Sunday, May 31, 2009

A day of rest

Today we decided to stay put to recover from yesterday and also to try to get a few things done. Mar had lots of work to do so she was busy on her laptop most of the day. Bernie got some things we needed at Walmart and tried to figure out the bus schedule to NYC.

As we sat down to dinner the phone rang. Jan and Lenny called to invite us over for dessert. They live in NJ and we stayed in their driveway last fall when we visited NYC.

We had fresh strawberries from their own strawberry plant, home made pound cake, and ice cream. Everything was delicious and we enjoyed seeing them again.

While we were there we filled up our fresh water tank. Thank you, Jan and Lenny!

Then we went back to the Walmart parking lot, which is right on the bus route. Then Bernie changed the oil in Bella while Mar went back to work.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The glass house

Last fall when we were in the area we tried to go see the Glass House but all the tours for the year were sold out. Now we came back to CT to see it and were very excited that we were able to get tickets this time.

We got up early and went across the street to the Glass House visitor center. From there, they take you up to the Glass House in a small bus, about 10 minutes away.

The Glass House is actually a 47 acre property with 14 buildings spread about, all designed by Phillip Johnson. The weather was gorgeous and it was a perfect day for an adventure. We were fascinated by the unique and creative designs of all the buildings. It was quite an experience to step into the Glass House. Once inside you don’t really feel that exposed, even though all the walls are glass.

Next we went to see the other FLW house in CT, the Rayward House, which was built in 1955. Unfortunately, you can’t see this one from the road so we were greatly disappointed.

Then we headed south on 95 while debating how to get to New York City to see a few things we missed the last time we were there. We decided to just drive there. First we drove around Central Park and then went to find parking. After going several times around the block, we found a parking spot on 91st Street and paid the meter.

From there we walked south on Fifth Avenue to 72nd Street where we entered Central Park. We went to see Strawberry Fields, the section of the park dedicated to the memory of John Lennon.

The sidewalks were full of people and vendors. The park was full of people picnicking, running, walking, riding their bikes, and all kinds of musicians and performers. There were people everywhere. We even saw two different wedding parties at opposite ends of the park. Men in tuxedos and women in evening gowns and brides in white dresses carrying flower bouquets, walking in the park.

We walked north again through the park up to 89th Street and there we went to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. On Saturday evenings admission to the museum is "pay what you wish". We entered and went all the way to the top in the elevator and then walked down the rotundas while admiring the FLW exhibition in celebration of the Guggenheim's 50th anniversary.

After that we were tired and our feet hurt. We dragged ourselves back to Bella and as we were leaving the city, we drove by one of the Papaya stores and decided to get a couple of hot dogs to go. Mar really liked their hot dogs the last time we were here. Then we crossed over the Lincoln Tunnel and went to the Walmart in Secaucus NJ to park for the night.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Searching for FLW

After returning the movie to RedBox and buying a few groceries at the Shop and Stop, we headed out to see the next FLW house.

We drove about 15 minutes to the Wilson House in Millstone NJ. The owners have received an award for their recently completed renovations. The house was built in 1954 with concrete blocks and mahogany trim. It has a second story and this is rare in an Usonian house.

Then we drove about half an hour north to go see the Christie House in Bernardsville NJ. Built in 1940 it is the largest FLW house in NJ and is made of brick, cypress, and redwood.

Next we drove north about 40 minutes to go see the Richardson House in Glen Ridge NJ. Built in 1941, the house is made of brick and cypress and has 15 glass doors framing the living room. It sits at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac right in between regular suburban houses.

Then we drove northeast for an hour and a half to go see the Sander House in Stamford CT. It was built in 1952 into the side of rocky land. By then it was night time so we got to see the house lightly glowing in the night with its lights on.

Then we drove about 10 more minutes to New Canaan CT and parked for the night in the train station right across the street from the Glass House visitor center.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Heading north

We are now looking for a book about the buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. When we got up today we went straight into the used bookstore and though this was a well stocked bookstore the bookwas not there.

We headed out and went to see the only FLW house in Delaware, which was about 15 minutes from the bookstore. Built of stone, the Dudley Spencer House in Wilmington DE, is truly a work of art. With peaceful Zen inspired gardens the house blends in beautifully with the surrounding landscape.

Then we drove north less than an hour to Cherry Hill NJ to see the Sweeton House. When we got there we sat in Bella admiring the house from a distance when the owner, who was mowing the lawn, surprised us by coming over to invite us to take a look around.

Dan is an architect who recently bought the house and made his dream of living in a FLW home finally true. He shared with us the history of the house and invited us in. He and his wife are restoring the house, which had been left empty for at least ten years.

Next we drove north about an hour to Millstone NJ and parked for the night at Stop & Shop where we got a movie from RedBox. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a pretty good movie and we both enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back to the mainland

Today Bernie got up early to finish everything on her list. She replaced a pressure valve and drain in the hot water heater, installed a washer, fixed the floor boards in the attic, secured a guard rail, fitted and installed a hand rail, cleaned up the backyard, and put things away.

