Cape Escape

Trip Start May 01, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2003

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Sunday, July 20, 2003

June 28-29 (Days 59-60) Sandwich, MA
We drove east on 195 to Cape Cod to visit our old next door neighbors from Mill Valley, Bob, Kelly, Claire and Ben Kozub and Lucy (their bulldog). Bob and Kelly are living the good life in Sandwich, Massachusetts in a beautiful home built in the 1830s with plenty of space for the family to roam. Sandwich is just over the Bourne Bridge on the bay side of Cape Cod, and is one of the oldest towns in Massachusetts. The land is a mix of farmland, salt marshes, and historic hamlets. The Kozubs live only a quarter mile from a quiet private beach and a thirty minute drive from their spanking new Doral powerboat cruiser, so the water is never far away. The children got along famously during the two days in Sandwich, and the adults got along just as well (especially since Bob and Kelly had arranged babysitting, which allowed us to get some adult time together). Jocey and Izzy, Ben and Claire have the same temperament and the kids played very well together. Both of our girls became proficient at riding their first scooters and sharpened up their sidewalk chalk artwork. Jocelyn especially enjoyed dressing up in Claire's dance recital costume and tap shoes after Claire returned from a performance, and Jocey ran around the yard in the shoes until her feet were literally blistered. We had loads of fun with Bob and Kelly, a great night out with Sushi at a cool sushi bar inside what must have been a colonial-period building, steamed whole lobsters the next night at the Kozubs (fresh lobster, and the most delicious lobster meat we have had), and a wonderful afternoon on the Doral in between, cruising Cotuit Bay with some good wine and great conversation.

June 30-July 8 (Days 61-69) Martha's Vineyard, MA
Our days in Martha's Vineyard are all about family. We know the Vineyard well as Chris has been going there for over 15 years, longer than he has known Kirsten. It is now a family tradition to meet on MV every 4th of July week, with Chris's sister Jessica and her family joining us to spend time with Grandpa and "Boosha" Shilakes at their home just outside of Edgartown. The Vineyard is still a very special place to us, despite the familiar routine (perhaps because of the familiar routine). The Vineyard is a 45 minute ferry ride from Woods Hole. The island is a mix of rolling hills with hardwood, pine forests and old farms, all very low set and private homes. Three towns on the island each have a different feel: Edgartown (preppy with Federal architecture), Oak Bluffs (Rastafarian with Victorian architecture) and Vineyard Haven (tourist-trappy with more commercial architecture). Our entire week was spent playing at the beach, flying a kite, golfing, going to galleries, eating great meals, visiting light houses. Special treats included a rousing 4th of July parade in Edgartown which rivaled Mardi Gras, an interesting trip into Oak Bluffs to look at the dreadlocked crowd cozying up beside mega-yachts, a five mile road race with Kirsten, brother-in-law Ray and Chris dueling on the asphalt and some great photo sessions with the family in studios and on the beach.

July 9-11 (Days 70-72) Boston, MA
We took a short 90 minute drive up to Boston and stayed at the new Ritz on Boston Commons. Despite all of Chris's many trips to Boston on business, he had not really toured the city. We also had the good fortune to have the Kozub's babysitter, Cara, come up and give us some "adult time" in Boston. The City of Boston reminded us in many ways of San Francisco, and we for the first time felt some real homesickness. We spent our three days walking the Freedom Trail past Fanueil Hall and the markets with their assortment of local eateries and shops; touring the Boston Atheneum (A private library with wonderful art and literary collections just off of the Commons) and The Boston Museum of Fine Art (MFA) with its top notch collection of western art, as well as the dynamic Harvard Square area. The girls were wonderful during our stay here, and actually fell asleep on cue for both the MFA and our Newbury Street gallery stroll for two consecutive days. Chris even managed to squeeze in some cinematic action, catching Terminator 3 at the new Cineplex adjoining the Ritz while the girls napped at the hotel. We had adult dinners at the renowned Ambrosia on Huntingdon and then at a dynamic Mongolian barbeque, called Fire and Ice, in Harvard Square.

