How does one make a visit to one of the seven “must see” wonders of the world a personal experience? It certainly helps to have a bright clear autumn day as a lens to view it. Then you hire a driver/guide (Marvelous Marv Tours) ) who has spent his life in Williams, Arizona (except for service in Vietnam) pick you up at the hotel and point out regional wonders en route to the south rim.
Although thousands of world visitors come to view the canyon every season, our fellow tourists were mostly burgundy- robed and civilian pilgrims to the opening of the Buddhist Temple in Williams.
Route 64 north sent us through Ponderosa pine, Pinon pine and the wild National Forest suffering from long-term drought. The Forestry service is clearing the forest floor and will light controlled burns of the cleared debris as snow approaches.
Elk groupings graze calmly along the highway, but they are an invasive species competing with antelope and native grazers.
Cliff Rose bush edges the walks toward the viewpoints along with Utah juniper and Yucca family Bandolear spikes. Cliff Rose provided wool dye for rugs from “spurs”, lanolin in the branches to wash the wool and a sunny yellow flower to guide natives to its growth. The points of the yucca plant worked as needles and the sturdy leaves release “threads” which helped early inhabitants bind and sew tools and coverings
Ravens, turkey vultures and California condors float on the upstream from the canyon a mile below. Clouds shadow the geology and highlight the green of trilobite layers and Redwall limestone.
Black volcanic rock thrusts up from the base schist and golden Coconino sandstone layers at upper levels
Marvelous Marv tours showed us Canyon views at Yavapai Point with the North Rim background; the muddy Colorado below, and Phantom Ranch Bridge visible as white water rafters glided though, pinpoint spots from our perch a mile above. The Yavapai Geology Museum added historic and reviewed guide points made during our trek. Grandview Point views provided expansive, yet closer photos of the layered canyon.
We could have taken the Grand Canyon Train from Williams to the South Rim but we really enjoyed our adventure with Marv, plus the train takes 2-1/2 hours each way giving you only a couple of hours to explore. Marvelous Marv had us at the South Rim in just over an hour and we spent almost 5 hours in the Park before heading back to Williams.
It was a beautiful day with only moderate crowds and the weather could not have been nicer to view this amazing National Park.
On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
The song, by Willie Nelson says it all. We are on the road again. This time we have left Southern California and are heading back to the East Coast. First stop was a quick visit with my brother in Indio – and then on to Prescott Arizona. Prescott was an overnight visit with our friend Dave – he and I worked together for 16 years in Glendale and we both retired within 2 months of each other in 2017. Nice visit. It seems that taking pictures over the last couple of days just hasn’t happened. So actual proof we were there is unavailable.
Now we are in Williams Arizona – the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”.
It seems that Janeen has never been to the Grand Canyon so we have a tour set for tomorrow which should be both educational and fun. However, today it is all about Williams. With a population of only 3,158 (as of 2017) its major claim to fame is that it was the last city on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40. The community was bypassed on October 13, 1984 and it is clear it thrives on tourists and those particularly nostalgic for the old route 66.
The Historic Downtown district covers 6 square blocks with a number of interesting shops and restaurants. This place is clearly one of the major inspirations for the Disney – Pixar movie Cars.
As we drove into town Janeen and I both said how it reminded us of the movie and Cars Land at Disneyland California Adventures.
One of the attractions is the Grand Canyon Railway. The original Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway were completed in September 1901. After declining ridership, it was eventually purchased by private investors in 1988 that restored the faculties and passenger cars. Since that time, the railroad has taken hundreds of passengers to and from the south rim of the Grand Canyon on a daily basis.
Other highlights include the Grand Canyon Brewing Company,
AZ Wine and lots of shops with Indian and local artist creations.
We had a nice time just wandering around and visited one of the original Route 66 Trading Posts for southwestern native jewelry and pottery. Tomorrow the Grand Canyon!
Historic Jamestown, just a few miles away from our place in Williamsburg, seemed like a nice spot to visit on a lovely September day. With Ryan and Chris on board, we headed out to visit this site.
As we were getting in line for our entrance tickets we discovered that Tony and Gloria were also there – and just in front of us – and it was great to visit with them again. (they were at the 50th anniversary celebration that was held the prior evening).
