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Road-trip 2017 Day 10

After a serviceable breakfast at the very retro Courtesy Coffee Shop (Lounge by night) in Blythe, CA, we headed on for a last bit of the wild before finishing up our drive into Los Angeles.  Joshua Tree started its life as a National Monument (proclaimed so by FDR in 1936) and was renamed/redesignated  Joshua Tree National Park in 1994, and protects 792,510 acres of mostly wilderness where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge.  It proved to be a fine place to stretch our legs a bit.

We started our explorations in the southeastern part of the the park, part of the Colorado Desert, with elevations of less than 3,000 ft above sea level.  From near the Cottonwood Springs Visitors Center, we opted for the Mastodon Peak trail which did not disappoint.  Desert wildflowers and cacti blooms were abundant, although the intense sun of late morning made for some challenging photography. (ID help welcome!)

A few lizards also captured my attention.

 

As we made our way north and west in the park, we passed through what is referred to as a transition zone entered the Mojave Desert with elevations above 3,00 ft.  We stopped along the way for some shorter hikes.  It was at these elevations that we found expanses of the the park’s namesake, the Joshua Trees.  Tough and curious things, they’re not trees at all, rather belong to the yucca or agave family.  They have spiky succulent leaves that are kind of bayonet-shaped and every bit as sharp.

Of course in reading about the Joshua tree, I couldn’t help but stumble over references to the 1982 U2 album of the same name.  This Irish rock band was quite captivated with the deserts of the American southwest and found the landscapes to be quite fitting with the theme/songs of the album.  The cover photo however was not taken in Joshua Tree National Park, rather at another location in the Mojave Desert some 200 miles away.  While the actual tree fell some time ago, there is reportedly a plaque placed for those who go searching.

LS_20170405_171212 road snacks, Mexican-style

We left the park in the late afternoon with a plan to be at Duncan and Daniela’s place in LA for a late dinner.  A search for a milkshake or some such thing took us to a brightly lit place called La Michoacana in Beaumont CA where we picked up a couple of mangonadas, a kind of sweet, spicy, party-colored Mexican fruit drink with tamarind-coated straws.  Not bad really.   In any event, they quenched our thirst and tided us over to LA.

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We were in St Augustine when we learned that several of our dirt-dwelling friends from Ohio would be visiting the central Florida area this winter.  As we had no other definite plans, we decided a return visit to Vero Beach was in order.  This would be our third visit to Vero, and as it turned out, also our longest.

One weekend we rented a car and headed inland to catch up with some friends Bob & Donna and Dave & Teresa who were camping in Kissimmee State Park.  We enjoyed some hikes, some shared meals, and comparing notes on living in our respective small spaces, their tow-behind campers vs our Cheshire.  32143751324_55a5583d30_o

Meanwhile back in Vero, we were once again successful in clearing out the guest cabin to accommodate overnight guests aboard.  Mark & Pam were in the area for a short stretch.  It seems they always visit when we’re on a mooring ball/away from the dock, so they had the full dinghy back-and-forth experience to boot.  They were the first brave souls, not counting Mike himself, to test out the newly fashioned sling seat that hangs off our transom.  Depending on the time of day, our ginormous solar panels even offer a bit of shade.

We made a drive down to Ft Pierce to check out the Navy SEAL Museum which was well worth the trip.  The boys especially enjoyed the training “playground”.

Interestingly it was on the nearby beaches that those who preceded the SEALs would train for  their assault on the beaches of Normandy and Southern France in Europe and numerous islands throughout the Pacific.  We found it to be a much more peaceful place today; the terns seemed to agree.

Back in Vero Beach, we made a return visit (1st for Mark & Pam) to McKee Botanical Garden.  In addition to the usual plants and sculptures, they had a couple of special exhibitions.  The “Nature Connects: Art with Lego Bricks” exhibit was something we had seen before at a garden in Naples FL a few years back.  It’s almost impossible to appreciate these pieces via photos, but I’ve included a few below anyway.  Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork was also a familiar sight, as I’d watch him construct a few of these pieces on the grounds at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus OH a number of years ago.  The link above is to the Garden’s write up on the exhibit, and includes some additional photos and an interesting description of the process.

