There are several places I’ve been through the years that I can’t get out of my system. Castine, ME, Amsterdam, NL, Bruges, BE, and Key West, FL. I was lucky to be in the Keys in the early 80s, a little late to the party, Michael came many times in the 70s, I wish I would have seen it them. But even in the 80s, when we lived on Big Pine, KW was still pretty funky. And I still find some vestiges of that today. I love everything about it, the water, the sun, Old Town, the art, the people, all keep calling me back.
I’ve photographed pretty much everything in KW at least once and done paintings of some. But I still find something new each time. I love the weird and wonderful.
What I REALLY love is walking the Old Town neighborhoods and seeing the conch houses and the flowers and and gardens around them, the shadows from the bright sun and the interesting fences cut into different shapes.
On the way down I like to take the Card Sound Road and see if Alabama Jacks looks any different. It does not! However these days there are as many BMWs as there are bikes. One of my favorite stories about it, I’ve told many times, is about our crazy friend Daryl who lived in on a boat in a not so nice marina in Little Havana in Miami. We were going to Key West and on the way stopped at the Bar. There was a “no swearing” sign with a jar full of quarters. In his usual fashion Daryl’s language was peppered with four letter words. The waitress pointed at the sign with her other hand out. Daryl slapped a $20 in it and said “come back when I’ve used that up and I’ll give you another.”
Every year i walk up Olivia Street near the cemetery and see what new addition is on the directional sign there. It changes a little every year. I Love it! I take photos of directional signs all over the world but this one is my favorite of them all.
This years visit was Michaels kind of visit, more time sitting at the pool and reading. I’m trying to resist buying any more art right now, instead I bought books.
The book about No Name takes place in 1935 when the hurricane destroyed Flaglers railroad he was building through the Keys – we lived about 1/4 of a mile from No Name on Big Pine. I drove out to the end of the main road when the Ferry Terminal was. The island now has electric lines going out there, which only happened in 2013! But it’s still a place where people live that want to live on the edge. No way would I live there! There really has been little development on Big Pine in the past 30 years with the middle of the island still looking uninhabited with dirt roads to no where.
The second book is about a guy, Karl Tanzler, also known as Count Carl von Cosel, a radiologist in Key West, Florida, who developed an obsession for one of his patients, Elena Milagro Hoyos. Elena died from tuberculosis in 1931. With her parents’ permission von Cosel had an above ground mausoleum built for her. He visited the tomb every night and by 1933 he had taken the body home. Creepy!! The author is the husband of artist Helen Harrison, and co owner of Harrison Gallery, that I visit every year.
The third book is a collection of stories by people that lived in Key West during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, with all the wild, and beautiful things that went on then. Its written by the wife of a guy Michael worked for on Big Pine.
One day I spent the afternoon with artist friend Mike Rooney and his wife Annette, listening to Mike play at the Pineapple Pool.
This visit was full of art, I visited all the galleries, went to a street fair and saw friend Tommy with his beautiful wood working, attended a huge show with a painter, a metal worker, a wood sculptor, and a collection of art “after” Mario Sanchez at the Studios of Key West. I met a lady in a shop who told me about an opening for her husband at Salt Gallery so I attended that and met some more new people. Went to the opening of a show at Jag Gallery, by Lincoln Perry, Muralist, then went to hear him speak at the Studios of Key West.
I painted pottery, started painting a couple watercolors, sat by the pool and on the beach, read a lot and rested.
These are some of my paintings of Key West I’ve done previously.
The trip home was fun as well. We stopped at the Flea Market on Big Pine that has been going for over 40 years. Then we visited the Design District and Wynwood in Miami.
We even got to see one of Buckys geodesic domes, quite an entrance to a parking garage.
Jeanie Taylor Folk Art Gallery in Sanford is well worth a trip if you are anywhere close. And the Downtown of Sanford has really taken off the past few years, very nice!
Then we spent the night with friends in Gainesville, also former gallery owners whose gallery was on Los Olas in Ft Lauderdale and had a wonderful evening talking shop and reminiscing, and enjoying their fabulous art collection. Then I dropped my friend off in Columbia and spent the next night with my niece.
Where to next? I found out about a clay workshop in Traverse City Michigan at the end of the month with an artist Michelle Tock York, who I’ve admired for years, and I am also fortunate to have two pieces of her work. I will be going off to that, not really the time I would pick to go to Michigan but what can you do!
I’ve been to Maine 5 times but never seem to have enough time, so this year my friend Pam went with me for 2 weeks. And there still wasn’t enough time!
Our adventure started even before we got there. We let Siri change our route, mistake, however we did end up in Morristown, NJ. where my great, great, great, great Grandfather David Trowbridge, lived from 1730s until his death in 1768. He and his children and many grandchildren lived on a mountain that was called Trowbridge Mountain.
Also Pam just happened to be reading a book about Alexander Hamilton and we saw statutes of Hamilton and many references to his time there.
We had lunch across the street from the Square and enjoyed the sculptures and the flowers at 1776 by David Burke.
