a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Tour of Saint-Gaudens

   In Cornish, NH is the beautiful home, studio (pictured above) and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, sculptor of the American Renaissance. He summered here in 1885 through 1900 and lived year round until his death in 1907. Saint-Gaudens is considered one of the greatest sculptors and monument makers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

   What gorgeous light and space in his studio! He worked here by himself, a larger studio destroyed by fire in 1944, was where his assistants worked.

   The Shaw Memorial (1897) is probably his most impressive sculpture, taking 14 years to complete. It memorializes the Massachusetts 54th Regiment of African American Volunteers, the original is in Boston.

   The Adams Memorial (1891) is my favorite. A bronze funerary sculpture commissioned by historian Henry Adams for his wife Clover who committed suicide, it's located in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC. Gaudens called it "The Mystery of the Hereafter......beyond pain and beyond joy". It's pretty haunting.

   One of the many sculptures on the property. In the background is Mt. Ascutney in Vermont.

   There was scaffolding around sections of the house so I didn't get a good picture. But here's Gerry in front of a Honey Locust tree planted in 1886!

   This was a pedestal detail on the Farragut Monument (1881) on which architect Stanford White helped to design, the first of many collaborations. I would love to have just this element in my garden (forgot to bring a chisel)!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lake Champlain, homeward bound.

   Day 3 and we head for home. No vacation at Lake Champlain can be complete without seeing Champ, the Lake Champlain "monster". I love photoshop!

   We decided to drive through the area of South Hero that we missed the day it rained. This was from the Grand Isle ferry south around the island. Gardener Harry Barber made these miniature, stone castles in the early 20th century. We located 3 while following West Shore Road and South Street.

 
  This area had a lot of stone structures besides the castle.
 

 
     The other interesting sight was this explosion of birdhouses!  They were all approximately along the same level and went all around the tree line of a very large area.
  

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lake Champlain Islands north to Canada!

   Day 2 of our adventure started at 8 am. We biked north along the west side of South Alburg where we came across the Joseph M Mott house. It's probably built with local limestone from the Isle la Motte quarry. They don't build houses like this any more!! Love it!

   We biked into Alburg where we picked up the Alburg Rail Trail which makes use of an old railroad line that goes through the Mud Creek Wildlife area. We saw lots of great blue herons.
   The Trail took us into East Alburg where we left it and went north to Alburg Springs, then west back through Mud Creek to Border Road which took us into Canada.

    It's funny how you actually cross into Canada before you get to the official crossing station. Here the roads were without a nice shoulder, and also not well paved.
  
      We went through the border crossing without hassle. Continuing north through cornfields to Noyan where we headed west, crossing over Lake Champlain.

    This is looking south and the next picture is looking north.

     We headed south through more cornfields and one amazing sunflower farm!

   Once again we hit the border before the official border crossing. Not much of a sign here! At the crossing, we were met by 3 border guards who asked more questions than their Canadian counterparts.Now we were in Rouses Point, New York and biked over the bridge back into Vermont. We headed south and back to the hotel, about a 55 mile ride.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Biking the Lake Champlain Islands

   We decided to spend a few days biking around the Lake Champlain, VT islands. It's hard to make hotel reservations too far in advance for biking since it's so dependent on the weather but the outlook looked good so we went for it. We left Saxtons River at 6 am and got to the Holiday Harbor Hotel in North Hero around 9 am. We unloaded our bags, gear and bikes and of course it started to rain! We waited until it was only drizzling and the sun looked like it was trying to peek through and hit the road.

    We decided to bike to the south making a loop around North Hero, Grand Isle and South Hero. Our first bridge crossing was the Grand Isle bridge. As you can tell by the picture, it's still pretty gray but not raining................yet.

        This old, round barn, converted to senior housing, is the point when it started to rain again but we kept going. When we got to the Grand Isle Ferry which takes you to NY, it started pouring and we decided to give up and head back. We had gone about 15 miles and had about the same to get back. Of course by the time we reached the hotel, the rain had stopped.

      After a change of clothes, we decided to head north and bike around Isle la Motte, where Champlain landed in 1609, in 1666 the French built the first European settlement in Vermont and on the southern end of the island, is the world's oldest coral reef!
  
  This is the Fisk Quarry which shows the successive ages of the Chazyan Reef exposed in the outcrops.
   There's also an area where you can walk directly on the coral reef and see the fossils.

  Here I am standing on the bedrock near a pond covered in green algae. We continued around the island, the sky once again grew dark and we made it back to the hotel, having biked another 20 miles.