 

Former cruising friends/currently CLODs (Cruisers Living On Dirt) Stew & Diana drove up from Stuart for a visit one day, and we were pleased to find a few other cruising friends wintering in Vero Beach as well.  The weekly Thursday Happy Hour gathering continues and was good for meeting some new folk.  On a couple of Mondays we joined the group that frequents Mr Manatee’s for $5 Burger night.  Mike bravely tackled the Colossal Woodrow Burger (a double stacked (a full pound)/pork roll/bacon egg/onion rings/mozzarella sticks) challenge,,, eat the whole thing, including the fries, and get a free t-shirt.  One guy in the group does the challenge weekly;  apparently everyone he knows now has a t-shirt.

The remainder of our time was spent revisiting familiar places… the Vero Beach Museum of Art never disappoints.  Larry Kagan’s Object/Shadow exhibit was amazing.  (See Che Guevara image below and check out the link above for more info.)  Deborah Butterfield’s Horses were also breathtaking.  We were frequent visitors to the Saturday Farmers’ Market Oceanside, often walking over early for coffee and a bite of breakfast on the beach before doing our shopping.  We also dug a little deeper and found some new things.  Taking advantage of the free/donation bus service, we found some new hiking spots, a couple of new-to-us restaurants and a fish/seafood market that had just opened at our last visit, now doing quite well (see carry out stone crabs pictured below… quite yummy).  Our stay also overlapped with the Vero Beach Art Club’s Under the Oaks Fine Arts and Crafts show which was nicely done; we were tempted by a couple of pieces, but alas, we have little remaining room for art.  All in all, it was a fine stay.

Vero Beach is definitely one of our favorite stops along Florida’s east coast.  As usual, our month long stay stretched a bit longer… no surprise.  For now though, we’ll head back north.

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When I was a kid, we used to play a game in the neighborhood called Red Light, Green Light.  If you’re not familiar with it, check the Wikihow description here.  After spending about 2.5 weeks getting from Long Island to Norfolk, I’ve come to the conclusion that cruising the Mid-Atlantic coast is a bit like playing a game of Red Light, Green Light with Mother Nature.  Mostly she played fair and everyone won.

From the Atlantic Highlands area of New Jersey, the only way back south is to go offshore.  Unlike the southeastern coast of the US where the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) offers the option of an inside/protected route from Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA all the way to Miami and into the Florida Keys, there is no such route along the Jersey/Delaware/Maryland/Virginia shore.  Yes, there are short inside stretches, but they are restricted by the occasional low fixed bridge.  To get south, you simply have to make some outside/offshore runs.  Our Cheshire however, is not a heavy weather boat. Consequently she and her crew are very cautious about weather, especially when heading offshore and particularly during hurricane season where conditions can change with little notice.

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Lori’s offshore survival stash

Everyday aboard starts with coffee and weather checks.  Not just the what’s-the-temperature-going-to-be and is-it-going-to-rain kind of weather.  Like all cruisers, we have multiple weather sites bookmarked on our various electronic devices.  We’re interested in wind velocity, wind direction, precipitation, sea states, storms, storm tracks, etc.  Then there are currents and tides, very important if coming/going from inlets where things can get dicey in unfavorable conditions.  For planning an offshore run, we’re interested in all of these things, but for multiple locations along our planned route, and not just for today, but for several days into the future.  When the planets line up and a weather window looks good, we go.

From the Atlantic Highlands/Sandy Hook area, we made a 25+ hour/125 nautical mile overnight run to Breakwater Harbor near Lewes, DE where we’d pause to await the next window.  It turned out to be a long pause.  We were in a protected anchorage, but with not much for easy shore access.  There’s a beautiful beach nearby, Cape Henlopen State Park, but apparently the powers that be have gotten cranky about folks arriving via water, so landing one’s dinghy on the beach is apparently now a no-no.  In any event, we spent 4 days anchored here without setting foot off the boat.  Needless to say, we did a lot of reading.  At least we had a nice view of nearby Breakwater Light.  I was amused to watch the sight-seeing tour boats come and go.

