Longwood Gardens Photos Tell the Story

I have met avid gardeners while visiting other famous gardens and seminars and they always gush about Longwood Gardens. I have finally made it to see it in person. Wow. It is amazing. The conservatory is incredible. The photos will do a better job of telling the story. Take a peek.

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Longwood Gardens opens everyday at 9:00 a.m. and August 3 will stay open for extended evening hours for a celebration they call Nightscape.

We dedicated about 4 hours to see the gardens and Pierre DuPont’s house.

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All along the way we saw the healthiest specimens of flowers, trees, shrubs, with an emphasis on native plants. The regular summer rain and humidity produce gardens I could never replicate in California.

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All along the way the staff members and volunteers did their best to enhance our experience with information and help. How do you maintain a 300 acre garden, conservatory and historic buildings? With 400 employees, 700 volunteers and student interns.

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The Italian Water Gardens have a timed fountain display. It was very soothing to watch. There are so many fountains, including a gigantic display under reconstruction in front of th Conservatory.

We stopped at the Terrace Cafe for a light lunch and a cool drink. My food was disappointing. I barely at the everything cookie. Yes, I didn’t eat the cookie. The pita chips with hummus tasted stale. Plus it is expensive. You cannot bring anything besides water so sometimes you just have to eat at the cafe. There are more upscale restaurant options too.

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Pierre DuPont’s weekend home was lovely and full of interesting historical information about the property. It allowed a peek into DuPont’s impressive life–he was CEO simultaneously for DuPont and General Motors.

This part of Delaware is beautiful and I can see why so many people choose an Inn or Garden for their wedding.

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Children were really enjoying the Conservatory’s children’s garden.

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This Conservatory is vast.

The parking is free and admission is $20 per adult. Our Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport included Longwood. The gift shop is excellent so save some time to shop.

 

Wyeth Family a Circle of Artists

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We needed to buy the Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport at one of the stops and we had some time before we could check in. My friend Carole’s colleague suggested we check out the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Brilliant!

Our entrance fee was part of the Passport, but I also would have entered for free because I am a member of the Crocker Art Museum with a North American Reciprocal sticker. Plus I received the member’s discount at the gift shop.

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Mo Willems illustration of Elephant and Piggy

The building is adapted from a historic mill on the Brandywine River. The stairwell and elevator are in the round tower and it was surrounded by large floor to ceiling windows. There are three floors of galleries.

We went to the 3rd floor first because I was anxious to view the special exhibit, “Get the Picture: Contemporary Children’s Book Illustration.” It was wonderful. I am fairy book godmother to several children because reading is fundamental to a child’s creativity and success. And because it is delightful to read children’s books. I discovered several new books including my new favorite: The Boss Baby by Maria Frazee.

boss babyThere are three generations of Wyeths featured in the museum. NC Wyeth is the patriarch. He was an accomplished painter and illustrator. You may have seen his illustrations of Treasure Island. His sister was also talented. Then his son and daughters were talented and his son-in-laws also painters. His son Andrew Wyeth has a gallery too. His paintings are also in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other high profile galleries. His son Jaime Wyeth is also featured with his many portraits, children’s book illustrations and other paintings.

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NC Wyeth’s painting

Our admission is good for 2 days so we are hoping to go back tomorrow for the tour of NC Wyeth’s home and studio. It will cost an extra $8 but it seems like a bargain to us.

I bought some children’s books at the gift shop, plus postcards. There was good selection of a beautiful variety of books, cards and posters. There is also a cafe but we didn’t get a chance to try it.

I don’t think you have to be an art aficionado to enjoy this museum. The setting is beautiful and galleries full of mostly landscapes and other appealing pictures. Check it out when you are near Wilmington, Delaware.

IMG_0535Next day: we went back to the museum and bought the ticket for the tour of NC Wyeth’s home and studio. We boarded the shuttle bus with one other person and rode to the family home within a few miles of the museum. The docent met us at the drive and gave a very informative tour of the home. Then we reboarded the bus to drive up the hill to NC’s studio. Wow. If I were a painter I’d have serious studio envy. The north facing windows were conducive to painting. There was a room for props, a main studio for illustrations, still lifes and portraits, then you step into the studio designed for painting huge murals. Impressive.