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Started by the Virginia Company of London as “James Fort” on May 4, 1607 along the banks of the (now) James River (originally Powhatan River). The location was chosen as a site in a secure place, where Spanish ships could not fire point blank into the fort. Within days of landing, Powhatan Indians attacked the colonists. As a result of the hostilities, the newcomers spent the next few weeks working to create a wooden fort.
It is inside this fort that England’s first permanent colony took hold.
Of course it wasn’t easy. Disease, famine, and sporadic attacks from the neighboring Powhatan Indians took a tremendous toll on the early population, but there were also times when trade with the Indians revived the colony with food in exchange for glass beads, copper and iron tools. Relations with the local Indians quickly soured and the colonist would eventually annihilate the Paspahegh in warfare over the next four years.
The original number of colonists was 105 “men and boys” but despite the Virginia Company sending more settlers and supplies, including the 1608 arrival of eight Polish and German colonists and the first two European women, more than 80 percent of the colonist died by 1610. The site was abandoned for several years, the remaining colonists returned from nearby encampments after a resupply convoy arrived.
The first representative assembly in English North America convened in the Jamestown church on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly met in response to orders from the Virginia Company “to establish one equal and uniform government over all Virginia” and provide “just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people there inhabiting.” A few weeks later came the first unsolicited arrival of Africans to Jamestown, marking the beginning of de facto slavery in the colony.
With the introduction of tobacco and the arrival of the first indentured slaves Jamestown created an economy that was able to survive and expand.
As Jamestown grew into a robust “New Towne” to the east, written references to the original fort disappeared. In 1676 a rebellion in the colony led by Nathaniel Bacon sacked and burned much of the capital town. Jamestown remained the capital of Virginia until its major statehouse, located on the western end of the island, burned in 1698. The capital moved to Williamsburg in 1699, and Jamestown began to slowly disappear above the ground. By the 1750s the land was heavily cultivated farmland erasing all the above ground structures.
In 1893 Mr. and Mrs. Edward Barney owned the property that was Jamestown. The Barneys gave 22-1/2 acres of land, including the 17th century church tower, to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now Preservation Virginia). By this time James River erosion had eaten away the island’s western shore; the common belief was that the site of 1607 James Fort lay completely underwater. With federal assistance, a sea wall was built in 1900 to protect the area from further erosion. The remaining acreage on the island was acquired by the National Park Service in 1934 and made part of the Colonial National Historical Park.
In 1994 an extensive survey of the property was done which resulted in finding the foundations of the original fort. These excavations revealed 1.5 million artifacts and greatly increased the understanding of this first chapter in American History.
Today, the Preservation Virginia Society and National Park Service jointly operate Jamestown. Upon our arrival ,we learned that Ranger Bill would be doing a talk in a few minutes and we arrived in time to listen in. Ranger Bill brought to life much of the history of the area and pointed out various significant points of interest. After our introduction talk we walked through the recreated fort, visited the museum with all many of the artifacts on display and generally had a very nice time.
After we left, and had posted a few pictures on Facebook, we learned that Chris is related to some of the early Jamestown settlers. It seems that on his mother’s side of the family, his great grandmother…..the Slaughter line from Upper Slaughter, England help settle Jamestown. John Slaughter came over from Upper Slaughter about 1610-1612. His wife and son, John, joined him about 1615-1617. John, the father, was killed in an Indian massacre outside of town. His wife died and is buried in Jamestown. John, the son ,married and had 3 sons in Jamestown. Who knew that Chris comes from such old and hearty stock? The Slaughter Family is listed in the settler’s books of Jamestown. Nice surprise to learn all of this after having visited the place.
What happened in 1969? Well a lot of things – many of which we remember. Here are some of the highlights:
The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records First Concorde test flight is conducted In France,
The Boeing 747 jumbo jet makes its debut. It carried 191 people, most of them reporters and photographers, from Seattle to New York City.
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am the epitome of the American muscle car is introduced,
Woodstock attracts more than 350,000 rock-n-roll fans. Members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder five people.
The first man is landed on the moon on the Apollo 11 mission by the United States and Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon.
