Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pennsylvania July 2015 Laurel Hill State Park, Somerset PA and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater Jul 29-Aug 1 2015

Setting off early from Catawissa we drove somewhat of a diagonal through much of PA.  We stopped at Penn State since it was time to give the pets a break and walk but then drove on.  One of the things concerning us was that our GPS, which is specifically for RVs and trucks, kept giving us a warning that there was a restricted route ahead and the weight limit was 10 tons.  We weigh close to 11 towing another 1.5.  I was finally able to figure out how to find the specific stretch of road and was dismayed to find that it was the last stretch before the campground and the restriction was for a bridge.  OK, I do not always follow the "suggestion" for the speed limit alongside the highway and I have driven in places I should not have BUT the prospect of being on a bridge that collapses because we are too heavy for it was not appealing.  I finally resorted to calling the campground to ask if there was some sort of mistake.  The woman on the phone was as flummoxed as we were but assured us that many heavy rigs have traveled the route without mishap.  We resolved to continue and we did.  The topography changed in several places and we were in hill country again as we neared Somerset where the park is located.  We entered the park which was beautiful and lush and found that our internet and phones had lost connectivity.  Having had the experience of losing our phone connection in Keene Valley we now had a Verizon hotspot which I turned on and still no signal.  When we got to the entrance station I asked and we were told that there is no reception in the park but that there was a pay phone at the store.  

It was mid-afternoon and when we have been traveling the heat coming off the "doghouse" (the hump that covers the engine between the two seats) is unbearable.  Our site was such that we were broadside to the sun which was bearing down on us.  Luckily, we were able to park so our awning side faced away from the sun and into the trees.  There was a little breeze and we took refuge in the shade and waited for the coach to cool off.  Don took a short bike ride down to the swimming lake and I tried to summon the energy to change to go swimming but opted to make dinner instead. After dinner we walked down to the store to call Richard to let him know we were out of range.  Lo and behold the phone took phone cards and not change.  And luckily, the ancient card from AT&T that Don had been carrying around for decades (well, 2 of them) he had kept.  We were unsure how much or if there was money on it but there was.  Richard did not answer but we left a message and then took a walk around the park.  

Our reason for coming to Laurel Hill was to see Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright house he designed for the Kaufmanns of Pittsburgh.  What a phenomenal work of art and engineering.  Pictures, and they can only be taken outside, cannot do it justice and part of that is that it is an experience for all senses, not just a visual.  The cool air coming from the rushing brook that is a constant and pleasant background noise, the smell of trees with a hint of moss and moist earth combine with the utter beauty of the house.  The details-the way the windows open and do not block the view from any direction, the way each and every room brings in and is part of the nature it sits within is just too much.  At every turn I felt my hands grasping at my camera as they begged to take a picture.  However, as much as I would have liked to simply stay and live there the tour ended and we went to the cafe for lunch and then back out to the car where Phoenix, asleep in the shade with the car windows open, woke up and greeted us ready to take a short walk.  We took another route back to the campground which was just as beautiful rolling and turning through the Laurel Highlands. 

Every so often in our travels I need a day to veg so on Friday, our last day and my youngest brother's birthday, I stayed in the MoHo reading, doing some cleaning and generally being a slug while Don took a hike around the park.  It was too bad because it was a park I had looked forward to exploring but he took pictures and I had to content myself with them.  We'd be off again the next morning so that was my last chance.  Next time...because there will be.  We didn't stop in Pittsburgh and we want to go back.

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