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Circus Trip 2018: Fallingwater

Day 39 & 40, Thursday & Friday, August 23 & 24, 2018

Rockwood & Mill Run, Pennsylvania

Thursday was a rest day.  It had been a little while since I had a day just spent at the campground, but there was another reason too.  My former employer was being sued, and I was being deposed as a witness in the lawsuit.  I have to admit that it was an odd experience, laying in my car bed with my laptop at the ready (part of the deposition was answering questions about exhibit documents), answering the attorney’s questions under oath.  It is not an unheard of experience in my career, but it was the first time I’ve ever been deposed while hanging out in a campground in Pennsylvania!  I’m just glad I didn’t have to fly home for the deposition!

The rest of the day, I relaxed, took some walks, and wrote.  The Hickory Hollow Campground in Rockwood was mostly set up for RVs, and I had the tent area all to myself!  Unfortunately, the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania was quite cool during my visit, so I didn’t have an opportunity to check out the pool at the campground.

 

Friday I was back at it, and ready to see a highlight of the trip.  The architect Frank Lloyd Wright is fascinating to me.  I have enjoyed visiting the homes he has designed and seeing how he incorporates nature (and styles representing nature) into his designs.  So it is no surprise that I was excited to visit Fallingwater!

Fallingwater is considered to be Wright’s masterpiece.  It was built in 1935 for Liliane Kaufmann and her husband Edgar, owners of the Pittsburgh based Kaufmann’s department store.  The Pittsburgh wealthy had long been building homes in the Laurel Highlands area outside of Pittsburgh, and the Kaufmanns were no exception.  What is unique, however, is the home.  Fallingwater is built directly over a waterfall on Bear Run, and incorporates the waterfall and the stream into the design of the home.

It is incredible!  There are stairs from the living room of the home to access the water below.  There are 4 bedrooms and six bathrooms in the home.  Fallingwater has several sections that are cantilevered, meaning they are only supported at one end, including the living room and the outdoor balconies. The home is constructed with concrete and locally quarried Pottsville sandstone, and a series of cantilevered “trays” make up the home over the waterfall.  Wright called his style organic architecture, where stone floors continue inside and out, corner windows blur the lines between interior and exterior, and glass is used in abundance to bring the outdoors in.

Wright wanted the design to be in harmony with nature, and he did not want to have unnecessary braces or structural support.  Wright also insisted that he design the furniture on most of the homes he designed, and Fallingwater contains the original furniture that came with the home.  The Kaufmanns were permitted to display some of their own knick-knacks and artwork; Wright liked to control every detail of the homes he designed.

Unfortunately, there were some disagreements between Wright and the contractors, and the owners of the house.  The Kaufmanns were concerned about whether Wright had enough experience working with concrete and structural engineers recommended much more structural bracing than Wright wanted; the owners had the additional bracing added in spite of Wright’s protests.  Even with this additional structural support added, a study done several years ago showed that the cantilevers were still in danger, and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has had to add additional support in recent years.

 

The tour was very interesting and gave a lot of information about the Kaufmanns and their prized home.  Unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside, and there were far too many people on the tour to sneak any, but I did wander the grounds and I made sure to get the iconic shot of the home and the Bear Run waterfall.  Fallingwater is certainly worth a visit if you have the chance!

 

COVID Diaries: Day 45

Yesterday I hit the Friday wall.  I was so exhausted that I went to bed about 6 pm, slept until 8:30 pm, and then slept from about 10:30 pm to 6:30 this morning.  I guess I really needed it!

Today we are supposed to have heavy rain and thunderstorms so I went for a decent walk first thing in the morning. The university campus was once again, sparsely populated…

 

When I got home the sun was peeking out, so I did some weeding and raking (with my new 8 inch wide shrub rake) in the garden beds until the rain got more serious.  I must say though that my yard and garden isn’t in as tip-top shape as so many others that I hear about, since I still work 40+ hours per week, but I feel like I’m making some progress!

I planted the yellow/green colored Golden Millet grass that I bought on my grocery run last weekend.  It will go nicely with the Emerald Gold Euonymus shrub that I planted years ago and is still struggling to get established…  Each year it is the little shrub that could – never gaining much of a foothold but refusing to die.  Maybe this is the year!

The rest of my day promises to be wildly exciting.  I finished a puzzle Thursday night so I might start a new one, read one or both of my current books, or do more writing here on the blog!

I hope you are all staying safe, and hopefully your weather is sunnier and warmer than mine!

