Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Trip 2013 (Part One) - It's A Wrap!

Garden at Planting Fields Arboretum - Oyster Bay, New York
May 22, 2013

We are safely back at home in Tennessee after a wonderful two weeks in New York.  Unlike last year's misadventure which included a comedy of errors (none of which deterred us from having a good time anyway), this year's trip was flawless.  Following our time in New York City which I wrote about here and here, we had four days left and still two full days worth of things I wanted to see and do prior to leaving Long Island.  We had not yet explored the Gold Coast Mansions or Sagamore Hill, summer White House of Teddy Roosevelt, nor had we visited Fire Island.

Two things transpired against us.....first, the weather did not cooperate and three of those four days were cold, windy and rainy.  Second, we just plain realized that we were tired.  The days in NYC had worn us down and the thoughts of spending those cold, windy days in our cozy little apartment in Greenport was just too tempting to pass up.  So we chose to visit Sagamore Hill and two of the Gold Coast Mansions leaving Fire Island for another time.  Fire Island was heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy and many of the access points, boardwalks and trails haven't been reopened, so that made our decision easier.  

I'll not go into a lot of detail about Sagamore Hill or the Mansions as the links do that so much better than I do, but I will say that we enjoyed that day immensely.  We took route 25A west from Greenport rather than the Long Island Expressway and found ourselves meandering through quaint little villages with names like Stony Brook, Head of the Harbor, Port Jefferson, Cold Spring Harbor and finally, Oyster Bay where Teddy Roosevelt built his much loved Sagamore Hill.  Sadly, the house itself was being renovated, but the museum and film were excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed meandering around the grounds.  

We chose two of the Gold Coast Mansions to visit.  It is still early in the season and their hours are shortened so even visiting two plus Sagamore Hill in the same day was pretty aggressive.  

First up was Planting Fields Arboretum and we spent a delightful couple of hours touring this mansion, learning its history and enjoying the spectacular gardens.  We did not realize until after the fact that we never got a full picture of the mansion, but there are plenty on the link above and yes, the gardens are as gorgeous as the pictures on their website.  And you must remember, Biltmore Estate is in our backyard and with our season passes, we visit it frequently.  We aren't easily impressed by gardens at other places, but have maybe learned a lesson.  The gardens at both these mansions were stunning!

Conservatory at Planting Fields Arboretum
May 22, 2013

Our second mansion was the Old Westbury Gardens.  It would be hard to choose which of these mansions was more impressive.  It is beyond my imagination that people actually lived in these and called them home.  

Old Westbury House - Westbury, New York
May 22, 2013

I think my favorite spot of the day was this adorable thatched cottage out in the gardens at Planting Fields.  It was used as a Tea House.

Thatched Roof Tea House as seen from the mansion at Planting Fields Arboretum.
May 22, 2013

Taking the slow, scenic route, visiting the two mansions, strolling the gardens and Sagamore Hill made for a long, long day.  We were exhausted and pretty much done with the sightseeing.  When the next day dawned dreary and cold, we very easily made the decision that it would be a rest day.  I planned our route home and we just enjoyed being quiet.

Although we had three full days to make the 850 mile journey from Greenport home, we decided to do it in two so Bill would have a full day at home before beginning his summer teaching schedule.  We also felt that since we would be driving the very busy I-81 corridor through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia perhaps traffic would be more reasonable if we were traveling the two middle days of the holiday weekend.  In retrospect, it was a good decision.  We left Greenport very early on Saturday morning and easily made it around the south side of New York City continuing on to our overnight stop in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Harrisonburg turned out to be a lovely place with a beautifully restored downtown area and a marvelous city park with a 1.5 mile walking trail which gave us a chance to get some exercise after a long day in the car.  An early start on Sunday morning got us home by mid-afternoon.  

I'm always grateful for the opportunity to travel and see new things.  There is so much to see and so much to learn in this country of ours not to even mention the rest of the world.  Bill and I so value the time we have to unwind and spend together.  Even when we are going at a wild pace trying to see and do everything we possibly can, there's still a calming element that we find simply by just being together AWAY from the demands and pressures of home.  I always hope that our travels will find me where I can meet new friends made through this blog or reconnect once again with friends I've already found.  That happened THREE times on this trip and I am still so excited that I was able to hook up with Tish again plus meet Karen and Carol for the first time.  All three meetings just left me wishing for more time with each and hoping for a way to make that happen in the future.

We are already repacking our bags and heading out of town this weekend, but not very far this time.  But I am excited because it is to attend an event I've wanted to experience for a long time and it seems that finally it's going to work out.  Come back early next week to hear all about that.

Although this trip involved a lot of walking particularly while in NYC, it did not include the level of hiking and biking that past trips have.   Therefore, I've got a bit of work to do and some post travel pounds to lose.  Not worried - there aren't that many.  I'm actually more concerned about weaning myself back to the way of eating that had become second nature to me.  It will just take some concentrated discipline, but I'll make it happen.  I have no doubt about that!

Any special weekend plans?


  1. Looking at those mansions, I also can't believe people could live this way. Sounds like you saw some great things. Glad you made it home safely.

    I'm hoping to get out and hike this weekend. The rain has finally stopped here and it's supposed to be sunny. You know me - if I go somewhere, there will be photos. :)

  2. I have no doubt either, Sharon. You've got control over this part of your life like an iron fist ;)
    Glad to see that you're home safe and sound - well, 'around' home I should say, since you're leaving for the weekend. But I'm glad it's somewhere you are excited about going. Can't wait to read all about it :)

  3. Why oh why is it so much easier to let those healthy eating habits slip than to regain them? I know you'll to it. You have what it takes.

  4. What a beautiful way to end your trip. I like that thatched cottage too!

  5. Glad you made it home safe and sound ---and had a fabulous trip. I remember when we pushed ourselves while seeing ALL of Yellowstone in just 6 days... We 'went' from morning til night ---and even though it was exhausting, we loved it... However, we are at the age when we need to build in a day of REST into big trips like that... Glad the weather gave you two a chance to rest a bit!!!!!

    Have a fabulous weekend. Can't wait to hear about it.
    P.S. When you have an extra minute, check out my Wednesday blog... I did a GREAT bird blog. You will enjoy seeing it.

  6. Love, love, love your photos, as always. :) You're post inspired me to think about my vacation eating/planning- particularly before and after (also during). I'll blog about this soon. I've developed some new habits in weight maintenance that have really worked for me for trips. I always thought it was about eating while on vacation- but now I'm thinking about what I do before and after may be key.

    Thanks for motivating my brain (before coffee!). Keep the photos coming....

  7. I remember when we were in NY, we went to some mansions too! I have to go back to remember the names. I like your map on the side of your blog on the states/US state houses that you have visited.

  8. I love arboretums and botanical gardens (duh). These look gorgeous! Have safe travels!

  9. those flowers in the first photo are gorgeous!