Long Island and Manhattan

Everything was starting to bloom on a recent trip to Long Island, New York.  The scenery was dotted with the white blooms of dogwood.  Despite all of us coming in on 4 different airlines and into two different airports everything went without a hitch.  We picked up a rental car and headed to our vacation home in Saint James Long Island, a picturesque village that time forgot on the north shore of Long Island.  The old homes were beautiful and the scenery in the bay was astounding.  After an incredible Italian dinner that evening, cooked by my mother-in-law, we headed out in the morning to the end of the island past all of the farms and fruit stands on Route 25, past Nikola Tesla's old laboratory, to Greenport.  Greenport is an old whaling village that was established in 1640 by colonists from New Haven.  It was the first permanent European settlement in New York.  The first stop was to have seafood in Claudio's, the oldest continuously family-owned restaurant in the United States. Then walking through Greenport we saw tree peonies.  The blooms are bigger than your hand and absolutely beautiful.  We stopped at the produce stands on the way home for fresh asparagus and spinach.

Our own home for the week was on three acres and adjacent a Quaker's meeting house from the 1800"s.  The property had lots of flowers starting to bloom and trees.  Even the grass was full of tiny 'Johnny Jump Ups.'  Well no trip to Long Island is complete without a trip to the city.  The Long Island Rail Road brought  us to Penn Station and from there we took a cab to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) then we walked through Central Park and saw the Egyptian exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Are you ready for the ride? Well, here we go.

Claudio's in Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island.

Claudio's in Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island.

 Parrot tulips make their debut in Grenport.

 Parrot tulips make their debut in Grenport.

Pink & yellow tulips pop their heads up too.

Pink & yellow tulips pop their heads up too.

Can you believe the size of these blooms?

Can you believe the size of these blooms?

We inquired within.  We were told they are called tree peonies.

We inquired within.  We were told they are called tree peonies.

There were fuchsia tree peonies too the size of dinner plates.

There were fuchsia tree peonies too the size of dinner plates.

They were truly amazing.

They were truly amazing.

Back in St. James the lilac bush was blooming.

Back in St. James the lilac bush was blooming.

The smell was intoxicating.

The smell was intoxicating.

Reeds rustled along Head of the Harbor.

Reeds rustled along Head of the Harbor.

The vacation home had strong maples and straight Black Locust trees, which has the hardest wood next to hickory.  

The vacation home had strong maples and straight Black Locust trees, which has the hardest wood next to hickory.  

Next to the two sisters was a large maple.

Next to the two sisters was a large maple.

Next to the maple was a dogwood tree in bloom.

Next to the maple was a dogwood tree in bloom.

A maple leaf.

A maple leaf.

Dogwood blossoms.

Dogwood blossoms.

There was also a Japanese maple.

There was also a Japanese maple.

Here is a red Japanese maple leaf.

Here is a red Japanese maple leaf.

A bumble bee is busy on Red Deadnettle (Lamium Purpureum).

A bumble bee is busy on Red Deadnettle (Lamium Purpureum).

Tiny Johnny Jump ups dotted the grass.

Tiny Johnny Jump ups dotted the grass.

In violet and in white.

In violet and in white.

Greater Periwinkles (Vinca Major).  Periwinkle is my favorite color.

Greater Periwinkles (Vinca Major).  Periwinkle is my favorite color.

Decorative leaf of the tree below.

Decorative leaf of the tree below.

These two Adirondack chairs invite you to take a rest under the spreading branches of this tree before the trip to the city.

These two Adirondack chairs invite you to take a rest under the spreading branches of this tree before the trip to the city.

This is the MOMA Degas exbibit.  Here we are guys

This is the MOMA Degas exbibit.  Here we are guys

and dolls.

and dolls.

Wow, here is Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh.

Wow, here is Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh.

Oh oh, who's feeding Doby?

Oh oh, who's feeding Doby?

Look there's a Four Square house (my favorite style of houses) in Edvard Munch's painting!

Look there's a Four Square house (my favorite style of houses) in Edvard Munch's painting!