We finally finished packing just as the truck came to take our things to the boat. It was a long, crazy day but somehow we got it all done.

We got on the 4 pm ferry. The boat pulled away as we waved goodbye to the island and our friends. We were a bit sad to be leaving.

Today the weather was lovely, the sun was out, and we had a nice boat ride back to the mainland. We were extremely happy to be back in our Bella. We left most of the unpacking for later as we couldn't wait to get on the road.

We drove north about three hours to Wilmington DE. After missing our turn just before Wilmington, our GPS recalculated the route. As we got closer again, we saw a used bookstore and since it was getting late and we were extremely tired, we parked there for the night.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Last dinner

As sad as it is, all good things must come to an end.

Tonight was our last night on the island. We decided to share one more dinner with our new friends, Aram and Miriam. We had a pot luck.

We brought our beans and rice, onion rolls, and brownies to share with them. They made a fresh veggie stir fry and mashed potatoes to share with us. They also supplied us with one more round of mojtos tonight.

It was a fun and wonderful night, with some mixed feelings thrown in. Aram and Miriam are getting ready to leave the island on Friday and we are leaving tomorrow.

As we rode our bikes from their house we took in the sights of the night island one last time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Party with friends

The day was bright and hot today, the sun was out and so amazing. The tourists were everywhere here on the island today. It was quite interesting to hear their comments about the island and what they saw.

Today Bernie worked on some more projects on her list. She installed in the hall a light fixture, and hung a mirror and a coat rack.

It might have been the heat but Bernie decided to shave her head again. Mar was right in the middle of working on her online classes so Bernie decided to do it herself this time. Mar only had to help with the back a little.

Then we got ready to go to a party.

Miriam and Aram are moving off the island and some friends of theirs were having a going away party for them tonight. And we were invited :-)

The party started at 7 pm and we were wined and dined all night. There were tons of food, all vegan and all delicious. We ate too much! It was a fun evening with lots of laughs and great company.

At the end of the evening, we rode our bikes home.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dinner with friends

After a long workday we went to the house of Aram and Miriam for dinner. We wanted this to be our treat so we had planned to cook for them.

Mar made black bean hummus for an appetizer, spoon bread for a side dish, and layered cookie bars for dessert.

Bernie made mojitos and after everyone had one in their hand, she made a delicious vegan dinner because Aram and Miriam are vegan. Bernie made tofu parmesan with garlic spaghetti.

When we first got there we met the neighbors, Diane and Bob, who are island "weekenders" and had just arrived on the boat. Then Little Terry showed up a bit later. We can confirm that there is never a dull moment on Smith Island.

After a wonderful evening we headed home on our bikes. The more we get to know Aram and Miriam, the more we like them. We had fun with them tonight.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Artist retreat

Being on the island is a unique experience every day. It’s not just the fact that we are someplace new to us but it is truly different than the mainland. It almost feels like we are in another country.

Life seems so simple here on the island. There are only three communities. We are in Ewell, which has a population of about 200, and everyone seems to know everyone else. It is almost like living in a different time and age.

As Bernie works on the house she has found some interesting challenges and unique characteristics of this house, which was built in 1901. The house has been remodeled several times and this makes it interesting to see what's around the next corner.

Because the house dates back to when people had outhouses, originally this house had no bathrooms. Now it has one and a half bathrooms. There is a full bathroom on the first floor where a long hallway used to be, and part of it is under the staircase. In the half bathroom upstairs there is an old glass door as a wall between the staircase and the bathroom so natural light still shines through.

This house will be an artist retreat so Bernie must think outside the box when figuring out how to do regular things like hanging doors and medicine cabinets.

The house has plenty of unique touches. There is plexi glass and a window as a shower wall. The fireplaces have been plastered over. The lathe has been left bare to show all the different textures of the walls and ceilings.

The house is interesting, the weather is perfect, the people are friendly, and we are glad and grateful to be here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Island time

We were so tired when we went to bed last night that we got up a little later than usual (yes, even for us). While we were having our coffee, Bernie looked at the list that Miriam and Aram gave her with the things they need done in the house.

When we were done, we rode our bikes to their house so that Bernie could get some materials and ask them some questions.

On the way back, we did a little exploring, found a store, and rode our bikes to the water's edge. We met the next door neighbor who was kind enough to give us her password so we can use her wi-fi.

Back at the house, Bernie got started on some of the smaller projects on the list, while Mar cleaned up the kitchen and started unpacking.

We worked the rest of the evening, stopped to have a sandwich for dinner, and went back to work until bedtime.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To the island

After our first cup of coffee we started packing. We packed for hours. We packed all the groceries we bought yesterday. We packed everything we could think that we could possibly need for a week on a small island.

