(Originally posted on Apr 30, 2005 – 05:03 PM)
Affectionately known as the Yawk, the Youghlogheny River seems to be a whitewater
kayaking haven in the middle of Ohiopyle State Forest – which strikes me as
an odd name for a park in Pennsylvania. But we stayed there after a trip through
the local Frank Lloyd Wright shrine.
When I called to reserve some places on the tour, the receptionist asked me how I’d heard of Falling Water. I thought back quickly, and really couldn’t say when I’d first heard of it. After working for Marshall (with the photos of him and Wright about the office) and spending time in Spring Green (a common take out point for canoeists and home of Taliesin), the question feels like “when did you hear about gravity?”
The tour was great, and I recommend it to anyone in the area – cost was only $13/person, and no photos of the interior are allowed. The rooms are smaller then the stock photos imply, but the windows do make the spaces connect to the balconies and outdoors. The doors and halls, however, are tiny by anyone’s standards.
Back in Ohiopyle, we set up camp for the night and decided to take advantage of the mostly unpopulated campground to share a shower – on the men’s side, figuring I’d shock fewer men then Scott would women. We quickly discovered a lack of hot water, and so lathered and rinsed in a speedy manner. . .and then discovered that only the stall we’d used had the cold-only option. Oh well.
In the morning, Scott worked on some photos while I hiked down to the Yawk, and then we packed up and moved on. After some miles had passed, we stopped to hike the Appalachian Trail – about a quarter mile of it, just off the interstate.
Finally arriving in DC, we have made ourselves at home in my sister’s basement, bikes leaning against my brother in law’s bookshelves (blocking his access to Shakespeare and Merrill), and completely disrupting the life of the family cats. Are we staging protests, are we petitioning congress? No, we’re here for the museums.
Our first DC day included getting the van to the mechanic to have the AC fixed, then negotiating the bus system to get to the metro rail to get downtown, where we walked to the Smithsonian buildings. The weather was pleasant, so we did the outdoor monuments. We hiked along the mall, scared the ducks in the reflecting pool, and climbed the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. Signs ask for respect and quietness, but several unrelated herds of school field trips stampeded about, just being kids – but being an awful lot of them. We left and headed to the Vietnam Memorial – worse crowds of teens there. We left and headed to the Constitutional Gardens and found a little solitude along the pond banks. We didn’t find any flowers though – it was more like the Constitutional Patch of Trees and Bushy Shrubs. Still, we found a quiet bench and ate our brown bag lunch in peace.
The afternoon was spent in the Museum of American History, which didn’t seem to be organized much. The exhibits jumped from presidential assassinations to textile production without any sort of framework. Again we were mobbed by teens in matching school t-shirts, and it got the best of me – I had to head out side and sit down in the shade for a while as Scott finished off the third floor. Then back on the train to get to the bus to get the van from the garage – burned out diode. The mechanics at Quality Discount Tire & Auto were really great, and pretty impressed with the Sportsmobile. They had the webpage up when we showed up, and we gave them the standard tour before driving away.
Another day, another museum. The National Space and Aviation Museum has all the toys. Scott spent a lot of time with the Wright boys, feeling a connection because his grandfather used to pick up the papers for his newspaper route at Orville & Wilbur’s bicycle shop in Dayton. We toured the mock up of Skylab (along with, you guessed it, lemming- like masses of students), discovered the lunar lander’s tinfoil coating is actually a reflective plastic, and used the interactive stations to bring up a satellite image of Madison (google maps have better resolution). Our stamina was a bit better on day two, as we were able to tour the complete 3 story museum, and still walk past the Grant Memorial at the base of the capital, navigate the streets and construction mazes over to the basement-level National Postal Museum. Having recently finished Terry Pratchett’s “Going Postal“, I couldn’t resist. And it was pretty interesting, with collections, descriptions of stamp production, and some holographic Pitney-Bows display, for which I paid more attention to the mechanics then the content. We got kicked out of that museum (it was closing time), and headed back to the metro at Union Station. To return for dinner with my relatives, we exited the metro at Wheaton Station, which my brother in law tells me has the longest escalator in the western hemisphere, and then hike about a mile through the nearly identical little red brick houses.
More photos at: http://www.lightsmithy.com/collections/01parks/east/dc