Laurel Highlands.

Greetings from Uniontown in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania! We left Washington this morning about 10:30 after a delicious breakfast at Bob & Edith’s Diner.

I even got to have a half smoke without having to go into the district to visit Ben’s Chili Bowl.

After making it out of the awful traffic around the capital we headed up through Maryland towards Pennsylvania. Along the way we stopped and took a short walk at one of the parks along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal was built after the Erie Canal was completed and had started to hurt the economy of the area. Unfortunately it was never completed all the way to the Ohio River, but it did provide for the transportation of coal and other goods from West Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay. The C&O Canal was used until 1924. Currently, the Canal is visible in most places but at others it is completely overgrown and even has trees growing in the middle of it-but the haul trail where the Mules walked to haul the flat boats is now a very popular bike trail.

We also saw Mama & Daddy Duck along with their new chicks! (Sorry for crappy focus but they were moving fast!)

We stopped in the Maryland mountains in Flintstone for a quick lunch at “The Girls Cookin”. Tasty lunch but we weren’t sold on some of the decor!

Our focus of the day was not the Canal or squirrel friends at lunch, rather we had tickets to tour Kentuck Knob. This Usonian https://www.dwell.com/article/usonian-homes-frank-lloyd-wright-e75b5b56 house by Frank Lloyd Wright was built in 1956 for Mr & Mrs Hagan, purveyors of ice cream in this part of Pennsylvania. They knew the Kaufmans for whom FLW had designed Falling Water which is about 30 minutes away. We visited it a number of years ago and it’s remarkable.

Kentuck Knob is much simpler but just as interesting. The Hagens initially intended for the house to be sited on the overlook shown at the top of this post. But as usual FLW had a different idea!

He sited the house up against the knob which is to the left in the picture. below.

You can see in this view from on top of the knob just how the house is integrated into the knob.

The chimney at this end of the house serves a fireplace in the master bedroom. The central chimney is at the core of the house. The public areas are to the right of the front door while the private spaces (3 bedrooms and 2 baths) are to the left.

As with all FLW houses, he designed every detail including built ins and furniture. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but this one of the light post gives you an idea.

The Hagens paid extra (about $5000 in today’s dollars) to have FLW sign his design. The red square tile with his signature is right at the front door.

Of course as with all Wright designs, the carport and the rest of the house was built to human scale-as long as you were no taller than FLW (5′-5″ tall). Needless to say I had to watch my head at all the low spots. Thankfully, he usually uses the low ceilings in corridors to contrast with higher ceilings in the living spaces.

The interior of the house is all wood or stone and really beautiful and from all the rooms the view is out across the Terrance and towards the beautiful woods.

The huge cantilever rood overhangs serve to shade the terrace and protect the windows from rain. According to our guide, they can leave all the windows open during a summer rain and never have to worry about any getting inside.

While no photography was allowed inside, it appears my phone accidentally took a picture in the kitchen. I am so glad this accident happened as it shows the stove which I wish Frigidaire would reintroduce. Each of the burners is self contained and folds up to provide counter space when not in use! In the picture below the kettle, red pot and yellow pot are on burners being used while one burner between the kettle and the red pot.

After our tour, we left the house behind and walked (guests are shuttled up to the house) back to the tour entrance through the woods where the current owner displays some of his art collection including a piece of the Berlin Wall.

We had a tasty taste of Hagen Ice Cream at The gift shop and then found our way to the Hampton Inn about 20 minutes away.

Tomorrow we are off to Columbus.

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Lovely Day

Had a lovely day with Yost, his mom Ammie, his kids Nick and Maggie (Mike’s godchild), Sam and his mom. And of course Maggie’s son Aaron who is now 11 months old…and getting cuter by the minute!

As with our last visit only Yost, Ammie and Sam seemed to make Aaron truly happy so no pictures of Mike or me holding him this time. 😢

We discovered that Nick’s birthday is later this week so a candle was quickly found for the cake Mike made (and we had already cut for Friday night dinner) and had a singalong wishing him a happy birthday as he made his wish.

Always a bridesmaid….

Between our hotel and Yost & Sam’s is a pocket park at the commuter train station the park is mostly fountain and apparently it is THE place to have one’s quinceanera pictures made.

In addition to the girl in lavender, there was one or royal blue on the upper fountain, the girl in baby blue waiting impatiently for lavender to get out of her way, and the pink fluffball leaving. I think there must of been one more leaving as we walked up as there was a stretch hummer (one of four) leaving the curb when we walked up.

On our Way.

We finished packing the car and left Lois’s house about 8:50 this morning. As you can see the car is full! Thankfully most of the stuff in the backseat will he staying at Yost & Sam’s. We are bringing meatloaf for dinner tonight (and another for their freezer) and on Sunday, their Mom’s and kids are coming for enchiladas (and we have more for their freezer). Let’s hope they are good since we have never made them before! LOL

We just finished burrito bowls for lunch at Qdoba in Charlottesville and after a quick stop at AAA to pick up an atlas we will be back on the road to Washington-should be there by three.

Road Trip!

Since returning to the states in December, we had planned on doing a road trip (the Christmas trip was a test to see if we could stand being in the car long term). We had figured we would just be gone for the summer but after our three months of lake living at Lois’ house at Smith Mountain Lake, we reached the decision that we weren’t going to make it our US based “nest” so instead we are planning on being gone until this coming Christmas.