Our first stop in Maine was at a neat garden shop I had discovered last year near Kennebunkport called Snug Harbor Farm. So beautiful! In fact we stopped there a second time on our way home. I can see several paintings coming from these photos!
We visited Maine Art Hill and saw some neat whimsical work by David Witbeck.
We saw A LOT of art during this trip!
And we swung by to see Bush’s home on Walker’s Point, which has been in their family for over 100 years.
Our first four nights in Maine were spent in Blue HIll at the Blue Hill Inn which was built in 1830.
Blue Hill was a convenient place to start our tour of the Blue HIll Peninsula. The town was incorporated in 1789. It was a ship building and lumber center, also the granite quarried in the area was used to build the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York Stock Exchange.
This is the Peninsula just south of Bar Harbor.
We stopped by Nervous Nellies which wasn’t open but we did get some shots of the grounds. A very funky place indeed.
At the end of that road is Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, it was founded in 1950 as a research and studio program in the arts, offering one and two-week studio workshops in visual arts, music, literature and science. I’ve thought about going there for a clay workshop, and now seeing its location, I might just go.
I can never resist photos of weird signs and directional signs.
Stonington is a sweet little town at the end of the peninsula on Deer Island with a working harbor.
A gallery in Blue Hill – Jud Hartmann’s Gallery – concentrates on Jud’s bronze work. We were lucky to meet him and hear about his work. He’s been working on a series of limited-edition sculptures entitled: The Woodland Tribes of the Northeast.
He was very interesting and also told us all about the Indians playing lacrosse. Who knew?
He has been doing sculptures of Indians playing lacrosse for some time and is now working on a small clay sculpture to present to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (not far from my hometown) for a future installation there.
“The sport has its origins in a tribal game played by all Eastern Woodlands Native Americans and by some Plains tribes in what is now Canada. Among Native Americans it is still referred to as the “Creator’s Game,” and every tribe has its own mythology about it. I read that sometimes the games would include thousands of players covering miles.
You never know what you are going to learn on vacation.
We ran across these little sailboats going back and forth, just a few yards back and forth. When we got close we realized it was an art installation!
In addition to the flowers drawing me back to this part of the country, Castine was the other. Last year I had just a few minutes to spend there and I was enchanted by the storybook flavor of the town.
We took a walking tour of Castine offered by the Castine Historical Society, which clued us in on the history of this lovely town. This free tour is offered every Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10 AM during the summer for season 2022, and is run by knowledgable volunteers.
“Castine, Maine is a quaint and historic seaside village on Penobscot Bay with more than 400 years of history to explore. The town is on the National Historic Register and home to the Maine Maritime Academy, Dyce Head Lighthouse, several historic military forts, and much more. “
It is one of the oldest towns not just in the state but in all of New England. It was founded in 1613 by Claude de Saint-Etienne de la Tour as a small, coastal trading post. That’s seven years before the colony at Plymouth. There are more than 100 historic markers highlighting points of interest.
One thing we heard about, which is guess anyone who has studied American warfare knows about, is the Penobscot Expedition, which took place here. The Penobscot Expedition was a 44-ship American naval armada during the Revolutionary War carrying more than 1,000 forces under the command of Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. Their goal was to reclaim control of mid-coast Maine from the British, and it was the largest American naval expedition of the war. We lost and the Expedition was the United States’ worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor 162 years later. There were 560 killed, wounded, captured or missing, 19 warships sunk, destroyed or captured, And 25 support ships sunk, destroyed or captured.
While we stayed in Blue Hill, we met a couple that stayed at the Pentagoet Inn in Castine and raved about it.
In the Historical Society Building they had a beautifully presented and curated exhibit about Clark Fitz-Gerald, a name I was not familiar with. He was a brilliant sculptor, writer, and 2 dimensional artist.
When Fitz-Gerald moved to Castine in 1956, he had already made a name for himself as a sculptor. Throughout his long career, he achieved regional, national, and international renown for his work. There were also his drawings, historic photographs, and writings displayed.
Also on display is the Castine Bicentennial Quilt which is 6” x 24” which was created in 1996. The seven panels of the quilt depict the history of Castine from its settlement in 1613 to its bicentennial in 1996. It was designed and constructed by sixty members of the Castine community and presented to the Historical Society.
We also learned about their Elm trees. “In the 1930s a shipment of logs imported to Ohio by a furniture company for making veneer was infested with a bark beetle. This fungal infection wiped out 77 million elm trees over a period of decades. It was first detected in the Netherlands in 1921 thus the label Dutch elm diseease.
Castine is one of the few towns in the entire country where a large number of elms survived. Many are over 150 years old. A Dr Richard Campana of the University of Maine experimented on the trees with a serum he created to protect the trees from the disease. The town adopted a disease prevention program to monitor the health of the elms. A survey of the trees was done and each tree received a tag with a number.
An Elm tree committee was formed and an offical tree warden was hired and this continues today..
We really enjoyed everywhere we went but we both agreed that Castine was our favorite.
