Thursday, December 2, 2010

Old Westbury Gardens...Part Two Of My Recent NYC Trip

Picking up right where I left off from Part One of this story, on Wednesday I'd planned to stay local, not doing too much, and just relax for a while. The only item on the agenda that day was to take a trip to nearby Old Westbury Gardens. This is the estate of the Phipps' family, and the vastness of the grounds and the opulence of the mansion are quite beautiful, although a little sickening when you consider how it represents the immense distance between the haves and the have-nots. But as I said in the last post, I'm not getting on my soapbox...

Located in the heart of Nassau County in Long Island, this area of the world is located about 20 miles east of Manhattan...but light years away in terms of pace. Where Manhattan is all hustle, bustle, crowds, frenzy and action, Old Westbury Gardens is peaceful, tranquil, and basically the antithesis (or antidote) of New York City. The sprawling grounds are a showcase for trees, flowers, expansive lawns and small lakes, and many small animals from geese to turtles call it home. Since it's open to the public, for a nominal fee you can go in and spend as much time as you want wandering aimlessly and just enjoying the beautiful colors, and the sounds of nothing but nature.

Even if you've never been there, you have probably seen at least part of it, as it has been featured in many movies over the years, ranging from the Alfred Hitchcock classic North By Northwest, to more recent movies like Cruel Intentions (with Sarah Michelle Gellar), and Wolf (with Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfieffer). My father was a volunteer maintainence worker at Old Westbury Gardens at the time that Wolf was being filmed there, but I don't believe there were any encounters with any of the actors. I do remember him telling me a story about Dave Thomas, the Wendy's founder, filming one of his commercials there. Thomas starred in many commercials for Wendy's, trying to show he was one of the people. From what Vlad told me about whatever ad was being filmed there, it took some insanely enormous number of takes for him to get his short, simple lines right. He made a lot of mistakes...maybe he was one of the people...

There are several sections around the grounds devoted to displaying many different flowers and colorful plants. There is a Walled Garden section with an Italian Garden towards the back of it, which has a small pool filled with dozens of hefty goldfish, and intricate architecture lining the path. It's a truly beautiful place to be, and the day we were there a few women had set up shop to draw and paint the scenery before them.

Since I enjoy photography, a place filled with as much color as Old Westbury Gardens makes for countless photo ops. Just spending the early afternoon wandering around the area with my Mom, I took nearly 200 pictures in the 2 hours we were there. Living in the desert of the American Southwest as I do, seeing this much greenery in one place is now a rare treat for me. Since I don't get many opportunities to get to places like this, I take full advantage of them when I do get there. As I'm sure you've figured out by now, the pictures accompanying this entry are all from the absolutely gorgeous day in early October 2010 I spent wandering around there in Long Island. And there are other pictures I've taken that are visible at my Panoramio page, with a section devoted just to Old Westbury Gardens.

Blog Post Soundtrack; The White Stripes (live), Monty Python, Pearl Jam (live), MC5, The Ramones, The Misfits, traditional Japanese music, Bill Bailey, Overkill, Metallica (live), The Who, Soundgarden, Bjork (live), Brant Bjork, Led Zeppelin (live), P.J. Harvey, Fun Lovin' Criminals, The Doors (live), James Brown, The Anti-Nowhere League

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