Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Booker T. Washington Summer House, Fort Salonga, NY

 This modest house that I am sitting in back of was the summer home of Booker T. Washington from 1911 until 1914. The house, although unoccupied since the 1990's, has had local designation status since 2005 and is nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. The property was bought up in 2007, the new owner unaware of its historical status.  His idea was to tear down the existing house and build a brand new retirement home in its place.  When the owner discovered the historical status, he petitioned the Town of Huntington to waive it. A fight to save the house from demolition ensued and in 2009 the owner withdrew his petition.
The house is now on the endangered list as of 2010.  Situated on a cliff overlooking Long Island Sound, it is located in an erosion zone and is in danger of falling into the water. The plan is to move the house and to stabilize the shoreline but this still has to go before a public hearing to be approved.

The history of this historic house is just as fascinating.

It all begins with Theodore Roosevelt inviting Mr. Washington to dinner at the White House in May of 1907.  Two days later, he spoke at the Huntington Opera House.  This was Washington's first visit to the Huntington area.

Around this time, Mr. Washington was in the market for a summer home on Long Island and was offered to rent the Van Wyck farm in West Neck by its current owner at the time, Helen Van Wyck Lockman.  Mr. Washington accepted the offer and sent Mrs. Lockman a deposit four days later explaining that he would be using the place for the summer.  He spent four summers at the farm when, in 1911, decided to buy a house in a secluded spot in Fort Salonga, overlooking the Long Island Sound. 

There was no opposition to Washington purchasing a summer house here and participated in many local activities such as speaking at local churches and teaching Sunday school.

His stay in Fort Salonga was short-lived however, when he sold the house to Henry Brush in 1914.  He bought a house in Huntington Village from Brush as an investment.  He would die a year later in January of 1915 at the age of 59.   

After his death, the Fort Salonga property passed into the ownership of the Huntington Land Company in 1915 .  Eventually, the property would be bought up by a family from Forest Hills who used it as a summer home for many years until the death of the last member in 2005 when it was acquired by a local contractor. 

As for its current owner, he was urged to build his home closer to the road, behind the relocated historic home. 

Update:  9/7/11

We were riding around the neighborhood on Labor Day and paid a visit.  The entire area is all overgrown.  No one seems to be taking care of it.  There was some damage to the house due to the recent storms that we've had, but for the most part, it's still standing.  I am just wondering now if the current owner is just waiting for this house to collapse into ruin so he will be able to build on the property. 

Here are some of the links that will explain more on this historic house.

Here is an article from the New York Times, April 2, 1911

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mt, Washington, Mt. Washington Stage Line, Glen, NH, Cog Railway, Bretton Woods, NH

This is the start of something great. The Mt. Washington Auto Road.   Unfortunately, the mountain is covered over in fog which it is most of the time. The weather up there is terrible, in fact it is often called the "world's worst weather."  The weather can change in a matter of minutes.  I know, I've been up there with Susan and Rob.  I can tell you a story that was handed down to me.  Years ago when Rob and Susan first visited the White Mountains, they waited all week for the fog to burn off.  On their last day in the area, Rob called to see if the weather had actually cleared up and was told that it was finally clear.  That's when  the two of them jumped in their car and made the long 45 minute trip from one end of Kangamangus Pass to the other end only to find out that it had gotten foggy again.  They did go up that day, but have been to the top of Mt. Washington many times since then.

Here I am buying my ticket for Mt. Washington Stage Line.  Around the time these pictures were taken, Susan and Rob had a Saturn, which was not allowed to go up the Auto Road, so we opted for the Stage Line.  You can spot me on one of their vans down below.

The stage lines going up the Auto Road were just that: horse drawn coaches used to climb this perilous road upward to the summit. These days, the stages are vans with trained drivers to reach the summit safely and comfortably.    This is a steep and treacherous road and not everyone wants to make this climb by car. 
Once atop the summit however, you have to wait 30 minutes until the stage returns to take you back down to the bottom. 

