Day 721: Weir Farm National Historic Site

Today we left our driveway, where we have been parked for the last three weeks, to officially begin our third year of travels. Ben reinstalled the fifth wheel hitch in the bed of the truck after removing it to take a load to the dump.  Here the lower half of the hitch is installed:

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Farewell, camping spot:

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Ben saw this wasp while trimming dead branches off a tree.  He’ll explains what’s going on here:

At first, I thought this wasp, which is about 3 inches long, was molting.  After further research, I found out that this is a Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa sp., likely Megarhyssa greenei or Megarhyssa macrurus).  The female uses her antenna to find a Pigeon Horntail larva living inside the tree.  She drills about 1.5 inches through the wood and into the larva using her two inch-long ovipositor, then lays her eggs inside the larva.  When the eggs hatch, they consume the larva.  In this photo, the ovipositor is drilled about halfway in to the tree.  The two loops are protective sheathing for the ovipositor that are drawn away during the drilling process:

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Our first stop, just a short drive away in Wilton, Connecticut was the Weir Farm National Historic Site.  Established as a National Historic Site in 1990, it preserves the history and legacy of one of the fathers of American Impressionism, Julian Alden Weir:

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J. Alden Weir began his career in New York as an art instructor and portrait painter after studying for several years in France.  Although his early opinions of the French Impressionists were rather critical, Weir began to explore painting in the Impressionist style outside on the grounds of the farm he purchased in 1882.  He preferred softer colors to the French style of bright colors, and focused mainly on his family and scenes around his large and beautiful property:

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The Weir Family Home:

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Weir painted his wife and children seated on this rock.  In the painting, the tress are spaced far apart and are obviously quite young. Today, the trees have nearly merged at their base and completely cover the rock:

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Weir created many beautiful areas on his property.  Here is the entrance to his “secret garden” where several varieties of flowers and shrubs offer ample material to inspire any painter:

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The kids and I worked on their Junior Ranger booklets together.  When researching this Historic Site last night, I learned that the Junior Ranger program involved letterboxing which is something we have really enjoyed at different locations on our trip!  We came prepared with our own letterboxing stamps that we added to the 5 letterboxes we found around the property:

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B is hot on the trail to letterbox #3 which she found just around the corner of this barn:

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After completing the Junior Ranger books, we all headed to Weir’s art studio:

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Walking into Weir’s studio was like stepping into another world.  The Park Service has done a wonderful job of preserving his studio space, including several paintings, original paints, and his mixing palette.  The park rangers were very knowledgeable, and told us many interesting facts about Weir’s studio.  We were told that Weir included stars on the ceilings of all his buildings, and we saw the only remaining examples in his studio.  The rangers also told us how Weir made several changes to his studio, including changing the color of the ceiling from green to grey to prevent the reflected light from affecting his work.  He also blocked off a set of windows for a similar reason:

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Weir built a second studio for his son-in-law, sculptor Mahonri Young, grandson of Brigham Young.  Many of Young’s works reflected his Mormon roots, including his most famous work, This is the Place, which is displayed outside Salt Lake City, Utah.  The original panels used to cast this work are on site, and two of the panels are currently displayed in Young’s studio:

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The kids received their Junior Ranger badges:

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Weir Farm had no room for our RV, so we had left it at the nearby G & B Cultural Center and drove over to Weir Farm.  After leaving Weir Farm, we returned to the RV, had dinner, and then visited the various galleries in the Cultural Center:
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B took some time to photograph the beautiful flowers outside the gallery:

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The director of the cultural center generously offered to have us overnight there, but since the temperature was still in the 90s, we decided to drive another hour to overnight at the Walmart of Branford, Connecticut, which is near tomorrow’s activities.  It turned out to be a great decision, having cooled down to the the mid 80’s with a light breeze by the time we arrived.  It was still really hot and humid, so we broke out the generator to run the air conditioner for an hour before bed.  We sure do miss being plugged in back home with the AC running!

See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 720: Waiting to Leave
Day 722: Marshes, Subs, and the Coast Guard

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