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Posts Tagged ‘Spring 2012 trip’

No surprise that I ran out of writing steam again at the end of the  last trip.  If there’s anyone besides Dick and I reading this, you know I always stop writing (can’t get caught up) and leave us hanging somewhere,  hundreds of miles away from home.

So, quick shots of the ending of the  Spring 2012 trip.

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Roscoe Village, Coshocton, OH

A really beautiful, well-preserved canal town.  We were here during an arts/crafts festival, so not a typical day, much busier – but we loved it.  You can walk here from the nearby campgrounds, if you’re RV people, and it’s a beautiful walk.  There are houses and museums to visit, restaurants and shops.  The highlight of the day for me was listening to a Civil War Singer – he was a storyteller as well, and wove fascinating history  into each song.

The next day, we visit James Thurber’s home (Columbus, OH)  in memory of my Dad and his love of the New Yorker and their writers.  E.B. White above all, but Thurber too.  Thurber lived here with his parents, while he went to Ohio State University. The photos are of the typewriter that he used while he was at the New Yorker and the exterior of the home.  Now, on to our current trip – nowhere near here!

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Kykuit

Shuttle busses leave from Philipsburg Manor (which we toured first) for Kykuit, a weekend home for three generations of the Rockefeller family.  It’s set high in the hills, and although the highlight was rumored to be the subterranean art gallery,  my vote goes to the grounds and  vistas.  John D. Rockefeller, Sr. built Kyquit, but there’s quite a juxtaposition between the older, more staid style of the former, and the preference of 3rd generation, Nelson Rockefeller, for modern art and sculpture.  Call me a heathen, but I found the windowless basement rooms full of modern art rather depressing. I’ll stay on the verandah overlooking the Hudson, thank you.

One View from Kykuit

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The Round Stone Barn at Hancock Shaker Village

This is a wonderfully preserved, authentic, Shaker village – in a gorgeous Berkshire setting.  The tour is self-guided but we kick off the morning with a great, informative orientation talk and tour through the most interesting (for me, at least) building on the premises – the Brick Dwelling House, built in 1830 to house over a hundred brethren and sisters.  It’s fascinating to see how the sexes lived apart, but under one roof.

The Shakers, unlike the Amish, embraced technology and the buildings and grounds are full of  examples of their innovations, like the famous round barn.

But they’re also known for their shaking and singing – and we get to do both in an afternoon music session in the Brick Dwelling House. Women on one side, men on the other, of course!  Our costumed interpreters, Jim and Rebecca, have marvelous voices and a lovely blend, and it’s a great acoustical room, so it’s really a delight to listen to them and learn more about Shaker music.  They also teach us several types of songs, while we’re still seated, then we take to the floor to test our combined singing and dancing (and shaking) skills. We finish with the Simple Gifts Song and come round right.

The Brick Dwelling House

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It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.   Herman Melville

Arrowhead

Melville’s second floor study is directly over the piazza (porch – but I had to say “piazza” because that’s what he called it, and it’s the title of his short story collection, The Piazza Tales, written here).  It’s truly awe-inspiring to stand in the room  where he wrote Moby Dick, dedicated to Mount Greylock, which can be seen in the distance from the study window. Melville had his most productive literary years here, although, sadly,  he never got the recognition he deserved.  Ultimately, debt forced him to sell this beloved farmhouse and move back to New York City, where he worked as a customs inspector for 20 years. So, it’s rather poignant walking through his home, thinking about how he never knew the impact his writing would have on the world.  But, I’m going to prefer to think of him, out in the barn in back of the house, talking about writing and books with his friend and neighbor here,  Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

 

We also visited the grandly named, Berkshire Athenaeum, which is now just an ordinary public library in downtown Pittsfield, but which houses an extraordinary collection of Melville artifacts.

And we ended the day at the Old Forge , a rustic and always BUSY restaurant in Lanesboro, near where we’re staying at the Hidden Valley Campground.  We discovered that when you’re eating a dozen chicken wings, and bread and salad bar, and drinking beer, you don’t need an entire steak dinner to boot!  But, all delicious – and now we have leftovers.

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Here’s a few pictures of film locations.  This blog site is driving me nuts with picture placement so I’m not going to write anything about the charming town of Natchitoches (I practiced saying that before we went to the Visitor Center and found out it’s nothing like what it looks!).  I’ll just try to post a few pics.

The Steel Magnolias House

Ouiser's House

Truvy's Place

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Through our audio headsets, Elvis croons “Welcome to My World” as our little shuttle bus winds its way up the driveway to his mansion. I’m shocked as we pull up to the front door – not by the relatively small size of the house, I was expecting that.  But, where are the lines?  Where are the crowds?!  We basically walk right into Graceland, and after a few minutes of milling about and looking at the first few rooms, the rest of our group has disappeared into another part of the house. The tour is self-guided, so we take our time and basically are alone in every room. Except for the ghosts.  Our audio tour doesn’t pick them up, but the imagination does.

Living Room at Graceland

Graceland Dining Room

Nothing is quite as tacky/kitchy/outlandish as I’ve been led to expect.  Heightened expectations, I suppose.  The kitchen looks so, I don’t know, ordinary? I feel like it could be my grandmother’s, only bigger.

Graceland Kitchen

The TV room in the lower level has a bit more zowie going for it in the color scheme.  Evidently Elvis heard that President LBJ watched three TV sets at a time, so there are three of them here.

TV Room at Graceland

The billiards room across the hall is covered in 400 yards of pleated fabric.  For a windowless room, I actually find it exotically pleasant.

Billiards Room at Graceland

Going up another set of stairs, we encounter the Jungle Room.  It’s probably the most far-out room in the house, with green shag carpeting covering the floor and ceiling, a stone wall waterfall at one end and oversized African motif furniture – lots of animal fur and carved wood. Man-room on overdrive.

Jungle Room at Graceland

We head onto the grounds, where horses still graze, and tour Vernon’s office, the Trophy Building and the Raquetball building.   There is an amazing amount of things to see here – and across the street we’ll go aboard his airplanes, including the Lisa Marie, see a large collection of his automobiles, including the pink Cadillac, view costumes, videos and all kinds of memorabilia.  But, for now, we’ll say goodbye to the king of rock and roll in the Meditation Garden where he’s laid to rest, alongside his parents and grandmother. And remember him as he was in the early videos,  charismatic, irrepressible and exuberant, and clearly one of a kind.

Elvis Presley's Grave, Graceland

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