East Coast gems — Off the beaten track
Libby Kinder is a freelance writer and retired clinical mental health counselor. She and her husband have lived in southwest Colorado Springs for 16 years. Contact Libby with comments and travel ideas at suchafinesight@pikespeaknewspapers. com.
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
Typically, as fall arrives, my husband, Ron, and I load up the trailer, and accompanied by our little dog, Gracie, we head off on an extended journey. Last month I focused on five National Parks we visited during our trip to the east coast. This month, I want to let fellow travel-lovers in on some awesome gems not to miss, that are a bit off the beaten track. Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob are two masterpieces located in southern Pennsylvania that were designed by world-renowned architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Fallingwater is in-aword: astounding! This famous private residence was completed in 1937 as a weekend getaway for the Kaufmann family, owners of the landmark Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh, PA. It is Wright’s most widely acclaimed work, and a sheer delight to see. Here within a lush forest rises a set of cantilevered boxes built over a flowing stream and tumbling waterfall. Almost all of the original furniture and built-ins remain in place. Upon entering the living area, I had the overwhelming feeling of such a welcoming space that I never wanted to leave. A hatch opens up in the floor revealing the tumbling water below. The sweet air, musical symphony and refreshing fragrance of nature swirl upwards to the inside of the home. Ample decks and balconies overlook the stream, and the soothing sound of rushing water is a constant melody. Kentuck Knob is another Wright-designed private home nearby showcasing his Usonian architecture. Although not as lofty and extravagant at Fallingwater, it is another must-see for Wright fans. The house was designed with many features unique to Wright architecture. It is built into the crest of a hillside, inviting the outside forest into the nature-inspired living areas. The kitchen surprises with a two-story tower topped by a large skylight. Steps from the residence is an unrivaled, forever-view of a hilltop panorama. The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, overlooks the Hudson River. Visitors are welcome at this extraordinary and creative venue that specializes in teaching all things related to the culinary arts. The campus is lovely with colorful artistic landscaping and tasteful buildings designed with a European flair. Of course, a visit is not complete without indulging in an outstanding meal at one of the variety of restaurants. Reservations are a must, and we were able to secure a table for lunch at the American Cafe. We splurged on wine, mussels, lamb chop and duck breast, and creme brûlée. The verdict: excellent service, delicious food and the best rolls ever! The Outer Banks of North Carolina (aka-OBX) is a collection of barrier islands on the east coast. I wasn’t going all the way to the coast without staying on the beach and taking a few seashore strolls. We found a perfect KOA Campground in Rodanthe, N.C., that was steps from a wide and endless beach complete with rolling waves and dancing seabirds. On the sound side, kiteboarders entertained us as they sped among the whitecaps weaving to and fro as the sun set. I can’t say that OBX became one of my favorite destinations, but we did have a fine time. We attended the OBX Seafood Festival, held on a perfect fall day. We downed savory chowder, shrimp and grits, and yummy bread pudding as we listened to classic rock music, and meandered around the grounds. We haled to the wellknown OBX attraction, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its iconic black and white stripes. Then it was off to catch the ferry to Ocracoke Island for some shelling on the fabulous beaches, to see the wild ponies, view another historic lighthouse, and eat great seafood. The beaches are truly magnificent, but … there is a BIG “but”! I can’t recommend a visit to Ocracoke. We waited over three hours in the ferry line for our return trip. The ferry system is extremely outdated and woefully inadequate. I didn’t do my homework, and we paid the price. Bardstown, Kentucky was our destination after touring Mammoth Cave. Ron’s mother was born in the tiny town of Cox’s Creek, and grew up in the Bardstown area. Bardstown is dubbed “The Most Beautiful Small Town in America” by Rand McNally and USA Today, and it truly is. It is famous for bourbon whiskey distilleries, 300 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, a delightful downtown district, and plenty of southern charm and hospitality. We stopped by the home where Ron’s grandparents lived for many years and were welcomed by the current owners to tour the outside. Ron’s mother (who is 99!) asked us to visit the graves of many of her family members who are buried in several of the area cemeteries. It was certainly a poignant excursion to find the final resting spots of these Kentucky pioneers, while remembering lives welllived.