 

Arizona Getaway 2019: Endings

Day 3 & 4, Saturday & Sunday, March 16 & 17, 2019

After Mom and I left Chiracahua National Monument, we still had some hours in the day left, so why waste them in a hotel room?  I wanted to try some local wines, so we found the Arizona Wine Collective in Tucson.  It is a wine bar that features and serves an assortment of Arizona wines.

Arizona Wine Collective

I chose to taste through a flight of five and told my server what I typically like; crisp, dry whites and lighter, less oakey reds.  She explained what she would recommend based on my palate and I went with her recommendations.  I enjoyed four of the five wines she selected for me, so I feel like she did pretty well!  Sadly, I didn’t end up recording the wines I had, so I’ll just have to go back again!  I do wish they had bottles to take with you, but unfortunately, they did not.  I see an Arizona wine tour in my future.  It has been a while…

Arizona Wine Collective

The Arizona Wine Collective doesn’t serve food, but there are a couple of restaurants in the complex where they are located and you can get takeout delivered without charge.  Mom and I split a delicious order of nachos from the restaurant next door and it was more than enough for dinner for two.

The next morning it was time to head home…  We drove over to the Tucson airport and deposited our hamster car (Kia Soul) back at the rental place.  Then we sat outside for a while soaking up the Arizona sunshine before it was time to make our way through security.  I can never get enough of feeling the warm sun on my face!  Especially since as I am writing this I’m looking outside at an inch of snow, a temperature of 19 degrees and a windchill of 6, with a high temperature today of 26 degrees.  I need some warm sun!

Sculpture at the Tucson Airport

 

A Pegasus!

 

Until my next escape!

 

Braganini Reserve Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine

My cousin and I visited St. Julian Winery last year when I was visiting Michigan.  I had tasted a few wines of theirs before, but had never visited their tasting room.  That changed last September!  I loved one of their sparkling wines, and opened it a few days ago to celebrate – Saturday?

The Braganini Reserve Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine is non-vintage, and I found it impossible to decipher the Braganini on the label.  That was my only gripe though.  St. Julian’s tasting notes describe it as, “light golden, butter cream yellow in color. Lively, lemony acidity gives the spicy citrus and Bartlett pear flavors excellent structure and complexity. Crisp in texture, with shades of toast weaving through the lemon zest and honey suckle flavors with a refreshing Honeycrisp apple finish.”

I wish I had more of this wine!  It was delicious!

 

2019 Morgan Cotes du Crow’s

This wine was one of my August wine club selections from the wine shop in town.

Morgan Winery was founded in 1982 in Monterey County; their tasting room is in Carmel, California.  This wine is sourced from their vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and San Lucas appellations of Monterey County.

This Rhone-style blend has a dark ruby red color, and a heavy consistency that sticks to the edges of the glass.  The flavors are raspberry and cherry, along with a light woody tannin.  I opened it on Tuesday, and enjoyed a glass, then got pulled away by life for the next two nights.  It was still delicious on Friday!

This wine was aged in French oak barrels, with 15% new oak that added a hint of spice to the flavor of the wine.  It is not your standard GSM blend, as it contains Tempranillo instead of Mourvedre, but it works for this wine!  The blend: 52% Syrah, 44% Grenache, 4% Tempranillo.

If you have a chance, check this wine out!  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Chenin, by Field Recordings

A few months ago I joined a wine club at our local wine shop.  I love the wines that the owner chooses for his shop, and for years I have asked him to pick wines for me.  I tell him my preferences and my price range, and let him pick some for me – he always knocks it out of the park.

During my divorce, I closed down my non-essential spending in order to replenish the savings that my ex had wasted.  Then once I had savings built up, I went on my big trip and needed to live off of those savings for a bit.  But now, with a paycheck coming in again, I have a bit extra to splurge, so I joined the wine club.  It gives me an opportunity to try some new things.  Each month I get one white and one red, and I opened last month’s white on Monday night.

The wine is called Chenin, and it is a Chenin Blanc from Field Recordings, a winery from Paso Robles, California, that I have been hearing about for years.

This wine is delicious!  It is 100% Chenin Blanc, sourced from the Central Coast of California.  It is a combination of green apple and floral flavors, with a light minerality.  I paired mine with such gastronomic weekday delights as tuna sandwich, cream of mushroom soup, and BBQ pulled pork and rice, which basically means that it tastes good with anything!  The winery recommends pairing it with shellfish, salads or turkey subs, which basically means that I probably love these unpretentious people.