Richard Nixon becomes President of the United States. Sesame Street known for its Muppet characters, makes its debut on PBS. Seiko sells the first Quartz Watch
Popular films included: The Love Bug,
Funny Girl, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. True Grit, Midnight Cowboy, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Easy Rider and Where Eagles Dare
Popular Musicians include: The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Creedence Clearwater Revival,
John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The first ATM is installed and the hand held barcode scanner is created. Fashions reflected the anti war sentiment with military jackets adorned with peace signs, and other trends included long unkempt wild hair and headbands reflecting the feelings of anti establishment felt by the youth.
And on August 2, 1969 David & Janeen got married.
Since that time, 50 years or so, they have been together, raised two sons – seen them both married, grand daughters have joined the family and now they (David & Janeen) live in a state of Wander – they don’t have a house but just “wander” around.
To celebrate this long relationship, our sons, Jason and Ryan, hosted two major parties – one in California for a bunch of West Coast friends and one on the East Coast for the growing network of friends in that area.
A photo montage was created and can be seen by clicking on the link here. https://youtu.be/7jwtRiQ-TPA
Below are some of the pictures from the two events – one held in Pasadena at Bacchus Kitchen and one in Williamsburg at the Williamsburg Plantation VacationVillage. Our friends on both costs (and those in between) who were able to attend were treated to wines from our collection along with great eats.
Our Celebration in Virginia was smaller but just as fantastic.
We don’t consider our Party over yet as we continue to roam around and stop in to visit friends across the country :new celebrations happen all the time.
Located in San Marino, about 5 miles from where we used to live in Alhambra, is the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Over the years we had visited this lovely spot to explore the art collection and see all the amazing gardens. Then, after Janeen retired 10 years ago or so, she became a volunteer – docent in the Herb Garden and loved the experience tremendously (as a result of her time in the Garden, I have now realized that periodically we need to visit gardens where ever we are – Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, Monet’s Garden in Giverny, Tivoli Garden in Italy to name just a few). While visiting in SoCal on this trip she has been to the Huntington Gardens three times already.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, colloquially known as The Huntington, is a collections-based educational and research institution established by Henry E. Huntington (1850–1927).
Henry was an avid collector of art, books and plants from all over the world. As a result he amassed a huge collection that overflowed his home and extended into several buildings on his property. With over 120 acres of specialized botanical landscaped gardens including world famous Japanese Garden, Desert Garden and an ever expanding Chinese Garden, he left the entire estate to a foundation to continue his dream of expanding the place. The overall estate is divided into three categories: Library, Artworks and Gardens.
The Library contains a substantial collection of rare books and manuscripts, concentrated in the fields of British and American history, literature, art, and the history of science. Highlights include one of eleven vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible known to exist, The Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer (ca. 1410) and letters and manuscripts by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. The Library’s Main Exhibition Hall showcases some of the most outstanding rare books and manuscripts in the collection, while the West Hall of the Library hosts rotating exhibitions. The collection is available for scholars to do research.
The Art Collection is displayed in both a permanent installation and special temporary exhibitions in several buildings on the property. The European collection, consisting largely of 18th- and 19th-century British & French paintings, sculptures and decorative arts, is housed in The Huntington Art Gallery, the original Huntington residence.
Also included in the art collection is a spectacular collection of American art from the 18th century French tapestries, porcelain, and furniture. Complementing the European collections is a collection of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and photographs dating from the 17th to the mid 20th century. Interestingly, Huntington did not originally collect American Art.
The institution started this collection in 1979 with the gift of some 50 significant paintings from Virginia Steel Scott – since then significant works by American craftsmen and artists are displayed in the Lois and Robert F. Erburu Gallery, a modern classical addition designed by Los Angeles architect Frederick Fisher. Highlights among the American art collections include Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt, The Long Leg by Edward Hopper, Small Crushed Campbell’s Soup Can (Beef Noodle) by Andy Warhol, and Global Loft (Spread) by Robert Rauschenberg. As of 2014, the collection numbers some 12,000 works, ninety percent of them drawings, photographs and prints. Addition of the American wing highlights quilts, furniture, fabric arts and paintings under the banner Becoming America.
Botanical Gardens – clearly the most important part as far as Janeen is concerned – consists of over 120 acres and showcases plants from around the world. The gardens are divided into more than a dozen themes including Camellia collection, Children’s Garden, Desert Garden, Herb Garden, Japanese Garden,
and other themed areas.
