Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Annapolis, a furnace, and captivity

I was close enough to Annapolis to drive over from Mt. Vernon and spend a few days.

The town is very water oriented....

and very, very charming.

It is lovely to see a downtown that still has the buildings from its birth.

and the buildings are cared for and used.

Finally it was time to head north out of Maryland.

 Along the road north on Rte 806 I came to this interesting site--The Catoctin Furnace.

This furnace was for iron-making from 1776 to 1903.  It provided the raw  pig iron necessary for munitions used in the Revolutionary War plus the iron needed for tools for cooking and farming as well as rails and cars for the railroad.

It was built in this location because of the lush forest all around it.  When it was in full blast  it required one acre of harvested wood per every 24 hours of operation.  The forest around the furnace was devastated and all the trees there now are less than 100 years old.

It was furnaces like this that 'fueled' the development of the country and the rise of the industrial revolution. 

The little community that surrounds the furnace has several homes that survived that era but it must have been a mixed blessing to live there.  When the furnace was in full blast the roar of the operation was constant,  never stopping year around during night or day.  The black charcoal dust filled the air and covered the village.  And at night there was always a red glow that lit the sky.

That night I camped in a State Park......

 and discovered these beauties.

At first I was aghast that there were at least a dozen in cages and on display in the park ...

Until I learned they were 'rescued'.

They had been wounded in some way and rescued by the rangers in the park and these were the birds that were not able to be reintroduced back into the wild.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mount Vernon

George Washington's home is the perfect 'gentleman's estate.'  Mount Vernon occupies 8000 acres on the banks of the Potomac River and is so well cared for that it looks almost as new as when the Washington family lived in it.

In it's day it was a working plantation but, like all plantations of that era, there also had to be a well tended garden that supplied the family and workers.

And even though it was lovely it was no where near as spectacular as Jefferson's garden.  But  since I am collecting some pretty interesting 'little-known facts' here is one that I bet few of you knew....

I learned that the house was, of course,  not equipped with anything resembling a bathroom but there were outhouses throughout the property.  Washington had each outhouse equipped with a wooden drawer under the seat to catch the (ahem) poo!  The human waste was collected daily and composted then used on the garden.  Oh, do I pity the poor slave that was assigned that job.

The house looked like it was built of blocks of stone...but no, it was made of a wood treatment called 'Rustication'.

It is an interesting technique and I thought it looked great.

The absolute best part of Mt Vernon came into view through this walkway to the kitchen building.

The view of the river is spectacular with a great rolling lawn that the children just automatically gravitated to.  I can imagine the games of tag and croquette played on this lawn....

I wondered if Washington planted that tree.

Rows of rocking chairs were set up on the veranda and I claimed one for myself....

Then I just sat and rocked and gazed out at that wonderful view.


The outer buildings were furnished as they were then.  This one was the kitchen for the main house.

The Gardener's House

The Spinning Room

The Blacksmith's Shop

This young man comes to work every day and makes all the nails, pots, tools, barrel staves, and all manner of utensils in exactly the same way as they were made in 1800.  Everything used at Mt. Vernon is a copy of the original.

Male slaves bunk house

with their kitchen.
The female slaves bunkhouse.

Martha Washington

George Washington

(I never saw the wooden teeth even though one of the docents said they were in the house.  They probably wouldn't have let me photograph them anyway.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sigh Me Says......."There's been a change in plans"

For those who have been reading my blog you will remember my brother-in-law, Don in Florida--the one with the hydroponic garden. Well, two weeks ago, while on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, Don fell and broke his collar bone.  At present he is in a Rehab Center while learning how to dress and feed himself with his non-dominant left hand. After a few conversations with him via phone, I have decided to put my northern passage on hold and reverse course.  I am presently on the way back to Florida and will be there in about a week.

Sigh Me says..."If you are looking for the map I think I found it."

As most of you also know my blog postings trail my actual locations by about one week.  Since I am a single woman traveling alone (and I give out my blog address to anyone interested) I have made it a practice not to divulge my location until I have vacated the area. That may seem excessively cautious but keep in mind--I parked in front of a busy tattoo parlor 3 days ago and in a very remote pawn shop parking lot last night; neither were the most secure spots.  Plus I don't want to invite possible unnecessary problems by encouraging someone to follow me.

