Mark Twain is another of my literary heroes, not to mention an amazing person. But, man, was his house ugly.
Well, maybe not ugly, but -- Brown and orange brick? Overblown Victoriana all over the inside? It definitely suited his public persona, anyway. I spent most of the morning here, 11 years ago today, in the company of a tour guide named Natalie who was a 21-year-old history major and obviously felt privileged to be doing her job. She did it incredibly well.
It was a most fantastic (in the old sense of the term) house. The first, public floor was decorated by Louis Tiffany, with stained glass windows and faux mother-of-pearl stenciling and "eighteen gazillion fabric patterns in each room." The second and third floors were much simpler. The second floor held the bedrooms, including the one with Twain's own bed that he'd brought back from Venice, Italy, and the third floor contained his study and pool room. Yes, that little round thing at the bottom left of the picture is an atrium/greenhouse full of plants, which was quite lovely from the inside.
After my tour and a bit of wandering around the grounds:
I headed west and south around New York City, across the Hudson River, through a corner of New Jersey and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and on to a hostel in Nockamixon State Park deep in the woods of eastern Pennsylvania. It was kind of hard to find, but it was very nice once I got there. The hostel was housed in an old stone building, and that evening I hiked a trail into the woods, which hadn't started to turn yet. "One of the redeeming features of hardwood forest is its luminescence. It's like walking through a pale green glow."
All in all, a great place to stay, except for the fact that all the mattresses and pillows in the hostel were encased in plastic. I felt like I was going to slide off the mattress all night, and the plastic was noisy.
But that was a small price to pay. And I was really looking forward to Philadelphia the next day.