We’d hoped our next jump would take us all of the way to Norfolk, but Mother Nature was having none of that.  One morning we finally had a small weather window (which I’ve come to refer to as a weather porthole) and decided to make a day run to Ocean City, MD.  Six hours and 32 nautical miles later we’d successfully navigated the inlet and were anchor down behind Assateague Island.  Shore access here for anchored boats is also limited, so we opted to move to a nearby dock the next morning for the couple of nights we anticipated we’d have to wait for our next window.  Unlike our last stop, we took full advantage of being attached to a dock (for the first time in nearly 3 months).  We did laundry, we did some provisioning, both much easier from the dock vs by dinghy.  We supported a number of local drinking/dining establishments.  Decatur Diner was a favorite, in fact we went twice.  Don’t miss the Pipeline for breakfast; we shared a half order.  Harborside Bar and Grill was good for beers and apps.  They’re famous for a drink called an Orange Crush; I (Lori) had the grapefruit version which was quite tasty.  At Martin Fish Company, a seafood market/take-out/eat-in spot, we had some good draft beers and shared a fried clam dinner.

One afternoon, we pedaled over to check out the and Life-Saving Station Museum and the Ocean City Boardwalk.  The Life-Saving Station was a mid 1970’s rescue/rehab effort and has been transformed into a nice maritime museum.  The Boardwalk dates from 1902 and was quite a trip.  The arcade was like none I’ve seen.  Tourist-trappy restaurants also looked to be plentiful but we limited ourselves to a bag of carmel corn as we strolled.  The small craft advisory level winds made for some impressive kite flying displays.

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Maryland’s Indian, artist Peter Toth

As we made our way back to our bikes, we stumbled upon an interesting sculpture.  Maryland’s Indian is one installment in a collection known as the Trail of the Whispering Giants.  Hungarian-born sculptor  Peter Wolf Toth set out to place at least one carving in each of the 50 states, a goal he completed in 1988.  His sculptures are a tribute of sorts to native peoples around the country.  See the website linked above for more of his story and some photos.

After three nights total in Ocean City, a window opened.  Alas, the tides and currents of the inlet dictated that we’d best plan for a late afternoon departure.  Cheshire got a much needed bubble bath which was promptly undone when we were waked by a ginormous sport-fisher before we’d even got out of the inlet.  But we did get out and had a beautiful run, albeit motoring, down the coast.  As the 37 mile length of Assateague Island is state park and national seashore land, it was mostly dark.  Little ambient light made for an impressive sky full of stars, and in the early morning hours, a pretty crescent moon.  See photo below, my weak attempt to capture the sunrise.  We caught a couple more lighthouses on this run, or three actually if you count Assateague Light on the southern end of the barrier island of the same name, but I saw only the flashing light during a night watch; sorry no photo.   Cape Charles Light was very distant in the early morning light, and Thimble Shoals Light  greeted us as we approached Hampton Roads inlet.  A morning weather check advised of a small craft advisory in the lower end of the bay (not previously forecast), so our entry was a bit bumpy.  Twenty-four hours and 115 or so nautical miles later, we were anchor down at Hospital Point, mile-marker 0, the northern most point of the AICW.  

We’d heard even before leaving Ocean City though, that there had been much rain and consequent flooding in the area, so much so that both the Virginia Cut and the alternate Dismal Swamp Canal sections of the AICW were closed.  Opening/closing bridges and locks alike don’t behave well in flood conditions.  Although we had hoped to do the Dismal again (find posts about our last trips here and here), it remained closed after the Virginia Cut route opened.  So we’re off, down the Virginia Cut.  Hopefully we’ll make Oriental, NC in a week or so.

As always, thanks for following along.  Stay tuned.

 

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Successfully navigating the East River and New York Harbor marked the end of our summer exploring.  From this point, we’re on a mission to make tracks south.  Unfortunately we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature as we’ll run outside/offshore from here to the Portsmouth/Norfolk area, likely in hops as weather permits.  We arrived last Friday, and so far, the weather has been beautiful for some exploring, but not so much for an outside run.  Fortunately there’s quite a bit to explore in this spot.

Shortly after our arrival, we hiked up to Navesink Light, aka the Twin Lights of Highlands, which in its day was a primary aid to navigation for traffic into New York Harbor.  This is an unusual light, a castle-like brownstone structure of two non-identical towers linked by the keepers’ quarters and storage rooms.  In 1841 it became the first light in the United States to use the then revolutionary Fresnel lens; fast forward to the late 1970’s, they tracked down this original lens, currently displayed in the original powerhouse/generator building on grounds.  The recently renovated exhibit space also featured a great exhibit titled “Seeing Stars” that traces the American flag from its inception through the current day.  And of course, we climbed the south tower (the only one open for climbing).  Later in the afternoon, we checked out yet another local craft brewery, Carton Brewing; we got a tour of the facility and a tasting in the 2nd floor tasting room.