“This unique garden at the Preserve holds a prominent place in American garden history, both as the work of a distinguished designer and as the representation of a time of significant growth and development in American landscape design. The combined artistry, imagination, and passion of the garden’s designer, Beatrix Farrand, and her clients, Abby and John D. Rockefeller Jr., gave life to one of the most impressive gardens in the United States. East meets West through the insertion of an English flower garden within an Asian inspired landscape.
Located in Seal Harbor, the garden is designed to be at floral peak in August. It is open from mid-July until early September. Visitation is by reservation only.“
This garden is adjacent to the spot where their 100 room summer home, the Eyrie, was located. Younger Rockefellers didn’t want to live that way nor maintain it so it was torn down in 1962.
While on that peninsula we visited the Somesville Bridge which sits on the grounds of The Somesville Museum, the building overlooks an ancient mill pond and tranquil Somes Harbor with Sargent and Norumbega Mountains in the distance.
Beside the Museum and bridge, there is a Heirloom Garden surrounding it.
New exhibits featuring Mount Desert Island history topics are installed each summer in the Museum space. The Selectmen’s Building is often described as the most photographed site on Mount Desert Island. It was constructed during the 1780s by John Somes, son of Abraham Somes, who settled in the village in 1761.
Troughout its history it has been a cobbler’s shop, post office, and a museum, the building also served as the Town Office for Mount Desert during the 19th century and until 1911.
I wish we would have counted the post offices we saw, it seemed there was one at every turn.
We have painted bears in New Bern, Belfast has painted chairs and crosswalks.
Belfast is a Main Street Community, like New Bern and their Our Town Belfast is similar to our Swiss Bear Redevelopment Corporation. Some of their programs for public art include painted crosswalks and chairs. Sit Down Belfast provides lots of places to sit on chairs painted by local artists. I have to say the past few years I sit a lot more when traveling than I used to.
Belfast was a center of shipbuilding and manufacturing and surpisingly photography. In the early part of the 19th century real photo postcards were just coming out and Belfast made a name for itself in that genre. The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company was a pioneer in producing them, “unlike the mass produced variety, EIP’s postcards were the type known as “real photo postcards” meaning they were actual photographic prints, products of the chemical reaction caused by light onto a light-sensitive surface. “
We saw the former Presidential yacht Sequoia under wraps waiting to be restored, at the base of Maine street. It is 104 feet. It was known as the Floating White House during eight administrations. Even though we didn’t see it uncovered it was neat to see all the same. Somewhere I read that during restoration it will be available for viewing.
I met an artist – Kerstin Engman – and had a long conversation with her about her art. She uses cold wax with her oil paint. I’ve done a little cold wax but it was doing abstracts. Now I’ve got and another thing to experiment with, using it to produce representational work. Just what I need, another project (not).
We loved the architecture in that city.
While in Rockland we stayed at the Rockland Harbor Inn which is right on the main drag so it was easy to walk to the shops, galleries, and restaurants.
My favorite gallery in Rockport is Harbor Square Gallery, not only for the art but for the building itself. I is 3 stories with a rooftop garden.
While there we got to see old friends who took us for a ride on their boat, an old lobster boat now converted into a picnic boat! It was lovely to see them and great to be on the water. After we went on the ride we had dinner at the famous McLoons and had their lobster rolls. It was like eating a lobster without the work, huge chunks of meat!
I had been to the Langlais Sculpture Preserve before but the house and studio were not open. It was worth the return trip to see those.
Random shots of our touring.
Even though the Olsen House is not currently open this season – 2022 – it was still interesting to see where Wyeth painted his famous ”Christina’s World” painting.
A European sea captain found what is now Thomaston in 1603, in 1630 a trading post was built, and it was another century before Fort George was built in 1719 at the base of what is now Knox Street. There are more than three hundred 19th century homes , many of which whre contstructed for over 100 sea captains that lived there.
Thomaston is known as a town that went to sea. It seems more wooden, ocean going ships were constructed there than any any place in the country. Ships such as tall masted schooners, and full rigged ships some with as many as five or six masts.
In the 1840 census it was reported that there were seven millionaires in the country and three of them lived in this town. They were sea captains and shipbuilders. Their homes are still in existence and are beautiful. We took a walking tour of the town following the signs of the Museum in the Street signs.
We discovered several towns having Museum in the Streets programs.
Working closely with town historical societies, the company designs a free walking that “foster a sense of historical identity, educate, encourage preservation of local historic sites and promote knowledge of stories, events and traditions.” Most of the Museum in the Streets are in the Northeast US and in France. There is a main sign like the one above then smaller signs in front of the buildings with information about each structure. This program was developed by a local fellow who lives in the area and in France.
If we had this program in New Bern there would be a sign in front of most of the homes in our historic district.
One of the many beautiful homes in Thomaston is Monpelier which was built by General Henry Knox in 1793. It is now a museum.
The drive around New Harbor is beautiful and you get yet another glimpse of the fishing industry, while on the way to Pemaquid Point.