The Desert Garden, one of the world’s largest and oldest outdoor collections of cacti and other succulents, contains plants from extreme environments, many of which were acquired by Henry E. Huntington and William Hertrich (the garden curator during Huntington’s time).
One of the Huntington’s most botanically important gardens, the Desert Garden, brings together a plant group largely unknown and unappreciated in the beginning of the 1900s. Containing a broad category of xerophytes (aridity-adapted plants), the Desert Garden grew to preeminence and remains today among the world’s finest, with more than 5,000 species. Hertrich is rumored to have travelled all over the southwest (including Mexico) digging up various plants to bring back to San Marino.
One of the interesting things I’ve learned is that when transplanting a large cactus , it really must be planted facing the same way(compass direction) from its original planting to be successful.
The Herb Garden – truly the most important Garden to Janeen where she spent the most time and was an active Docent for a number of years including helping to train volunteers, was constructed in the 1970s.
This garden contains many unusual herbs as well as many that are well known. Favorites from grandmother’s day, such as horehound, licorice, lavender, mignonette, and heliotrope, evoke happy memories for many visitors.
The garden is arranged according to the uses made of the herbs: medicines; teas; wines and liqueurs; cooking, salads, and confections; cosmetics, perfumes, and soaps; potpourris and sachets; insect repellents; and dyes.
The Southern California climate allows The Huntington to grow many herbs and even some spices not found in traditional herb gardens.
These include, but are not limited to, plants that produce coffee, tea, mate, hops, and jojoba.
Many larger and shade loving herbs are planted outside the beds, along the perimeter of the garden. Janeen particularly enjoys the scented geraniums, lemon verbena, mints, almond verbena, allspice and lavender.
Over the last 20 years, we have traveled to the wine country of the Willamette Valley almost every year.These trips have certainly given us a good appreciation of the area as well as the opportunity to see it change over the years.Our early visits included introductions to some great winemakers and we have been able to stay in touch with these folks over the years.As a result of all of this interaction with folks, we learned about the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC), which is held each year the last weekend of July.Over the years we have been able to attend this event a number of times.
Coupled with the IPNC are a number of special events that occur around the weekend.One we were excited to attend was the release party for the History Wines.
This wine series is a new partnership between Stoller Family Estate and the Director of Winemaking, Melissa Burr.Melissa’s family purchased a property in Washington that had a very early planting of Cabernet Sauvignon and she had wanted to make wine from it for sometime.This resulted in her development of the History Wine program that seeks to source fruit from some of the oldest vineyards in the Pacific Northwest to make limited quantities of ultra-premium wines.The release party was held July 20th at the Stoller estate and featured several wines produced from some of the oldest plantings in the area.Wonderful way to start off our visit to the area.
The following Thursday, we joined with our friends from Pasadena ,Jessie and Phil for a lovely Pre-IPNC dinner held at Résonance Winery.
Résonance is a brand new facility started by a French producer, Maison Louis Jadot, and the tasting room was just completed about a month prior to the evening’s event.Dinner, great wines and conversations with the Pierre-Henry Gagey, President of Maison Louis Jadot and his son, Thibault Gagey Director of Operations provided a wonderful insight into their feelings about starting an operation in Oregon and their commitment to the project.I found my conversation with the winemaker, Guillaume Large very enjoyable.
He has been active in the decisions on how new vineyards are to be planted and what varietals are used.Unlike most (read that 99%) of the vineyards in Oregon they are planting a number of different varietals as a “field blend” not as specific blocks or areas.The field blend they feel gives them a better representation of the terroir.
The next day started the actual IPNC experience.
Held on the campus of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, this was the 33rd annual gathering of Pinot Noir lovers from around the world.The Celebration is both educational, featuring a Grand Seminar and courses as part of the University of Pinot combined with an abundance of great Pinot Noir paired with the delicious bounty of Oregon prepared by the Pacific Northwest’s most talented chefs . Voila ,you have a great food and wine event.
Over the course of three days of tastings, seminars, vineyard tours and gourmet dining there is the opportunity to taste Pinot Noir wines from over 70 carefully vetted wineries from several continents.
This year’s Master of Ceremonies and Grand Seminar moderator was Steven Spurrier who guided an in-depth discussion of the wines of the Côte Chalonnaise, “The 3rd Côte.”
