The day was cloudy and rain fell occasionally. Even in these conditions there was an abundance of light in the Fallingwater home. Though built long ago, this home still stands out as remarkable.
I’ve spent the past few years happening upon homes built by Frank Lloyd Wright, visiting exhibitions of his life’s work, and researching him online. The man fascinates me. Correction. His architecture affects me and that fascinates me. I’m moved emotionally whenever I see his work.
For me Fallingwater is the pinnacle of his work. The genius of how he melded the home in its natural setting. The stunning way the falls integrate with the structure. How he lets natural light reign supreme. You can feel it even in my petty attempts to capture his genius in these pictures. Amazing work.
In the southwest corner of Pennsylvania I found not only Fallingwater but also other homes built by Frank Lloyd Write. First is Kentuck Knob which is open for viewing and the other is a collection of homes called Polymath Park relocated to the area and converted into a Bed and Breakfast. For a Wright enthusiast this is one of nice detour. I’m glad I finally made it.
Beth suggested that an overview of my route would be appropriate. I’ve obviously not taken the shortest path but to see new sites I need to go out of my way on this 4,000 mile drive west.
I don’t drive across this continent without a plan. It may be hastily contrived and it may be incomplete. It may be only a sketch when I walk out the door but it’s going to mature quickly and it’s going to result in a great time if history is any indication. This is the story of such a trip.
It starts with a primary destination. In this case it is Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles where I would attend the four dayJazzTrax Festival. In honor of Ken Burns’ series, my goal going to and from the west coast is to visit National Parks and Monuments. Since it is still early fall and the weather hadn’t turned cold, I’ll take a more northerly path than usual. At the heart of it, this is my plan. Pretty loose, eh?
Well, as you’ll see, the details will flesh-out as I go “Westward, ho!”
(Actually I named this trip after a camp I attended in 3rd and 4th grades.)
This is where most people begin the Skyline Drive. I didn’t get here till after I’d hiked and biked the vast majority of its length. Not till the very end did I cap my adventure with the Dickey Ridge Trail hike.
My hike was 125 miles: 115 miles along the Appalachian Trail plus another 10 along Shenandoah’s Dickey Ridge Trail to the park’s entrance. In addition, I biked 105 miles along Skyline Drive. I have no idea where I got the idea pursue this big goal but I can briefly describe how I did it.
Stage 1: It all started innocently enough. “Why not hike a little section of that famous Appalachian Trail which runs 2,170 miles from Georgia to Maine?” I thought. Linden, VA on Interstate 66 was a convenient place to start so I did a couple of one-day hikes along it till I reached Skyline Drive which runs along the ridges of the Shenandoah National Park. When I arrived, the next phase of my adventure occurred to me. Continue reading
Wonders of nature can jump out at you and this giant elaborate fungus did just that. One minute I’m watching my path and the next I’m jumping back in surprise at the size and beauty of this growth.
I won’t deny it. The best part of this hike was the 10.2 mile bike ride of which all but 1.4 miles was downhill. What a thrill! I can hike uphill forever but I wither quickly when I have to bike the same incline.
When my hike planning went well on this adventure then I’d end the hike with my return being largely a downhill bicycle ride. This wasn’t always possible to plan. While I have elevation information for the hiking trails, I didn’t have something similar for the Skyline Drive. I have since collected that data using a GPS but I didn’t have it at the time. I just assumed the road contour generally followed the Trail and this was only true some of the time.
This hike was made to truly finish off my hike-bike of the entire length of the National Park. Hiking the Appalachian Trail within the park only covered 95 miles of its 105 mile length. The northern-most 10 miles are a separate hike along Dickey Ridge, a trail I hiked today.
I have now hiked the entire Shenandoah National Park from top to bottom!
In one morning I moved between being at an isolated waterfall deep in the forest to being practically run over by thousands of runners. Central Park is a big place with lots going on.
I enjoy hiking in National Parks and I love visiting in New York City. By spending time in Central Park I get the best of both. Since being cleaned-up and made safe, it’s a green gem in the heart of the world’s greatest city.
North to south, the park runs for over 50 blocks and it’s about a quarter the width of Manhattan. It’s huge: 843 acres accounting or 6% of Manhattan’s surface area. In its boundaries you can find many, many places of interest: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir, Central Park Zoo, the Harlem Meer, and on and on. As if this weren’t enough, it’s also the venue for a large number of events due to it being at the center of such a large city. It quite literally is a breath of fresh air in this densely occupied island. Continue reading