You see that I drank it out of my Dia de los Muertos candy skull stemless wine glass – I got it at the Dollar Store!  Wine is meant to be accessible, and who has the time or money to eat scallops and steak every night, or pull out the fancy wine glasses?

Try this wine – you won’t be disappointed!

Circus Trip 2018: Amana Colonies

Day 19, Friday, August 3, 2018

After my second respite in just a few days, I was fully recharged and ready to resume the trip.  My destination for the day was the Amana Colonies.  Yes, that Amana, as in Amana appliances.

The Amana Colonies are the home of a group of German Pietists who fled persecution in their native Germany to settle near Buffalo, NY.  Eventually they moved to Iowa in 1856.  They brought their craftsmanship with them from Europe, and for over 80 years, they maintained an almost completely self-sufficient economy, with a division of labor among the community members.

Me in a German style hat

The society tried to maintain everything as equally as possible within the society by not using money, and not using products that came from outside the community.  Men and women were considered equal, but interestingly, marriage and child-bearing were discouraged, which obviously had an impact on future generations of colony members.

There are seven towns in the community – the total population of the seven is around 2,000 as of the 2010 census.  The colony founded the Amana Corporation, which manufactures refrigerators and other appliances to sell outside the community; it was this business that generated the money that the community needed to purchase land outside of the colony to support the members, as well as to buy supplies that could not be made by colony members.  (Amana is no longer owned by the colony).

An Amana home

All land was owned by the colony.  All jobs were assigned by the colony, and members ate communally in several communal kitchens.  Everybody who could work was given a job according to their abilities, but in general work was divided into traditional male and female roles, with men working in the factory and in the fields, and women working in the communal kitchens and gardens.

The Ackerman House – built 1856

I took the van tour of the Amana colonies.  It was fascinating; our tour guide was a former member of the colony so he had a lot of information on the inner workings of the colony and what it was like to grow up there.  He left the colony as a young adult, and later returned there to live, but he did not rejoin the religion.

Our guide outside the museum

On our tour, we went to several sites within the community.  We saw one of the general stores, a communal kitchen and a church.  At the church, a woman who was a member of the colony explained the way that they worship, with men and women separated during the service.  We also got to watch a video of the history of the community, with lots of historic photos of the community.  It was so interesting to see the cemetery too.  The premise is that all people are equal in the community, so the graves are simply laid in rows, with all the headstones the same, and simply arranged in the order in which people died.  It is certainly a departure from the concept of family plots.

 

 

The Amana colonies functioned well for over 80 years as an almost completely communal economy, importing almost nothing from outside of the colonies.  However, over time, weaknesses began to reveal themselves.  Colony members became unhappy that outsiders had technological advances, and began to make money on the side to support these purchases.  Other colony members then became jealous about what the Jones’ down the street had.  It is a familiar story whether or not you live in a community with a self-sufficient local economy, and sadly it eventually meant the end of the economic structure of the Amana colonies.  Members began to demand a vote of the society, to determine whether the group wanted to continue with their separate, communal society, or abandon it and join the capitalist economy of the people who lived outside.  I think you know how the vote went.

Today people continue to practice their form of worship, but the communal society they built here is gone.

My mom had recommended my visit there; I was interested but I doubt I would have sought it out had she not mentioned it.  It was really interesting though and I was glad I did.

One last note on Amana.  They have a couple of wineries!  I stopped by Ackerman Winery, a family owned winery that has been in operation since 1956, and did a tasting of their mostly fruit wines.  They are sweet, but I found a few that I enjoyed, and purchased the Rhubarb wine.  And I learned that I do not like dandelion wine – who knew?  Now I do.

Ackerman Winery

 

 

Oz Winery: Emerald City Lights White Wine Blend

Whelp… Less than two months in and the job is officially super-busy.  Never a dull moment!

Meanwhile, I opened this wine the other night; I picked it up on my visit to Oz Winery in Wamego, KS.  Yes, that’s the Wizard of Oz, in case you were wondering.  The winery gives all their wines Wizard of Oz names, and carries all sorts of Oz and wine memorabilia in the tasting room.  You can sample two wines for free and this was one of the wines I chose to try.

The Emerald City Lights is a “proprietary” white blend, which is fancy speak for “they don’t want to tell you what the blend is.”  I disagree with this philosophy, since wines are so different naturally that there isn’t really a need to protect the specific grapes used.  But anywhoo…

This wine is very light, with only the palest yellow color, and tart flavors of lemongrass beneath a floral nose.  It is delicious, and much more than I was expecting from a Kansas wine.