The Grand Seminar had a panel of French Wine Producers and their wines.It was a lively discussion along with some very tasty wines.
After a fantastic lunch served outdoors in the Oak Grove, I went off to a seminar with Steven Spurrier while Janeen headed to a discussion of Pinot Noir and Riesling and changing terroir.
My seminar was a small group of people where Spurrier was asked questions by David Millman and covered the historic 1976 blind tasting between wines from California and France, the Judgment of Paris that forever changed the world’s view of New World wines and his lengthy history in the wine environment.
After our small group programs we went back to our room and regrouped for the afternoon and evening events.We decided to pass on the walk around tasting – where some 40 or so wines are presented and just hung out at our apartment.Dinner, a grand affair, held on the Intramural Field featured a wonderful meal along with more great wines.
Saturday had us board a bus and head out to a winery.The actual location is unknown until we were on our way and we discovered we were going to Ponzi Vineyard.Ponzi is one of the pioneer vineyards in the valley having been established in the late 60’s by Dick and Nancy Ponzi.The vineyards are now owned and run by their daughters, Anna Maria Ponzi and Winemaker Luisa Ponzi the second generation.
At the winery there was a panel discussion with 5 winemakers – 4 from Oregon and 1 from California with a discussion about winemaking procedures, methods sources of fruit and other quite interesting topics.
It is always interesting when winemakers have to taste their wines blind – most of the time they are unable to pick out their wines from the selections available and this was no different from prior panels we have been to over the years.All and it was a great afternoon and I would admit that the Arneis
they served at lunch was so good I ordered some!
The afternoon, after getting back to the campus, had another walk around tasting with an additional 40 or so producers that we also missed.The evening had the traditional Salmon Bake – a large area under the oak trees is set up for cooking salmon, pouring wines, dancing and the eating of great food.
Sunday, the final day of the weekend ,is a sparkling brunch with several different food stations and lots and lots of sparkling wine.A wonderful end for the weekend and a time to say goodbye to old and new friends.While we have enjoyed our time both in the Willamette Valley and at the IPNC there is no guarantee when we will get back to this part of the world as there is a lot of world yet to explore.
For those of you who have been following along on our adventures you know that from time to time we take a step back and drop off the radar for a while. Not much has been recorded recently, so I thought I would put up something letting our readers know what’s happening and a little bit of history at the same time.
After celebrating our granddaughter’s 4th birthday (albeit a few days early) we packed up our stuff and headed west towards Oregon. In order to make this trip we have to thank President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was with a stroke of a pen in 1956 he signed into law the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways commonly know as the Interstate Highway System.
This network of controlled-access highways forms part of our national highway system and allows us to travel throughout this wonderful land in great comfort. This system has often been called the Greatest Public Works Project in History and has changed the daily lives of everyone . All drivers , car and truck owe a great debt to this network of roads that travel across the country – both east and west and north and south.
The new highway system didn’t help the small towns along the way as it created high speed corridors by which travelers can zip past a lot of the iconic roadways– all you have to do is think about the demise of Route 66 – the road from Chicago to Los Angeles and all the small towns that supported the travelers along that path who now don’t have the traffic to support them.
There has always been a “rumor” that part of the highway system was designed with long stretches of straight road that could be used for airplanes to land. Usually, this myth says the requirement came from President Eisenhower or the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. However, no legislation, regulation, or policy has ever imposed such a requirement. Airplanes do sometimes land on interstates in an emergency, but the highways are not designed for that purpose.
Currently, the Interstate System is 46,876 miles long. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 imposed a statutory limitation on the Interstate mileage that would be built with Interstate Construction funds under the new program (41,000 miles at the time). Later legislation increased the limitation to 43,000 miles, of which a total of 42,795 miles has been used. Separate legislation allows the Federal Highway Administration to approve additional mileage if it meets full Interstate standards and would be a logical addition or connection.
The first project to go to construction with Interstate Construction funds under the 1956 Act was in Missouri. The project on U.S. 40 (later designated the I-70 Mark Twain Expressway) in St. Charles County got underway on August 13, 1956. Officials erected a sign stating, “This is the first project in the United States on which actual construction was started under provisions of the new Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.”
