Showing posts with label Southwest Harbor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Southwest Harbor. Show all posts

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Join the Flock in Southwest Harbor

© 2012 Copyright Daniel B. VanWart All Rights Reserved
Pink Flamingos Flock to Southwest Harbor, Maine

When July’s temperatures rise in the midst of summer on the Quietside of Mount Desert Island, it turns hot pink as flocks of flamingos suddenly take up residence in the front yards of businesses and homes throughout the quaint little town of Southwest Harbor. It’s the Harbor House Flamingo Festival that brings the plastic iconic lawn ornaments to the neighborhood, joining community, summer residents and tourists together, year after year, in celebration of small town life—the whole town is decked out and in the pink, so to speak, from one end to the other. This year the colorful event takes place July 13-16 with a full schedule and a promise to provide fun and entertainment for folks of all ages.

It is unclear, even to the Harbor House, how this annual event actually started. In fact, the inventor of the pink flamingo lawn decorations, Don Featherstone, had no connection to the area, until after the festival of flamingos was established. How it all started is really insignificant, it’s how the event has come to symbolize a community that works and plays together that’s important. The Flamingo Festival has become the kind of festival people add to their Maine bucket list.

Harbor House 2012 Flamingo Festival Schedule, Southwest Harbor, Maine

More Information:

Harbor House

Woof! Blae suggests this link:

Traveling to MDI with Pets

You can read more about Maine events 
and attractions in an issue of 
an entertainment magazine published monthly by 
Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine.

Nosing Around Maine  © Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart  All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bass Harbor Head: My Guiding Light

Bass Harbor Head Light 

© Copyright 2012  Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
Bass Harbor Head Light Tower
Last year I revised a t-shirt design I had created in the 1990s of Bass Harbor Light. Several months after, I was amazed to discover Bass Harbor Head Light is going to be featured as the quarter in the United States Mint 2012 America the Beautiful Ouarters® Program. I couldn’t have planned the timing of things any better than this accident of fate. I took it as a sign to poke around Bass Harbor a little bit more and Blae was hungry for some salt air.
Photo © Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
Blae at Seawall Park
SW Harbor, Maine

© Copyright 2012  Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
© Copyright 2012  Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
Around 1860, when the Bass Harbor Head Light was fairly new, more people inhabited its surrounding islands and coastline and one in five Maine residents were mariners. Maine’s lighthouses were key to survival in many instances. In modern times, our U. S. lighthouses are sort of like castles in Europe, each stands tall with its own unique history and mystique that draws visitors from near and far, year after year. Maine’s lighthouses, in many cases, are still functioning and useful, as well.

Bass Harbor, Maine is on the southwestern portion of Mount Desert Island known as the “quite side”. Its lighthouse was erected in 1858 to mark the bar across the eastern entrance of Blue Hill Bay. In 1974 the light was automated by the U. S. Coastguard and is now a private residence with outside access to the light tower and a walking path leading you to an excellent view of its front side from the ledges below. That is if you are up to a steep and somewhat challenging climb over the rocky incline tangled with weathered tree roots clinging to the cliff. It is a beautiful, but rugged, trail.
© Copyright 2012  Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved 
© Copyright 2012  Gail J. VanWart All Rights ReservedBy car, you can reach this out-of-the-way destination via Route 3 in Ellsworth, turning right onto Route 198, then turning right again on Route 102. The lighthouse can also be observed from Maine State Ferries and other vessels operating out of Bass Harbor and Frenchboro.

© Copyright 2012  Gail J. VanWart All Rights ReservedJohn Thurston was the first keeper to light the beacon at Bass Harbor Head on September 1, 1858. Until the US Coast Guard automated the lighthouse in 1974, twenty-two “wickies” in all had taken a turn at keeping the steadfast light glowing by their manual efforts for 116 years. Some stayed less than a full year, others two or more. Joseph M. Gray served as a keeper there from 1921 to 1938. When I read that on a sign at the lighthouse, I thought to myself how he must have really loved his job in spite of fog horns and clanging bells on those numerous days without enough visibility for the beacon’s light to do its job for those in the water depending on its guidance. My next thought was a curiosity wondering if I could locate him in my Gray family tree, since my mother’s maiden name is also Gray. Thanks to and my copy of Descendants of Joshua Gray compiled in 2005 by the Gray Reunion Committee and published by Downeast Graphics & Printing Inc., Ellsworth, Maine, I soon had my answer. This lighthouse keeper is my fourth cousin two times removed. Though I never had a chance to meet him, as his life ended before mine began, I did want to know more about him.  Back on the Internet through a link to Lighthouse Digest, I learned quite a bit. He was actually Captain Joseph M. Gray who spent a total of 40 years of lighthouse service at Crabtree Ledge, Mt. Desert Rock, Great Duck Island, Marshall Point, and Bass Harbor—after his six years of fishing off Grand Banks and before retiring to a small cottage in Tremont. A very nice newspaper article by Henry Buxton published in May 1938 and reprinted by Lighthouse Digest in 2005 about lighthouse keeper Capt. Joseph M. Gray tells a compelling tale and portrays a man I can certainly be proud to have among the branches of my family tree. Again, when fate leads you somewhere, its best to take advantage of the trip.  Seems my fascination with Maine’s lighthouses has not only inspired my creativity over the years, it has guided me to some family roots along the way.
© Copyright 2012  Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved
Side view of Bass Harbor Head Light 

A partnership between the U. S. Coast Guard, State of Maine and American Lighthouse Foundation intends to increase awareness of Maine’s maritime heritage and the rich history of its lighthouses and lighthouse keepers by offering visitors the opportunity to go inside many of Maine’s historic beacons on Open Lighthouse Day, which will take place on September 15 this year.

For more information about the 2012 Bass Harbor Quarter, my Bass Harbor QRtee™  
t-shirt, Maine’s lighthouse history and events, or the memories of Captain Joseph M. Gray, please check out the following links.