Two weeks ago today, we visited Longwood Gardens, which is located on over 1000 acres in Kennett Square, PA on the Eastern side of the state. According to Wikipedia, the land was purchased from William Penn himself by the Peirce family, who collected all kinds of different specimens of trees on the land. In the early 20th century, the trees were in danger of being sold for lumber, so Pierre S. du Pont purchased the land and developed it into one of the premier botanical gardens in the United States.
And I can attest that the claim is justified because it is an amazing place. During our four hour stay, I kept mentioning to Mark how we needed to buy a house nearby so that we could become members and visit all year round whenever we pleased. In fact, my photos just do not do it justice - you just have to go see for yourself.
A word about the photos. The day that we visited was a bright, sunny day. Great for strolling the grounds, but terrible for photos. On top of that, the lens that I had with me wasn't nearly wide enough to capture many of the spaces, so I had to make do.
Let's start with the Italian Water Gardens. Longwood is particularly famous for it's spectacular fountains. Unfortunately, access to the main fountain garden was blocked off, so we didn't get to see those.
On the other hand, these ain't too shabby.
Longwood is a great place for kids to explore. Lauren loved it, and as we walked through acres and acres, she never complained once. One of her favorite parts of the visit was exploring the three tree houses on the grounds. This one is called the Canopy Cathedral. The window alone is fantastic.
This next one is the Lookout Loft Treehouse. Check out how they built around that very tall tree. What kid wouldn't want a three floor treehouse?
I can tell you that the kid peeping out the top window would.
The last treehouse is the Birdhouse Treehouse. It was too wide for me to get a good photo of the exterior, but the interior had these tubes that you could use to listen to the sound of the surrounding woods.
Lauren was absolutely riveted by the bee hive. If we made our own, I think we could cancel cable because she would just watch the bees all the time. Onlookers can safely watch the bees tend to the hive behind glass, but it also had a tube that led to the forest so that the bees could travel freely.
This is Pierre S. du Pont's house. You can tour the inside as well. You'll have to take my word for it that the interior is fabulous because it was too difficult to get good photos on the inside.
However, what we do have is a photo of the resident kitty. We'll refer to him as "Kitty du Pont." Come to think of it, Kitty du Pont was probably Lauren's favorite part of the tour. Kitty du Pont was so sweet that we lingered a little too long with him. In the words of Mark, "There's a lot more to see, and we didn't spend forty some dollars to look at a cat!" So we better move along.
Surrounding the du Pont house is Peirce Woods, which contains many varieties of trees, some over 200 years old. The only other place that I've seen trees as big (That were not sequoias) was at Mount Vernon. Along what is called the Forest Walk, several trees have been defaced by lovers (and apparently, stoners.).
Lauren and I taking a breather on the Forest Walk.
Perhaps the crown jewel of Longwood Gardens is the Grand Conservatory.
The place is immense - it spans a half of a mile.
Look at those pillars!
And those gigantic hanging baskets!
In the center of the Conservatory, there is a courtyard filled with ponds.
When we arrived there, it was already late in the afternoon, so the lilies had begun to recede.
I was still able to squeeze in some last minute shots.
I had to lay on my stomach on the hot cement to get these. At one point, my camera bag almost fell in the pond. Oops.
I had never seen anything like these water platters. They must have been 2 to 3 feet in diameter.
Longwood also has a children's garden filled with mazes and other whimsies. Here is yours truly sitting on the queen bee's throne.
And a place like this wouldn't be complete without a huge topiary garden.
Our last stop is the Chimes Tower. Inside is a large Carillon that is played at intervals throughout the day. Looking at this photo makes me almost imagine that I visited Europe instead of Eastern Pennsylvania. Maybe someday, but I have to admit that you can't go wrong when there are such nice places to visit like this so close to home.
Friday, June 24, 2011
This damn dirty ape.