I first visited Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in 1973, it’s my favorite one anywhere. Not because the tower is so tall (it is short!) but because of the setting with the rocks below. The museum was very interesting and the movie they show is worth the time. It talks about all the lighthouses up and down the Maine coast, beautifully done.
This is a sweet little town on Route 1. We mostly shopped there.I love a shop where there are hand written descriptions about some of the pieces and quotes scattered about.
This shop was one of those…
We could not pass up the Waltz Soda Fountain on a block away, they have egg creams, real ice cream, and real sodas. We also enjoyed “Gifts at 136”, they have nice crafts and paintings.
The Five Gables Inn was the place we stayed we liked the best. It was in East Boothbay, away from the fray, on a deadend street, above the Linekin Bay. You can have your morning coffee watching the boats from the large porch, and watch the fog rolling in.
Five Gables Inn was built in 1896 and underwent an extensive restoration in 1989. Now it is a boutique hotel with a multiple course breakfast. They also serve afternoon tea and homemade treats.
I will say the food was amazing.
In Boothbay Harbor we had to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. I discovered it was started with donations. Planning for the garden began in 1991 when a group of residents dreamed of building a public garden. They were so dedicated that in order to purchase the initial 128 acres of land in Boothbay, they used their own homes as collateral. After sixteen years of devoted work by the initial group of founders and supporters, the Gardens opened to the public in 2007 and welcomed 35,000 visitors. As the largest botanical garden in New England, the Gardens covers 295 acres, 17 of which are gardens featuring native plants of Maine and other plants suited to northern coastal conditions.
It is the most extensive botanical garden I’ve been in in the US.
There is a lot of stone in the area, so there is also a lot of stone sculpture. The Boothbay Harbor Region Sculpture Trail wanders through town and points beyond. There is even a Maine Stone Symposium the end of July.
Wiscasset is a tiny town less than 15 miles from Boothbay Harbor. It has galleries, Sylvan Gallery-was my favorite, and several very nice shops, including Rock Paper Scissors and Birch Home Furnishings. You may think I shop a lot but what it really is is that the retailer is still in me. I love seeing how people do their displays, how they curate what they have, and I still like seeing what is new out there.
One of Wiscasset’s claims to fame is Reds. You can never go by there that there isn’t a long line waiting to place their order, but I know it can’t beat McLoons.
There has been a food stand on this spot at the base of the bridge since 1938 and the red shack dates back to 1954. It has been Reds since 1957, home of one of the best lobster rolls in New England.
On our way home we spotted a sign for Walkway Over the Hudson. It is part of a multi use trail that reaches 750 miles across New York.]
There was one last stop in Charlottesville, VA and that was at the Ivy Nursery. They have an extensive collection of unusual plants.
Since I sold my house and my new house renovations are nearing completion I left on a month long road trip to the NE with 3 other ladies, me in my rv, and the other 3 ladies in 2 trucks pulling trailers. I’m used to traveling by myself so my mantra was “I’ll meet you there”!
Heading north to Virginia I stopped by Hope Plantation the home of former Governor David Stone. The plantation complex offers insights into the late 18th- and 19th-century rural life in eastern North Carolina.
Also on the grounds is The 1763 King-Bazemore House which is a great example of vernacular architecture. It is one of the few remaining examples in North Carolina of mid-eighteenth century “hall and parlor” design. The home has been restored and furnished based on the 1778 inventory of owner, William King.
Heading into Virginia the Bacon Castle, is just outside of Surry. It is the oldest brick dwelling in the US, built in 1665 for Arthur Allen. It was originally known as Allen’s Brick House but became known as Bacon’s Castle in 1676 when Nathaniel Bacon’s men occupied it during the uprising that became known as Bacon’s Rebellion. It is part of the National Park Service.
I also stopped at a neat little shop I discovered on my last trip up that way, in Surry.
Our first two nights on the road were spent at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. So I cut off a few miles and avoided the traffic of Norfolk by catching the Jamestown Ferry. It’s just a little bigger than our local ferries, and my timing was perfect, I waited about 5 minutes to board. There has been a ferry running here since 1925.
The campground was perfect too, it’s right on the Capital Trail that runs from Jamestown to Richmond, is on the Chickahominy River. There are trails, fishing, splash pad, horseshoes and other games, and it has an amazing pool.
The bike ride to Jamestown from the park is about 7 & 1/2 miles and at mile marker 5 is the Spoke & Art, where a cup of coffee and a muffin hit the spot. You can also rent a bike there, even a recumbent trike like mine! The last time I was there they had a trio playing in the outdoor dining area.
It was pretty hot but much of the trail was in the shade and is paved. We rode to the Historic Jamestowne Visitors Center, ducked in to cool off and after riding back to the campground spent a couple hours in the beautiful pool.
From there I headed west, taking Hwy 5 along the James River and past the James River Plantations. I drove back to a couple of them, just to have a look. Some are grand, some are not! Shirley, Westover, and Berekley are the ones that are most famous but there are many more. Shirley Plantation, settled in 1613, is the oldest plantation in Virginia and the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating back to 1638.
