Sunday, August 31, 2014

Family Day Trip… To Delaware

My wife and I grew up in the Philadelphia area but there are many places in eastern Pennsylvania that we have yet to see. This is largely what motivated us to begin taking day trips last summer. While we have been less active this season, we are still getting out when we can and visiting places that, for one reason or another, we have not explored in previous years. Thankfully, my aunt and uncle helped us check another one of those places off our list yesterday when they treated us to a day at Winterthur.

After falling behind schedule early in the morning trying to get a few urgent items taken care of for the lodge (it is that time of year again) we made our way south and across the state line to meet them in the parking lot of the historic site. We got there a little later than expected but the timing actually worked out well as it allowed us to enjoy a nice lunch in the cafeteria before beginning the tour of the old DuPont estate. Of course, we also discussed some recent genealogy findings during the meal but that is another topic for another post (very exciting new information though).

Half past noon and we boarded the tram car at the visitor’s center to meander through the gardens, forest, and fields. While I wasn’t able to capture much of the 25 minute journey I did manage to get a few reasonable pictures across the vast fields of the gazebo….

…and a farm house in the distance.

It really is an excellent little ride and I am certain that it would be even better during the spring bloom. Maybe next time we will just spend the day walking around the grounds and enjoying the sights and smells.

The ride terminated at the massive mansion which truly is something that you have to stand beside to appreciate the immense scale. Even when looking at the main entrance it is startling to think that this once was a private residence.

Within a few minutes of arrival, we were back in the reception area waiting for the house tour to begin (actually, it is only one floor of the house that you are touring). Before piling our small group into the elevator we passed an interesting hallway that gave a little hint as to what was to follow.

While that small hallway was a hint, it really couldn’t fully provide us an insight as to the elaborate staging that was to follow as was evident in the first room that we entered after getting off the lift…

After a couple more rooms and many details, most of which I cannot recall, we turned the corner and I couldn’t help but notice the silhouette at the far end of the building…

We made our way in that direction and while we didn’t venture out into the sun room with the sculpture, we did find ourselves beside pains of wavy windows…

…and in front of a magnificent staircase.

When you look at the staging and the impact of the sweeping curve it just makes you want to ascent the stairs. As that was not a possibility, I had to at least lean over and take a picture up the center of the spiral…

At this point we were at the far end of the building and while we made a few stops and toured a few rooms on the way back, it was a few of the items in the rooms that caught my attention such as the chandeliers that hung from the ceiling and the varying designs and styles of each one.

However, every once in a while you come across items that make you stop for a moment. The kinds of things that you nearly forget that you have a camera in your hand because you are just caught in the history of the objects before you. That is the kind of feeling you get when you stand in front of George Washington’s china set from Mount Vernon.

While it seemed like it had just begun, the tour was over, we went down the escalator, and we were walking back through the main foyer with a feeling of wanting to see more. Still early in the afternoon, having seen a little bit of the inside, it was time to explore a little of the outside spaces. So we made our way past the soup terrene exhibit and up the stairs where you can get a clear view of the extensive window work currently underway.

From there we strolled down the paths past the open windows…

…the blooming trees….

…and into the open courtyard.

Just above this entertaining space was the heated pool full of fish (I couldn’t catch any with the camera so no picture of the pool this time). Just beyond the far end of the water, you could really appreciate and you could almost see the houseguests slowly making their way down the long staircase from the house to the pool.

We took a few minutes to sit and chat when I noticed that the camera card was full so this is where the pictures end. Front this outdoor entertainment area of the main house, we made our way across the entry courtyard (where we first entered the house) and into a smaller but still grand structure which served as the second DuPont residence when his collections overtook the main space in his home. Now the gift shop and café, we were able to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and continue our conversation throughout the remainder of the afternoon.

By 4:30 we were heading back to the car and on the road again heading toward the state line. I honestly can’t remember the last time that I spent the day with my aunt and uncle beyond the usual family get together or being at my parent’s house. Actually, I had sadly forgotten how much I enjoy spending time with them and talking with them. I’m glad that we made the time to do this and I am happy that my wife and I were able to see Winterthur for the first time with them. I really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a Saturday.