Saturday, June 30, 2012

Trash or Treasure?

Summer Staffers on Spectacle Island during Staff Training Week 2012.

Lucky me!

Escaping the office last Tuesday to accompany the Save the Harbor staffers and marine educators during staff training week, I was fortunate enough to join the excursion to George's and Spectacle Island, two of the Boston Harbor islands that have been open to the public for all Boston teens, youths, and their families to enjoy-thanks to Save the Harbor's hard work. On that cool morning, little did I know, I was in for a treat to explore the many hidden treasures that the islands have to offer.

As a frequent boater myself (proud of my 15 foot Boston Whaler docked off of Eastern Point in Gloucester!), I have had the opportunity to travel to many islands along the Massachusetts coast, including Misery Island, Little Misery, Plum Island, and Thatcher Island. However, nothing compared to the gorgeous view of the city of Boston from Spectacle Island, a historic landmark of Boston that was once used as a dumping ground for all of Boston's waste. The trip to Spetacle Island was a warm, windy ride as I chatted  with some of the staffers aboard the cruiseship-thanks to Bay State Cruises!

A spectacular view by boat of Boston Harbor!

I have to say, getting to know some of the summer staffers was one of the best parts of the trip. Karrisha Gillepsie, one of the youth leaders, was a joy to talk with on the trip to Spectacle Island! This is Karrisha's second summer at Save the Harbor and she was happy to share her experiences with me-which all sounded positive and full of excitement.

Stepping foot off the dock at Spectacle Island, I was amazed at the lucious green grass that covered the island and the strips of rocky beaches-chuck full of colorful seaglasses and mysterious artifacts leftover from the landfill. As Bruce directed us on to explore the beach, I stopped with some of the other staffers to sit in the adirondack chairs at the snack bar. It was a beautful view: blue skies, clumps of white clouds, boats cruising in and out of the harbor, and a great glimpse of the city of Boston from the island (a check off the summer STH bucket list for me!).  Next, we explored the beaches for curious looking artifacts, trying to figure out what the object was used for or what it was once part of.

Amongst the rubble of china glass, broken milk bottles, pink sea glass, and old makeup containers, I found a rubber object that appeared to me to be an old piece of a toilet plunger. Some of the staffers jumped away when they saw it in my hand, screeching "EW!" or "THAT'S DISGUSTING!". I thought it was hilarious, and picked it up anyway (assuming its been over ten or so years and has been covered by salty water and or clumps of earth). However, the piece of junk to me was more of a treasure, something that was once part of a whole, an item of history, thrown out by someone who had once found it useful.

Just some of the Spectacle Island treasure that the staffers found on the hunt for artifacts!

When the group of us was rounded up to present what we had found and what we thought the object was, Bruce proved all of us wrong as he explained that the rubber item was a piece from an old boat, used as a pump of some sort. Other staffers had found wires, marbles, bright colored seaglass, and other glassware with curious inscriptions engraved on themt. After we all explained as best we could our chosen treasures, we placed them back in the sand to preserve the history of Spectacle Island and its many thought-provoking artifacts.

My adventure came to an early close as a I rushed off to make the 2:00 ferry back to Boston. I was sad (selfishly) to learn that for the rest of the staffers, the journey was not over- they were getting on the next ferry to float over to George's Island to explore an old fort and learn more about Save the Harbor's summer excursions for Boston youths and teens. I was pretty jealous when I got home from work late on Tuesday and looked at the photographs- wish I could have explored the dark cave that exists there! Luckily I have all summer to experience the trip to George's Island.

The excursion for staff training to both Spectacle and George's Island is only one of the many boat trips and island explorations I have yet to experience. I am excited to participate in the events and programs offered this summer! I hope you will us this summer to get to know Boston Harbor better-and appreciate and experience what it has to offer.

Hopefully see you soon!

Meghan Gaucher
Communications/Travel Writing Intern

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