Unfortunately, since I had limited storage space in my car on my trip, I only bought one bottle of this wine.  I wish I had more…

 

 

2013 Genoa Cellars Flying Colors Red Blend

I got this wine a few years ago when my girlfriends and I went to the Whidbey Island Half Marathon.  We did a wine tasting in a little wine shop in Coupeville, WA, and I fell in love with this wine.  I finally opened it, and it did not disappoint.  It is a red blend, with bold flavors of blackberry and hints of tobacco and cocoa, with medium tannins.

Genoa Cellars is located in Woodinville, Washington, and they focus on Super-Tuscan-style wines made from Sangiovese blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot.  They source their grapes from vineyards in the Wahluke Slope and Red Mountain regions in Eastern Washington.

I couldn’t find any information online for the 2013 vintage, but the Genoa Cellars 2015 Flying Colors Tuscan-style Red Blend won Double Gold in the Cascadia International Wine Competition. The blend for the 2013 vintage is 53% Sangiovese, 32% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot.

At $29, it is a bit of a splurge, but if I don’t treat myself who will? Happy Monday!

Circus Trip 2018: Idaho, Montana and Tires

Day 2, July 17, 2018

You should probably know now that some days on my road trip weren’t really all that exciting.  Some days had a lot of driving, and less sightseeing.  This was one of those days.

I woke up at 6 and even though I wanted to get a bit more sleep, I couldn’t.  I got up at 7 and got on the road just before 8.  Kim and her husband both work early, so I said my goodbyes to her adorable dogs, horses and cows, and headed out.

I got on Highway 2 and it wasn’t long before I crossed into Idaho.  The sign was on the other side of the road, and I opted not to cross over to pose with it.  I was still getting my selfie-stick legs at that point!

Welcome to Idaho!

I stopped at Albeni Falls and Dam on the Pend Orielle River (pronounced Pon-duh-rey) and checked it out.  The Albeni Falls Dam was completed in 1955; Lake Pend Orielle is one of the largest and deepest natural lakes in North America.  It is 68 miles long and 1,237 feet deep at its deepest point.  I saw an osprey nest on top of the railroad bridge there, and managed to get a decent photo!

I also stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the Moyie River and the Moyie River Hydroelectric Project, but it was less than impressive from that vantage point.  I could have gone down to the river level to catch a view of the dam, but that would have meant doubling back.  Some things just aren’t that exciting…

Moyie Dam

The Montana state line was worth a stop though!  Montana had one of the prettiest signs of the whole trip and it was easy to get to!  Of course, I had to pose with it.

Welcome to Montana!

Lunch was at a rest area a bit further into Montana, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, peas and a peach.  You will find I ate a lot of peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  No refrigeration required!

The temperature outside was still in the mid-90s, and in Libby, Montana, the tire indicator light lit up.  I stopped at a Les Schwab tire store and they checked the tires, which were all about 5 pounds over their ideal pressure at 40 PSI.  The guy explained to me that tires “bloat” in hot weather, but that they would go back down when the temperature dropped.  As I have lived all my life where it really never gets above the low 80s, this was new to me!  You keep learning new things!

My next destination was my final stop for the day – West Glacier.  I was going to spend some time in Glacier National Park!  I didn’t have a reservation, and it was high season, so when I stopped in at the Timber Wolf Resort Campground and they had one remaining site, I took it, even though it was the group campsite.  They were kind enough to not charge me extra.  All of my friends could have joined me!  It turned out to be a nice campground, even though the roads could have used a water truck (they were so dusty!) and the showers were one of only a few that you had to pay extra for (75 cents for 7 minutes).

A path at Timber Wolf Campground

Dinner was a four cheese pasta box and chicken sausage; it was my first time using my camp stove on the road!  I also had a Black Box Merlot, that came in a 500 ml tetra-pack.  I’ve never been much for wine in a box, but it came in so handy on this trip!  I didn’t have to worry about an open bottle rolling around the car and it is reclosable!

I made a meal!

Even with the high temperatures that day, it cooled off quickly after dark.  I walked down to the gazebo at the campground, where they had wifi and I did some blogging and relaxing.  By the time I was ready for bed about 10, it wasn’t too hot to sleep in the car!  I did put the screens on the car door so I could sleep with the windows open without letting all the mosquitoes in.  Those things came in handy!

Elk, WA to West Glacier, MT