 The Mt. Washington Auto Road started with wheat coming down from Canada. There was a need for a huge crop to be transported, but there was no ice free port available so a railroad line was built from Montreal to Portland, Maine  It passed through the small town of Gorham and opened up the east side White Mountains to the tourist trade. 

 Finally at the top.  

 Another way to reach the top, if you don't want to take the car, is the Mt Washington Cog Railway, which they had taken on one of their trips. Susan and I are posing in front of the exact same car we took a few years previous to this trip.  It was funny that our stage reached the the top the same time as this Cog Railway car.

According to the Cog Railway site, this is the first mountain climbing car of its kind.  

  The train car is pushed upward by a coal powered steam engine on a three mile long track making this the second steepest mountain climbing train in the world. . It is the only train track built entirely on a trestle. 

Well, here I am safely back down from the top of Mt. Washington and I'm wearing my button to prove it.  What a great trip we had.

As usual, here are the links:

The Mt Washington Auto Road site contains the history of the road and shows a video of the opening.  It's an interesting site and worth checking out

the Cog Railway site

Oh and one more picture.  I couldn't end this blog without  you seeing Mt. Washington, so below is a picture of me with a clear shot of the mountain in the background.  It's the snow capped mountain directly behind me.  The hotel that you see is the Mt. Washington Hotel.


Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on Mt. Washington.  Enjoy!

and another link to the Mount Washington Observatory where you can see pics of the observatory and pics of the mountain from various locations:


and my favorite site, the Mount Washington Hazecam which is set up in back of a school in Conway, NH.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Opa Greek Restaurant, Islip, NY

Ah! Nothing like a great cup of Greek decaf coffee (tastes just like the real thing). We are here at our favorite Greek restaurant, Opa Greek Restaurant in Islip, Long Island, which is not too far from where Rob and Susan live. 

Rob had one of his favorite dinners, the Loukaniko Dinner, which consists of grilled smoked sausage seasoned with with orange rind and cinnamon and served over a bed of delicious rice pilaf.

Susan had her favorite Gyro Dinner with slices of chopped lamb, beef, herbs and spices which is also served over a bed of rice pilaf.

 These entrees are always served with a greek salad, pita bread and tzatziki sauce, which is a seasoned yogurt sauce.  You can also try their homemade onion sauce to go with either dinner. 
Just take a look at that salad, pita and yogurt sauce.  All fresh and always served with dinner.

Now the specials are something else again. Different specials are served here every night and include soup, salad, coffee, tea and homemade rice pudding which is simply out of this world.

Everyone who works at Opa is warm and friendly and strives to make each guest feel as if they are dining in their own home. Pictured above is Pano, your host.  Very often you will see his parents, Chris and Faye chipping in to make things just a bit better and to give you a wonderful family feeling.  Susan and Rob are there at least twice a week and have never been disappointed.

The restaurant is spacious and inviting.  This is the back room of the restaurant where we usually end up. Notice the blue light above which gives you the feeling of eating outdoors under a lovely blue sky.

In fact, the seat with the menus and the silverware is our table. 

The picture below is the front room.  Each room has a high definition television, with a different show every night and always reflects the day's happenings.  Talk about being in your own living room.

The menu has a variety of interesting Greek dishes and includes burgers, omelets and Greek pizza (consisting of a combination of spinach, herbs, spices and feta cheese on a pizza topped with melted mozzarella on a pita bread). It also comes veggie style or a gyro pizza, which is what Susan and Rob sometimes order.  The desserts are all delicious, the usual stuff, baklava, galactoboureco (a light semolina custard enveloped in filo dough), and rice pudding.

So if you're local or if you happen to be hanging around Suffolk County in the Islip area, follow directions which are included in the link at the bottom of this blog. Also check out their extensive menu, which includes pricing.  As I said, you won't be disappointed in the service or the amazing dinners and low prices of this great restaurant.  Remember the name, it's Opa Greek Restaurant in Islip.

