Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016-22 New Alexandria Pennsylvania


Falling Waters

New Alexandria Pennsylvania

Campground:   Bush Army COE campground.  GPS will take one as far as Bush Road, from there your on your own.  Actually a couple more miles down the road I arrive at a nice golf course.  After getting directions I head on thru the golf course and a couple miles further along an almost one lane road, I’m at the dam and the “Recreation Area”.  Cost:  $13 senior rate for water and electric.  They also have electric only and primitive sites, no hookups.  Sure wish they’d have signs or symbols indicating camping as it not apparent from the recreation area sign.

Distance Traveled:  104 miles

Pennsylvania barns, a different style

I could have taken a more direct route on major highways but decided instead to take the back roads, mainly on hwy 356.  What a ride.  It had all the excitement of a roller coaster ride.  Winding roads with curves and dips and some really big rolling hills for the ups and downs that make any roller coaster ride exciting.  Some of those rises were the type that when I crested the hill, I could barely see over the top of the hood of the truck.  And the dips required lots of down shifting with 5 and 6 degree grades.  I might have to reconsider back road driving through Pennsylvania.

In any case the campsite I’ve chosen is nicely wooded providing much needed shade with the temps reaching into the 90’s this week.  The lake is just down from my campsite and I see a few days of swimming in the lake this week.  I have no idea what is in the local area so much of it will be a total surprise to me and you when I start to explore this area.  My niece Kelly would like the place too, since the golf course is not even a mile away with really nice greens and the club house is in an old barn.

My first stop in the area was into Monroeville.  Needing to do some grocery shopping and of course have lunch somewhere.  I selected the Lamplighter.  A local establishment that has an old fashioned dining room with white table cloths, lounge with a stage for entertainment and a cafe out front.  I of course ate in the cafe side and was excited to learn that the next day the place would be closed for the shooting of scenes for a film called “Mindhunter”.  After I had lunch I walked around the place and saw crews setting up for the film, heavy cables running everywhere.  Extra lighting being set up in the bar and lounge area as well as the formal dining room where two couple were having lunch even as the film crews worked around them.

lunch and a movie set!

a movie crew member setting up

a couple regular diners not willing to eat in the c

Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Another day I was thinking I would visit Hannastown a historical settlement.  Not finding, I ended up in Greensburg.  On top of one of the many hills that make up the towns area, is the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.  The newly redesigned museum with an impressive sky extension jutting out over the landscape.  A temporary exhibit from the private collection of Barbra L Gordon of American Folk Art was on display in the new sky bridge extension.  Check out the links provided in this article as photos were not permitted in the temporary exhibit area.  It was one of the most exciting and breath taking exhibits I’ve attended in a long time.  The collection of folk art from 1800 through 1925 by self-taught or minimally trained artists is the finest collection I’ve ever seen.  Much of it, like the wood sculptures of native Indians (often used to sell tobacco products), haberdashery sculptures of men and women dressed from that period were some of the finest examples I’d ever seen. The paintings, wood ducks, whirly gigs, some furniture and hand painted chests brought back a time when things were hand crafted and painted by hand.  With such skill, all representing a young nation finding it’s own mark in the world.  The rest of the museum has examples of American Art and folk art, but couldn’t compare to this special exhibit.

permanent exhibit

a more recent folk art item

Pennsylvania landscapes


stunning wooded indian

John F Kennedy, photo of speach

A dear friend, Kathy Schnedler has been traveling on her own for a couple of weeks using her VW car with attached tent and will be meeting up with me today.  What a great surprise and so looking forward to her visit.  I was saving a big adventure for next week, but with Kathy here, we decided to do it this week.

first view before entering "Falling Waters"

Falling Waters, Frank Lloyd Wright.  

I’d visited this wonderful house a couple of years ago in the rain.  It being that special, that everyone on the tour never complained once about the rain.  Today, Kathy and I visited the famous home which has gotten just about every award and architectural accolade in the world.  The drive through southern Pennsylvania felt as though we were descending into more and more remote country.  The roads became hilly and mountainous as we eventually began climbing higher into thick forests with the towns becoming ever smaller, eventually only being a couple farm houses and maybe one or two business.