Making New Friends on MARC

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When I fly to Washington, DC, I often fly with Southwest Airlines to BWI (Baltimore). Then I take the MARC train to Union Station and my college chum Carole picks me up. It is easy and costs just $7 one way. Last night I arrived at 6:45 and caught the shuttle to the train station. Walking outside was like walking into a hot sauna. I moved slowly across the to the southbound platform and sat down.

cicadasSoon I was joined by my new friend Simone from Santa Cruz, California. We could hear the cicadas loudly in the trees behind us. She asked me if I knew what that noise was. I have heard them in New Zealand so I had a pretty good idea. I found a photo on Google images and I asked her where she is from. We had a lovely chat. Later she came back to show me her camera and I asked if I could take her picture.

Then we boarded the train and she came and found me on the lower deck. She told me she was going to tour the White House and I asked her if she knew about Dolley Madison. I encouraged her to look for information on one of my favorite first ladies. Then her brother came looking for her.

This is why I love public transit. You have the opportunity for really fun encounters.

I am in Washington, DC for a girls weekend with Carole. We are going to take the AMTRAK train to Wilmington, Delaware. I will blog along the way.

Respecting Cyclists: Share the Road!

RAGBRAI 16 routeOMG! Pay attention motorists. Today is the first day of RAGBRAI–the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa–and the first year that they are honoring fallen cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Riders were asked to respect a mile of silence to remember those cyclists who were killed by motorists this year.  And dammit if a motorist didn’t already strike and kill a 72 year old cyclist at 6:40 a.m. on the very first day!

What is it going to take for car drivers to pay attention and share the road?

As I write this the Tour de France has wrapped up this year. It is a halfway point in the racing season and already there have been serious accidents involving motorbikes and automobiles and cyclists. In January six members of the Giant-Alpecin team was seriously injured (requiring hospitalization) when a British woman was driving on the wrong side of the road in Spain. Another rider is still in hospital in a coma, and the list goes on. Tony Martin and others are lobbying for changes in the way professional races are organized to increase safety.

As many of you know I am enthusiastic for the Bike and Build program where young adults ride their bicycles across the USA from east to west, stopping to build affordable housing along the way. Unfortunately there is no way to make it completely safe. In 2011 Bike and Build suffered their second fatality and it was one of Sarah’s team leaders, Christina. Last year we were heartsick again when 2 people were struck by a vehicle and one killed. And then it happened again this year.

I know some cyclists act like idiots and cause aggravation by disrespecting traffic signals and taking risks; they should knock it off. Drivers remember–especially if you are in an SUV–you are like a tank to a pedestrian or cyclists, and it takes you about 1 ounce of energy to stop or start. Plus cyclists and pedestrians are doing good things for their health and the health of the planet. So share the flippin’ road.

This is a heavy-hearted post. So much needless loss of life. And we know the drivers must live with this on their hearts too. Here is some comic relief. If only we could create this kind of joy on the road everyday.

Enjoying le Tour de France as Spectator

I have stood along the side of the racecourse on many a stage of the Tour de France. I followed the 2014 from Stage 1 to 21. I have been a spectator at the Tour of California, the Tour Down Under and the Giro d’Italia. Watching a professional bike race in person is a thrilling experience. Whether you are traveling across the globe or stepping out your front door, there are certain dos and don’ts to being a good spectator.

I have a new appreciation this year watching religiously on my NBC Sports Gold app. I set my alarm every day at 6:00 a.m. to watch the day’s Tour de France stage. This year I have spent as much time yelling at spectators to behave as I have at the cyclists to race to the finish.

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A spectator accidentally deflated the 1 K marker; photo telegraph.co.uk

The spectators need to exercise self control. Here are some suggestions. First and foremost, pay attention to your surroundings at all times. After the caravan of sponsors go by you have about an hour before the first cyclists will pass. If you pay attention and stay sober enough you will hear the helicopters, notice an increase of motorcycle police and official race cars. This will get more and more intense and then you will see either the breakaway group of 2-20 (on average riders) or the whole frickin’ peleton of 180+ riders. Then there are always a few stragglers fighting to get back with the group. Notice how fast they are going compared to you on foot? This is why it is foolhardy to try to interact with them. Besides it is not about you.

