The Long Ride Home

Monday, August 31, 2015
 It's been a rough few months in our little part of the world.  John's mom was diagnosed with cancer in May.  Until then she'd led a pretty healthy and active life, a life that involved years of volunteer work.  For 30 years, Anna was a tour guide at Cherry Hill (a historical house museum in Albany).  Not only was she a tour guide, she led the effort to save this landmark.  She was so instrumental in this effort, the local newspaper published an article about her. (Link below)  Anna also volunteered at Albany Medical Center Hospital where she helped run the library cart and in later years, the thrift shop.  She also was active in her church where she volunteered in a variety of capacities over the years but her passion was sanging in the church choir.  When she wasn't at one of her volunteer gigs, Anna kept busy knitting and crocheting, reading and keeping one of the most organized homes I've ever seen.  There was a place for everything and everything was in its place.  Anna was a quiet but strong individual and although she was not a warm and fuzzy sort, she was a loyal and caring human being.

We'd spent a quiet summer sticking close to home so John could be available to help with Anna's care but as the end of August approached and both of our granddaughter's birthdays, we made the difficult decision to get away for the weekend to Indiana.  Anna's condition was stable according to her Hospice nurses so on Friday we took to the road and made the 13 hour trip to Indy.
 Just a few weeks before this while visiting Anna, she talked about the Frank Sinatra song, My Way.  She was trying to remember the lyrics so I pulled it up on ITunes and played it for her.  She sang along, from beginning to end, and when it was finished she said, "that's my song".   Well, that was accurate because Anna did do things her own way.  She was steadfast in her faith and held strong to her convictions.  Her diagnosis, her treatment and everything regarding her care those last months was exactly according to her plan....right down to the very last days.  On Saturday, the day after we left for Indy, her middle son headed back to Minnesota.  He'd been traveling into town (by car) to spend time, a week or two at a time, with his mom.   That night, Anna had a bad night.  On Monday morning we left Indy for our long ride home, hoping to see Anna at the end of our drive.
Anna once again did things her way and just 4 hours into our trip we got the call that Anna had passed.  As you might imagine, our 13 hour trip was filled with a firestorm of emotions.  They ranged from guilt to grief and everything in between.  While John drove I made phone calls and sent emails and at times the road ahead was blurry from tears.  But as we talked about Anna and second guessed our decision to go to Indy, we came to the conclusion that Anna and God had a plan, and our trip to Indy was part of that plan.  Still.....what is normally a ride home with one sort of grief was replaced with another form of grief.
Until our daughter moved to Indiana, the furthest west I'd traveled was Utica.  The route to Indy is filled with farmland.....and cornfields and soybean fields.  The untouched beauty of this part of the country is a perfect picture of God's creation and one I have to share.  Although taken from a car at 70 mph, these photos will give you an idea of the pristine countryside.  While you look at some of the views we got to appreciate, think of Anna.  As we were heading into the sunrise, she was experiencing her own Sonrise.   I'm pretty sure she's enjoying a view even better than this one.   And as for Anna's ride home......I'm pretty sure it wasn't long.  I think she made her journey in record time and heaven is a bit brighter and a lot more organized with her in it!
Indiana to New York
Sunrise in Ohio
A new day
The Long Ride Home
Rural America

 In loving memory of Anna Welter

The Long Ride Home

To read the Times Union article about Anna, click on the link below.
Paul Grondahl's Story about Anna Welter, Dedicated Volunteer

Food, Fun and Lodging in Historic Newport, (Part III in the Newport Series)

Monday, August 24, 2015
Continuing in my series on Newport, let me show you around town.  I'll be sharing some of my favorite "on land" sights, some delicious eateries, some fun things to do and when you're too tired to continue.....some ideas of where to stay.

Founded in 1639, Newport is located 23 miles south of Providence, and 61 miles south of Boston on Aquidneck Island. A major 18th-century port city, Newport now contains among the highest number of surviving colonial buildings of any city in the United States.  The city has a total area of 11.4 square miles , of which 7.7 square miles is land and 3.7 square miles , or 32.64%, is water. (According to Wikipedia).   Enough statistics.....there's better reasons to visit Newport.