I love the colors in this Klimt portrait.

I love the colors in this Klimt portrait.

Well, that's our walk through the MOMA. 

Well, that's our walk through the MOMA. 

On to Central Park.

On to Central Park.

It's a beautiful day in the park.

It's a beautiful day in the park.

Here we are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here we are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fountains, birds, people, and the steps.

Fountains, birds, people, and the steps.

We have entered the Egyptian exhibit.

We have entered the Egyptian exhibit.

People were actually laid inside of these.

People were actually laid inside of these.

This one looks very Roman.

This one looks very Roman.

Look at all the detail.

Look at all the detail.

These are very large.

These are very large.

It is like walking back through antiquity.

It is like walking back through antiquity.

Look at the simplicity of line.

Look at the simplicity of line.

Very fine metal jewelry.

Very fine metal jewelry.

Rings on her fingers, and rings on her toes.

Rings on her fingers, and rings on her toes.

Unbelievable.

Unbelievable.

The Met is closing.  It is time to go or it will be 'Night at the Museum'.

The Met is closing.  It is time to go or it will be 'Night at the Museum'.

We'll walk through Central Park again.

We'll walk through Central Park again.

Go over the bridge.

Go over the bridge.

This is the eighteen acre lake in Central Park.

This is the eighteen acre lake in Central Park.

Now we are at the edge of the city.  We'll take the train home.  Hope you enjoyed the trip.

Now we are at the edge of the city.  We'll take the train home.  Hope you enjoyed the trip.

The Wildflowers of Maine and Longfellow's Garden

Come along on a virtual walk across the rocks by Cape Elizabeth Light also called Two Lights Lighthouse, located just south of Portland, Maine.  Then visit the garden at Longfellow's family home in the heart of downtown Portland. We'll wend our way south and pass The Bush compound, sitting on a little finger of land called Walker's Point in Kinnenunkport.  And finally, it will look as if we have stepped into Andrew Wyeth's Easterly paining as we catch a glimpse of the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick, Maine.  As we go, you will see wildflowers along the coast and garden flowers in Longfellow's garden.  Are you ready?

Cape Elizabeth Light or Two Lights Lighthouse has kept an eye on the ships at sea since Oct.1828.

Cape Elizabeth Light or Two Lights Lighthouse has kept an eye on the ships at sea since Oct.1828.

It's a beautiful drive southeast from Portland Maine to Cape Elizabeth.  (See the "Oh my word don't crash the car" video on the FLORISTINYOU profile page on Instagram.)

The Cost Guard web site tells us Pres. John Quincy Adams appointed Elisha Jordan as the first 'keeper' of the lighthouse in 1828.  Wow.

The Cost Guard web site tells us Pres. John Quincy Adams appointed Elisha Jordan as the first 'keeper' of the lighthouse in 1828.  Wow.

Only the Eastern Tower of the two lighthouses at Cape Elizabeth is still active.

Only the Eastern Tower of the two lighthouses at Cape Elizabeth is still active.

You can walk out and overlook the ocean.

You can walk out and overlook the ocean.

Or climb all along the rocks on the eastern side.

Or climb all along the rocks on the eastern side.

You will see the windswept wildflowers growing above the rocks.

You will see the windswept wildflowers growing above the rocks.

To your left it drops down to the bay under the Eastern Lighthouse tower.

To your left it drops down to the bay under the Eastern Lighthouse tower.

A breeze  is blowing and it smells salty like the ocean.

A breeze  is blowing and it smells salty like the ocean.

Canadian geese are on their way south for the winter.

Canadian geese are on their way south for the winter.

Lichen and ferns grow at the base of the rocks.

Lichen and ferns grow at the base of the rocks.

"Chicory" or Chichorium Intybus grows here too.

"Chicory" or Chichorium Intybus grows here too.

You have a good view from the ocean from here.

You have a good view from the ocean from here.

And of the Eastern Tower.

And of the Eastern Tower.