Kansas had begun a construction project on U.S. 40 (I-70) west of Topeka before the 1956 Act, but awarded the final paving contract under the new legislation. Because this was the first paving under the 1956 Act, Kansas erected a sign claiming, “This is the first project in the United States completed under provisions of the new Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.”
The Interstate numbering plan was based on the plan used to number the U.S. numbered highways, but in mirror image (for example, U.S. 1 is on the East Coast, while I-5 is on the West Coast; U.S. 10 is in the north while I-10 is in the south). In both plans, numbers ending in zero are used for transcontinental and other major multi-State routes. However, one of the rules for Interstate numbering is that numbers are not duplicated on Interstate highways and U.S. numbered routes in the same State. Duplicate numbers would be confusing for motorists; for example, if told to take “Route 50,” the motorist might follow the wrong one. Because the Interstate numbering plan is a mirror image of the U.S. numbered highway plan, I-50 would be located in some of the same States as U.S. 50 (Ocean City, Maryland, to Sacramento, California). Therefore, “50” has not been used for an Interstate route.
Our route going West was along I 80 to Salt Lake City and then North on I 84. Along the way we visited friends in York Nebraska and Star Idaho – it’s nice to catch up with old friends. Once we made it to Portland Oregon we took shelter with my sister Marilynn and actually had a moment with all my sibling.s It was quite by happenstance that we were all in the same place and able to get together.
For now, we are heading south from the Portland area to Los Angeles stopping along the way in Sonoma and the Bay Area again to visit friends. This piece of the trip isn’t on the Interstate but historic US 101 along the coast of Oregon and California. More as the venture continues.
At the age of 26, Thomas Jefferson inherited approximately 5,000 acres and began plans for his home having independently studied the principles of architecture; he based the design on a neoclassical style developed by Andrea Palladio who was a popular Italian Renaissance architect in eighteenth century Europe. The home was to be built on the top of an 850-foot mountain located on the property and Jefferson named it Monticello an Italian word meaning “little mountain”.
As work began on the building in 1770, Jefferson lived in one of the outbuildings on the property known as the South Pavilion. A few years later, in 1772,he married Martha Wayles Skelton and construction still had not been completed on the house. Sadly, Martha died in 1782 and Jefferson left Monticello to go to France, undertaking a political position as Minister of the United States. The construction on this first version of Monticello was considered finished in 1784 while Jefferson was still in France.
Europe changed how Jefferson looked at his project and he wanted include French design elements.
By 1794, Jefferson had returned to America to serve as the first Secretary of State for the newly formed United States followed by a stint as President.
Although the building was considered completed in 1809 Jefferson continued to make improvements and changes on structure throughout his lifetime.
Thomas Jefferson died in 1826 and per his request he is buried in the Monticello cemetery.
At the time of his death, the estate was more than $107,000 in debt (which was a considerable amount of money at that time). Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, found it necessary to sell the Monticello plantation including the house and surrounding property, she also sold the furnishings of house, livestock and farm equipment and the plantation’s slaves to pay off the debts.
Over the years, Monticello had many owners until Uriah Levy bought the property in 1834. The Levy family continued to own the property for almost 90 years. Levy, a former commodore in the U.S. Navy, had long admired Jefferson and he chose to restore and preserve the home and property. In 1923, the Levy family sold the property to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, a private non-profit organization. The Foundation now owns and operates the house as a museum, maintains the grounds of the property and administrates an educational center. Monticello is a National Historic Landmark and in 1987 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the nearby University of Virginia where Jefferson had also designed many of the buildings on the campus.
Montpelier – James Madison’s delightful home
Located a mere 30 miles from Monticello, and doing basically the same thing throughout his live, our fourth President James Madison lived in his family home called Montpelier. We visited Montpelier the following day, after visiting Monticello, on our way back home to Springfield.
In 1723, Ambrose Madison, James father, received a large parcel of land located in Virginia. By 1732 he had built Mount Pleasant, the original family homewhich became the home for his wife, Frances Taylor, and their three children. Upon his death, it was believed ,but never proved, that one of his slaves had poisoned him.His oldest son; James Madison Sr. inherited the tobacco plantation.
After inheriting the plantation, Madison Sr. acquired even more land and the estate grew to over 5,000 acres making him the largest landowner in the area. Mount Pleasant soon became a prosperous plantation and Madison Sr. established several more businesses, including a distillery and ironworks. With a growing family a new house was in order and in 1764 the new home – a two-story brick Georgian style house to be called Montpelier was completed.
