50 States Day 128 Laboratory to Mt. Pleasant With a Few Stops, 117 Miles
"Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll realize what little chance you have in trying to change others."
~Jacob M. Braude
Today it was time to wear Khaki pants and a sweater with leather patches on the elbows and drink Perrier water from crystal glasses.
In other words, we got cultural. We toured Falling Waters, said to be Frank Lloyd Wright's finest work. At age 65, with poor favor from society due to his personal life, Wright met with the Kaufman family (of Kaufman Department store fame) at their 'retreat,' a 1,600 acre forest, bisected by Bear Creek. So inspired by the setting and the Kaufman's desire for a home that complemented their surroundings, old Frank outdid himself. And that says a lot, as he had designed some beautiful buildings.
We must remember he created this in the thirties; Victorian houses filled the landscapes across America. Frank Lloyd Wright took architecture to a whole new place.
Falling Waters isn't huge; 2,400 s.f. covered, and around the same in decks and patios. But the cantilevered design makes it feel larger and wider and longer. From everywhere in the house one could hear the waterfall just below the house. And that's what frustrated me. Who am I to criticize FLW's work, but while we could hear the waterfall, we couldn't see it. Only by walking a quarter mile downstream could one see the cascading water that complemented the house so well. I would have built the house there, as Kaufman wanted but Frank insisted on the present spot, as the user would be integrated into the waters. I'd rather see them myself.
But the house truly is magnificent. With a budget of $30,000, Mr. Wright designed a fabulous $150,000 house. Oh yes, it ran a bit over budget. And the stories of he and Kaufman, a self made millionaire, fighting over design and construction, are legendary. Not to mention the 50 leaks the house developed during the first year of occupation. Frank's designs pushed engineering design to and past their limits.
This tour, at $20, was a great value, and Julie took us through the house and shared her extensive knowledge of its history. This was much better than Talisan, the tour we took of Frank's house, which cost much more, showed us much less, and presented a house in need of extensive repairs. I highly recommend a tour of Falling Waters.
We rode away, not a care in the world, except for the daunting clouds and possible rain. Zipping along Highway 40 (also called the National Highway- more on that); we spotted a sign for Fort Necessity, a battlefield site. A quick u-turn, safe and probably legal, and we toured the site.
The battlefield represented George Washington's first defeat against the French and Indians, as the Colonists and British joined forces to claim the Ohio River valley. The colonist and Brits built a hasty fort-rather pathetic, actually-and entered into battle with the French on July 3, 1754. Their contingent of 393 men suffered defeat to 600 French and a hundred Indians. They may have had a fighting chance (pun intended) had it not rained, soaking their gunpowder and spirits. They negotiated terms of surrender and withdrew, while the French burned the fort.
Later, George Washington remembered that valuable piece of land, and the United States government approved construction of a National Road, to aid trade and commerce. Highway 40 today runs on portions of that National Road. And I must say, the blue roads in Pennsylvania twist and turn, roll up and down hills, crawl through cute little towns, and slice through marvelous landscapes, seemingly forever. In a month, with the autumn leaves, the place should be a wonder to the eye. Old George had some foresight.
Back on the scoot and we searched for a place to stay, finally landing on a Holiday Inn Express in Mt. Pleasant (nice name!) and had a dinner at Applebee's with really bad service.
Tomorrow we hit the road and head north to New York State, slow and on the blue roads. See you then.