Last week we took a respite from the daily grind here in Dallas and flew out of town at sunrise. Actually, it was a little later in the morning, but leaving at sunrise sounds dramatic.
Our journey took us first to Maryland, where I was at Aberdeen Proving Ground for my last year in the U. S. Army. Some friends who were there planned a get-together. Had dinner in Havre de Grace at a nice Italian restaurant, which I recommend to anyone who might be up that way looking for a place to eat. Havre de Grace is off I-95 at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, roughly one-third of the way between Washington and New York City. See http://www.chiapparellishdg.com/.
The next day was travel by car to western Pennsylvania. On the way we found a small restaurant called Shab Row Bistro in Frederick Maryland. Quite imaginative and tasty food. Many local, American, and imported wines. Didn’t try any vino there as we were on a long drive, but purchased a bottle to go. See http://www.shabrowwine.com/.
For the Pennsylvania sojourn, our purpose was to visit Falling Water, the house in the mountains that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the Edgar Kaufmann family (of the Pittsburgh department store fame) and is considered his masterwork. Prior to that visit, we learned that Wright had designed another house located nearby that was open for tours. Kentuck Knob, as it is called, was designed and built in the 1950s when Wright was in his eighth decade. It was commissioned by the Hagan family, who owned a Pittsburgh ice-cream business (no relation to the present well known Hagen-Dazs). The Knob is now owned by a British peer who installed his extensive painting and sculpture collection inside and on the grounds. The house is not large, but the grounds are extensive. See http://www.kentuckknob.com/.
So stunning was Falling Water, it was a good thing that we visited Kentuck Knob first, otherwise it would have been anti-climactic. Falling Water is a veritable treasure-trove of fine-art pieces, and is a work of art in itself. Most of all the innovations Wright is famous for are incorporated in to the design. And, true to his vision, it was built into the side of the cliff. This house is now owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The conservancy’s mission is to preserve and maintain the house as a museum. It is an expensive endeavor; like most of Wright’s houses, it was designed to achieve maximum aesthetic value, rather than for practicality. Most of us couldn’t afford to live there if we received it as a gift. It is a wonder to see, and should be on everyone’s bucket-list. See http://www.fallingwater.org/.
A nearby historical site just off Route U.S. 40 is the Fort Necessity battlefield. This is where George Washington, as a 22 year old colonel in 1754, led colonial Virginia troops west in an attempt to oust the French from the Ohio Valley. He met an overwhelming force of the French and their Indian allies, and attempted to make a stand at a hastily built “fort” – about the size of the average modern living room. Washington was forced to surrender, but the terms were generous – leave your heavy weapons behind and get the hell out of our territory. Two years later, Washington, as second in command in General Braddock’s regular British force, returned and met with a similar degree of success, being forced to withdraw after Braddock was killed. Nevertheless, the British and colonials ultimately prevailed and captured the French Fort Duquesne, which was renamed Fort Pitt – later Pittsburgh. The outcome of the French and Indian War, which was part of a world wide conflict, was the end of French political, if not cultural, influence in North America. See http://www.nps.gov/fone/index.htm.
Also in the area is the exceptionally scenic Ohiopyle State Park. The Great Allegheny Passage trail, which extends from Pittsburgh to Cumberland Maryland, passes through the park. Might be a future bicycle trip.
Next stop was Cleveland Ohio. To see more recent history as displayed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was our goal there. Located on Lake Erie proximate to the Cleveland Browns stadium, the Hall of Fame is a steel and glass monument to the history of Rock & Roll music from its beginnings to the present. Unlikely as it might seem for a music genre whose roots and early performers were mostly rural and Southern, Cleveland is regarded as the place rock & roll first took hold and, thanks to WJW radio disc jockey Alan Freed who coined the name, was launched nationally.
The current feature in the HOF is the Rolling Stones’s “50 Years of Satisfaction” exhibit. The displays are, true to rock’s image, mostly over-the-top. Beginning in 1986, individual performers and groups, as well as promoters, mangers, songwriters, have been inducted annually. The objective criterion for induction is that it must be 25 years from the first performance of a prospective inductee’s work. The other criteria are significant contribution or impact, necessarily subjective. Chuck Berry, James Brown, Buddy Holly were among the 17 inducted in first year. In 2013, Rush, Heart, Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Donna Summer, Albert King, Louis Adler, and Quincy Jones were inducted. There is a small theater that has a continuous big screen feature about 45 minutes in length showing audio/video snippets of inductees year-by-year up to the present. The gift shop has the most extensive popular music CD inventory I’ve ever seen in one place. They even sell a good deal of vinyl, included some recent recordings. The CD’s were surprisingly inexpensive, so we purchased greatest hits of the Doors, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley. For more info, see http://www.rockhall.com.
Anyway, it was a good trip. Hope you have an opportunity to see these sights some day.