The future president, James Madison Jr. was the oldest of their children and while the young boy enjoyed life on the plantation, as he grew older he realized that he wanted to pursue a career in public office. He eventually went to school at the College of New Jersey and then on to Williamsburg and Philadelphia. While serving in the new nation’s capital of Washington as a congressman, Madison meet and married a young widow, Dolley Payne Todd, in 1794. By 1797, construction had begun on the front portico and a 30-foot extension on the main building at Montpelier.
A number of additions were made to the house over the years to accommodate the family and to provide entertaining spaces due to James Madison’s rise in public office from Secretary of State to President of the United States. Finally in 1817, after serving two terms as president, James Madison and his wife Dolley once again left Washington and retired to Montpelier.
After leaving public office, James and Dolley Madison lead a very full life and together they spent many years editing his presidential and personal papers. They also enjoyed entertaining political statesmen and diplomats as well as their personal friends and neighbors. When James Madison died in 1836, the estate went to his stepson Todd Payne.
From 1844 until 1900, Montpelier went through a series of six different owners. In 1901, William DuPont Sr. bought the property. The wealthy DuPont family was very influential in the development of Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States and for this reason several barns, stables and other equestrian buildings were built on the property. After the death of William and his wife Annie, their daughter inherited the estate in 1928. Despite the renovations made on the Madison’s former home, Marion meant to preserve the original footprint of the estate, gardens and additional grounds. At the time of her death in 1983, Marion DuPont Scott bequeathed the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Since 1984, the National Trust for Historic Preservation took ownership of the estate and the organization has worked to restore Montpelier to how it would have looked during the time of James and Dolley Madison. From 2003 to 2008, the Montpelier, former home of James and Dolley Madison, underwent a $25 million restoration project funded by the National trust to remove the renovations created by prior owners and the DuPont family to restore the building to its original 1820 look. The restoration was able to recreate much of the color scheme from the Madison period along with some of the wallpaper.
Our visit toured the interior of the property and much of the grounds. While there really are few furnishings left from when Madison owned the property, the house is furnished with period pieces and much of the history is brought to life by the docents leading the tour.
The estate includes a Landmark forest which Madison preserved for house use in fireplaces.
Some of the Tulip trees are hundreds of years old. He also was an advocate of preserving natural resources. A Witness Tree stands near the slave quarters and back of the main house.
We started this adventure at the end of February 2019 in the South of France – the Cote d’Azu, specifically outside of Nice in a village called Vence. It all started with Janeen saying she wanted to go to the Violet Festival that is held annually in Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Since we arrived in early spring it was lovely to tour around and see spring blooming, mimosa, magnolia all around us. As we traveled north through Aquitaine and Bordeaux, first to Brussels and then Amsterdam the weather continued to be wonderful. After the second river cruise ended in Basel, and we started our Glorious Switzerland tour, the weather took a decidedly colder turn. Once we left Switzerland and landed in Paris for our final 3 days of this almost 3-month trip, we could not have wished for nicer weather.
Paris was beautiful! Over the last several days, rain had cleaned the city and now we had warm and sunny days with lots to see and do. Our goal, in Paris, was actually to go to Giverny and see Monet’s Garden.
To accomplish this we took first a subway and then a train out of Paris. I admit, we have now traveled in France quite a lot and I’m more comfortable getting around than our first trip in 2004 and while standing in the train station was able to offer advise to several Americans looking for directions.
Monet’s Garden has been on our bucket list for a number of years. The last several times we have been in France it was after the season and the place was closed. This time, all the stars aligned and we had a beautiful day and lots of time to explore and discover this beautiful area. To say it is lovely is an understatement.
Sure they have a more traditional garden with beds of beautiful flowers but clearly the showcase area is the ponds and more specifically the lily pond area.
First you walk through the more traditional garden and then down some stairs and under the road that separates the water garden from the house and traditional areas.
It’s not as big as you might think but it is well laid out with view points at a number of spots where Claude may have stood and painted. Having seen a number of his paintings over this trip it was great to see where his vision took flight and created the paintings.
By late afternoon we were back on the train then to our B&B in the Bastille District for a lovely walk around.
