Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bike America Day 63: Falling Water

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day's distance: 62.98 miles
Overall distance: 3,320 miles

On Sunday, my dad asked if I'd like to set up an appointment to see Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water while we're so nearby on the GAP trail. I definitely did and we knew we couldn't ride to it but would find a way to make it work. He got an appointment for Tuesday at 10:30AM. Though we were already south of it when we woke up Tuesday morning, we decided to ride further south and get some miles in before the late tour. We rode 20 miles by 9AM and met my mom in Rockwood and drove the 45 minutes to Bear Run.

Our tour was an hour long and it was amazing. For on thing, I think we had the best tour guide there was. He was a high school senior who wants to major in communications but has developed a passion for art and art history through his summer job at falling water. He clearly loved the place so much and really wanted us to be enthusiastic and have a good time.

And then there was the fact the the house is maybe the coolest one I've ever seen. From the outside, it is beautiful and weird but I didn't necessarily know enough about architecture and science to understand it all. The cantilevers everywhere, which the house is known for, are just incredible. Our guide, Josh, described the house like a game of Jenga. There was one solid base of stone, built on a natural boulder, with pieces jutting out all around, supported by the stone.

And the biggest thing about the house, which my dad got gold stars for pointing out during the tour is that the house was all about "inside, outside". Frank Lloyd Wright cared about incorporating nature into his homes and he wanted the Kaufmanns to feel like they were outside even when they were in. There were stairs from the living room into the creek below, there were glass and windows everywhere, and there were natural boulders, streams, and stones inside the home.

Also of note was the decor inside the house. From the moment I walked in I wanted everything. EVERYTHING. Even though it was built in the 30's, the house was filled with the finest looking mid-century modern pieces and I wanted it all. It made me want to re-do my apartment and I started opening and forwarding to Josh the daily junk e-mails I get from west elm and cb2 instead of deleting them immediately.

I could say a lot about this house. My dad, who was actually an architect, could say even more. But I will leave you with the pictures and tell you that you need to go see it for yourself. It is wonderful. I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside so I hope that mystery will be more motivation for you to make a trip of your own.

After our tour we grabbed lunch in the cafe. There were so many great things to choose from and I decided on a butternut squash, brie, apple, and arugula panini. Yummmm.

When we got back to Rockwood, my dad and I left on our bikes and met my mom in a town a few miles further south. The three of us wanted to ride into Maryland together and then she'd ride back to the car.

It was 12 miles to Maryland and we rode over the continental divide on our way. I will admit that I had a lot more fun on the Western continental divide but this was still a fun landmark to pass. Inside, we received confirmation that we'd been riding uphill from Pittsburgh to this point and it would, apparently, be all downhill from there.

We arrived at a tunnel that was the length of 11 football fields and rode through it together. It had big metal doors on either end and I kept imagining how scary it would be if we heard the doors close on either end while we were inside. There were lights lining the top so we had some visibility but it curved around so it was still a little scary during the time when we couldn't see an opening on either side. On the other side, we had a beautiful view of mountains and hillsides in the distance.

At mile 40, we arrived at the Mason Dixon Line and took a picture with my bike as the self-timer. After our photo, my mom got on her bike to head back to the car but I scolded her, saying that we all had to ride into Maryland together (even though I see in the picture below that we were already standing in the state). We got on our bikes at an angle and did our best to ride over the line at the same time. I like to make things as sentimental as possible and I think this one worked out very well.

My dad and I had one more tunnel and then we rode into Cumberland, MD. We rode downhill, more gradually than the elevation chart above would have you believe, and headed for the first beer sign my dad could find. He's developed a habit of craving beer immediately upon finishing a ride. We sat down at a Mexican place downtown and waited for my mom to arrive so we could all have dinner. I had steak fajitas with some Corona before heading to the YMCA where we set up camp under a pavilion in the field. I sat inside until closing time and used their internet to get some blogging in. When I texted Josh goodnight, his response included "Only three more nights alone!" I could hardly believe that to be true but it was. In four days, I'd be back in my bed in DC and this whole adventure would be a thing of the past.

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