Day 14 – Pennsylvania exploration

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We were awake about 7:00 am so we were able to take our time to shower, dress, and check overnight communications before breakfast, which we had arranged with our hosts, Donna and Rick, to be at 8:00 am. We expected that would allow us to be away before 9:00 am and easily at Fallingwater in plenty of time for our 10:00 am tour.

Breakfast at Seams like Home offered plenty of options. We had agreed last night when Rick offered omelettes and those were being prepared as we sat down. There was a jug of orange juice on the table and a pot of fresh coffee on the brewer. We had some of each but bypassed cereal and toast in favour of bowls of honeydew melon which we ate with yoghurt. The omelettes arrived with fillings of peppers, onion, and cheese with a couple of strips of bacon on the side. We are not big breakfast eaters so that was enough for us but Majella did score a couple of pieces of pastry for later.

We left Seams like Home around 9:00 am with the GPS set for Fallingwater. It estimated that we would arrive around 9:40 am but we made it through Connellsville without delays and were at Fallingwater around 9:30 am. The copy of the email confirmation that I had was converted to a receipt at the front gate and that was registered at the information desk to get us on the 10:00 am tour. We spent the waiting time looking in the gift shop at all the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired souvenirs.

When our tour was called the instructions were to walk down the path in a group of about 12 to meet our guide on the bridge to the house. The guide met us at the bridge, checked on the origins of those in the group and their prior experience of Frank Lloyd Wright sites and then provided a short orientation to the man, his work and this house, before taking us across the bridge and into the house for the tour which took more than an hour to snake through the main house and guest house before finishing with a video and short talk about the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in what had been the carport – FLW did not do garages because they encourage clutter.

The house is an amazing example of design matched to a site and its residents. The main living space is large and open to the view with a glass hatch over an internal staircase that goes down to the water which can be heard running from almost every part of the house. Rock from the landscape was not removed but incorporated into the house, forming a surface on which to place objects in one place and the hearth for the living room fire. The large expanses of glass made heat loss inevitable but the cost of heating would not have bothered the Kaufmanns who had the house built as a weekend retreat away from Pittsburgh where they had department stores. The parents and the son, who was 27 when the house was built, each had rooms and each of those had a private terrace with views over the stream and into the woods. The guest house was connected by a covered walk but otherwise separate but built from the same local stone as were the separate staff accommodations.

By the time we finished the tour and took some photographs outside and from the viewpoint below the house it was almost midday and time to move on. We ate the pastries Majella had scored and then drove south-west through Ohiopyle park, stopping at the Ohiopyle Bakery and Sandwich Shoppe recommended by Rick, our host of last night, to buy sandwiches for lunch. We took those with us to Uniontown, about 30 minutes drive north-west, where we found a laundromat just down the road from Sew Special, the store run by Donna and Rick. We ate our sandwiches and then I watched our laundry while Majella visited the store and bought some pieces of fabric.

From Uniontown we followed the 119 to Indiana PA, reaching the home of our hosts, Nancy and Wayne Yost, at about 3:45 pm. There we engaged in wide ranging conversation about family and experiences until almost 11:00 pm. Nancy had prepared chili for dinner and we enjoyed that with salad and a glass of wine.

Distance today was 176 km. We enjoyed Fallingwater very much. Nancy and Wayne have made us feel very welcome. We’ve had another wonderful day as we end our second week.