Sigh Me says, "Please turn out that light so I can get some sleep!  By the way, do they make a sleep mask for cats?"

The reason for the explanation on the blog postings is that I still have pictures and stuff for Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey that I don't want to forget and I will be posting it as I drive south.

Sigh Me says, "Will Florida be any cooler than New Jersey? This humidity is ridiculous.  By the way, I sure am glad you bought that fan."

However this trip south may take longer than I anticipated.  I started out from Pt Pleasant, NJ two days ago and when I got to the edge of Philadelphia I started finding road construction and lots of detours.
After the third or fourth backward turn into the world's worst rush hour traffic, Elizabeth, the GPS, decided to put her foot down.  She stopped working!  She just jammed up and refused to budge.  And I knew I had just passed the same shopping mall for the third time.

Sigh Me says, "My beautiful fur coat is absolutely fabulous but I wish I could take it off in the summer. AHH, that breeze feels good on my neck."

The detours kept telling me to take this state road or that freeway but I did not recognize any of the roads.  My Atlas was too old and the map was too small for me to discern which road I needed to be on.  At one point I saw a sign that read "Wilmington city limits" so I was sure I was finally headed right.

Sigh Me says, "I notice that this heat is making my ankles swell.  If I just prop my feet up while I nap that will take care of the problem."

But I drove for another hour and nothing was making sense.  I tried two grocery stores, a CVS and a Walgreens to get a current map but none were to be had. Google Earth and GPS are the Walmarts of the map industry and they are wiping them out.
Sigh Me says, "Did I hear the dinner bell?"

I was getting very tired and hungry by the time I stopped in the last store to ask for a map and directions--and I chastised the clerk for not carrying maps of Delaware.  She informed me I could probably find one when I got to Delaware.  The shock must have shown on my face when I said, "I thought I was in Delaware.  How far away am I?"
"Oh, about 50 miles." She said.
Lessons learned--1.) I rely way too much on Elizabeth to find my way. 2.) My sense of direction is grossly out of whack if the sky is cloudy and there are no mountains to guide me. 3.) I hate big-city rush-hour traffic to the point of it becoming a phobia  4.) Florida is a very long way away from New Jersey and 5.) Forget about schedules!
By the way, I think I just passed the same Walmart for the 3rd time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Smithsonian's Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Lest you believe that I am not a fan of modern art--for shame!  This museum was great great fun.  Plus, they let me use my camera!

It is a bit like entering a space ship when you first arrive.  
  and the art work in the sculpture garden is large and in-your-face.

Circle of Animals/ Zodiac Heads by Ai WeiWei. This artist has been very much in the news this last year--and I think he is in something akin to 'house arrest' in China right now.  But his work is stunning and I hope he can get out from under the 'political thumb' enough to share more of it with the world.

I wondered if this is 'Leo the Lion'.  I sure hope so--I would love it to be my astrological sign.

Maybe is it more like 'the year of the rooster'...

or Bear?

As I entered the museum I had to put on slippers over my shoes!  Now, I knew I was in for something different....

It is called "Neon Rooms" by Carlos Cruz Diez and it was important to the affect that the room stayed pristine to give one the illusion of being suspended in space....

and as you enter that is what you feel.  You can hardly see the edges of the room in the glow and suddenly your equilibrium is challenged.

These pictures were taken through a two-way mirror and on the other side the color is reflected back to  you.

The next room was filled with long blue plastic neon tubes--called "Suprasensorial Installation" by Jesus Rafael Soto.  The tubes go on for quite a ways though I wasn't able to get an angle to show the depth. But once you reached the middle there was a feeling of not knowing which way to go to get out.

This lovely lady stepped inside and modeled for me.

"Long room"--untitled by Dan Flavin

"Head of Sorrow" by Auguste Rodin

I have no idea but I thought he was really funny.

"Flowers" by Andy Warhol
(I wonder how long it took him to think of that name)

"Rotating Eyes of the Falling Tree Monkey Face--43.35" by Mark Grotjahn! Now you know,  the name of that painting just popped into my head the instant I saw it. (Do some of these artists munch on psychedelic mushrooms when they name their paintings?)

I had to mention this building--it was really spectacular. and this curved window had a great view of the Mall and...
the Capitol.

(Continued below)