So what do you do when you go to a balloon festival and the only balloons that are there are the ones on sticks that you can buy for some truly outrageous price? Unfortunately that turned out to be exactly the case this past Saturday at the South County Hot Air Balloon Festival in Wakefield, Rhode Island but of course we didn't find that out until after we had paid ten dollars a piece to get through the gate.
Seems to me that someone should have at least done the courtesy of telling us that due to the wind, there was a pretty darned good chance that none of the balloons would be going up as scheduled but our money was merely happily scooped up as we walked onto the grounds blissfully unaware that the only balloons we were going to see are the ones in this picture.
Shame, shame, shame on the Wakefield Rotary Group which hosts the festival every year that has been touted by Yankee Magazine as "one of Rhode Island's top 20 events". I would be willing to bet it is when there are actually some balloons to see but alas, such was not the case.
So what does one do when they are no stinkin' balloons to be seen? Being that we were almost there anyway, I asked Jason (who was driving) if he'd mind a ride over to Point Judith so that I could take yet more pictures of the lighthouse that has really become quite a favorite of mine since first visiting it last September while on my Blogger Beach vacation with some of the nicest people in the world - and Claire! Kidding, Claire, you know I love you!
Even though the brisk breezes had totally screwed up the opportunity to take any pictures of hot air balloons in flight, I couldn't be mad as they made for some delightful weather at Point Judith which sits on the west side of Narragansett Bay. One seventeenth century legend has it that Point Judith was named after Judith Thatcher who was a passenger on a small vessel with her father when it ran aground on the point and was almost wrecked. The legend states that Judith rendered great service and as a result the vessel was saved; in remembrance of this the crew called the point after her name. Another more likely possibility is that the name was derived from the Tribe of Judah in the Bible as settlements named Jerusalem and Galilee are located nearby; some early maps even mark the spot as “Point Juda Neck” which tends to give more credence to this legend rather than the first (even though the first is much more romantic!).
Inscribed on a plaque in front of the United States Coast Guard Station building, the history of the Point Judith Lighthouse can be found: "Because the treacherous waters and rocky shoreline have become the scene of many a shipwreck, Point Judith is often referred to as "Cape Hatteras of New England". In an effort to protect mariners, this site was acquired in 1809 from Hazard Knowles, and Point Judith Light was established the following year by William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence."
If you'd like, you can click on the above picture to read the rest of the plaque which goes on to give the history of the first lighthouse which stood for only five years before being destroyed by a storm in 1815 as well as information about the other dwellings which have helped guide mariners safely into and out of Narragansett Bay, including the small building which houses the compressor for the fog horn that sounds every 15 seconds and can be quite loud if you're standing too close!
Even though it's loud, there's something horribly romantic about the sound of a fog horn and the rolling surf together even in broad daylight - at least for me! It brings back memories of stories of Captain's wives waiting anxiously on their widows' walks scanning the horizon for a sight of their men and their ships returning to port. Yep, I'm definitely a New Englander it seems!
In spite of my Yankee heritage and close proximity to the coast, I have always considered myself to be more of a "mountain" person than an "ocean" person but lately I've been rethinking that as I seem to have found a real affinity for the sea and the sound of the waves as they crash upon the shore as well as the smell of the salt in the air. Granted, I'm pretty sure I'd do pretty lousy as any sort of seafaring type (after all, I got pretty seasick just making the brief passage between Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz Island in San Francisco!) but the more time I spend near the shore, the more I like it and wish I was one of those lucky people who could afford a home by the shore. Unless I get around to actually buying a lottery ticket every once in awhile and beating the odds to win, though, that ain't never going to happen on dispatcher's pay!
I guess in the meantime I'll just have to be happy with the occasional journey down towards the sea so that I can sit on the shore