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Washington DC (2012)

Washington DC has so many interesting attractions. One of those attractions is, of course, Anne's Aunt Jennifer. We have been wanting to get to the DC area for a while, and finally got there July 2012. Jenn had a short business trip so we were able to combine our visit with pet sitting. Anne was delighted to "have" some house pets for a brief period.

We arrived Monday evening. Jenn's friend Kelly had visited over the weekend, and was kind enough to stay over and give us an overview of caring for the more exotic pets of Jenn's regular pet sitters. More on them a bit later. We will start with a picture of our host, Beau-Beau.

Tuesday was our first full day on vacation, and we headed out. Crapemyrtle is in bloom in the area, and was lovely as well as common. Here I am showing off the hat I recently inherited from Vanda. You can see we were just along the road, next to a small garden area maintained by the building there (I'm guessing on that).

We walked over to Hillwood Estate and Museum. This is the estate of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post. It has a lovely grounds with various gardens, and numerous decorative art items in the large house. They have an audio tour available for both the house and the gardens. Since it is HOT in Washington, we opted to do the grounds first, in the (slightly) cooler part of the day. The estate is on 25 acres in what was once a suburban area. The grounds are designed as 'rooms', each area with a distinctive style.

The carefully landscaped entrance for Post's guests has a statue of the young Greek god Eros.

Off of the side side of the house is the French Parterre ("a formal garden with low intricate plantings divided by footpaths and surrounded by walls of English ivy"). At one end is a sculpture of the Roman goddess Diana. At the other end, on the house, is a fountain with swans. This garden was recently refurbished, and it looks lovely.

The next gardens include a rose garden, a putting green (yes, as in golf), and a 'friendship walk'. That last one was actually a gift from some of Mrs. Post's friends.

There is a large lawn, the crescent shaped Lunar Lawn, immediately in front of the house. Back in the day, they would have actually been able to view the Washington Monument, although at this point the trees have grown too high to allow that from the ground. Our unquestionably favorite part of the grounds was the Japanese-Style Garden. It was on a hill, and worked perfectly with that location. It has the typical elements of flowing water, various plants, strategically placed stones, and a few sculptural items, including a stone lantern and Hotei (that isn't Buddha), a Japanese god of happiness and prosperity. It was designed by landscape architect Shogo Myaida to combine Japanese and American elements.

On the far side of the Lunar Lawn is a little viewing platform that gives tribute to music.

There was a special exhibit on Prêt-à-Papier: Isabelle de Borchgrave. This artist creates, or perhaps it is better to say re-creates, clothing using various types of paper. The variety of looks she achieves is impressive. (Sorry, we couldn't take pictures of the gowns but there are some at the link above.)

We checked out the greenhouse, which has many orchids in addition to a few other types of plants.

Inside, there is an emphasis on decorative arts and items associated with people who either produced or acquired (mostly various royalty) these items. There are many Russian items, since she was married to the Russian ambassador.

After our visit at Hillwood, we walked to the Metro station and went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. One very important exhibit here:

One of the two pets that we cared for in the sitter's apartment was a sugar glider. Sugar is cute, small, nocturnal, and fast. The other pet there was a Guinea Pig. Guinea was friendly, talkative, loved attention, and loved his lettuce. We were very taken by Guinea. We don't have a particularly great picture of either of them, but here is a picture of Sugar to give an idea of his size and of Guinea to show his coloring.

One other picture I want to share from the museum. You've all heard of sloths, the very slow moving mammal. Well, once upon a time there were really, really big sloths. I took this with a random person standing near it for reference.

One our way back, we passed the Old Post Office, with Ben standing tall (very tall) outside of it.

All those pictures, and we are just finishing up day 1!

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