Olana to Oquaga Creek

This is the way that Church wanted visitors to  first  see Olana. After a long coach ride up the hill, the trees would give way to this view.

I’m sure it’s mostly a matter of economic class, but it still amazes me how much people like Frederick Church worked to make the details of their projects all work in a “harmonious” way. From an early age he lusted after that particular piece of land and when he had finally purchased the wood lot on the top of a hill that would complete his holdings and allow him to build his “heaven on earth” he felt his life was now perfect. He moved with his wife into a smaller but still very nice cottage on the farm here while he bought more land and worked out the details of the grander home he had planned. A trip here from the city must have been quite a significant undertaking, but he regularly went back and forth to NY.

The design of Olana underwent numerous changes after Church returned from the Middle East and, though he called the final style Persian, it was really much more from the Sahara; Arab by way of the Moors. His fascination for things foreign and exotic seems to have gone hand in hand with the awe that the Romantics felt in the presence of nature. Each stirred the senses and inspired a kind of reverence.

I do wonder if Church’s love of Moorish aesthetics and design extended to the people of North Africa. He traveled extensively and placed an inscription in Arabic above the door at Olana welcoming all guests to his home, so perhaps it did… More research necessary, but not tonight.

I am in a small state park just northwest of  Walton, NY in Oquaga Creek State Park and have no cell service and no wi-fi–– quiet and very, very peaceful. The ranger station was unmanned when I came in, a note on the door indicating that those who wanted paychecks should come to his house outside the park. I guess if he pays you, you know where he lives. Campers were told to pick a spot and sign in tomorrow morning. There are only a dozen or so sites occupied out of 95, mainly by RV’s and trailers that look to have been here awhile.

It took far too long to set up my tent and cook dinner tonight, and in the end, I was actually tuckered out. I expect I will get better at that over the next few weeks. It’s been a long time since I was on the road with a tent and Coleman stove, and the last time I was a younger and slimmer man.  The gnats promised a miserable evening, but they left as the evening came on, so it’s quite lovely. On to Letchworth State Park tomorrow, the “Grand Canyon of the East!”

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