We leave tomorrow and our first stop will be in DC for a visit with Yost & Sam. After that we start heading north hopefully to stay ahead of hot weather. 🤞

Below is our current itinerary. As always subject to change and the closer the date the less change is likely. The cruises aren’t booked yet…waiting on the final payment (for those already booked) date to pass in the hopes that the prices will fall (unlikely as already cheap-but hoping for included gratuities and/or drinks). If we end up not cruising we will instead spend more time on the west coast.

May 17 leave Danville

5/17-5/21 Holiday Inn Crown Plaza Crystal City

5/21 Kentuck Knob 3.5 hours, tour at 4pm, drive to Uniontown PA 30 min, stay at Hampton Inn Uniontown

5/22 Drive to Columbus OH. 3:45 hours

5/22-5/27 Columbus OH airbnb

5/27 Drive to Columbus ID

5/27-5/29 Columbus ID

5/29 Drive to Independence-ish

5/30 Morning Rock&Roll Hall of Fame

5/30 Afternoon Drive to Lockport

5/30 Dinner with Kristin

5/30 Stay in Lockport

5/31 Drive to Hamilton Ontario

5/31-6/7Hamilton Airbnb

6/7 Drive to Lemington Ontario

6/7-6/15 Lemington Airbnb

6/15 Drive to Sarnia Ontario

6/15-6/26 Sarnia Airbnb

6/26 Drive halfway to Chicago (Battle Creek?)

6/27 Drive to Chicago

6/27-6/30 Chicago Embassy Suites

6/27-Pizza for Mike’s Birthday

6/28-

6/29-surprise tour from Rebecca & Karol, then dinner with them and Tommy & Rich at S.K.Y.

6/30-Pride Parade

7/1 Drive to Doug & Larry’s in Mundelein

7/1-7/5 Mundelein

7/2 –

7/3-Milwaukee Art Museum

7/4-

7/5 Drive to Talesin

Badlands

Mt Rushmore

Yellowstone

Bose ? Montana

Visit Gail in Condon Montana/ Glacier

Calgary

Vancouver

Seattle-leave car at Andy’s

Train to Vancouver

Cruise to Japan 15/16 days leaves Sept 6

Japan 4 or 8 night$

Fly to Hawaii 4 or 8 night$

Cruise to Vancouver leaves October 4

Portland

Yosemite

Grand Canyon

Sedona

Santa Fe

Houston

New Orleans (Thanksgiving?)

Danville/Charleston

So come along!

Final Thoughts

After several weeks to contemplate our spring trip, I think all three of us will say it was most enjoyable.

Mike and I enjoyed our return to Viking and noticed some differences none of which negatively impacted our time onboard. The food portions seemed to be slightly smaller which given all the good food available was appreciated by our waist lines. This transatlantic seemed to be more crowded than last year but perhaps that was due to us eating earlier than just us two would normally do. We don’t know whether it is a cruise line initiative or simply the difference between Hotel Directors, Chefs and Cruise Directors but there were many more “special” events this year-pool side lunches (Cesar Salad, Mexican, etc.), pool side events (two or three dance parties, ship building competition), Port Greetings when we returned to the ship, Sunday Brunch in the Winter Garden and of course this year they made an event out of our passing of Gibraltar-even though it was still too dark to really see it.

We missed having the Virginia Gentleman aboard but the entertainers did a fine job despite there being two less singers and no dance couple. The shows seemed a little more professional and used the show band more than the prerecorded music that was typical last spring. There was at least one more lecturer than last trip and their topics were more diverse as well as interesting. There was also a bridge instructor on this crossing which I don’t recall from last time.

You may recall that part of the last minute deal we got was to pay for the lowest category cabin -Veranda (V) and reside in a higher category – Deluxe Veranda (DV). The staterooms are identical except the DV comes with a coffeemaker. I thought this would be great but turns out I only used it once. The other differences are “soft” ones-the sodas in the fridge get replenished daily and we could make reservations for the alternative dining venues before we boarded. Since one staying in a Veranda could replenish the soft drinks by asking at the bar during meal time for an extra can or three and we ended up changing all our reservations once onboard (so as not to miss lobster nights) I don’t think the perks of a DV would be worth paying any extra. Guess we are just too frugal. But when offered for free, they were great!

We also enjoyed the included airfare although I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see whether we could deal with long haul economy if it was “free”. Well maybe not really disappointed, the ice cream sundae in AA business class fixed that!😂

The Viking officers and crew were just as friendly and helpful as previously, the room lovely and we continue to think that Viking is a great value for their repositioning cruises. Lois really enjoyed herself and now is sold on the benefits of smaller ships. Having John the Scotsman aboard and his friendliness to her and willingness to have two special meals made just for her probably helped in this regard.

Of course no one aboard will ever forget the Great April Fool’s Day Toilet Paper Fiasco! LOL

Our post cruise time in Barcelona was great as it was in Rome. I think the highlight for Lois in both was Sagrada Familia and I certainly was blown away again by it. Even though it had only been 6 months since our last visit, we saw progress so maybe they will be finished with construction by 2026 as they are predicting (while crossing their fingers according to our guide).

Thanks for following along, hope you enjoyed it as much as we did…and that you will stay with me as I blog about our upcoming North American roadtrip (hopefully with a cruise to Japan 😲🤞thrown in). We leave Danville on Friday headed for DC and don’t expect to be back to the southeast coast until Christmas. Stay tuned for details…