We had visited Newport for an afternoon many years ago when our kids were small, but our first "real" visit was in 2011.  During that visit, our daughter got us a room with her work points at the Hyatt Regency, on Goat Island.  In 1869 the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station was founded on Goat Island, on the site of the former Army fort.  Now Goat Island is the home of a few things, one being the Hyatt Resort. If money is no object, I would most definitely urge you to stay at the Hyatt which, as a resort hotel, offers amazing amenities including a spa, yoga classes outside on the veranda, activities for the kids, bonfires at night with s'mores, a shuttle that runs back & forth downtown every 20 minutes (which will save parking headaches) and is just a spectacular hotel with restaurants, a tiki bar on the water, and indoor and outdoor pool and so much more.  The photo above was taken from the lawn of the Hyatt.   If, like me, you can't afford the Hyatt and aren't lucky enough to have points, there are plenty of hotels and B & B's in town, although pricey.   We found a Hampton Inn just down the road in Middletown for much less.

Pineapple by the Bay (in the far right)

One of the first things I always recommend visitors to Newport do is to stop by the Visitor Center which is located just as you enter Newport.  There you are able to pick up brochures on everywhere.  Also there I highly recommend a trolley ride with Viking Tours.  This trolley ride is the absolute best and fastest way to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land.  Your trolley driver will take you on a 90 minute drive around Newport, including the 10-mile Ocean Drive where you'll catch a glimpse of the mansions and 150 points of interest.  It is pricey at $25.00 for adults, ($19.62 on Mondays), but so enjoyable and definitely the best way to learn your way around later.

Probably most of you reading this have heard that Newport is the home of nine mansions that you can tour (and many more private ones).  You can tour just one, most people pick the Breakers, or you can buy discounted tickets for two or more.   We have toured the Breakers, as well as Rosecliff and the Elms.   The Elms was my favorite and will be featured in its own blog entry later in this series.

The Breakers

 Rosecliff two photos above. 
What I love about the mansions is that the tours are self guided.  You wear headphones that narrate as you move from room to room.  This enables you to move at your own pace and really see as much or as little as your interest motivates.  Tours range in price from $14.50 for one property to $31.50 for 5 properties, and other options in between.  If you visit Newport, seeing at least one is a must!!  

Fort Adams State Park - Fort Adams State Park is located at the mouth of Newport Harbor, offering spectacular panoramas of both the harbor and Narragansett Bay. The park is home to Fort Adams, the largest coastal fortification in the United States. The area was originally owned by William Brenton who originally called the region "Hammersmith." The original name, "Hammersmith," survives in the name of the adjacent Hammersmith Farm, home of First Lady Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy. Fort Adams State Park affords not only wonderful panoramas, but also areas for picnics and other such activities. Annually, the park plays host to the Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival.  (Again...Wikipedia)  This is a great place to sit a while and enjoy the view and watch the boats sail past.

Newport is also home to a number of beautiful beaches, so if sand and sea are what you're after, you won't be disappointed here.  Here's just one of the beaches we love .........

If you're reading (and not just enjoying the photos, you know that Jackie Onassis Kennedy's family owned the Hammersmith Farm in Newport.    Well, Jackie and John F. Kennedy were married in Newport, in St. Mary's Parish.  I've yet to see the inside of this church, but it's a beauty.  Maybe if you visit on a Sunday, it will be open... If not, you'll still enjoy seeing this beautiful church from outside its walls.

Of course, like any resort town, there are amazing, classy stores all around.   What I love about Newport is the lack of cheap, commercialized souvenir junk.  Instead, Newport is full of beautiful clothing, home decor, blown glass, and of course its share of sweatshirts and caps.  I have to admit, I don't buy anything when I visit....I save my $$ for the tours and some other stuff I'll talk about next time.  But if you like to shop, Newport won't disappoint.   And.....much of the shopping is nestled right along the docks on the water's edge.

In the evening if you stroll around this area, you'll find several open-air spots where you can enjoy a cocktail and listen to live music.  The atmosphere in Newport is both charming and engaging and will beckon you to return time and time again.  And let me say - if you are thinking of driving for a one-day visit----DON'T.  One day is not enough and you will leave kicking and screaming for more.  Trust me, I know.
If good food is what you're after, you're in luck because Newport is loaded with great places to eat, each one better than the last.  We love the Brick Alley Pub, The Red Parrot, The Mooring, the Black Pearl (known for the best chowder in town).....all in downtown, but if you're sick of seafood (I know, it happens), we love Nikolas' - a little Greek restaurant with delicious pizzas, subs and salads (if you're looking for a take-along meal for the beach or some time at the State Park).  

