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Road Trip Long Island and Points North

I know people that go to the same place for vacation over and over, it’s comfortable, you know what you are going to get, you can just sit and rest because there is nothing new to explore. Michael used to say going on vacation with me was like going on a forced march, he would have been happy to go to the same place all the time (mostly the Keys!) but for me – I’m curious to see what is around the bend, how people live differently than I do, what new art is out there I haven’t seen before, what food is different, how people plant their gardens, what lovely architecture there is to see – for me it keeps life interesting.

Life-sized public sculptures by Polish artist Jerzy “Jotka” Kędziora at Old Westbury Gardens

I decided to meet some friends on Long Island for a week, yes I knew the traffic would be bad but it’s the only time to go in my opinion! I started out by visiting The Greenbrier in West Virginia on my way. I was not impressed so don’t need to go back there again, however the little town of Lewisburg was nice.

I was driving my Sprinter and while I’m used to driving through big cities and have driven through NYC in it before I wasn’t really looking forward to driving through Brooklyn so got up at 5 am, there was still a traffic jam although not a long one. Actually I prefer a traffic jam over going 70 mph with thousands of other cars never knowing when someone will slam on their brakes. I made with without incident. My first stop on LI was at Old Westbury Gardens, I had been there once but it had been a long time. The gardens were beautiful and at their peak! The estate is on the National Register and was owned by an heir to the Phipps fortune. The money came from his father being partner in the Carnegie Steel Company.

We stayed at Wildwood State Park which was a beautiful campground and in a great location, where the North and South Forks meet.

Our first day we went to Sagamore Hill where Teddy Roosevelt lived. It is a beautiful home, there is also a nice museum, part of the US National Park System. I think the thing that impressed me the most was that it was fully furnished, with all the knick knacks, books, art, etc, that was there when he lived there. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a historic home that had so much original “stuff”. It was really neat to see it all.

The difference of the North Fork, the South Fork, of LI is always a surprise to me, totally different worlds. On the North Fork – Farm Market after Farm Market, dozens of wineries, cider houses, and wide open fields.

We stopped at Lavender by the Bay, they were doing a bang up business, their gift shop is very well stocked with everything lavender.

Lavender by the Bay
Lavender by the Bay
Couldn’t resist Uncle Sam
Loved the look of the front of this Hotel and the lady with the watering can was a bonus. Could be a painting in my future!

We could see that a lot of shops really struggle out there, their tourist season is so short, the middle of June to Labor day, yet the South Fork seems to thrive.

Can’t pass up something like the Big Duck without stopping. Before the wineries, cider houses, and farm stands, raising ducks on the east end of LI was big business. We are told as you approached River head you could smell them. So the Big Duck pays homage to that period. A duck farmer built it and used it as a shop to sell his eggs and ducks out of. It’s now a gift shop and tourist information center.

The Big Duck in Flanders, NY

And Lighthouses fall under the same category as the big duck. Can’t pass one by without a photo.

In Orient they have replicas of the surrounding lighthouses since most are accessible only by water.


We ate at this restaurant near the cross sound ferry at Orient, which I would not recommend, but my photo of it would make a nice painting!

Sailing to Block Island
Montauk Lighthouse and Museum

Block Island – I have been intrigued with BI for a long time so glad to visit and cross that off my list. We took the ferry out of Montauk, it took a little over an hour to go the 12 miles. I expected cliffs all the way around and was surprised to find one side of the island sandy and the other with high cliffs as I had envisioned. The island is very hilly. There were hundreds of boats in the harbors. We docked in New Town Harbor where most boats are moored (maybe a couple hundred), there isn’t much else in New Harbor so took a taxi to Old Town Harbor. We enjoyed the architecture, and walking around, then took a tour of the island.

Block Island
Rainy day on Block Island

After Block Island I spent a couple days roaming around Shelter Island, East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Watermill and other towns. The Mumford Farm ca. 1680, is a collection of buildings on the main drag entering East Hampton. It belongs to the Historical Society and is on the National Register.

There are a lot of windmills on long island.  The reason there were so many is in most parts of the country the mills were run by water running in a stream but on Long Island there are few streams but there is an abundance of wind. The Eastern end of Long Island has the largest concentration of surviving windmills in the country. There are two right in the village of East Hampton.

Mumford Farm East Hampton
Sag Harbor
Marc Dalessio

On my last visit I had driven through Sag Harbor on my way to the Shelter Island Ferry but did not take time to look around. It’s a cute town, quite down market from East Hampton, but with some nice old homes, shops and galleries. My friend Marc Dalessio had a show at a gallery there. This is how I want to paint in oils! loose and impressionistic. Don’t know if I’ll ever achieve it because of my background of architectural renderings I just can’t get away from my fascination with detail. But we’ll see. I’m working on paintings for a show I will have at Carolina Creations, it will be a combination of watercolors and oils. I’ve done some oil paintings through the years but never had enough time to really feel comfortable with the medium.