The following morning we had breakfast at Zoe’s Vintage Kitchen, and set off on another hike, this time to the Mt Mitchell Scenic Overlook.  Mt Mitchell is a Monmouth County Park, said to have an amazing view of nearby Sandy Hook and the New York City skyline, though it was pretty hot and hazy during our visit, so the view wasn’t quite what it might have been.  What was impressive though was the 9/11 Memorial.  Artist Franco Minervini designed an eagle sculpture, incorporating a piece of beam from one of the fallen towers, that sits atop a stone base carved with the names of the 147 residents of the county who lost their lives that day.  They were setting up for a commemoration event scheduled for the following morning (9/11), but we were two of only a handful of folks present on this day.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the view to NYC might have looked like from this vantage point on that fateful morning 15 years ago.

After a day of rest, we decided to haul the bikes ashore for a long pedal over to Sandy Hook, a barrier peninsula on this bit of the Jersey Shore.  A couple of days prior, we’d discovered a weather-beaten (think Superstorm Sandy) rails-to-trails path, the Henry Hudson Trail, along the water that we deemed “good enough” to pedal.

The trail ended in the Highlands area, but we picked up another on the other side of the bridge to Sandy Hook as we entered what’s known officially as the Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.  Managed by the National Park Service, this recreation area covers more than 26,000 acres of property in New York and New Jersey, including the Sandy Hook area that kept us plenty busy for a day.  The area was whacked pretty hard by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in Oct 2012.  The damage, as well as the rebuilding/recovery, was evident all around.  I’ve read that the park was flat out closed for about 6 months after the storm; obviously, the recovery is ongoing.

The old Life Saving Station had served as the Visitors’ Center; post-Sandy, it (the visitors center) moved to the Keepers’ Cottage of the lighthouse.  We had anticipated that the Sandy Hook Light would be closed; according to its website, it was to be undergoing some repairs and restoration.  Lucky for us, the contractors who were scheduled to do the work were not showing up.  The NPS park rangers decided if there wasn’t work going on, they’d reopen tours.  The sign went up as we were approaching the keepers’cottage/visitors’ center.  The Sandy Hook Light is said to be the oldest lighthouse still standing in the United States.  First lit in June 1764, it stood 500 ft from the tip of the spit.  Today is stands more than 1.5 miles from the tip, safe from the erosion that has claimed so many of these old towers.  We tried unsuccessfully to take it our ourselves with cannon fire when the British loyalists had control of this spit during the Revolutionary War. Even Sandy, who wrecked the surrounding area, did only minimal damage.

 

Sandy Hook also has a long military history.  A bit further out the spit, we came upon Fort Hancock, a former US Army fort.  This installation served as part of the harbor’s coastal defense system from 1893 until 1974 when it was decommissioned; many of the buildings and fortifications remain to this day.  It was difficult to tell, particularly in some of the water-facing buildings, how much of the disrepair was compliments of the storm versus the ravages of time, the latter compounded by the park service’s limited budget relative to the number of buildings needing maintained.  Either way, it was an interesting place.

Near the lighthouse complex, we wandered about the  Mortar Battery… creepy place actually.  Pedaling about the grounds we came upon several other batteries.  Lots of history here. Battery Potter sported the country’s first so-called disappearing gun battery in the late 1800’s.  Other batteries followed as the technology changed.  Apparently lots of big guns were required to defend New York Harbor from an attack from sea.

In the late 1950’s as the Cold War came upon us, surface to air missiles arrived on the scene. Now the threat was from the air. Sandy Hook and Fort Hancock became home to NY-56, one of a number of Nike Missile sites that surrounded New York City.  The missile launch area is now used by the park’s maintenance team.  The radar site had gotten quite overgrown but has since been reclaimed.  In the last ten years or so, much effort has been put into reclaiming this history, although they have a long way to go.  (Apparently a herd of Nubian goats has been helpful as well.  More here.)  They do have a couple of missiles on site though, and have replaced some of the radar equipment.  Infrequent tours are available, though our timing wasn’t good enough to catch one this trip.

 

Having gotten our fill of fresh air and history, we pedaled back,  pausing at Moby’s Lobster Deck (which is every bit the tourist trap is sounds to be) for a snack and some local beers to replenish ourselves.  A bit of local “art” and and a nice sunset also were nice additions to our days of exploring.