  1. Never touch a cyclist or his/her bike. You think you are helping but you are actually more likely to throw them off balance or off their cadence. (Yes, there are more and more women’s cycling competitions. Same rules apply.)
  2. Never throw anything at a cyclist: water, pee, chalk, smoke, fireworks. This is rude and dangerous. On RAGBRAI when amateurs are cycling across Iowa, spectators sometimes turn on their hose and offer to spray cyclists, but it is entirely voluntary, they never cover the entire road. Same with high fives, etc. And it is non-competitive. In a race the cyclists are going full gas throwing something at those speeds can hurt!
  3. Stay off the racecourse. This means that you can not extend your arms out over the barrier to take a selfie, or lean into the road with your mongo camera lens to take a photo. It also applies to your children (don’t hold them over the barrier so they can see), and your dogs (always on a leash please!).

The race organization ASO also has much egg on its face for a series of logistical catastrophes. On Stage 7, the inflatable red 1 kilometer marker collapsed and caused an accident. When the race entered the Pyrenees it was clear that the ASO was not investing enough in safety as many spectators interfered in the race. Then on Mt. Ventoux, the ASO moved the race short of the mountaintop because of severe winds but didn’t move the fan barriers. At 1 kilometer to the new finish the crowd closed in resulting in an accident, a broken bike and Chris Froome, the race leader (yellow jersey) did a 100 yard dash up the road.

Could this have been avoided? Absolutely. The ASO decided to move the finish line the day before, so they had time to move the barriers. The ASO excuses just grated on everyone’s nerves. It might have caused more angst, but the tragedy in Nice shifted the focus.

George Bennett’s run in with a spectator was impressive on Stage 9. For some crazy reason a spectator decided to cross the road as the cyclists came roaring around the corner. Bennett put out his arm and she fell backward out of the road. Asked about it later and the New Zealander said he “Sonny Billed” her. (Sonny Bill is a fantastic rugby player for the All Blacks.) Cyclists should not need rugby experience to compete at top levels.

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Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks; Irish Times

One of the marvelous things about cycling is how accessible it is to fans. Sure you can pay for VIP access, but most fans enjoy it either on television or from the racecourse for free.

Remember after 21 days of racing the top 3 finishers are often separated by only seconds. So if you think waving a flag in front of their bike and screaming in someone’s face can’t make a difference, look at how close the finish can be:

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On Stage 4 Marcel Kittel edged out Bryan Coquard by mere millimeters.; Daily Mail

You can still dress up like a devil, or bring your inflatable kangaroo. You can hang your team or country flags. You can play music or sing and dance. You can experience your heart leaping into your throat as the peleton takes a corner and goes by so fast your eyes water. And you can go home satisfied that the race was decided by hard work, talent, grit and luck.

Let’s be careful out there.

 

Find Your Van Gogh

“Last year Dave planted a field of sunflowers. His neighbors thought he was crazy. No money in sunflowers. When they asked him why he would do something so foolhardy he replied, ‘Because I can’t afford a Van Gogh.”

Kevin Kling, The dog says how. p. 45

To help you find your Van Gogh: Reprinted from Bay Delta Tourist blog, June 25, 2016

Do you love fields of sunflowers to photograph or to admire? Well you are sure to find satisfaction on your Sunday drive if you first consult the blog at VisitYolo.com. They update the Yolo Sunflower Map weekly.

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If you see fields that are not listed, contact them so they can share your sightings with other sunflower enthusiasts.

VisitYolo’s website has a wealth of information about the attractions of places in Yolo including Winters, Davis and Woodland.

Postcard: Awesome Arcata!

I love Arcata because I love spending time with my oldest, dearest friend Harriet. She lives in McKinleyville, but we always spend time in adjacent Arcata.

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So many great places to eat… Scoops is a regular stop for organic ice cream. Yum. This trip we also had a super breakfast at The Alibi on Arcata square (yes, the dive bar). I bought an amazing sandwich at the McIntosh Farm Country Store. We also enjoyed very good sushi at the Sushi Spot in McKinleyville.

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Tevis and I drove up to celebrate Nora’s high school graduation and we took the dogs with us. We stayed at the pet friendly Days Inn in Arcata. It was great for people and pets, though the noise from the trolls who lodged above us kept us up most of the first night. We love how many dog friendly beaches we can find in Humboldt County.

20160617_094041For a number of years we have gone to Arcata to celebrate Independence Day the old fashioned way: with a Crabs baseball game, hot dogs, and fireworks at Steph and Jodie’s.

Wherever you are enjoying the July 4th holiday: be safe and have fun.