Saturday, July 19, 2008

Adventure: Fallingwater/Falling Ill

This past weekend, John, his folks, Abigail and I took a trip out to Western Pennsylvania. We drove out Friday morning, and our first stop was Fallingwater, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece (yes, he did design and build outside of Chicago!)



The mountain laurel was in full bloom. Did you know that mountain laurel is the state flower of PA? Neither did I. But John and his father knew. Because they know things. The tour of Fallingwater begins with a 5 minute walk through the surrounding countryside, and we enjoyed the mountain laurel and limestone outcroppings (I told you they know things) along the way.


This is upstream from the waterfall that you will see below. It's amazing that this little stream becomes the beautiful and rushing waterfall just a few hundred feet later.

This was our first glimpse of Fallingwater. It does not do the house justice at all, but it does give you an idea of how Wright designed the home to be immersed in nature- and for nature to be immersed in the home. I think he was the originator of feng shui in America:)

Wright's use of the cantilever is still considered progressive- imagine what they thought back in the 1930s when the home was being built! It's amazing to walk on those terraces and feel like you are floating over the water.

Here you can see the waterfall I mentioned. It runs under the home. Actually, Wright designed a glass staircase that descends out of the living room and down to the water, just above the level of the waterfall. Amazing.

Really, is there anything that I could say that would make that view more beautiful?
Ah, if only the rest of the day was so calm and enjoyable...
When planning this trip, I was put in charge of locating overnight accommodations. Because the trip was rather last-minute (this is the Showalter way), there was not much available. However, I did manage to find a guest house that met the requirements established by the group (namely, air conditioning) that was only a few miles away. I thought I did well.
John was put in charge of copying the directions off the website. Normally I would just print them out, but they were not long and my ink was low, so John was given the job of transcribing the directions. Easy, right? Right.
So, we leave Fallingwater and stop for lunch at Subway. Then we follow John's directions. An hour later we are in West Virgina in this rinky-dink town. As if that were not bad enough, let me describe the route to said town.
Now, before I describe this hour-long trek to Nowheresville, let me just say that I am from Illinois. I have been on many road trips, and I have never gotten carsick. I can read in the car, sleep in the car, play games, watch the scenery... none of it bothers me. Also, in case you didn't know, Illinois is flat, and our roads are set up in giant grids. They are straight, flat roads. And I do not get carsick when I travel on them.
The roads in Western PA and West Virginia? Neither flat nor straight. Ever. In fact, the course of traveling about 2 miles on one of these roads kind of goes like this: up, turn, turn, up, turn, down, turn, turn, turn, turn, down, down, turn, up, turn, down, turn, turn, up, up, turn, up, turn, down, up, turn, turn, down, turn, up, up, up, turn, down, turn, turn, turn, turn, down, down, down, turn, down.
Just to get 2 miles.
So, an hour of this up, turn, turn, down and I am feeling like I am going to be sick at any moment. (We also hit the world's largest road bump, and everyone caught air. I looked back in the rear-view mirror and saw our suitcases nearly hit the ceiling.) Elaine was sitting next to me in the passenger seat, and she says that she never saw anyone look as pale as I looked. John, of course, was going out of his way to annoy me (and this factors into why I might NOT want to bear his children since his response to my discomfort always seems to be to annoy me, and I am not sure if you are aware or not, but childbirth is fairly uncomfortable.) And we are in the middle of Nowheresville with no pharmacy, no gas station, no CVS or Walgreens or Walmart or any other place that might possibly sell medication to help my carsickness.
Yes, at that moment, we realize that John has transcribed the directions wrong, and we actually passed our lodging about 50 minutes ago.
Our next stop was a grassy knoll in a church yard where I laid flat in the grass for 10 minutes to try to avoid getting sick. Feeling as miserable as I was, and knowing that it was a 50 minute drive back to our guesthouse with many more ups, downs, and turns, I handed over the wheel and tried to focus on not being ill for the rest of the ride back.
Thankfully, our detour to Nowheresville was over in due time, and we (finally) found our guest house and checked in. Then we went off to dinner (all that up-ing, down-ing and turning can make a soul hungry!) After dinner we went for a walk down to the Ohiopyle (pronounced Ohio-pile) River, just a few blocks away.
John and Abigail went for a stroll in the brisk water. Abigail mostly liked to stay out of the coldness and on the sun-warmed rocks.

They practiced their Kung Fu Panda poses for a while, John took her down the natural "water slides" with his belly as her inner-tube, and Abigail saw a "snake" and flipped out (it was just a rock under the water) so we headed home for the evening.
In the morning, John and his dad got up with Abigail and took her back to play in the river. Elaine and I got to sleep in. That was part of John's penance for making me carsick during the really long and un-necessary detour the previous day. I liked sleeping in, although mostly I couldn't go back to sleep after they whispered so loudly to each other to stay quiet, so I just drank coffee and chilled out with some home-baked yummies. It was nice:)
Before we took off on our next adventure, we went back to the Ohiopyle to check it out in the daylight hours. We plan on rafting on the river the next time we are out that way, and John would like to kayak if possible!

There were some lovely waterfalls and nice whitewater rapids. The water was so clear and clean!

Our next trip was to the Laurel Caverns. The trip was much better with the help of some Dramamine. The view from the top of the mountain was spectacular. Then we went down into the caverns... more than 170 feet deep! We saw a ball roll uphill, and a little bat:)

We had to head for home after our Cavern adventure, since Elaine and I had to work on Sunday. I think we all felt like Abigail:)

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