I’ve been collecting Virginias LOVE sculptures around the state. I didn’t realize that there is a website listing where most of them are. And that the state reimburses communities and companies that commission a LOVE sculpture as part of the states branding “Virginia is for lovers”. You have to apply for the funding and if approved they state will reimburse you for $1500 towards the cost of construction. What a neat idea. Since, as of this writing there are over 275 LOVE sculptures around the state, it will be a while before I have seen them all. But here are a few that I HAVE seen.
I drove through downtown Richmond and spotted a few murals I liked and ended up going through a beautiful neighborhood I hadn’t been in before. It always pays to leave early and get there before things get too hectic. It also saves me money because the galleries are not open yet. I still do my best to support other artists wherever I go!
That night we stayed at Natural Chimney State Park. It is the location of the largest Joisting tournament in Eastern US – I’m personally surprised there is more than one anywhere! In fact it was taking place the day we left and has taken place annually since 1821. What the park is most famous for is its natural towers made of limestone dating from 500 million years ago, a time when this area was covered with water. They range in height from 65 to 120 feet above ground level.
I really like driving the “blue highways” instead of the interstate but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet to get somewhere fast. I usually don’t mind driving 81 through Virginia though because its one of the prettiest interstates I’ve driven.
All was well and driving was easy until I hit Harrisburg, PA. It didn’t matter if you went straight through town, like my friends did, or took the bypass, like I did, there was at least a hour that we lost with the traffic backup. So I was glad to get off that road for a bit by going to the Hope Hill Lavender farm just outside of Pottsville, since I missed the other one. The view from their mountain top shop was beautiful.
Next stop Lackawanna State Park. Before going there I made a stop in Scranton, there is some beautiful architecture there. And Steam Town! I didn’t stop this time but have in the past. When I was in my twenties I did a lot of railroad drawings and drawing of railroad depots. Some are even in the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library. Michael and I rode many of the tourist trains across the country and I ride the train whenever I get a chance.
The Lackawanna State Park is lovely but it was a quick overnight stop so we did not take advantage of all that is there.
Then it wasn’t a long drive to Watkins Glen. Route 6 was touted as an artisan trail but I didn’t see much in the way of art but the scenery, the further west you got, was beautiful.
I spotted Trowbridge (the last name I was born with) on the map and had to go see. I thought it was probably a wide spot in the road, and I was right. There was only one house. A lady was mowing her lawn so I stopped to talk to her, she lived in that house and told me Trowbridge was a stop on the railroad, and later the house was an Inn and the trolley ran out there from Elmira. The only indication the area was called Trowbridge was the street sign. Further north and east I saw a town called Conklin (my mom’s side) but didn’t have time to go there.
In Elmira I stopped to see the Carousel. It was built by Looff and not as detailed as the Philadelphia Tobaggon Company ones I’ve drawn, still it is nice to see it preserved and running. The park it’s in is quite lovely with a beach with dragon boats, different rides and a mini golf course. Elmira is where Mark Twain is buried and he spent twenty summers there at his wife’s sisters house. It was in Elmira that Twain wrote portions of some of his most famous books, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
A quick stop in Montour Falls led me to meet the wife of Magnus Agustsson, a sculptor, and tour their house/gallery. Born in Iceland, Magnus immigrated to the US in the 1950s and became a prominent Pediatric cardiologist and surgeon before becoming a renowned sculptor. His wife is responsible for the beautiful gardens on the grounds. The gallery is the house his wife lives in and every room is full his sculpture. While walking through the house/gallery, (which was packed) I thought to myself, is that going to be me someday??
New York – Watkins Glen through Ithica
At Watkins Glen we stayed right in town at Clute Park and Campground- there are absolutely no trees in this park and you are park side by side but it was quiet and you were just across the street from Seneca Lake.
We got up early and hiked DOWN the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park. So glad we read that you could do that because I would not have hiked up the 832 stair steps. You can take the shuttle for $5 and they drop you at the top. The park has a nice swimming pool too.
We went to Corning just to check to see how the downtown was doing and stop in a couple galleries. One I wanted to go into is now permanently closed, I hate seeing that but there were other nice shops like The West End Gallery, Vitrix Glass Studio, Conners Mercantile, and others. Of course if you haven’t been you need to visit the Corning Museum of Glass.
While walking across the street I spotted this metal train sculpture.
It is part of a historical memorial dedicated to the Corning Centennial.
And you can’t go to the Finger Lakes without going to at least one winery, there are over 100 in the region. The one we chose had outdoor seating with a beautiful view of the Lake.
We headed out and I took a detour to Ithaca. I had been there before and what I remembered most about it was how steep many of the streets are. This visit confirmed my memory! My brake light even came on for a while, I guess they got a little warm, but fortunately it went out again.
The Botanic Garden at Cornell University is a gem. They have every plant identified so I got a lot of ideas for my new garden.
The Downtown is thriving and there were three American Craft Galleries within 2 blocks, and a Papperie! Two of the galleries are American Crafts by Robbie Dein, Handwork, and there are many more painting galleries I did not make it to.