Other bits worth mentioning… The Hudson Cafe was a fine spot of breakfast and a bit of wifi.  Gaslight satisfied the Captain’s beer & wings craving one night after a movie.  Yes, we saw a movie… in a theatre… the first in we can’t even remember how long.  For the record, “Sully” is well worth a look, and was particularly powerful for us after our recent trip through NYC.

So, Atlantic Highlands … been here (for nearly a week now!), done it all, ready to go.  Now, if Mother Nature would just throw us some weather to work with, we’d be out of here.

 

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We had planned for our stop in Port Washington to be a brief one.  We would visit check out one more Gold Coast mansion, get our much used/abused bikes tuned up, top off provisions, do some laundry, and plan our way through the East River and on south.  That, however, was before Hermine decided to stop by for a visit.

On the way here though, of course there were more lighthouses.   The sinister sounding Execution Rocks Light and the Sands Point Light mark the point we rounded to enter Manhasset Bay. Execution Rocks is now privately owned and apparently being renovated but is available for overnight stays for $300/night, double occupancy… think air mattresses, port-a-potties and camp stoves, bring your own bedding food and ice.  Check it out here.  Sands Point has had a couple of private owners, including William Hearst for a time, until it was sold to a realtor who subdivided it for a 1 acre/lot residential development.

A cruising friend of ours recently described Port Washington as the cruisers Gateway to Long Island.  It’s proven to be just that.  Unlike some of our previous stops, Port Washington is welcoming of visiting/transient cruisers.  They have transient designated mooring balls that are available for free for the first 48 hrs, and after that, only cost $25/night.  Even better, the $25 mooring fee also included unlimited rides on the local shuttle/water taxi, which we’ve taken advantage of.

We arrived last Wednesday, just before the Labor Day weekend in hopes of beating the crowds.  Who knew that Hermine, who would make landfall on the Florida Gulf Coast the next day as a Cat 1 hurricane,, would also be such a big factor for us.  By Friday, we knew we’d be here for a bit longer than planned.

After dropping our bikes off for much needed tune-ups, we hiked on up to Sands Point Preserve.  This is a massive place, very much open to the public.  The grounds are extensive and include 3 mansions.  One, Castle Gould, is not open for tours, though part of the facility serves as a visitors’ center, others used for public events, and some private ones; in fact they were setting up for a wedding at our visit.  This 1904 100,000 sq ft limestone mansion was built by Howard Gould, however his actress wife Katherine Clemmons decided she didn’t like it, so it served instead as a stable, carriage house and servants’ quarters.  Nearby Hempstead House was built instead and would be their main residence.  Gould and Clemmons later divorced, and the estate was eventually bought by Daniel and Florence Guggenheim. Hempstead House was not open for tours at our visit, but we did opt to tour Falaise.

Our tour ended up being a private one, just Mike, myself and our tour guide who was most informative.  Falaise was built by Harry Guggenheim, son of Daniel and Florence, and his wife Caroline, on estate property gifted to him by his parents.  Designed in the style of a 13th century Norman manor house, it is beautifully furnished with items they collected in their travels about Europe.  Harry sounds to have been an interesting guy, for a time served as US Ambassador to Cuba, flew in WWI and WWII, and was a close friend of Charles Lindbergh among other things.    He also had a curious relationship with Bill Moyers whom I’m a big fan of.  Details in this Wikipedia piece for those who may be interested.  Again, no inside photography allowed,

 

Come Saturday, we did a bit of provisioning, picked up our tuned-up bikes and did some storm prep of Cheshire.  Given the forecast, we opted not to strip all of the canvas/sails off… a big deal, but did secure them, including some extra lashing of the mainsail.  We put out some extra lines to our mooring ball; the extra cleats Mike installed some time ago came in very handy. (For previous storms of significance, we’ve either been hauled, or at a dock; this would be our first “named storm” on a mooring.) We also secured the dinghy as we do for offshore passages, that is removed the outboard engine and cinched in in tight to the davits to minimize sway/motion.  This also takes a bit of doing, so we’d use the shuttle/water taxi service for the duration of our stay.  Finally, we did some extra lashing of the solar panels; good thing Mike is so handy with line/rope/knots.

