Monday, August 22, 2016

Summertime in Maine

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to leave the summer heat of DC to spend a few days with friends in Maine (photo of landing into Portland above and leaving DC below, I never tire of a window seat).
Our host was one of my best friends, the talented interior designer Michael Hampton, at his beautiful cottage in Rockport.
Rockport is a charming village just south of Camden with a small 'downtown' looking over a beautiful harbor below (with some great restaurants!) .
 Every house was more beautiful than the last.
 A true old house lover paradise (as is most of Maine).
What Maine lacks weather-wise in winter is more than made up for during their gorgeous summers where everything is in bloom; a gardener's paradise
 The town is rather hilly so nearly everyone gets a view.
 One of my favorite houses was this old farm house that was added onto over time; just the right size. Love the picket fence and bay window on the side of the main house.
 Others had charming details like this screened door with sailboat cutout.
 This house had very unusual brackets holding up the front porch.
 A lovely chapel over-looking the water was a great destination on one of our many walks.
 Many people get married here and you can see why!
 Boating is huge in Maine -it must be the state's official hobby! Everyone has a boat.
 And not just little canoes we're talking MAJOR boats, many of them in picturesque wood.
 So many gorgeous Hinkleys and traditional sail boats line each town's harbor.
 One of the highlights of the trip was a ride out to North Haven Island.
 We went directly to Nebo Lodge which is renowned for their restaurant.
 They also have a beautiful garden!
We didn't eat at the lodge however but were fortunate to get tickets to one of their barn suppers hosted at Turner Farm. Everything at these meals comes straight off the farm from cheese to produce and meat.
I'm always a tad wary of communal tables (call me anti-social....because I am) but within seconds we were best friends with everyone at the table - one of the most magical meals of my life.
 The farm overlooks Penobscot bay.
 None of us wanted to leave -but we had to get back to shore!
I love German food and the other great meal (out of so many) was at Morse's Sauerkraut -a specialty grocery story with a small 6 table restaurant. Here Michael shares a bit of his yummy Reuben with you.
 We were on our way to Round Pond, Maine, for a bit of shopping.
 The Art of Antiquing was well worth the drive; Gorgeous continental antiques at very reasonable prices.
I could have bought everything in the shop including this pair of neoclassical side chairs which will always be the ones that 'got away'. I wanted them so badly (esp when I found out the low price) but they would make for rather strange carry-on luggage.
 A set of 6 antique leather french side chairs with original turquoise leather was also tempting.
Not sure why more people don't buy antiques - these chairs had gorgeous patina and a set of 6 was less than some new SINGLE dining chairs! And yes, they were very sturdy. How can you hurt a 100 year old worn chair anyway? New furniture will always show your booboos!
Another highlight was an evening spent at the delicious restaurant at Whitehall Inn in Camden. Rocking chairs on a large porch may very well be my particular vision of heaven (particularly when margaritas and champagne are at the ready)! This piano in the lobby was once played by a famous guest in 1912, poetess Edna St.Vincent Millay who was from nearby Rockland.
If you haven't been to Maine, what are you waiting for? I can't wait for my next trip!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

View from above: inside the Washington Monument

One of the best parts of living in Washington is playing tourist in your own backyard. When the local chapter of the ICAA planned a tour into the Washington Monument last month I was quick to sign up!
I visited a number of years ago (see that post HERE) but as the view is unparalleled in our city of no views due to height restrictions I had to go.  FTR, I think our height restriction is admirable as it makes our city unique; you know where you are; DC!
 Begun in 1848 it still stands as the world's tallest stone structure.  Construction was halted in 1854  due to a lack of funds but when construction picked up 23 years later the original quarry had been destroyed in the civil war! This gives the Obelisk a distinctive waist 152 feet high where a different stone material picks up (or so the story goes).
Originally the monument was designed with a colonnade around the base by architect Robert Mills which was left out due to budget constraints much to his chagrin.  The terrible small wart of a modern entrance pavilion from 2001 would KILL him I'm sure.  

The cost to build the monument was set at just over $1 million dollars or the 2015 equivalent of around $620,800,000! We wonder why we don't build "like we used to" but who is prepared to spend that kind of money? Now lets go up!
Directly inside is a bronze plaque of Washington with Masonic symbols.  Much of the original funding for the memorial came from the FreeMasons and they even laid the cornerstone (Washington was an active Mason).

The ground floor contains a small elevator vestibule with beautiful marble mosaics. The elevator has been in place since construction.  It was originally used to carry building materials to the top.  I love the paneled brass doors.
'First in War, First in Peace'.
The 360 degree views are spectacular. Lets start with the capitol building (below) and work clockwise.
We had planned on being on top for sunset but unfortunately the timing didn't work out with getting through security (one must get tickets months in advance!). We still enjoyed the city lights however. 

Below facing south is the WWII memorial and beyond the Lincoln memorial with the Memorial bridge at an angle crossing the Potomac River into Arlington Cemetery.
The bright light below towards the upper left hand corner is the Kennedy Center on the river with Paul Cret's Pan American building in the foreground.
Lastly, below is the White House (center of the photo) with the Ellipse in the foreground and the Department of the Treasury just to the right (very white light).
If you've ever wondered about the flashing bright red lights near the top to warn airplanes they're just as visible from the interior.
The interior of the monument is lined with 174 memorial stones donated by a number of different sources. On your elevator descent the guide will point a number of them out to you through windows.
 They range in size as well as material.
 Some are just plain odd
 While others have beautiful carving.
Free timed tours are available through the park service HERE. I highly recommend a sunset or nighttime view!
Another nearby spot with great views is the POV restaurant/bar on top of the W hotel (Formerly the Hotel Washington)- great for a nightcap after your monument tour and designed by Carrere and Hastings to boot! Photo of the Treasury and the White house taken from that rooftop.
Photos are a mixture of my friend, Architect Erich Stanley, and my own iphone snapshots; Thanks for sharing Erich!