You will find the "Eastern daisy fleabane" (Erigeron annuus.) (Sounds like Lord of the Rings)

You will find the "Eastern daisy fleabane" (Erigeron annuus.) (Sounds like Lord of the Rings)

"Butter and Eggs" or "Yellow Toadflax." Careful, its agressive.

"Butter and Eggs" or "Yellow Toadflax." Careful, its agressive.

White stalks are bending in the breeze.

White stalks are bending in the breeze.

Winter is coming.

Winter is coming.

The thistle is hanging his head.

The thistle is hanging his head.

It is the end of Indian Summer.

It is the end of Indian Summer.

You will also see the "Beach Rose" bushes. (Rosa Rugosa.)  (Sounds like Harry Potter.) 

You will also see the "Beach Rose" bushes. (Rosa Rugosa.)  (Sounds like Harry Potter.) 

The flowers have 5 petals notched at the ends.

The flowers have 5 petals notched at the ends.

These are Beach Rose rose hips.

These are Beach Rose rose hips.

You can see the leaves are the same as the Beach Rose leaves.

You can see the leaves are the same as the Beach Rose leaves.

Old iron rings are anchored in rock blocks.

Old iron rings are anchored in rock blocks.

They are a reminder of the past.

They are a reminder of the past.

Note the "gingerbread trim" along the roof line.  The flag waves in the breeze as we head back to Portland.

Note the "gingerbread trim" along the roof line.  The flag waves in the breeze as we head back to Portland.

This is the family home of Henry Wadwsorth Longfellow.

This is the family home of Henry Wadwsorth Longfellow.

It was built by his grandfather, General Peleg Wadsworth.

It was built by his grandfather, General Peleg Wadsworth.

This home was designed in the neoclassic style and was the first all brick building built in Portland.  It was built in 1785-1786.  It sat on an acre and one half and included a large garden and fruit trees.  Henry's sister, Anne, gave the Wadsworth Longfellow home to the Maine Historical Society in 1901.  By 1924 the garden needed some attention and an architect was commissioned for that purpose.

The garden is a Colonial Revival garden, designed by Myron Lamb in the 1920's.

The garden is a Colonial Revival garden, designed by Myron Lamb in the 1920's.

Many of the plants are the same as those in Myron Lamb's sketches.

Many of the plants are the same as those in Myron Lamb's sketches.

A lavender viola peeks its head out of a planter.

A lavender viola peeks its head out of a planter.

This fire red Dahlia is a show stopper.

This fire red Dahlia is a show stopper.

The garden had a hydrangea bush with enormous powder blue flowers.

The garden had a hydrangea bush with enormous powder blue flowers.

Here is another lovely lavender bloom.

Here is another lovely lavender bloom.

There were a lot of purples, lavender and blue flowers there.

There were a lot of purples, lavender and blue flowers there.

Close-by at New England University, Portland campus, this angel hoovers over head.

Close-by at New England University, Portland campus, this angel hoovers over head.

She is suspended in the air, not far from the tombstones.  She is benevolent.  See her heart.

She is suspended in the air, not far from the tombstones.  She is benevolent.  See her heart.

Her heart is the same color as these brilliant berries on a nearby tree.  Good-by Portland.  It is time to drive down the coast.

Her heart is the same color as these brilliant berries on a nearby tree.  Good-by Portland.  It is time to drive down the coast.

You see the same rocky coast in Kennebunkport.

You see the same rocky coast in Kennebunkport.

This is the Bush family compound.  It is exquisite and juts out into the ocean.

This is the Bush family compound.  It is exquisite and juts out into the ocean.

Further south is the Nubble Lighthouse.

Further south is the Nubble Lighthouse.

Built in 1879 to protect mariners from the "Savage Rock."

Built in 1879 to protect mariners from the "Savage Rock."

It does look like an Andrew Wyeth painting.  In fact, the Voyager spacecraft carries a picture of the Nubble Lighthouse on board.

It does look like an Andrew Wyeth painting.  In fact, the Voyager spacecraft carries a picture of the Nubble Lighthouse on board.

By the way, Andrew Wyeth actually did live in the Tenants Harbor Lighthouse and had his studio inside the base of the bell tower.

