Longwood Gardens was the best botanic garden we’ve seen on this trip (although many of the others were very enjoyable). Others included: Jewelbox, the Butterfly House, The Smithsonian Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The gardens, conservatory, and fountains were built by Pierre du Pont
. Longwood was special for a number of reasons… They had a topiary garden that totally reminded me of walking through “Alice in Wonderland” or the Queen of Hearts’ garden! Then, they had fountain shows! One was in an open air theater. In the stage were little holes for the fountains. This show was fun because it was timed to music! (Susa’s marches.) The fountains “danced” to the music: a row of short mini fountains in the front, the big main rings of fountains in the center, and even tall shoots of water farther away on terraces. At the end, every fountain shot as high as it could into the air! Pretty spectacular. Like other gardens, Longwood had different sections: including a woodsy area that reminded me of Oregon, and an “Italian Garden” with more fountains. This was Ariel and Mom’s favorite part. My favorite was right across from it: a small, beautiful lake that was bordered by the woods. Longwood also had a conservatory (like the other gardens), but this one was different. In the middle of the ground, surrounded by the lovely plants, tall trees, and little streams, was not hard cement, but grass! The effect was so nice that I wondered why any conservatory would use anything else. It looked pretty and natural! The biggest room in the conservatory was the Ballroom. Here they have parties, balls (or they used to), dinners, and weddings! The most interesting thing in the room was an organ. Apparently when it is played it is so loud that it shakes the whole room
! We saw the pipes, which were in hallways behind the ballroom- there were tons of them!
Gettysburg gave us a bit of a different feeling. We took an “auto drive,” seeing all of the fields where soldiers fought and died, and the ridges where they crouched and held off the enemy. We also saw houses and barns that were there during the battle and were used as hospitals. All along the road there were cannons, plaques describing which regiment fought there and what they did, and monuments and statues to honor the soldiers who fought there. We also had a map that told the story of Gettysburg, what happened where, as we drove along. At some places there were lookout towers (Dad and I climbed up to one- 120 steps- whew!) where you could see the panorama of the whole field, woods, and buildings, etc. in the area. It was very sobering to see these places where so many fought and died for what they believed in. We also stopped shortly at the Gettysburg Cemetery, where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg address. From where we stood we could see rows and rows and rows of plain stone gravestones. That’s not even counting the many decorated and differently shaped tombstones in the main section. It was very sad.
So today I experienced dancing and dying. I imagined dancing and dying. I saw dancing and dying.
Yesterday (our day at the mansions) was the “pinnacle of our adventure” because it is the farthest point we’re going before turning around. It’s the farthest we’ve been from home. Newport Rhode Island is also the farthest East I’ve ever been. Yesterday we realized, “In a few hours we’ll be heading home!” Of course it will take a while, but it feels nice to be heading home. As our car turns towards home, so do our minds. It also makes us think about home more! (combined with this being the last week of our trip.) We sure miss our home, cats, and friends!