The other reason for going Downtown was to see the Carl Sagan’s Planet Walk. I’ve always been fascinated and dumbstruck reading about our Solar System and the Universe. This walk is a 1 to 5 billion scale model of our Solar System and it really drives home just how big it is. The Moon and Earth were just a few feet from the sun, but Pluto was 3/4 of a mile away! I drove to it instead of walking, glad I went since Pluto is at the Science Museum. I didn’t take time to visit the museum but will next time. Carl Sagan was Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University in Ithaca and this Planet Walk is in his honor.
The bonus of going to the Sciencenter was seeing this mosaic mural. A few years ago I went to Philadelphia to a workshop and helped Isaiah Zagar work on one at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, this is much the same style with lots of mirrors. Maybe I can find a place at Rhem to do one, I didn’t think I could get away with one on East Front.
On my way north I saw a sign for Bellows Falls. I remembered that the Erie Canal passes through there so took a detour. What I didn’t remember was the Women’s Rights Museum.
I took a quick break at Auburn to see Harriet Tubmans Home. She was illiterate, but help scores of slaves escape bondage and went on to become a Civil War nurse, a Union spy, the first woman to lead American military forces in combat and a renowned suffragette.
I drove through Skaneateles wishing I had time to stop but instead headed north to Lysander where my great great great grandfather died in 1837. We cannot find where he was buried but his wife and 12 kids headed west to Ohio afterwards. There is a cemetery in the town but I didn’t have time to walk through to look for a grave. I will have to say Lysander is a beat up little town but Sara Smith Schenck thought enough of it to make this cement planter, the only thing indicating that you are in the town of Lysander.
Now I REALLY had to hurry to get to Wellesley Island State Park. It’s a huge park and well done! And just a short distance to the Canadian border.
The park has a nature center, a marina, a beach, a store, and golf course plus 432 campsites that were very spacious. Wellesley Island is one of the Thousand Islands in this part of the Saint Lawrence River. There are actually 1800 islands, and I was told that to be considered an island, a piece of land must stay above water throughout the year and support a living tree. I have passed in the vicinity of the Thousand Islands both on the Canada side and the US side before but never had time to stop. I’ve read about the Boldt Castle for years and was thrilled to finally have a chance to take the boat ride and to visit it.
From afar it’s pretty impressive but you can’t tell how well it is maintained until you get off the boat. The Castle, boathouse, and island all belong to the The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. Construction began on Boldt Castle in 1900 for millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt as a tribute to his wife. Boldt Castle was designed as their summer dream home. The castle rivals those I’ve seen in Europe. the TIBA is painstaking restoring it, It’s probably half done. And the grounds are exquisite. If we would have read about the boat house we would have taken the boat to see it too, but didn’t realize how impressive that looks from the Castle! Before the TiBA acquired the Castle it had sat vacant and unfinished for 70 years. It’s well worth a visit, and the boat ride was fun too, seeing the other grand, and not so grand homes on the other islands.
Back to Wellesley Island, one of the two towns on the island is Fineview. And in Fineview is Thousand Island Park, founded in 1875 as a Methodist Campground, TI Park thrived as a family retreat with a Chautauqua atmosphere of religious, cultural and recreational activities. It is also full of beautiful gingerbread houses! We ate dinner at the Hotel sitting on the huge wrap around porch.
I took a quick trip to Clayton, just down the road. It has lovely shops, is right on the River, and is the home of the Antique Boat Museum and The Thousand Island Museum. What I enjoyed the most was sitting on the river eating lunch and watching the boats go by.
Then it was time to head to Old Forge, but I wasn’t through with the Thousand Islands area yet. On my way out off the island out of the corner of my eye I caught what looked like giant crows in a field. I was going too fast to stop so had to go to the next exit, 6 miles away, and come back to check them out. Yes indeed they WERE giant crows. They are by Sculptor Will Salisbury. I couldn’t find a measurement of them but I’m guessing they are 10-12 feet tall. Pretty cool.
The stop in Old Forge was very interesting. The camp we stayed at, Bald Mountain Colony, is on the grounds of what once one of the resorts you read about that the Adarondiaks were famous for. One of the earliest camps in the area The Bald Mountain House was on Third Lake in the Fulton Chain of Lakes, and there are 8 lakes in the chain. The Bald Mountain House was an early Adirondack resort hotel built in 1893 near Old Forge, by Charles M. Barrett. Designed to accommodate 140 people, the hotel offered luxurious amenities, daily activities, and relaxing mountain air to guests who often stayed for the entire summer season.
Everyone ate at the main building and there was a casino, horses, boating and all other types of sports to be played croquet, tennis, there was a dance hall, a soda fountain, and a bowling alley . The house was finally demolished in the 1960s when the “tent and trailer blue jeaned crowds” arrived. Now the property holds trailers and has 3 sites for transients like us.
While there we visited The Adirondack Experience, which used to be called the Adirondack Museum. The new name is more apt I suppose because it consists of 20+ buildings. Much like our history center there are interactive things you can do like paddle a canoe, break up a log jam, climb a fire tower and so on.