I was browsing the work of Dennis Stock when I came across it. Stock was most famous for his atmospheric portraits of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, but he also did a series of behind-the-scenes photos from Planet of the Apes, mainly the actors hanging out and going about their daily business dressed in costume. I love everything about this one - the donut shop in the background, the mod building and sign across the street, the fact that the bench at the bus stop is advertising a funeral home. But most of all, I love the expression on (I believe) Dr. Zauis's, aka Maurice Evans, face. It's looks completely candid, like he's just a regular Joe waiting for his bus who happened to look up as Stock snapped the shutter. Check out how he composed so that bench leads your eye to the middle of the frame, right to old Dr. Z. I'd really like to see a high res version of it.
Here's another - very different subject matter, but ridiculously brilliant. Hippie girl enjoying herself (most likely to excess) at the Venice Beach Music Festival in 1968. If this was me (taking the photo, not dancing with wild abandon), I probably would have composed her to the right, which is why I'm not a celebrated photo journalist. Placed in the center, it's as if she's holding court over her subjects (But maybe that's just my impression - others may just see a hippie on an acid trip). Ooo, there's a high res version of this one.
Someday I hope I find my own Dr. Zauis or hippie girl...
ETA - I just found this link where Stock describes this photo in his own words. It's short and so worth a listen.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
We conclude our tour of Ocean City with a little family shoot.
I had the foresight to buy Lauren a lollipop before attempting this. While she was distracted enough not to complain about having her photo taken, the bloomin' thing had to be in every shot.
No lollipops needed here.
Me and Mark, as taken by Lauren.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Jaws reenactment at Playland's Seaport Village Mini Golf.
And in case you see a real shark, here is the headquarters of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.
Me and my new best friend, Mr. Taffy, Shriver's Salt Water Taffy's mascot. LOVE Mr. Taffy! I even bought a mini stuffed version to take home to remind me of our brief but torrid meeting.
Here's a Zoltar machine just like in the movie Big. Too bad it wasn't working, but then again, if it was, I may have ended up looking like I did here.
This adorable ice cream shop, The Hobby Horse, was right next to our motel.
They made this cute Hobby the Clown sundae for Lauren.
Me, Lauren and a very big smart phone.
This motel was right across the street from ours. It's been around for as long as I can remember, and it has the coolest neon sign EVER.
Kohr Brother's Frozen Custard. They pretty much dominate the boardwalk with 4 locations. You can choose any kind of twist that you want: strawberry and vanilla, chocolate and mint, etc. I had orange and vanilla, and it was extremely good. I could go for some right now.
And lastly, the boardwalk clock at dusk. Just one more post and we can move onto the next destination on our excursion - woohoo!
Monday, June 20, 2011
(As I was editing this photo, I only then noticed the cute little seagull perched in the top left corner. See him? He's easier to spot if you view the photo large on Flickr.)
The OCNJ boardwalk has two amusement parks - Playland and Wonderland. Unfortunately, neither of them is cheap: one buck per ticket, with each ride averaging 3-4 tickets. Yikes.
But when Lauren started begging to ride the cute boats at Wonderland (floating in real water), we caved and bought some tickets.
Mark made me ride the carousel with Lauren because he thought it went too fast. Double yikes.
I remember riding this awesome monorail when I was little. It goes around the top perimeter of the indoor park and then around the outside. Too bad it was 5 tickets per person and therefore would have cost us $15 to ride it as family. Triple yikes.
Mark took this cool shot of the Wonderland ferris wheel and swings.
Lastly, one of my favorite rides (which we also have here at Kennywood), Musik Express. Mark will forever associate this ride with the time that he ripped his shirt when it got caught in the safety bar.
...Cowboy monkeys who ride Border Collies.
When Mel C and I partake lunch in our campus cafeteria we are subjected to, I mean, are able to enjoy Fox News. Well, score one for FN, because without it, we would not have known that monkeys could be cowboys. And our lives are better for knowing that.
Later in the day, as I was pondering Whiplash, I remembered this monkey:
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Taking a break from the vacation photos for a Father's Day tribute. Lauren got a bit confused when I asked her to decorate a gift bag for her daddy's Father's day gift. She's also a little off base with his age - lol!
Lauren is so lucky to have such a good daddy. He gets her ready for school in the morning (and according to her, makes a better ponytail than I do), buys her donuts and bubble drinks, plays Uno with her, and lets her stay up for 18 more minutes.