Photos from the Commonwealth

West Virginia and Pennsylvania share very similar geography and industries.  But there are way more people, and camps, and just things in PA.  Some towns we drove through today were founded before the Declaration of Independence was signed.  West Virginia split off from Virginia in 1863 for those of you who aren’t familiar with our history (and there are a lot of you, still today, ask anyone from West Virginia).  We moved the state capitol several times  — actually from Wheeling to Charleston to Wheeling and back to Charleston.  We just generally didn’t get our stuff together as early as our Commonwealth neighbor to the north. But anyway, anytime I go to Pennsylvania, I don’t really feel like it’s much different from West Virginia, aside from the large cities that are sprinkled throughout.  We have the same trees, the same hills, the same winding roads:

Like these beautiful cows
Like these dotty cows and the clouds above them
And these tall, tall trees
And these tall, tall trees

One of the highlights (and the actual purpose) of our trip was to go to a Nine Inch Nails concert in State College, Pennsylvania.

They rocked the house +
They rocked the house

One of the other highlights of our trip was stopping at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater (“The Most Famous Home in America”).

It is worth the trip if you’re in that area — and when you think it was built 75 years ago, it truly is a testament to the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright:

The iconic shot of the house hanging over the falls
The iconic shot of the house hanging over the falls
My loving husband took this shot of me on the bridge leading to Fallingwater
My loving husband took this shot of me on the bridge leading to Fallingwater

One of the best parts of our trip, however, was something we didn’t plan.  As were driving between State College and Mill Run, where Fallingwater is located, we saw the sign for the 9/11 Memorial of hijacked Flight 93.  We made a split-second decision to go view the site.  Right now, there really isn’t much there.  A beautiful walkway and wall commemorating that day with the names of those who died, and a boulder that sits over the impact site.  You can only view the impact site from afar, which makes sense when you recognize the layout of the land.  It is a large, open field.  The park ranger said that the plane came in at over 500 mph and flipped onto its top.

It was a solemn visit, like many national monuments.  But something about the 9/11 monuments are different to me, probably because I remember that day so well.  Most of the monuments and museums I’ve traveled to in my life memorialize things that happened long before I was born.  And as my husband pointed out as we made our way along the walking path, there were young kids there who were not even alive when 9/11 happened.  To them, 9/11 will be like the Vietnam War — something horrific that their parents lived through.

I didn’t really feel much like taking pictures at the memorial, but I did take one:

The woolly caterpillar
The woolly caterpillar

When I was growing up, my grandma would always say to count the number of black rings the woolly caterpillar has on his back and that will tell you how long our winter will be.  This guy only had a couple black rings, which means a short winter.

Here’s hoping.  I’m already ready for summer again.

What did you do this weekend?  What’s an Old Wives’ Tale you remember your grandparents telling you?  

Arizona: Home of the Nutter Butters

No, I’m not talking about the candy bar — not that kind of Nutter Butter.  Just the crazies who live there in the middle of the desert.  Maybe it’s the heat.  Maybe it’s the close proximity to the Vortexes in Sedona.  Who knows?  All I know is that the air is a little different there.  And watching the local news reminds me of how the local news is on the movies– very dramatic, very high-stakes.  No fluff here– no room for it.

For instance, the Jody Arias trial was taking place out there.  Closing arguments taking place.  People were coming to Phoenix from neighboring communities for a chance to win the lottery for a shot to sit in the courtroom.  Need I say more?

I mean, when rattlesnake sightings are up (true story), why would you risk leaving your house, walking past all those desert bushes to your car and driving to the courthouse?  What if your car broke down because a rattlesnake was wrapped around the engine?

So I think the safest course of action would be to just go for a jog on a well-worn path with many other joggers (a win-win as they will serve to scare off the rattlesnakes and lower your chances of being attacked simply because there are more, probably tastier options for the rattlesnake to feast upon).

Some beautiful cacti - aka rattlesnake Christmas trees
Some beautiful cacti – aka rattlesnake Christmas trees
Taking a jog with this as the background - love
Taking a jog with this as the background – taking your life in your own hands (but awesome)

So anyway, I take a jog along this beautiful desert path and then get back to the hotel and hear on the news that a jogger was attacked today — but not by whom I expected — she was attacked by a hive of bees.  She was just jogging by and they were hiding in a tree, waiting on her.  They got in her hair and she had to be rushed to the hospital.  The news anchors warned that the bees can AND WILL track someone for a quarter of a mile.  Um, what?

What planet is this, Arizona?  It’s not Earth!

We don’t have rattlesnakes and bees back where I’m from (OK, we do, but they aren’t on the local news every day).  Creepy.  I will have to add some bee and snake repellent to my cart when I purchase my bear spray from Amazon.

But truly, even when you have to deal with pesky things like a work-related conference, it’s so nice to get away to a semi-arid location to truly kick off the summer.  I got such an opportunity last week when I went to the Arizona Biltmore.

Gorgeous entrance to the Biltmore
Gorgeous entrance to the Biltmore
The landscaping was immaculate
The landscaping was immaculate

I had no idea until I arrived at the hotel that it was anything more than a hotel.  But after making my way through the property to my villa, I figured out there was something a little different about this place.  Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect for it.  Yes, that Frank Lloyd Wright of Falling Water.  Apparently he spent his later years in the wilds of Arizona (he probably fell victim to an errant animal attack — maybe even one not on the news, like a coyote).

The Presidents at the Biltmore
The Presidents at the Biltmore

All of the Presidents of the United States since Hoover have stayed at the Biltmore (George W. not pictured, but he was on the next wall).  That’s pretty much how you know it’s a solid place:

A little Hawaiian flair
A little Hawaiian flair

Views like this are a dime a dozen on this property.  Hello, Arizona, goodbye Arizona.  Was it worth it to brave the wilderness of the desert?

Maybe….

Probably.

Arizona is gorgeous.  Until we meet again.

xoxo