Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Southwest Harbor, Maine’ category

Wendell Gilley Art Museum

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47℉ at 6:30 am, cloudy, high 57℉

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We spent the better part of the morning doing laundry and cleaning up inside the trailer. A visit to the Wendell Gilley Museum was the next order of the day. I spent a lot of time there in 2012 while Martha took a bike tour in the park. I love this place! Mr. Gilley was a plumber for most of his life. He had a very successful business on the island, having four employees. In his mid-50’s he began carving birds as a hobby. The museum has a great film interview of him 35 years ago. The young girl who interviewed him for the film still works at the museum, and came up to talk to us after watching it. You can see his soft manner and speech, telling how he got started and how it progressed. He gave his first tiny decoy to a secretary of a local business. Years later, after he had become famous, she gave it back to him, saying he should have his original carving. He made her a new one in exchange. He said he could work with drills and sanders, but holding the wood in his hands, he could feel the bird as it developed, and feel what he needed to change. Working for a special client, he tried hard to make a great carving and kept failing. He said his best work came when he just carved, letting the work flow. He had a great little shop to work in, saying he enjoyed the quiet hours alone. He finally sold his plumbing business and spent all his time carving.

One room of the museum has his original workbench and tools. A very nice gentleman, Steven Valleau,  carves at another table. He has been carving for 30 years or more and teaches classes. In the winter there is a 6-month course, but there are also 1-day or multiple-day courses (http://www.wendellgilleymuseum.org/education/workshops.html). The museum is an active place where artists come to see or practice or show their work. A cabinet holds work of some of the students. A man talked with Steven about his own carvings, what he was doing and what he needed help with.

We spent an hour or so marveling at Mr. Gilley’s many carvings. I have often thought of carving, so I bought his book and Martha bought some placemats. I love this active museum. Mr. Valleau said it was well worth a trip to visit Mr. Gilley’s cousin, who also carves. We saw a sign for his house on our drive yesterday. If we pass it again, we will go in.

Bar Harbor and Acadia Mountain

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47℉ at 6:00, high 72℉

Monday, October 17, 2016

We had to move sites in the campground in order to stay a couple of more nights, but the weather is looking good for the rest of the week and there is so much to see here. We drove to the Hinkley Boatyard to drool over the prettiest boats I have seen. Then we took the loop drive around the southern tip of the western side of the island, or what is known as the Quiet Side. There is a beautiful coastal view at the bottom after which the road takes you to Bass Harbor.

Then we drove over to meet Diego, Andrea and Isaac for lunch, more great food and company. We drove them to the airport for their connector flight to Boston. It is bigger and nicer than the Abaco airport in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, but similar. We watched with great amusement as the little 9-seat plane was loaded. They put the luggage in the nose of the plane with little room to spare. Then the very overweight pilot comes out, checks everything and boards. Passengers must give their weights so the plane can be evenly distributed. Isaac got in the back and had very little headroom. We stayed to watch the takeoff just to be sure. Fortunately all went well and we later found out everyone reached their destinations fine. Whew! As we watched all this, a mid-sized jet came in. Only two passengers got off and the plane stayed put while they took a taxi somewhere. It was a couple, maybe in their 40’s. Wonder who that was.

We hiked Acadia Mountain on the way back. There are lots of steps climbing up giant rocks, but it is only a mile to the top from which the view is spectacular. Looking south, you can see Southwest Harbor and the Hinkley boatyard. Fall colors dotted the forests all around. We sat and soaked it all up for 20 minutes before heading back down. Martha grumbled something about walking flat trails from now on. I admit all the fallen pine needles make you cautious about slipping. A fall here would not be good, but this is a beautiful, very cool trail to a spectacular view.