The following day we had a lunch reservation at Le Réminet – a place we have visited every time we have been in Paris.
We had made a lunch reservation and decided to walk from our apartment to the Restaurant. Along the way we walked over the small island of Île Saint-Louis that affords a view of the back of Notre-Dame.
Most of the area around Notre-Dame is blocked with various temporary construction structures, security and a variety of other things. Over the last 700 years the church has had more than one fire resulting in a number of restorations. This fire will be no different – fortunately the main structure, the façade, the flying buttresses and the exterior walls were all saved and while I’m sure they have some damage they still stand showing the structure still very much in place.
While it is going to take a while to make the repairs it is clear that the City of Paris and the Country are both strongly in support of its restoration. Hopefully we will be around to see it reopen but who knows how long it will take.
Our lunch at Le Réminet was everything we have learned to expect.
Norbert, headwaiter, manager, guy in charge, was welcoming and enjoyable to talk to. It seems the fire at Notre-Dame has impacted their customer base but hopefully that will change with the summer season heating up.
After lunch we walked to Jardin des Tuileries – a lovely park along the Seine.
After taking the better part of the day to enjoy Paris we went back to the apartment to organize our luggage for our flight home.
As of this posting, we are now back in Springfield Virginia enjoying spending time with our two granddaughters and trying to figure out our next adventure.
For now, we haven’t got anything planned for a foreign trip but that could always change. In July we will be driving across country stopping in Portland Oregon for the International Pinot Noir Festival and then heading south to SoCal stopping along the way to visit friends and relatives. So, while we have been blogging for the better part of 8 months I expect the next couple of months will be less reported but you are encouraged to come back (subscribing is actually best) to see what we are doing and follow our progress.
One last comment for this blog. We have been traveling for the better part of two years (started in June 2017) and really don’t know when we will actually stop. Places still on the bucket list include: Alaskan cruise; extended trip to Australia and New Zealand; Egypt; Sicily; Croatia; Russia; and the Far East.
Last up on our Discovery of Switzerland was Lucerne. Lucerne is a compact city known for its preserved medieval architecture and sits amid snowcapped mountains on Lake Lucerne.
The Old town is colorful with decorated buildings and wondering cobblestone streets. One of the main attractions is the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower.
The Bridge is a covered wooden footbridge spanning the River Reuss diagonally between the two sides of the river. It is probably the oldest wooden bridge in Switzerland dating back to the middle of the 14th century. It also has old paintings under the roofs.
Some of it was rebuilt in the 20th century after a fire. The bridge traffic also provided Janeen with a sighting of a St. Bernard puppy. The northern end of the bridge once lead directly into St. Peter’s Chapel,
today a riverside promenade separates the two.
Another notable site to see is the Lion Monument. This Monument is dedicated to the memory of the Swiss mercenaries who, in the service of Louis XVI King of France were killed during the French Revolution in Paris when the Tuileries were invaded on August 10, 1792.
The inscription “Helvetiorum fidei ac virtuti means” To the loyal and bravery of the Swiss”. The Lion’s Swiss Cross Halbard is covered by the fleur- de- lys of France, which the soldiers had pledged to protect. The Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen, designed the Lion Monument when he was in Rome in 1819. It was installed in the sandstone rock in 1820 or so and is 6 meters high and ten meters long.
Mark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world”.
After walking around the Old Town and enjoying the sites (peonies in the flower market)
and sounds (church bells) of the city market (it was market day after all) we went back to our hotel to get ready for our boat ride and cable car ride to the summit of Stanserhorn arranged for the following morning.
We had opted for the Lake Lucerne cruise for a chance to take in the wonderful mountain scenery from the water and enjoy a leisurely lake cruise before boarding our coach again for a quick ride to the funicular and open top cable car to the top of Mount Stanserhorn.
We have been on several funiculars throughout Europe so this wasn’t as impressive as the cable car.
This is the world’s only sun deck cable car with an enclosed cabin below and standing space on the roof!
The double cable system gives a very stable ride and was quite impressive as we climbed to the mountaintop at over 6,000 feet.
At the top, which still had snow, we had a lovely hot chocolate and headed back down seeing a double rainbow along the way!
That evening was the final gathering and dinner was delightful. The following morning we were off to Zurich and the airport for a flight to Paris.