07 July 2008

A BIG Day!

Sunday, 29 June 2008
We were in no rush to stick around the Atlantic City area, so we grabbed a quick bite of breakfast and were on our way by about 8:30. Did we mention that our hotel had a riverboat docked behind the dumpsters? We're not sure why, and we did not go investigate, but it looked pretty funny to us. Atlantic City seemed to be a bit seedy to us, and in all fairness, we did not go all the way into the city to check it our for ourselves. Margate City seemed okay enough, and the beach (or shore) was pretty, but we'll take our North and South Carolina beaches any day!

We did not have a whole lot on our agenda today - a drive-by of Storybook Land, Longwood Gardens, the Charcoal Pit, and a detour to the Haines Shoe House, which we missed in Pennsylvania at the beginning of our trip. Storybook Land was just down the road from our hotel, and it did not open until about 11, so we had to be satisfied with a few photos from the parking lot. Given that it's an amusement park with a $20 ticket price, that's probably all we would have done even it if were open! You can read about it at http://www.storybookland.com/ (turn your volume down - it's loud!) and if you're in the area with small children (somehow Atlantic City and small children don't seem to go together...) you may want to visit. It looked really clean and well-maintained, and it's been family owned since 1955.

On our drive across New Jersey towards Delaware, we saw a few curiosities worth stopping for - we just had to stop and turn around to get a picture of the American flag made out of colored milk jugs in someone's front yard, and we were a little surprised by a Muffler Man sighting. Before long, we saw the twin spires of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, but not before we stopped for gas (again!) to take advantage of the lower prices and great service in New Jersey.

Our original plan was to have lunch at the Charcoal Pit in Wilmington, DE, on our way to Longwood Gardens, but since it was 10:30, we decided to visit the gardens first and then go back to the Pit. We passed the turnoff for Winterthur, which we had considered visiting, and we drove right through Chadd's Ford, which is home to another Wyeth museum. So much to do and so little time!! We had voted on Longwood Gardens to honor our mom and grandmother, who both had gorgeous gardens and are/were excellent flower arrangers. We were not disappointed! Longwood was the estate of Pierre du Pont, and it encompasses over a thousand acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows as well as a summer home, a conservatory, and lots of fountains. Visit it at http://www.longwoodgardens.org/ but really plan to see it in person! We strolled through the flower garden, which I loved because of the way the flowers were planted in groups of similar colors - it was like walking through a rainbow! From the flower garden, we went to the Italian Water Garden, where my favorites were the waterfall tumbling down a staircase and the frog fountains. A special display going on this summer was a series of treehouses created especially for the Gardens. The first one that we came to was the Canopy Cathedral, which reminded us a bit of the Gillette Castle because of the way the logs were carved. I've posted pictures of the treehouses over on the sidebar, beneath the Peppy pictures.

From the fountains in the Italian Water Garden, we walked up a long hill past the meadow, and soon we had come to the next treehouse, the Lookout Loft, which was in the shady Forest Walk section. It was a sort of Adirondack-style treehouse. We walked past the duPont house, not sure if we could go in it or not, and then we found ourselves at the final treehouse, the Birdhouse. It was nice to go up in the trees and enjoy a few moments out of the heat of the sun, and Kim and I were reminded of the fantastic treehouse our dad had made us when we were kids. All the neighborhood kids hung out at our house, since in addition to the treehouse (which also had a fireman's pole) we had a bagswing and a roller coaster that Daddy had made. We had a nice little walk down Memory Lane as we walked through Longwood Gardens!

When we realized you could go in the house, we took that tour, too. It was so interesting! I have loved being in these totally well thought out and well designed homes of people who clearly knew what they wanted and could afford to have it built the way they wanted it! Some favorite things in the house were the built in map case, the hidden library, Mr. du Pont's office, the towel warming rack in the kitchen, the silver safe, and the fly fan. Even though the air conditioner was allegedly on, it was very hot and humid in the house, so we didn't linger as long as we might have. From here, we went to the Conservatory, which was built in 1919 and houses almost 200,000 square feet of plants!! Outside the Conservatory was another fantastic fountain display, the Main Fountain Garden, which covers five acres and has 380 fountains spraying 10,000 gallons of recirculated water. Wow! Next to it was the topiary garden, and from there we went to the Chime Tower and Waterfall. We could have stayed here for a few more hours - there was a lot we didn't see - but we were wilting and hungry, and we had miles to go...We stopped in at the gift shop and we have to tell you that even the bathrooms were beautiful, complete with flower arrangements and mosaics. What a spectacular place this is!

Like I said, we were hungry and couldn't wait to eat at the Charcoal Pit,
(http://www.charcoalpit.net/) which we had read about in Road Food but we'd also heard from Melanie that we would not be disappointed. We had no problem finding it, and since it was getting close to 2 o'clock, it wasn't too crowded. On the way in, we noticed some of the awesome ice cream creations and we saw some mighty juicy burgers, so we knew we were in for a treat! Kim had a chocolate soda with her burger and fries, and I opted for the big burger (no fries or onion rings!) and a hot fudge sundae. Heavenly!! Sure wish we lived closer to the Pit!!

Backtracking again, we were soon back in Pennsylvania and before we knew it, we were back in Amish country. We had loved the rolling terrain and green farmland of this part of Pennsylvania when we first started our trip, so it was a treat to get to see it again. We drove through Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand again, and we loved hearing the clip-clop of the horses on the Amish buggies. Why, you may ask, were we not heading south since we were on our way home? Well, one of the things we had really wanted to see on this trip was the Haines Shoe House, which is near York, PA. (http://www.jarrettsville.org/family/shoehouse.htm) You may remember that we had to bypass it on our first pass through PA, or else we would not have gotten to Lititz and Wilbur's Chocolates before it closed, so we had figured out a way we could get here on the flip side of the trip. It was just a bonus that we got to enjoy Lancaster County again!

We arrived at the Shoe House a little after 4:00 and were there in time for the last tour of the day. Sadly, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the house, so you'll have to be satisfied with seeing the outside and going for yourself to see the inside. I will say it was cool - people could (and have) really live there, and the current owners have decorated it really nicely - lots of shoes of all varieties add to the fun theme. We had no problem turning down the ice cream (there's a shop there) since we were still on a sugar high from the Charcoal Pit, and now it was time to turn south and head for home.

It's always hard to realize a trip like this is almost over, but that time was fast approaching! We weren't sure where we would be spending the night, so we started looking at the map and perusing our Hampton Inn book. Kim made a few phone calls and we decided we could get as far as Leesburg, VA, before it got too late. We traveled down Highway 15 (which goes to Durham, too) and soon our Hampton was there to greet us. Since I'd been craving Chinese food for days, and we were pretty pooped, we took the easy way out and ordered some to be delivered. A couple of cold beers from the car, Chinese on paper plates - it was just what we needed! We got a little blogging done, downloaded pictures, planned our next day's drive, and watched a little TV. Only one more day...

Taking time to smell the flowers,



SuziQCat said...

Is Peppy #22 on the foot of Lucy the Elephant?

SuziQCat said...

Is Peppy #24 looking in a window at the shoe house? This is fun...are you going to continue Peppy sitings throughout the year?