July 12 (Day 73) New Hampshire
On our way up to Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire, we stopped off in Salem to see the Peabody Essex Museum. We thought the witch tours would be a little much for the girls, so we took in the museum, which had been open less than a month and had wonderful Asian art collection for Kirsten to take in, especially the Chinese and Japanese "export art" collection. Chris had fun with Isabelle in the childrens' activity area, where Izzy played with a giant felt board and created bugs out of felt scraps. We then drove into New Hampshire to stay at the Inn at Crotched Mountain. This was a picturesque (although rainy) B&B situated on the slopes of Crotched Mountain. If the weather had cooperated, we had planned some great hiking on the many trails on its forested slopes. However, the bad weather forced us to visit the rather nondescript town of Peterborough, where we were hard pressed to spend more than 45 minutes walking the streets. Oh well, New Hampshire was but a brief waypoint on our way up to Vermont, where we planned to spend almost a week's time.

July 13-14 (Days 74-75) Woodstock, VT
We traveled north into Vermont, stopping in towns like Weston along the way. Each village has a slightly different feel, but all are home to a quintessential general store. Weston has perhaps the most famous, The Vermont Country Store, and we stopped there to consume some of the local products, extra sharp cheddar and maple candies. We fell in love with Woodstock, so far the most picturesque stop on our journey. Maybe because it reminded us so much of Mill Valley, we had to do several double takes, and not just in terms of left wing political demographics. So similar is the topography that Mt. Tom, not Mt. Tam, hovers over the city. We felt at home in the mix of local stores, book shops and coffee houses and fell in love with the wonderful Federalist architecture which dominates the quaint town square and green. We hiked to the top of Mt. Tom and took in the broad sweep of every shade of green imaginable, from farmland to pine to hardwood which lie across the rolling hills. One wonderful characteristic of Vermont is the total absence of billboards, so as we drove through towns like Weston and Quechee they had the feel of small European villages. We took the girls to the Marsh-Billings Farm to see a working dairy farm, cows with full udders and the full nine yards. They still are drinking milk so it must not have been too traumatic for them. Another benefit of Woodstock is its close proximity to Dartmouth College just across the border in Hanover, NH. We romped with the girls on campus lawn and strolled the streets on a beautiful afternoon.

July 15 (Day 76) Lyndonville, VT
We headed 90 minutes north of Woodstock to the town of Lyndonville and the most child-friendly B&B we have seen. The Wildflower Inn is totally geared to kids, and we were shocked at the high quality of the accommodations, food and especially the activities and facilities for children. It was nirvana for the girls. They have a kids-only restaurant called Daisy's Diner. Jocey bravely ventured in on her own and participated in the hoe-down themed party at the diner, making her own sheriff's vest and singing campfire songs. We were very proud of her. We watched as the girls rode on a "zip wire" back and forth between two trees, played dress-up with ballet costumes in an enormous chest and even tried their hands at air hockey. Add to this a veritable menagerie on the Inn's own farm with sheep, cows, horses and rabbits. The girls were sad to leave this slice of heaven perched on a ridge over a scenic valley.

July 16 (Day 77) Shelburne, VT
Our next stop was an historic farm along Lake Champlain in the northwest corner of Vermont called Shelbourne. What we thought was going to be an old farmhouse turned out to be a magnificent brick structure in the vein of an Elizabethan palace. We drove two miles in onto the property and found ourselves alongside the lake, on a grassy hillside replete with beautiful gardens and magnificent old growth trees. We lounged on the lawn while the girls ran among the trees and, believe it or not, came across a man playing a mandolin while his wife quilted beside him. We had a wonderful dinner while the girls were with a fantastic babysitter named Amanda (we wanted to bring her back to California with us). The sunset over the lake and distant Adirondacks of New York was incomparable.