Then, we waited.  And walked about town.  As we’ve gotten closer to New York City, there’s more of an ethnic presence.  We had some great Mediterranean take out from Ayan’s Marketplace/Cafe ,  BBQ from Harbor Q our afternoon exploring Sands Point,  a great splurge Italian meal one night at Toscanini Ristorante, and some most delicious cheese blintzes (Lori) at Port Washington Diner for breakfast one morning.

And we’ve waited some more.  I’ve done some laundry.  We’ve been frequent visitors of the local public library (free wifi) except when they were closed over the holiday week-end.  They have a great view from their balcony though; photo below.  We’ve read a lot.  We’ve checked in regularly with other cruising friends up and down the coast.  Meanwhile Hermine, who went from Hurricane to Tropical Storm to post-Tropical Storm, has continued to meander (really, apparently now a new weather word) all over the Mid-Atlantic coast.  Monday night the long forecasted winds arrived.  There’s now a bit of rain in the forecast, but the forecast seems to change by the day.  A couple of days ago, she was headed offshore; this morning, she’d taken a more westerly track.  This afternoon, we’re down dealing with what the NWS calls a small craft advisory.  Often we’re treated to a pretty sunset at day’s end.

In any event, we’ll stay put, for a couple more days anyway.  We’ll choose our window carefully though when we finally do depart, as we’re headed through the East River, including the potentially exciting Hell Gate, past NYC and down the Jersey coast.

As always, stay tuned.

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During the late 19th century, many wealthy industrialists and bankers, many of whom made small fortunes during the second industrial revolution, built lavish homes on this northern coast of Long Island, their own private escapes from NYC.  Hence the nickname, the Gold Coast.  I’ve read that over 500 mansions were built during the early 20th century, though less than half of those survive.  Many fell into ruin during the years of the Great Depression.  A few are now open to the public.  So, when in Rome…

On our way to Oyster Bay, we of course passed a couple more lighthouses, though both at some distance.  Eaton’s Neck Light is now an active Coast Guard station and closed to the public.  It’s claim-to-fame is it’s 3rd order Fresnel lens, the only Fresnel lens in active use today on Long Island.  The nearby Cold Springs Harbor Light‘s distinction is being the only Long Island light to have been moved from its original location.  Apparently in about 1965, the tower was removed from its caisson base and replaced with a skeleton tower.  A local woman purchased the old wooden tower for a dollar and made arrangements to have it towed by barge to her shoreside property… except that enroute it got stuck on a sandbar, for more than a year, waiting for a high enough tide to float it off.  Today it stands very near the water, not much of an aid to navigation, but with an interesting story.

Meanwhile, back to the mansions… We anchored for a night in Oyster Bay, then ended up moving to a mooring ball for a couple of more nights in order to have shore access… Oyster Bay is not quite as accommodating as some other places; no free dinghy docks here.  This place in particular, the Oyster Bay Marine Center, was also pretty disorganized, in that they couldn’t manage to keep track our payments for said mooring ball.  In fact shortly before our departure, one of the staff came rushing back out to our boat again, claiming to have “no record of your payment”; again, we produced receipts, though it was quite off-putting to be wrongly treated as if we were trying get away with something.

OK, really, back to the mansions.  Again, we shuttled our bikes ashore for a pedal out to Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park.  Planting Fields is a former Gold Coast estate, which boasts 400+ acres of arboretum, greenhouses, formal gardens and less formal wooded paths, along with Coe Hall, a Tudor Revival mansion. William Robertson Coe was an English immigrant who made his fortune in the insurance business.  It didn’t hurt either that one of his three wives was a Standard Oil heiress.  In any event, upon his death, he donated his estate to the State of New York for use as a horticultural school.  The mansion was quite impressive. No interior photography was allowed, but those with interest can find many of them on this page of the park’s website. The temporary Great Ocean Liners exhibit was also intriguing; Coe was big into marine insurance, including some connection with the Titanic.

The following day we pedaled out Cove Neck to check out the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site.  This was Teddy Roosevelt’s home.  He apparently hated being called Teddy by the way.  Although not as opulent as other Gold Coast mansions, it was impressive in its own right.  What was truly amazing was how much of the home and its contents have been preserved.  TR died at Sagamore in 1919, but his last wife continued to reside there until her death in 1948.  Family members apparently  removed for safekeeping much of the home’s contents at that time, but the structure itself remained unoccupied.  It was turned over to a non-profit, then to the Park Service, and only last year reopened following a $10 million renovation.  For more on its story, check out this NYT article about its reopening.

