
Blae at Dyce Head Lighthouse
Castine, Maine
You can read more about Guildive Cruises and other coastal Maine attractions in an issue of theSCENE, an entertainment magazine published monthly by Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine.

Reminder from Blae: If you are out and about on a hot summer day, be sure your dog is not too hot in the car. Sometimes it's best if a pet stays cool at home watching the house, especially if you plan to visit places he/she can't. 

© 2012 Copyright Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Craig Brook, a National Treasure

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, when Atlantic salmon return to Maine’s rivers after feeding for two to three years at sea in the cold waters off Greenland, they will always return to their own native river where they hatched four years earlier. If an Atlantic salmon can survive all its predators, it can repeat the fresh water and ocean migration cycle and spawn, several times, during its life span. In spite of this, the Gulf of Maine’s distinct population of Atlantic salmon is an endangered species and the last remaining population of its kind in the United States. My grandsons and I learned all of that in a short time through well presented educational displays and interactive learning aids at the Craig Brook Fish Hatchery and Museum situated on Alamoosook Lake in East Orland, Maine.

The facility’s hatchery was established in 1871 as the first of its kind in the United States. Its purpose then, as today, is to propagate and stock juvenile Atlantic salmon to support their population. Over time, the facility has expanded to include archives and resource center, a museum, seminar site, an Atlantic salmon living stream, boat launches, picnic area, beautiful nature trails and a volunteer group called Friends of Craig Brook. There’s so much more you can learn by visiting the link at the bottom of this blog. Right now, I’d like to give you a tour of Craig Brook through the eyes of my grandsons during their recent visits to this quiet out of the way National treasure. 

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart  2011 All Rights Reserved
"The Leaper" welcomes guests to Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved

An interactive way to measure Altantic salmon survival rates.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart  2011 All Rights Reserved 
Learning we can make a difference.
© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved

Discovering what's in a watershed.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved

Stages of growth and development of young Atlantic Salmon

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved

A healthy habitat is everything an Atlantic Salmon needs! 

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved

Adult Atlantic Salmon are housed in pens of water from their native rivers.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved

Adult Atlantic Salmon 

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved

Artifacts from Ancient Fishermen at Alamoosook Lake

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved

There's lots to see and do at Craig Brook, inside and out.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved

Fun and education for everyone!

Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery does not charge admission fees and group tours for schools and organizations can be arranged. However, donations are always welcome to assist in the operation, upkeep, and future expansion of the facilities.  Leashed pets with responsible owners are welcomed on the outside grounds. 

For more information: (207) 469-6701 x 215 or

© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

There's More to Discover in Bangor, Maine

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012
Construction cranes dwarf
Bangor's Paul Bunyan statue.
Seems people have been discovering Bangor, Maine ever since the Portuguese mariner, Estavan Gomez, a captain in Magellan’s round-the-world fleet, sailed the La Anunciada up the Penobscot River in search of the legendary Northwest Passage to the Orient in 1525 under commission of King Charles V of Spain. French explorer Samuel de Champlain was also documented to discover the area in 1604. However, the city wasn’t officially incorporated until 1791 at which time it was named after an Irish Hymn, “Bangor”, by a pastor from Boston named Seth Noble. A healthy fishing and fur trade drew the earliest settlers to the area. Then Maine’s vast forests brought wealth beyond compare to the region making Bangor the lumber capital of the world and one of the busiest ports on the East Coast by the 1850s. Shipbuilding and shipping commerce thrived until the twentieth century when pulp and paper industries took their place. Since then, Bangor’s central location has grown into a social and economic center for the state and offers the region a wide selection of retail and service businesses, education and employment opportunities.

Recent development of Bangor’s waterfront along the Penobscot River has not only enhanced its beauty, its brought entertainment and cultural growth to the city in the form of the an annual Folk Festival, Waterfront Concerts, Hollywood Casino and Raceway, plus revitalization of it’s historic Opera House which houses the Penobscot Theatre Company. There are also a growing number of museums and galleries in the area, including Maine Discovery Children’s Museum and Cole’s Transportation Museum. Its history is very rich, especially in Bass Park, the home of the Bangor State Fair, one of the oldest in the country, and a raceway that’s featured harness racing since 1893.
© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012

Yes, there is definitely a lot to discover in and about Bangor, Maine. That’s the reason why a construction site on Main Street stretches all the way from Dutton Street to the corner of Buck Street and is changing the view of the entrance to historic Bass Park once again. Major changes to this block in my lifetime have included the 1955 opening of the now soon-to-be-demolished, v-roofed Bangor Auditorium. It was constructed behind an older auditorium, which preceded it, and was the second largest event center in New England at that time. The old structure was eventually torn down in 1967 leaving a nice park area behind the location where Bangor’s famous Paul Bunyan statue came to reside in 1959. The 31-foot, fiberglass and metal woodsman, which Bangor claims as its mythical son, was a gift to the city on its 125th anniversary and has a time capsule enclosed in its pedestal that's slated to be opened in 2084. Do not think I'll live to see that, but I have witnessed Paul, the statue, in an oversized Shriner fez to promote a convention and a bandanna for a Willie Nelson concert in July 1986 (which I have fond behind-the-scenes memories of ). The Paul Bunyan statue has even been part of the Stephen King novel, It, and, I dare say, is possibly photographed more than Stephen King or his Bangor Italianate style mansion with its surrounding unique, but fitting, bat and spider motif wrought-iron fencing.

In recent years, Hollywood Slots, newly renamed Hollywood Casino, has taken up residence across from the Bass Park entrance, where older hotels and businesses once stood, and from its parking garage you can easily view construction of the brand new Bangor Event Center, which will replace the oddly shaped, v-roofed auditorium that stands like a shadow behind it. This new structure is reclaiming space where the original auditorium once stood and is scheduled to open in July 2013.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012
As I mentioned earlier, I have fond memories of the Bangor Auditorium. It’s where I first saw a circus, interviewed Ted Nugent without any film in my camera, listened to a Willie Nelson concert through a headset with his lighting director, and attended a grandson’s high school graduation. Now, I’m getting itchy to see what exciting memories this new arena might bring to the city of Bangor, and of course, me.

Click these links if you are interested in progress on the new Bangor Event Center, or visiting Bangor, Maine.

Photographs and "Nosing Around Maine" Blog Posts © 2012 Gail J. VanWart
All Rights Reserved