Beautiful lunch at The American Hotel – Sag Harbor

I visited the home and artist studio of Jackson Pollock and his artist wife Lee Krasner. It is a beautiful spot.

Jackson Pollocks back yard
When they pulled up linoleum from the floor they found remnants of some of Pollocks most famous paintings.

While in the town of Water Mill I visited a mill run by water that grinds corn into flour, they have a great little museum and had an art show to boot.

Also on the South Fork is the Madoo Conversancy. A beautiful garden owned and developed by artist, writer, and gardener, Robert Dash – only 2 acres – but with a lot packed in, including a studio where they had an exhibit – The Madoo Conservancy is pleased to present Madoo: A History in Photographs, Celebrating 25 Years as a Public Garden—an exhibition of photographs, published book and magazine features, and artwork from the archives of Madoo’s founder Robert Dash, including seven pictures Dash produced directly from his garden. It was well worth the visit.

I took the Port Jefferson ferry to Connecticut and my first stop was at the Pez Visitors Center. I would have never stopped there but my friends were there the week before and just mentioned it in passing. They didn’t tell me how neat it is. I had no clue how many Pez Dispensers have been made through the years. It is an amazing collection.

A quick drive through New Haven followed. New Haven was founded in 1637, and my Trowbridge ancestors arrived there in 1639 from England. Then they moved a little north to help found the settlement of Wallingford. My Mom was a genealogist so I grew up thinking about where we came from. Unfortunately genealogy is one of those things that can take over your life. I already have one of those things so can only work to get her research more organized, not do any of my own.

A day on Nantucket came next. The window boxes were fabulous. I took photos of probably 40 of them, each was a work of art.

Before leaving the Cape I visited Highfield Hall and Gardens to see the stick sculpture by Patrick Dougherty.

Not sure I totally agree with him but like his quote about his work – the line between trash and treasure is thin, and the sculptures, like the sticks they are made from, begin to fade after two years. Often the public imagines that a work of art should be made to last, but I believe that a sculpture, like a good flower bed, has its season. – Patrick Dougherty

I then drove across Massachusetts to Pittsfield to see a show of work by John MacDonald, at the Berkshire Museum.

Then to Williamstown to the Clark – my favorite art museum in the country, to see a show of work by Renior and his contemporaries.

A stop to see my sculptor friend Stephen Fabrico and his gardener wife Sara, then home.

Sculpture by Stephen Fabrico

It was an inspiring trip but I knew my yard was suffering in the 90 degree heat so wanted to get home and take care of it. What’s next? 4 days in NYC, hopefully a cold front will be coming through while I’m there. A couple of things on my list for that trip is to see the progress on the RailYards part of the Highline and a walk around Brooklyn Heights and maybe the Botanical Garden.

10 thoughts on “Road Trip Long Island and Points North

  1. Everything looks so fresh and bright even with the high temperatures. Thanks, Jan, for sharing your thoughts and photos.

    1. Thank you Bobbi! Yes I was pleased and surprised about that too. NYC this weekend, going to a trade show with a friend from Colorado, will take a day off to explore Brooklyn Heights and maybe the botanical garden, hope its nice there too. It’s supposed to be a little cooler. Hope you are having a nice summer!

  2. Jan, you are amazing! I love your travel log, I wish I had time to do this!

    1. Thank you Karen! I enjoy all the photos you post on Facebook of your travels too.

  3. Interesting. I grew up on LI and I have never been to the places you visited ( Except the Montauk light)

    1. That is pretty funny! The bad part is there is a traffic jam every day – a long one – from Hampton Bays all the way to East Hampton. After a couple days I figured out a way to take some back roads and go through Sag Harbor so it was a lot better. At best it would take an hour to go the 21 miles from Hampton Bays to East Hampton, and that would be the best, it was worse one day. But it was beautiful. I’m sure you see different things when you go as a visitor than when you go as a tourist. Next NYC and Brooklyn Heights for a few days, I’ll report on those too. Hope you are enjoying a quiet summer.

  4. This was wonderful Jan. Your first travel log that I’ve read. I’m from Long Island; Sands Point, so you took me home. Thank you. This was just wonderful!

    1. I started writing a blog in 2008, it was a lot about Carolina Creations and a little about my work and travels. Now it’s mostly about my travels but I’ll be doing more posts about my artwork soon. I was gone so much last year I didn’t have time to paint much. This year I’ve been working on oil paintings and have a lot in the works. It’s kind of exciting. Long Island was beautiful and thank you for commenting!
      I hope all is well.

  5. Oh Jan, you are having such fun with your blog now that your life is a bit more leisurely, and how we all so enjoy the comments and the photos! Thank you so much.

    I too was born on Long Island…Girl Scout camp at Hampton Bays or East Hampton as a kid…about 70 years ago. Not as much traffic or glitz then! Time has a way of passing.

    1. Yes I AM having a great time, and thanks for your comments. It was beautiful and would have liked to have seen it 70 years ago. Good luck on your move. I miss seeing you!

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