The Old Orchard House, also on property, was built by one of Teddy’s sons when it became apparent that Mom wasn’t giving up the big house.  Today it houses a nicely done museum of Teddy Roosevelt’s life.  We also enjoyed a hike about the grounds, including a trail out to Oyster Bay.  Again, interior photography was prohibited, but the park’s website and NYT link above both have some great photos.

 

Back in town, Oyster Bay Brewing Company was a fun find.  The Taby’s Burger House… good fries, otherwise not noteworthy. Photos credit to Mike.

 

Next stop: Port Washington.

 

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Having completed our circumnavigation (sounds impressive, huh?), it’s time to start thinking about heading south.  Or at least west to start with.  Having checked our tides and currents carefully, we headed out around Orient Point, the most eastern tip of the north fork .  While Mike managed the vessel traffic (several others, including a few ferries, had apparently also planned carefully), I gave my best try at photographing lighthouses from a distance from aboard a rolling boat.  Always a challenge.  Orient Point Light aka “Coffee Pot” and Plum Island Light stand sentinel on either side of the passage called Plum Gut.

A bit further west we passed Horton Point Light;  we’d visited by land a bit earlier in the month, but it’s always nice to get a shot from the water as well, albeit from a distance.

LS_20160823_112300 Horton Point Light, from LI Sound

Horton Point Light, from Long Island Sound

Our first stop on this north shore would be Mattituck, a sleepy little town, but quite welcoming of cruisers.  The Captain got his Chinese food fix, groceries were purchased.  In town we found an excellent though pricy cheese shop, not surprising as we’re still in North Fork wine country.  We shuttled provisions back to the mothership, then came back in for a wander about town and a tasting at Roanoke Vineyards tasting room in town.  Love Lane Kitchen made for a fine breakfast the next morning.  We might  have stayed here for a bit longer, but a weather check indicated it would be quite a while before the forecast would be favorable again.  We decided to move on a bit.

Our next stop was Port Jefferson, which is actually quite a sizable harbor.  It’s mostly full of private mooring balls which seem to empty during the week, and fill up on the weekends.  We spent a few days on the hook behind Old Field Point and found shore access at a dock at the south end of Setauket Harbor. It was a long dinghy ride, but gave us good access for shuttling our bikes ashore.

A long pedal into Stony Brook took us to the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages which was quite a place.  It’s quite an eclectic place, with several relocated historic buildings, a variety of outdoor sculpture, and several more contemporary buildings housing permanent collections and a few rotating exhibits.  Crocheted trees was a new one for me, but has apparently been a quite popular participatory installation with all kinds of folks crocheting bits and pieces, and the artist herself combining them for the installation.  I was also captivated by the work of Connecticut sculptor Drew Klotz who creates wind-driven sculpture in motion.  Hard to appreciate in still photographs.

In the center of the property was an interesting fountain that from 1880, lived at the intersection of Madison ave and 23rd St in NYC and served as a source of drinking water for both people and horses.  Obsolete by the mid 50’s, it was dismantled and eventually moved to this location. Mike was intrigued by the old blacksmith shop.

One temporary exhibit offered a look back to Long Island in the 60’s; another complementary exhibit titled  “Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience” was also fun.  The real highlight of this museum though is the Carriage Museum.  There must be hundreds of carriages, beautifully restored and displayed in this space.  Flash photography is prohibited, but this New York Times piece on the museum includes some photos.

We pedaled about Stony Brook a bit, and were successful in our search for the Hercules Pavillion.  Featured on the quirky Roadside America.com site, Hercules is carved from a single piece of cedar.  It started life as the figurehead on the U.S.S. Ohio launched in 1820.  The anchor from the same ship is also on display at the pavilion, as is the Polaris whaleboat,  said to be the only surviving bit of the 1870 Arctic expedition.

Food highlights for this area include the SE Port Deli where we shared a ginormous sandwich.  A few days later the Captain got his wings fix at an East Setauket dive bar  called the Country Corner, who in addition to great wings have some great craft beer options, and one of the best juke boxes we’ve seen in a while.

One of our last days in the area, we beached the dinghy on the back side of a sand spit and walked out to Old Field Point.  My goal was to get some photos of Old Field Point Light, but a clear shot from the beach was not to be had.  A couple of days later though, I had another opportunity from the water.

Next up: the Gold Coast.

 

 

 

 

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