Wildflowers of the Alpine Loop

Above Sundance, in the Utah mountains, the Alpine Loop is a scenic byway that is a wonderland of native wildflowers.  On a map it's shown as Route 92. It winds around the mountains in the Uinta National Forest, down past Timpanogos National Monument and Caves. The Alpine Loop has switchbacks through 27 miles, with the summit at an elevation of 8,000 feet.  

As you are going up Route 189, you can rent inner-tubes, and float down the Provo River.  Be prepared to paddle a lot with your arms.  It is cold and there are branches and rocks to avoid, so it is not for the faint of heart.  But we saw horses, and a wild turkey at the river edge, and ducks, and had a wild time.

The road is open between late May and late October.  There are campgrounds available along the Alpine Loop.  The Timpooneke Campground lies at 7, 400 feet amid fir, spruce and aspen trees, or 'Quakies' as my father called them.  The campground manager told us the other morning as she was walking through the site, she felt hot breath on her back and turned to find a moose behind her.  A stream runs through the camp and there is a nearby beaver pond.  It is cold at night.  Here is a good TRICK: Fill your nalgene bottle with boiling water and put it in the foot of your sleeping bag.  It will help keep you warmer until morning.

The Alpine Loop is laced with ferns and wildflowers.  Take a little drive and then walk among the wildflowers with us.  Are you ready?

Wow, it's like a really big dandelion. Western Salsify Tragopogon dubius.  

Wow, it's like a really big dandelion. Western Salsify Tragopogon dubius.  

The forest is like an immense art museum.  The colors used by Alexander Calder in his hanging mobiles, Gerrit Rietveld in his designs, and Piet Mondrian in his paintings set the background to make this giant 'dandelion' look surreal.  See the 'do' of the pink thistle below.

The Utah Thistle Cirsium neomexicanum reminded me of Andy Warhol's hair.

The Utah Thistle Cirsium neomexicanum reminded me of Andy Warhol's hair.

As you climb in elevation you enter a forest of 'Quakies'.

As you climb in elevation you enter a forest of 'Quakies'.

The forest floor is blanketed in thousands of lacy ferns...

The forest floor is blanketed in thousands of lacy ferns...

Like this Bracken Fern: Dennstaedtiaceae (fern)  Pteridiumaquilinum, variety: pubescens.

Like this Bracken Fern: Dennstaedtiaceae (fern)  Pteridiumaquilinum, variety: pubescens.

The aspen bark is a great study in black & white  contrasts.

The aspen bark is a great study in black & white  contrasts.

Can you ID this?

Can you ID this?

This looks like Woolly Mullein:   Verbascumthapsus.

This looks like Woolly Mullein:   Verbascumthapsus.

These tall curling brown stalks rise above the ferns.

These tall curling brown stalks rise above the ferns.

This is Horse-Nettle, a member of mint family. 

This is Horse-Nettle, a member of mint family. 

The yellow flowers may be Saw Groundsel Senecio serra.

The yellow flowers may be Saw Groundsel Senecio serra.

This looks like Whorled Buckwheat.

This looks like Whorled Buckwheat.

Sticky Geranium Geranium viscosissimum.

Sticky Geranium Geranium viscosissimum.

I was fascinated by the delicate magenta veins of the tiny sticky Geranium.

The Nootka Rose  dressed in fuschia, has 5 pink petals.

The Nootka Rose  dressed in fuschia, has 5 pink petals.

Here's a grouping of Sticky Geraniums.

Here's a grouping of Sticky Geraniums.

This looks like Western Coneflower Rudbeckia occidentalis.

This looks like Western Coneflower Rudbeckia occidentalis.

A tiny bug is enjoying this yellow beauty.

A tiny bug is enjoying this yellow beauty.

Cow Parsnip Heracleum lanatum, is like fireworks at night.

Cow Parsnip Heracleum lanatum, is like fireworks at night.

As we drove into Utah, we witnessed fireworks shooting up against the black sky all along the foothills of the mountains on the Wasatch Front.  There were thousand of explosions.  It seemed magical.  Then we realized it was the 24th of July, Pioneer Day,  the day the pioneers entered the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847 .