July 17 (Day 78) Manchester, VT
We traveled south through more picturesque towns along historic route 7A down Vermont's western border, passing through towns like Stowe, where we bought cider slushes for the girls and stopped at a wonderful café called the Mist Grill situated inside an old grist mill alongside a cascading waterfall. To the west loomed the everpresent Adirondacks, but they gave way to the Green Mountains as we approached Manchester. For you fly fishing enthusiasts, this is where The Orvis Company was founded and is headquartered. Manchester is also a shopping mecca for outlet hounds in northern New England, with many high-end retailers ensconced in vintage homes instead of strip malls; while aesthetically appealing, the traffic in the downtown area was appalling. Luckily, we were heading just outside of Manchester to stay at a resort called The Equinox, which has a great reputation, but was resting on its laurels a bit. Isabelle got off on the wrong foot with the hotel staff (especially the gardeners) when she started to help herself to the plantings just outside the front door. We took in the town and wandered off the beaten path here into a beautiful village called Dorset, which has truly some of the most picturesque, idyllic property we have ever seen. Of course, this is summer time. We might have a different opinion in the long, hard winters which characterize this region.

July 18-19 (Day 79-80) Williamstown. MA
We had a short one hour drive to Williamstown, situated in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. This is the home of Williams College. We were spending a couple of days here to see two museums at opposite ends of the spectrum; The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and the Mass Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in North Adams. The Rockwell museum was staffed by a mix of people straight out of his paintings, which was amusing. One prim gallery docent called our girls "exquisite", which was the first (and probably only) time we heard this. The museum had every Saturday Evening Post cover ever painted by Rockwell (well over 300) displayed in a single room, and also the more famous originals of "The Four Freedoms" and such. They also had a special exhibition of The Art of the Berenstain Bears, which the girls loved. We then shifted gears for the Mass MoCA in North Adams. This collection was housed in an old factory space, which we thought was very cool. Some of the "art" left something to be desired, and we definitely had to use some parental guidance (censoring) to keep the girls from future nightmares, such as the hogtied stuffed rats being pulled in an endless circle around the floor. Jocelyn did enjoy the enormous pink palace of Saran Wrap in one installation. Otherwise, we had a nice dinner in Williamstown and a memorable evening on the Williams College running track, where Jocelyn and Izzy showed early middle-distance potential running laps with their father and where Jocelyn had a go at the long jump. We had the longest drive of our trip on the 19th, 530 miles from North Massachusetts to Western Pennsylvania. This took nine hours in all and on balance it was a lot of highway, good weather and minimal breakdowns from the girls. There WERE some real psycho semi truck drivers to add a few adrenalin rushes.

July 20 (Day 81) Laurel Highlands, PA
Our primary objective in southwestern PA was to travel to an architectural touchstone located in Ohiopyle, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. As we have traveled the country, we have made a conscious effort to visit as many FLW creations as possible. We stayed nearby at a resort called Nemacolin Woodlands, which is primarily a massive development for visitors to Fallingwater and Pittsburgh residents looking for a get away. It is a bit over the top, with skiing in winter, and just about every activity imaginable in summer. They did have a fantastic spa, with a surprisingly good Asian-fusion restaurant and we had every healthy meal we could there after a real culinary drought in upper New England. We decided to get a babysitter for the trip to Fallingwater, so that Kirsten and I could really enjoy the visit. The drive to Ohiopyle is scenic enough, passing over the Youghigheny River filled with river-runners in kayaks, tubes and rafts. Upon entering the Fallingwater property, you pass through some beautiful woodlands and gather at a very well-designed visitor center. They must run nearly 100 tours a day through here, every six minutes, though we made reservations weeks in advance and would recommend you do so if you ever travel there. Fallingwater itself was in even better shape than we expected for a concrete home built over a waterfall in the 1930s, and given the visitor traffic it has seen for the last 40 years. The house is cantilevered out over the falls and from the outside hangs gracefully from the cliffs. The exterior decks and outdoor spaces take in the amazing location and are quite welcoming, as was the living room. However, most bedrooms had very low ceilings and were Spartan, as Wright believed the space outdoors should be made more inviting. The house had elements which again reminded us of our home on Oakdale, and the homesickness came back. It is a long time on the road.
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