The View Center for Arts and Culture is in a beautiful building in Old Forge and they were hosting the 40th Annual Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors. The show was pretty impressive.
And lastly we visited Old Camp Sagamore. It was also built by William Durant and was later owned by Alfred Vanderbilt and now belongs to Syracuse University. Like where we were staying at the Colony, you could stay in the main lodge or in rather nice cabins on the property. In fact you can still do that.
I made a quick stop in Saratoga Springs, remembering how neat the downtown was, and still is.
Next stop Arlington, Vermont!
This was a month long trip so it is taking 2 blog posts to cover it.
I’ve been making a trip to Colorado every year for the past 4 years. Michael and I lived there in the 80s and I really miss parts of it. It’s so beautiful but like Michigan, where I am originally from, I don’t want to be there in the winter. I visit my friend who was a woodworker and also owned a gallery for 40 + years.
This years trip took us to Glenwood, Aspen, Grand Junction, Moab, Telluride, Crested Butte, Denver, and Boulder.
On the way west I saw this sign during a pitstop in Frisco. It’s really become a neat little town.
And we made a quick stop in Vail at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden. It was founded in 1985. And always have to stop at Piece Art Gallery, used to be Pismo when I knew the owner, a beautiful glass gallery. We carried some of the same artists but the main reason I stop there is to see the work of Stephanie Trenchard. She does this amazing cast glass sculpture. Here is an example. I met her years ago at an ACC show in Baltimore. She had this piece that was 6 feet tall of a lady. I’ve never forgotten it. At the time I could not afford it. There have been a few pieces of art I wish I would have gotten through the years and that piece is probably #1.
We always start our trips with a soak in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs, it’s probably the part I miss most about our time living there. It was especially neat to go in the winter with snow all around and steam rising off the pool. There used to just be the old springs but in 2015 they opened Iron Mountain Hot Springs. This year we just went to IRON Mountain because it was really hot out and they have shade. They also have 16 small pools, each with a slightly different temperature, and one larger cool pool. AND they have a bar although I can’t imagine driving home after soaking in hot water, in the sun, for a couple hours, and drinking on top of it. We did not partake!
We stayed at Four Mile Creek B and B owned by a jeweler, and a musician. They both owned a gallery with the friend I was traveling with, A Show of Hands in Cherry Creek – Denver. The rooms are full of art, as is the yard, and the food is really good.
An afternoon drive up Hwy 82 gave me my Aspen fix, I love that town and enjoyed the 6 years we lived there. A lot was still shut down from Covid but we walked around and enjoyed the beautiful city. I always love seeing the Maroon Bells, just look to the right as you begin to enter town.
But before we got to Hwy 82 we took the back road to Carbondale – thats Mount Sopris ahead, we could see it out our window from Aspen, from the other side of it obviously.
On the way to Aspen we stopped in Carbondale at True Nature Healing Arts. They have an amazing garden, restaurant, and labyrinth. Did you know there is a website that shows the location of labyrinths around the world? They list 6150 worldwide and 166 in North Carolina, including the one Martin made on Guion Street here in New Bern.
We then headed off towards Utah, stopping in a gallery in downtown Grand Junction. It’s been about 35 years since I’ve been there and they have done a lot with their downtown. It’s full of sculpture and thriving businesses. My favorite part is they took their very wide Main street and made part of it into a park on each block, traffic still goes two directions and there is parking but also now trees, shade, benches, etc.
On the way to Moab we took US 6 off of I-70 to visit the wide spot in the road, the town of Cisco. It’s a very funky tiny village but seems to have become a tourist attraction, the official population is 4. It was a railroad town but in Eileen Muza started an artist residency. There can’t be more than a dozen buildings and most might best be described as shacks.
From there we passed Fishers Towers, this is where you first get a glimpse of what eventually becomes the Grand Canyon.
This is an amazing area of some of the tallest freestanding towers in North America.
Just before you get to the towers you cross the Colorado River. Up until 2008 there was this neat bridge over the Colorado River called Dewey Bridge.
It was destroyed during a brush fire so just its skeleton is left.
I generally don’t like bridges but for some reason I liked this one. It was a suspension bridge, one way, and the decking was wood planks that bounced up and down as you drove over them, so disappointing that others don’t get to experience it.
Moab was next, I usually go west in the fall but this year I went in June, It was 109 degrees the three days we were there! I LOVE Arches National Park but we didn’t hike too much because of the heat but were able to see most of the major arches and just seeing the canyon walls is breathtaking.
The next day we got up at 5 am to drive into Canyonlands National Park, the road to it is almost across the street from Arches. We got up early to see the sunrise at Mesa Arch. It was a fairly short hike from the parking lot, we weren’t the only crazy people to be there that early, there were probably 40 other people there too. A lot has changed in this park since we were there last, the roads were all dirt and the signage was limited, I don’t think there was a visitors center either.
On that trip we were in our 1969 VW bus and were tooling along when three big horn sheep ran in front of our vehicle, they might have been going 10 miles an hour! In unison they came to a screeching halt and turned to look at us.