When everything was packed, we unloaded it all, plus our two bikes, onto the dock. Then Captain Terry told us where to go to park Bella. We drove around the block and parked. We opened the Damp Rid, closed all the windows, locked the doors, and paid the parking fee of $3 a night.

Once on the boat with all our belongings, we headed to Smith Island MD. The ride took 45 minutes and it was a bit chilly, so we sat inside most of the time.

As we approached the island we saw two people waving at us. Miriam and Aram had come to meet us and take us to their place. It was so close that we just rode our bikes there.

Miriam and Aram have bought a second house on the island to turn into an artist retreat. This is where we'll be staying and this is where Bernie will be working. The house was built in 1901 and there are tons of things for Bernie to fix and do here.

Once our stuff was in the house, we went with Miriam and Aram to their house. Aram took care of the happy hour drinks and Miriam cooked a wonderful dinner.

Lucky for us, they had some Smith Island Cake, which is the official state dessert and we got to try it. We liked it so much, they will be ordering us a cake to take with us.

After a great evening spent with our new friends, laughing and telling stories, we headed back to the house. We were totally exhausted by then, so after a quick shower we hit the sack and left the unpacking for tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

South and southeast

Today after running a couple of errands, we picked up our mail from general delivery at the post office, and then left Manassas VA.

We headed north towards Towson MD. As we were approaching Washington DC, Mar missed our exit (again) and we got a quick sight seeing tour of our capital. As we drove by we saw from a distance several of the monuments we visited last fall. It was a nice detour, except for the traffic.

In Towson we went to a sushi place we've heard about but it was closed when we got there, because they are closed on Mondays.

Our friend Kristin, who was meeting us for dinner, came by to pick us up and took us to Sushi Hana. We shared several rolls and all were delicious, this was really good sushi. We were glad to find a good sushi place because we haven't had sushi in a year, since we left Orlando.

We said goodbye to Kristin and then drove southeast towards Delmarva. After a tunnel, a bridge, a couple of $2 tolls, and about an hour and a half later we stopped at a Walmart in Delaware to buy groceries.

After that we drove south another hour to Crisfield MD where we parked at the dock at the end of 413 where we plan to take the ferry tomorrow afternoon. It was already 3 am by the time we got here. We were both so exhausted we couldn't see straight. Good night!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rainy Sunday

After a week of work, we are getting ready to leave today. Packing, cleaning, organizing, unhooking, unplugging, and getting everything back in its place.

This past week Bernie has replaced light fixtures, put down flooring, changed out outlets, painted, and done tons of other things, to get the house ready forsale.

Mar has done the laundry, started preparing the online classes she will teach this summer, and watched the Food Network to her heart's content.

The day has been dark and cloudy but at least it stopped raining long enough for us to get ready to go. We went to Staples to spend the night and get wi-fi. We just have to pick up our mail at the post office here in Manassas VA tomorrow, and then we'll be on the road again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

We were happy to find out, quite by accident, that the recital of the Luray Singing Tower was today. We just happened to be here when it started chiming its lovely 45 minute recital. The 177 feet tall tower was built in 1937 and it has a carillon of 47 bells. The largest bell weighs 7,640 pounds and the smallest weighs 12 pounds.

Then we walked over to the Luray Garden Maze. The maze takes about thirty minutes to do and it is $6 per person. As you giggle your way through you bump into dead ends with funny signs. Along the way there are other signs that trick you by telling you which way to go, and it always turns out to be the wrong way.

There is a mission for you to complete. There are the four stations you must find and each one has a stamp you stamp on your ticket. If you get all four you get a dollar discount in their gift shop. We didn’t use the discount but it was fun to find the four stations.

The maze is large and very well done, with flowering plants and plenty of greenery. Along the way there are benches, a large fountain, a cave, and a look out deck. This was a lot of fun.

After Luray we drove east about an hour to Warrenton VA for Mothers Day dinner at Mojitos and Tapas. These are two of Mar's favorite things so it was the perfect place to celebrate motherhood. According to their website Mojitos and Tapas is the only true authentic Cuban-Spanish restaurant in the whole state of Virginia.

We were happy to find it because the mojito and the food were absolutely delicious. The beef empanada and the tostones rellenos were wonderful. Here you can design your own bruschetta by selecting three ingredients. We wanted the manchego cheese but they were out.

We had the mojo bruschetta with feta cheese and avocado and lechon. The bruschetta was excellent. In fact the lechon was so good, we got a pound to go. For dessert we had the tres leches cake with café con leche. By then we were so stuffed we felt like we needed a wheelbarrow to carry us out.

Then we headed to Bernie's next job. We drove east another 45 minutes to the house of Yvonne and Grace in Manassas VA. We met with them and Bernie was able to talk to them about the work they want done. They are selling the house so it needs the usual fixing up before going on the market.