Oops! Didn't mean to be gone so long! I was out of town again last weekend on a ladies retreat with our church. Not being home for two weekends in a row took it's toll and I'm just now getting back into the swing of things.
But back to our weekend at the Greyfield. Where were we...?
Ah yes, we were in the sitting room enjoying the quiet and the fire before dinner. One of the unique experineces about staying at the inn is you have dinner with all of the other guest-family style, I guess you'd call it? They ring a dinner bell at 7:30 and everybody comes down to the dining room.
I'll be honest. I was a little nervous about having to sit through my dinners with a bunch of strangers. What if we had nothing in common to talk about? And can I even carry on a conherent adult conversation since most of my conversations right now are with a one and three year old?
I had nothing to worry about; the two couples we dined with were absolutely delightful! Right before dinner, they all came into the living room and introduced themselves. Holly and John were visiting from Boston and they had been coming to the Greyfield for 16 years. The other couple, Tom and Susan, was from Jacksonville, FL and they had also been to the inn before.
We sat at one of the smaller tables that had been set in the dining room by the fireplace and enjoyed an incredible meal. All of the food was organic and grown right there on the island. Every meal was just about the best thing I had ever put in my mouth!
By the time we were finished with our salads, I was giving myself mental high fives and silently giving thanks that I read every night after the girls are in bed. Whew! I can still carry on an adult conversation! We discussed authors like David McCollough (thanks Dad!) and topics like the reason notherners view the Civil War so differently from southerners to influences that shape family dynamics. It was one of the loveliest evenings I have had in a loooooooong time. Nobody spilled their milk or interrupted to sing their ABC's. We felt like these couples were old family friends and I was suprised how much we all had in common because they were older than us by at least twenty years. By 10:30, the staff had to come in to ask us if we could retire to the living room because they needed to clean up!
The next morning after breakfast, Will and I were reading on the front porch in the rocking chairs, waiting to go on the naturalist tour of the island.
Included with your stay is a three-hour tour of the island with one of the naturalists. The other two couples had gone on the tour the day before and highly recommended that we go. Will and I assumed we would be the only ones on the tour because there was no one else staying at the inn...
SO WE THOUGHT.
The tour started at 10:30 and at about 10:23, a truck from the ferry pulls up and out tumble three cackling southern hens.
Meet Linda and Harriet.
They were down from Macon, GA and enjoying a girls weekend with their other friend, Betty Lou.
Betty Lou was apparently once married to a prominent and very wealthy southern lawyer and was footing the bill for their trip (something that Harriet reminded us of quite often during their stay!) Seriously ya'll, I felt like I had stepped into the pages of a novel. These three ladies were quite the cast of characters and oh the stories they had to tell!
The truck for the tour pulled up and Harriet and Linda piled into the back of the truck with Will and I, while Betty Lou sat up front in the cab.
Harriet, oh Harriet.
Seriously, a character straight out of a southern novel.
How can I describe her in a way that will do her justice?
Will and I knew her entire life story within the first five minutes of riding together in the truck. We found out that she:
-had grown up playing on the island as a child before getting "kicked off" by the National Park Service and had a story to tell about each building and place on the island.
- is an art teacher and that Linda and Betty Lou are two of her students.
-has a son-in-law who is a famous author on the New York Times Bestseller List (although we had not heard of any of his books)
- participates in Civil War reinactments with her husband on the weekends
And there were several other colorful stories she had to tell which I do not feel comfortable typing out on my blog (!) All I can say is what a hoot!
The first stop on the tour was Plum Orchard. This was another one of the Carnegie children's "cottages" built right before the Greyfield. The Park Service is currently restoring it and has just opened it up after years of being closed. We were some of the first people allowed inside!
Once again, the history nerd in me was giddy at getting to walk through a home, I mean mansion, that has been basically untouched for almost 90 years! I'll spare you most of the hundred pictures that I took, but these were some of my favorite things about the house.
One shot of the extremely large kitchen.
Notice the farmhouse sink (oh the farmhouse sink!), the built in pie safe (over in the corner) and the expansive wall of windows overlooking the marsh.
another shot of the kitchen
and look at that storage space! love the built in shelves.
Once the tour guide moved on and everybody left the room, I stood really still, trying to hear, see, and smell all that went on here once upon a time.
Oh law, you wont believe what Miss Carnegie don ax me to make dis mornin. She don changed her menu from bluberry cobbler to apple pie and dem guests gon be here in bout an hour!
Can't you just see those women over by the counter rolling out the dough, making all that was needed for that day's schedule of entertaining. I hope my slight obession isn't taken as disrespect in any way because it is all so fascinating to me. The world that existed here not even 100 years ago...
oh the stories those women who served in that house could tell!
But then Will noticed I was missing and came back to drag me away and on to the next room...
the butler's pantry,
where all the food was plated and taken to the dining room.
an actual photocopy of a menu the lady of the house had written out for Thanksgiving Day, 1910.
The china cabinet that held 430 place settings
430!!! and they lived on an ISLAND!!
Notice the enuciation cord box on the wall. Mrs. Carnegie could alert her servants from any room of the house by pulling on her cord located in each room (from her bed, the bathtub, etc)
Room service to the extreme.
One of the guest baths.
Just a little validation to Will that I must really like design from 100 years ago. He teased me as soon as we walked in and saw it. We've remodeled two bathrooms in the past year and for both I've requested:
white hexagon tile flooring...check!
white subway tile...check!
white pedastal sink...check!
Seen enough of Plum Orchard? Next stop on the tour was the first African American church built in the U.S.
Also the famous site where JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette said "I do."
Not really even close, but we had fun trying not to crack up as Betty Lou directed the reinactment of the scene while Harriet manned my camera trying to get the shot. I think I'm saying (under my breath and through my teeth) "These women are craaaaazzy" and Will is saying, "Just smile so we can get this over with"
headed back to the inn for lunch and drove the return trip on the beach. Rode for 14 miles and didn't see a single soul. only birds!
Lunch is picnic style and you pick up your basket whenever you are ready to eat. After lunch, we curled up on a porch swing and read for the rest of the afternoon.
I didn't read as much as I just gazed at the scenery. This was my view looking off the porch.
Late in the afternoon, I got antsy and walked around the yard to take some pictures of the afternoon light streaming through the trees.
We were informed that there would be an oyster roast that evening during cocktail hour. I'm sorry, did someone tell them that we were coming AND that it was Will's birthday? :)
So much fun!
The oysters were just harvested from the island and were really really good. I think I ate about 20 and I usually only have 1 or 2 at most.
pretty lights strung through the trees added to the ambiance.
gorgeous sunsets too...you can barely see the orange and yellow in the background.
the dining room
waiting for all of the guest to arrive so dinner could be served.
the next morning we got up with the sun and rode bikes down to Dungeness one more time before breakfast. (Can you see how small Will looks on the far left side of the picture? These trees are ginormous!)
old pile of cars near the servants quarters at Dungesness
When the family would bring a new car onto the island, they would just line the old ones up and they have been left to rot. They say each year the cars sink lower and lower into the ground.
Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. :( I was not ready to come home.
Holly and John walked us down to the ferry to say goodbye.
Returning to the real world...
Bundled up for the ferry ride. It was freeezing!
To sum it up in one word: it was refreshing.
Refreshing for our marriage and refreshing for myself to get out of mommy mode for a few days and just be me.
Hopefully we'll get to go back sooner than later!!
and if anybody thinks they may be interested in going...just go! You will not be sorry. I know both of these post are loooooong, but I only wrote a tenth of what I could have said about our weekend. It really was faaaaabulous! ;)