This year there were some fires so everything was a little hazy. We didn’t actually see a fire or where the smoke was coming from until we headed south out of town. Don’t know what people do that live where there are fires and have respiratory issues, three days was enough for me to be coughing and having a runny nose.
In this photo you can see the plume of smoke.
Telluride was our next stop, visiting all the galleries and shops. The beautiful waterfall is Bridal Veil Falls, a 365-foot waterfall at the end of the box canyon overlooking the city. Hiking and off-road trails pass by the falls and it has a hydroelectric power plant at its top. In winter people actually climb up the frozen waterfall. I say NO WAY.
Ophir, Ouray, and Montrose
North of town we drove part way over Ophir pass, as far as the little mining town of Ophir which has a population of 193. The towns elevation is 9700 feet. I was impressed with the flowers on the utility poles in town and I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo of them or the lemonade stand we stopped at. I said to the girls that they probably didn’t get much traffic (dirt road, over a high mountain pass, 11789 feet), but they said they did pretty well! We did drive all the way over the pass years ago when we had an old Land Rover.
We stayed in Montrose, visiting their botanical gardens, THEY have a crevice garden too!. Montrose isn’t all that pretty but it is the shopping hub for the whole area.
Ouray is another mining town north of Montrose and over the mountain from Telluride. It also has a hot springs. We were going to soak in it but it was too hot, and there is no shade. So we just gazed at it longingly. Lots of nice shops, lots of restaurants and some galleries, all packed with people.
A Trip over Red Mountain Pass was hair raising with logging trucks, no guard rails, and steep dropoffs. You pass Yankee Girl mine and a host of others. There are no guard rails because the road is open all winter, the road is narrow, and the snow plows have to push the snow off the edge.
There is a parking lot across from the Yankee Girl that has signboards talking about the history of the mines and the railroads.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Leaving Montrose it’s just a short drive to the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It’s interesting because there is a lot of red rock around but the cliffs in this canyon are black, or at least appear black due to the fact that it is narrow and is in shadow most of the time. This canyon is one of the best exposures of ancient (nearly 2 billion years old) Precambrian-aged rocks in the world.
A quick stop at a coffee shop in Gunnison, the Tributary, kept us going – then we went up the Gunnison Valley to Crested Butte.
I used to do an art show in Crested Butte every year. One year I drove the VW bus over Cottonwood Pass, it’s remote and the summit is 12126 feet, only to lose my clutch half way over it. I managed to make it to Crested Butte and some guys helped me find someone to fix it while I did the art show. These were the days before cell phones. Thinking back I had some very interesting experiences roaming the mountains by myself. I could have gotten out of the jams easier if I would have had a cell phone. Of course who knows if I would have had service. I could do a whole blog post about those experiences! Losing the fuel pump in the middle of an intersection in St George after being in the desert alone miles from humanity; blowing a piston through the top of the engine between Grand Junction and Glenwood where there is NOTHING for miles and miles and hitching a ride with a guy with a gun laying on the backseat; helping people get unstuck on Independence Pass at the narrowest section and being the last person to make it down before they closed it for the winter ; then losing the clutch, yikes!
Crested Butte seemed a little more touristy than it used to be but it was still nice to be there. We ate in a great Thai restaurant, Ryce Asian Bistro, visited all the galleries, and stayed at Elevation Hotel and Spa where we swam in the pool and soaked in the outdoor hot tub.
Back on the Front Range we went to the Farmers Market in Boulder, visited downtown Louisville, and looked at murals in Denver.
The mural program in Denver is called Crush Walls, it’s been going for a dozen years. Each year they paint over some of the murals. Last year 80 murals were painted. I don’t know how they decide which ones to keep. These are some of my favorites.
Then I zoomed home to finish cleaning out East Front Street house, work on new house, and get ready for my next RV trip to the northeast in late summer. And get some artwork done – the Artists Studio Tour is coming up the first Saturday of November – my new place will be one of the stops and then I’ll be the featured artist for November at Carolina Creations.
Lecce is in the heel of Italy’s boot, with olive trees as far as the eye can see. It is called the Florence of the South because of its baroque architecture. As we found in Bari the shops close from 1-3 for siesta! I don’t remember them doing this in other parts of Italy I have visited. And it might just be in the old part of town that this happens.
While the history of Lecce goes way back the period Lecce is most famous for is the 17th century when the Palaces and churches were built in the Baroque style out of soft local limestone. The Basilica di Santa Croce is the focal point of the old city with its amazing facade. But there are many other fabulously decorated churches in this small space.
You can still see ruins of a Roman amphitheatre which is at the dividing line of the old and new city. The amphitheatre is surrounded by buildings put up by Batista – Fascist architecture – which we saw a lot of in Napoli. It is partly buried because other ancient building were built on top of it. In its day it would hold 20,000. It is still used today for concerts and celebrations. Only the lower tier of seats remain. Near the square theatre there is a pre-Roman necropolis where Messapian inscriptions have been found.