Here are lots of tiny white wildflower...

Here are lots of tiny white wildflower...

Getting ready to bloom on a stalk.

Getting ready to bloom on a stalk.

Showy Goldeneye Viguiera Multiflora dot the side of the trails in August.

Showy Goldeneye Viguiera Multiflora dot the side of the trails in August.

Black Twinberrys are peeking out from behind their red 'fan' bracts. 

Black Twinberrys are peeking out from behind their red 'fan' bracts. 

They look cute.  They'd make a great pair of ear-rings, but don't eat them, as they are toxic.

This ant was having a picnic on a trumpeted flower.

This ant was having a picnic on a trumpeted flower.

Richardson's Geranium  is like the Sticky Geranium, only white.

Richardson's Geranium  is like the Sticky Geranium, only white.

These pink & green spiky pods are curious.

These pink & green spiky pods are curious.

Filfoil Yarrow Achillea millefolium is a petite fragrant wildflower.

Filfoil Yarrow Achillea millefolium is a petite fragrant wildflower.

Pacific Aster Aster ascendens peek out between grass blades.  Their petals look like lavender eye lashes.

Pacific Aster Aster ascendens peek out between grass blades.  Their petals look like lavender eye lashes.

This looks like landscaping grass you pay a lot of money for in LA.

This looks like landscaping grass you pay a lot of money for in LA.

Can you ID this lovely lavender wildflower?

Can you ID this lovely lavender wildflower?

The Quaking Aspen leaves always tremor in the breeze.

The Quaking Aspen leaves always tremor in the breeze.

My favorite color...

My favorite color...

Another blue wildflower.

Another blue wildflower.

And here we go...

And here we go...

Into the woods...

Into the woods...

And through the trees.

And through the trees.

And into a field of clover.

And into a field of clover.

This white flower looks like Flaxflower Linanthastrum nuttallii.

This white flower looks like Flaxflower Linanthastrum nuttallii.

The Red Baneberry plant and berry are poisonous.

The Red Baneberry plant and berry are poisonous.

Curley Gumweed Grindelia squarrosa.

Curley Gumweed Grindelia squarrosa.

Lichen spreads across on a bolder.

Lichen spreads across on a bolder.

The Monkshood Aconitum columbianum top looks like the garb of a medieval monk.

The Monkshood Aconitum columbianum top looks like the garb of a medieval monk.

Other names for Aconitum include: Queen of all Poisons, and Wolf's Bane.  It is thought that the poison derived from this plant was used on the tips of arrows to kill wolves.  The Greeks poisoned the tips of their arrows with Aconitum, and arrow tips poisoned with it have been used by different groups of native populations to kill ibex, bear, and whales.  The Roman poet Oped in his epic poem, Metamorphoses, tells that Wolf's Bane came from the mouths of Cerberus.  Cerberus, as Oped tells it, was the three headed guard dog whose work it was to guard the gates of Hell.  The myth tells that some of it's saliva fell on the ground, and from where it fell the poisonous plant Aconitum grew, that grows amid the rocks.  Maybe Cerberus was a cousin to Fluffy, the three headed dog in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, except legend tells that one of Cerberus' heads was that of a lion, another a wolf, and the last a dog's head.  Well I'm relieved I only took a picture of it, pretty as it is, and didn't touch it.

This is the view to the top.

This is the view to the top.

The view to the left.

The view to the left.

And to the right.

And to the right.

Country road.

Country road.

As you can see, it had started to get dark by now.  We had foil dinners.  They were delicious and only a tiny bit burnt with corn on the cob steamed in the husks.  The girls slept by the creek, except one lucky one who found the car warm.  As I lay on the hard packed ground, regretting I hadn't patched my good sleeping pad, I was grateful for the warmth of the boiling water in the nalgene bottle.  I kept wishing I had put mending my good Camp 7 down bag on the to-do list, but it with its whirlwind of down were sitting in the garage in a plastic bag.  I wished I had a to-do list.  But breakfast was coming soon with eggs, pancakes, maple syrup and butter, bacon and a fire. Oh yeah, a big fire.