After an hours drive, we arrived at Falling Waters.  The home built for the Kaufmann family, one of three major architectural homes designed for the family, was built in 1935.  Costing $155,000.  That price included all of the outbuildings, carports, swimming pool, furnishings and Wrights architectural fee of $8,500.  Today, it costs the conservancy 2.1 million dollars per year to maintain the architectural wonder.

our tour guide, lower left corner of picture

drip from corner of cantilever patio drain pipe

Kathy and I really enjoyed the tour

We had an excellent tour guide who shared the history of the home. Frank Lloyd Wright was a meticulous architect who designed not only the multi-cantilevered home over a water falls, but also designed all of the furniture including many built in book shelves, dressers and a desk in each bedroom, all were attached to the walls none with legs touching the floor.  The home was innovative in it’s time with an open floor plan, large expanses of windows to blur the line between indoor and outdoor.  Most rooms opened out to large cantilevered patios jutting out over the landscape and falls.  A rock formation was incorporated into one corner of the home, providing an anchor for much of the cantilevered portions of the house and even protrudes through the floor, forming a portion of the living rooms fireplace.  Once again bringing natural elements indoors.  I was once again practically gushing at every view and direction as well walked through the homes different levels, learning about the families lifestyle, while they used the home from 1937-1963 as a weekend retreat.

The house also includes a separate guest house, 4 bay carport (Frank Lloyd Wright originated the carport) with servants quarters (for 4-6 servants).  The Kaufmann’s insisted that Wright design the servants quarters with the same quality and design details as the main residence, to the point one of the rooms in the servants quarters still contains a Picasso etching.

images from back side of house

outdoor shower anyone?

We of course were only permitted to take pictures outside and fortunately throughout our tour the clouds parted and sunlight began to highlight the house and waterfalls in glistening light.  A spectacular tour, perfect day to enjoy a world famous piece of art.

Well I hope you have the chance to see Falling Waters one day.  I’ve seen it twice and continue to learn more each time about this wonderful architectural achievement.  What faith the Kaufmanns must have had to approve the building of a home totally unlike anything else ever built and directly over their own water falls.

I know, I grinning like a school kid, loved the tour

the classic "Falling Water" waterfall shot

two flowing water falls beneath the house

By the way, Kathy has been quite adventurous on her camping tour as she is doing it by herself. Randy her husband is not always as into traveling much as Kathy is, so she packed up her VW car with attached travel tent and headed out for a couple weeks on her own.  As we drove back on a shuttle from touring Falling Waters, we met two other women who were traveling together.  One woman said, she had no problem leaving her husband behind and had just come back from a months trip to Germany.  Then joined her friend on this trip to see Falling Waters on their way to Washington D.C.  The other woman said she left her husband behind as well, since he had just died a couple weeks earlier.  She said it was a blessing.  Kathy and I were both thinking that could be taken multiple ways.  Afterwards, we got quite a chuckle out of the surprising conversation we had with these two independent women.  I believe this is the first time Kathy had ever traveled anywhere on her own.  So it’s been a big step for her.

love my wooden Indian

A note on the Pennsylvania highways.  They are an older design, with concrete barriers between the opposing lanes.  Signs indicate “right turns only”.  I’d not seen anything like that that I can remember.  Basically it means that if you want to turn left, you must use a turn around a loop to the right which will then direct you to a stop before crossing over the highway to the opposite direction.  Unless there is a stop light on the highway, where sometimes you can turn left and other times it’s not permitted.  Needless to say, until you get used to an area, it can be very confusing.

Now that I’ve confused you, I’ll let you go until next weeks report, where both you and I will find out where I’m going.  As of right now, I really don’t know which direction I’ll take, so after posting this, I need to look at a map and figure that out.

Have a great day, and remember, it’s not always necessary to know where you are going, but that you are getting out there and learning something new every day.


Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Falling Waters, Frank Lloyd Wright

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