Here is a link to their site:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Big Duck, Flanders, LI, NY & Stargazer, Gateway to the Hamptons, Manorville, NY

 The Big Duck in Flanders always was a big hit with Rob who visited it very often.  He showed Susan the building a little after they married and has been visiting it ever since.   It was built between 1930 and 1931 in the town of Riverhead, NY  by Smith and Yeager for duck farmer, Martin Maurer.  It was his way of advertising and attracting customers to buy his ducks and sell duck eggs.  Built of concrete over a wood frame, this Peking duck's eyes are Ford Model T tail lights.

In 1937, Maurer moved his store from Riverhead to Flanders where he built his new duck ranch.The building would remain there until it closed in 1984.  Suffolk County acquired the building and moved it down the road to Sears-Bellows Pond County Park between Hampton Bays and Flanders where it remained until 2007 when it was moved back to original location where it stands today.

It is still owned by Suffolk County, but Southampton Town maintains the outside of the building.  Mr, Maurer's original 27 acre farm is under restoration at this time and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.  The Big Duck Ranch has also been listed since 2008.

I'm at Stargazer, a sculpture by Linda Scott, of a deer eating a branch while looking toward the sky.  It is located in Manorville, NY and is used as the unofficial Gateway to the Hamptons. It is located on Route 111 and can be seen from Sunrise Highway if you know where to look. It's off to the left side if you're traveling out to the Hamptons.

Stargazer is made up of three stories of wood, stucco and steel. 

Basically, Stargazer was originally built for the Animal Rescue Fund as an entrance to their East Hampton offices.  It had to be tall enough for cars to drive through and fit on a two lane road.  By the time construction was completed however,  the ARF backed out mainly because of the pressure applied by the townspeople and the town supervisor. 

Currently, Stargazer resides at the end of a farm on Route 111 in Manorville, NY.

Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on the Big Duck

and a link to Stargazer,_New_York

here's a history of Stargazer from Dan's Papers published in Southampton, NY

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spruce Lane Lodge and Cottages, Lancaster, PA

This is Spruce Lane Lodge and Cottages where we stayed this past Labor Day weekend.  This is the entrance to the lodge, which used to be a barn.  It may look like one on the outside, but believe me, it doesn't resemble one on the inside.

When you open the door, you walk into a very lovely sitting room and lobby complete with comfortable chairs, couch, shelves of books and magazines and a television.

There are twelve rooms in the lodge and you can see the one we stay in most of the time at the Spruce Lane Lodge link below.  All rooms include a comfortable bed, shower stall,  cable television and some beautiful Amish furniture.  Each room has its own air conditioner and heater.  It's perfect for a weekend stay and is close to all the major attractions.

Right down the road is the Smoketown Diner, a wonderful place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It's a small homey place, more like a little eatery than a diner.  The food is excellent and the price is right.  It's also close to a few shopping centers and a Turkey Hill Minit Mart is only steps away in case of emergencies.
The lodge is only open from April to November, but the cottages are open year round.  There are twenty cottages in all and each one is fully furnished with two queen sized beds or, if you prefer, a futon.   There is also a breakfast nook and  full private bath. The rooms have cathedral ceilings and each one is large and comfortable with plenty of sunlight through the windows. Cable tv, a phone, microwave and coffee maker are also provided for you to enjoy.

Spruce Lane Lodge is located right on Route 340 which is also known as old Philadelphia Pike, between the city of Lancaster and the popular Amish villages of Intercourse, Bird in Hand and Blue Ball.   If you want to play mini golf, there are two great ones not far from the lodge, Water's Edge and Village Greens.  Each are fun and challenging and worth a visit.

Route 340 is a well traveled road that is shared with cars and buggies alike.  You are always welcome at the Spruce Lane Lodge and Cottages.  They will be happy to greet you in their office, a lovely brick farmhouse built in 1837 which is also their home.

Please check out the bottom link to their site.  You will see in detail the sitting room/lobby, the lodge room (room 1 in particular) and the lovely cottage rooms.  

Here is a link to their site:

Ringing Rocks, Upper Black Eddy in Bucks County, PA

Well, here we are at another boulder field, except this time these rocks ring.  Yep, you got it.  These rocks are musical and I'm testing one right now to see if it does.