Take me home...

Take me home...

Well, we had packed our gear and had headed down the mountain.  First we headed up until the road turned into a dirt road, and then we headed down to the entrance of the Timpanogus Cave.

Sunflowers at the side of the road...

Sunflowers at the side of the road...

Waved goodbye.

Waved goodbye.

After leaving the cave, the road was lined with sunflowers, waist high.  Their smiling faces were saying goodbye to us and hello to those they greet as they stand, guardians to the mouth of the canyon.

I will always remember the wonder of the Alpine Loop.

I will always remember the wonder of the Alpine Loop.

The Grotto Trail - Santa Monica Mountains

                                                                                   Photo Credits: Elizabeth Pruett

Are you in LA for the weekend and want "to boldly go where [you’ve never] gone before?"  Try hiking the Grotto Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.  It winds through the hills above Malibu. The Circle X Ranch is the jumping off point.

The trail wends its way down to the West Fork of the Arroyo Sequit.  In the spring, there are lots of lavender wild flowers and butterflies.  Maybe they should have called it The Lavender Trail.  It has a Mediterranean ecosystem, and the landscape is dotted with coastal sage scrub, mixed chaparral, and as you get down to the Grotto, ferns.  Go early in the morning. The trail gets hot later in the day, and remember, it is a reverse hike.  You climb an elevation of 500 feet up from the bottom of the trail as you come back.  With the drought, there is little or no water in the Grotto now, but it’s still a beautiful hike.  We didn’t know, we didn’t make it to the end of the trail, as someone, rolled off the trail into a ‘briar patch’ of scrub brush. That’s what you get for ‘walking on the edge.’  So, don’t be like me, and walk on the inside edge of the trail.

Circle X Ranch is 5.4 miles up Yerba Buena Road from Malibu.  Yerba Buena comes into PCH, just west of where Neptune’s Nest Restaurant is on Pacific Coast Highway.  You can also come in from the valley by taking Kanan Road off the 101.  Look for the sign for Circle X Ranch.  The address is: 12896 Yerba Buena Road, Malibu.

P.S. Watch out  Itchy & Scratchy, there's Poison Oak there, so wear long pants and shirts. Remember the rhyme, "Leaves of three, let it be."

Well, pack some snacks, bring a water bottle and jump into your car.  Here we go.

Circle X Ranch sits below Exchange Peak.

Circle X Ranch sits below Exchange Peak.

Looking out to the left as you walk down from the ranch house ranger building.

Looking out to the left as you walk down from the ranch house ranger building.

 Monarch butterflies fly around the wildflowers.

 Monarch butterflies fly around the wildflowers.

Twin trees provide refreshing shade.

Twin trees provide refreshing shade.

Oh! Could these be the Ents?  See their arms waving.  They may begin to walk.

Oh! Could these be the Ents?  See their arms waving.  They may begin to walk.

Make a wish with the lovely lavender Wishbone Bush.

Make a wish with the lovely lavender Wishbone Bush.

Here's a closer look.

Here's a closer look.

See the bee gathering his pollen.

See the bee gathering his pollen.

Lush grass and the trail wending its way over the hills.

Lush grass and the trail wending its way over the hills.

The trail continues past the trees.

The trail continues past the trees.

Grass covers a little rise.

Grass covers a little rise.

The hill behind is peeking over.

The hill behind is peeking over.

A lichen covered crooked twig.

A lichen covered crooked twig.

Sign to the Grotto Trail surrounded by lavender flowers and grass.

Sign to the Grotto Trail surrounded by lavender flowers and grass.

Looking back...

Looking back...

around the bend.

around the bend.

This is the trail heading home.

This is the trail heading home.

Look at this little guy taking in the sun.

Look at this little guy taking in the sun.

The day can't be complete...

The day can't be complete...

Without a trip...

Without a trip...

To the beach.

To the beach.

Malibu at the end of the day. 

Malibu at the end of the day.