My son-in-law doesn't tire of seafood! (at the Red Parrot)

 Now I ain't gonna lie.....while there's all these things to do in Newport, and I love them all, the reason I go to Newport is the water.  I love the ocean, the docks and boats, the seaside atmosphere, the photo ops and all the rest is just a little frosting on the cake.    Whatever reason you decide to visit Newport, you cannot be disappointed.   Although the lodging is pricey, the food is reasonable for a resort town and you will never run out of things to do, whether you go as a couple or as a family.  It's the perfect getaway whether you just want to relax on the beach, or take in everything Newport offers.  Perhaps a visit to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum?  And don't forget to pay a drive-through visit to St. George's School (featured in an earlier blog entry....

In my next entry I'll be writing about Newport by sea and then lastly, the Elms mansion.  Stay tuned and while you're waiting, starting planning your visit today!

To view the photos in a slide show format - click on any photo.  Once you are at the show, just click the pics along the bottom of the page to move from photo to photo.   

All photos, unless otherwise noted,were taken by Gail A. Welter.  All Rights Reserved. Photographs in this blog may not be reproduced or manipulated in any form or fashion without my express written consent.

A Little Newport Real Estate - The Elms, Part V in my Newport Series

Sunday, August 23, 2015
Looking for a little summer cottage to spend your lazy, hazy days of summer?   How about this little gem in Newport?  Summer cottages are what they were called by the folks who built them.

This my friends is The Elms.....the last featured segment of my series on Newport, RI.  If yachts and water aren't up your alley, perhaps this little gem of a mansion might be more to your liking.  As I said in earlier posts, although the Breakers is probably the most famous of the Newport mansions, I found the Elms to be the most interesting, perhaps partly due to its expansive grounds, and at times a bit bizarre.   It is definitely unique in many ways and a beautiful sight, inside and out.  Since you aren't allowed to take photos inside, I hope the many I took outside will be enough to prompt you to visit to get a personal peek inside one day.

 As soon as you near the front entry, it's clear that Mr. & Mrs. Berwind had very strong interest in the unusual and elaborate.  Everywhere you look are carvings of all sorts and bronze statues that are both interesting and odd, at least to my untrained eye.

"The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d'Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris.

Construction of The Elms was completed in 1901 at a cost reported at approximately $1.4 million."
(Taken from the official website, see link below for a peek inside and more history.)

This is the basement service entrance where deliveries could be made without Elms guests noticing.  Traffic circles were obviously present even back then.

"The elaborate Classical Revival gardens on the grounds were developed between 1907 and 1914. They include terraces displaying marble and bronze sculpture, a park of fine specimen trees and a lavish lower garden featuring marble pavilions, fountains, a sunken garden and carriage house and garage."  
" On the edge of the property a large carriage house and stables were built, over which lived the stable keepers and gardeners. When the Berwind family began using automobiles the carriage house and stables were converted into a large garage. The head coachman, in order to keep his job, became the family driver, but he could never learn to back up, so a large turntable had to be installed in the garage." (Wikipedia)

 This is the left side of the
Carriage House.

And the right side.....

And just out front of the Carriage House is this very interesting fountain........again, just a bit odd.

I will admit I am not a connoisseur of art, so perhaps if I were and knew the story behind these fellas, I'd have a better appreciation.  But you have to admit they are not your normal garden variety statues.

This is a marble pavilion.  There is a matching one on the other end of this wall with a sunken garden and fountain below.

 FYI:  This is the back of the mansion.

Once you come back up from the garden, you find yourself in the "backyard".  Looks just like your backyard, right?  Notice the marble pavilion at the far end of the 'yard'.

Obviously with a backyard of this magnitude and importance, one must not forget to decorate accordingly.

Here's the fountain divided, close-up for the appreciation of detail.

I think you can see why I found the Elms so fascinating and beautiful.  If you ever get to Newport, put this one on your "must see".   And if you go and you are more knowledgeable about art than me, I hope you will share your insight into some of these sculptures. 
To view the photos in a slide show format - click on any photo.  Once you are at the show, just click the pics along the bottom of the page to move from photo to photo.   

All photos, unless otherwise noted,were taken by Gail A. Welter.  All Rights Reserved. Photographs in this blog may not be reproduced or manipulated in any form or fashion without my express written consent.
Life As I See It Header

Never Miss A Post - Follow by Email

Sign up here to get the latest blog post delivered to your inbox.
Never miss a post again!