We are at Ringing Rocks County Park in Bucks County, PA right near the Delaware River not too far from where George W. made his famous crossing into New Jersey.  Rob heard about this and had to go see them so here we are.

It is not a far walk from the parking lot to the boulder field.  It was crowded the day we were there and tons of families were bringing hammers.  We passed by a family of five and each one had a hammer.

We found some rocks right off, not too far in from the parking lot.  Rob took two short videos with his phone which I will be including here at the end of this blog.

Why do the rocks ring? No one seems to know, but they just do and not all of them do either.  From research, I've learned that these rocks are composed of diabase, which makes up most of the earth's crust.  Only one third of the rocks ring even though they are all made of the same material.  Weird, huh?
Research also claims that these ringing rocks are not limited to the Pennsylvania area.  They are found all over the world and I will include some sites that will tell you where. 

Here are the links I'm including this time.  It will explain more on the rocks and the Wikipedia article will tell you where other ringing rocks may be found.  

Here are the videos that Rob took.  I'm in both and it may look like I'm sleeping, but I'm actually looking at  him.  Enjoy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant, Gordonville, PA

Ummm.  Tapioca pudding! Just one of the delicious desserts that can be enjoyed here at Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant in Gordonville, just 1/4 mile down the road from the busy shopping town of Intercourse, PA.  The food is scrumptious and they do bring you a lot of it.

Family owned and operated since 1968, our server Kimberly, a granddaughter of original proprietor,  Amos Stoltzfus and his wife Mary, brought out the beginnings of our meal. Starting with the Amish staples chow-chow, pepper cabbage, apple sauce and apple butter to smear on the delicious homebaked bread.  

Before you even get through delicious chow-chow and pepper cabbage (my two favorites) Kimberly set us up for the next course which consisted of an unending supply of homemade sausage, fried chicken (three pieces, leg, breast and thigh) and their ham loaf, made from their own recipe.  It is super and the best tasting of any other family style restaurants around the area (at least that's my opinion). Side dishes include potato filling, buttered noodles, candied sweet potatoes, corn and string beans.  By the way, the amount of food served matches always with the amount of your party. 

And for dessert, cherry crumb pie, apple crumb, chocolate cake with icing, carrot cake, pumpkin roll, ice cream, tapioca pudding and some great tasting shoo fly pie, served with ice cream on the side if you so desire.  They have the usual cold drinks, coffee, hot tea, iced tea, milk, and lemonade.

Just relaxing on the front porch of the old family farmhouse after our wonderful dinner.  Yes, this is the original family farmhouse and home of the Stoltzfus clan since 1929 when Amos moved here with his brothers and sisters. It was small and difficult for a family of twelve, especially during the Depression when Amos's father, Abram, bought the farm.  Amos slept upstairs, along with his seven brothers, in a room above the kitchen.

As mentioned above, Amos and Mary began serving here in 1968 until 1989 when their kids took over.  Still operating today, it does get a crowd and as I mentioned above much quieter and more homey than many of the other commercial establishments in the area. Don't get me wrong, the others are good too, but Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant is a cut above the rest.

There is what the Amish refer to as "family style seating" where, if it's busy, you are seated with strangers, but be sure by the end of the meal, they are strangers no longer. Many times you have the large table to yourselves, which is what we usually have.

Be assured that everyone there is extremely friendly and are more than willing to make you feel at home.  Rob and Susan have gotten to know the servers and hostesses by their frequent trips to the restaurant.  This is their favorite place to go when visiting the Amish Country and their favorite place for a wonderful meal.  When you visit the area, please don't forget to make a stop at the Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant.  You won't be disappointed.

Oh, and I haven't mentioned one important thing.  The bathrooms are outside.  Not a long walk from the restaurant, but just long enough to walk off that delicious dinner.  

As usual, I have included the link to the Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant.

 Hard to see in the picture above, I'm on top of the Mini with Susan posing on the side.  In back of us is the Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant.