Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC

Our wander through Georgetown culminated in a stroll up 31st Street to Dumbarton Oaks.    (The stroll itself is a treat – what a gorgeous neighborhood.)     There are two parts to this property, which is owned by Harvard: the house, now a museum and research library, and the garden.    The museum is free, but the gardens have an admission fee (except in the off season) – I’d say it’s well worth the price.

The museum first: there are collections of Byzantine and pre-Colombian artifacts collected by the family that once owned the house.    What I love about the collection is that they collected what was under appreciated at the time, so it’s things you don’t always see featured at your typical museums.     You can also see a few rooms decked out as they were with the family’s possessions at the turn of the last century.

The museum opens a little earlier than the gardens, so we finished up in there just in time to head outside.    The gardens are an amazing little oasis in the city.     The house is on a hillside, so the grounds are a series of little garden rooms, some formal, some productive.     It was so lovely to be in such a quiet little spot.    We found a shady area in the back and just stretched out on the grass for a while.

I do think I’d like to go back here in the winter.   There’s enough going on architecturally, I’d love to see the bones of the place.

My Sauna, er, Summer Vacation

This summer’s trip was to Washington DC.     We built the trip around a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds concert, which meant we were crazy enough to go venturing into the craziest humidity zone known to man.   (Ok, that’s the entire South, and I did live in Florida for a summer, and I really did know better ahead of time.)

We flew into Reagan for the first time, which was exciting because it’s right on the Metro.    So naturally, we managed to get picked up and dropped off by car, after being excited about the public transport options.    We arrived on Tuesday, just in time to stop for dinner at the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Springs, which still has the best burgers.

Our first full day was Wednesday, which turned out to be the humidity-pocalypse.    Like it really felt like walking into a wall upon exiting any air conditioning.   No, really felt like walking into a wall.   Our initial plan had been to wander around Georgetown.   One walk to the metro stop about five blocks away, and our plans quickly changed to Smithsonian!    We hit the Air and Space Museum, and went to the Planetarium!   (Narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson!).    There were hordes of screaming children, and we didn’t care!

Next door to Air and Space is the American Indian Museum, and C had mentioned that their dining hall was worth visiting, so we went there for lunch.    The Mitsitam cafe features native style cuisine from several regions in America, and while a touch pricy, was really good.    Definitely a different experience in Smithsonian dining.      After lunch, we stopped by the Hirshhorn Museum, which is, well, a little weird.    It’s all modern art and installations – not really our cup of tea.     At that point, the humidity got the best of us, and we headed back to a pre-concert nap.    (This was the day we discovered the joys of Uber.   I want Uber in Portland.)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was a great show.     Very hard to explain if you’ve never heard of him.    It was also the most devoted fan base I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen the Cure).  Like watching the front of the house felt almost like an anthropological study of something.   All in all, a great night.

The next day was much nicer, weather wise.    We hit the National Art Gallery in the morning, and did lunch at the food trucks at L’Enfant Plaza.    I had a great banh mi from What the Pho?    Our trip to the Hirshhorn paid off here – it’s about a block away from L’Enfant, and has tables in the shade, with a breeze coming from the courtyard fountain.   I may never go inside again, but those tables are our new ace in the hole for food truck lunch.    We had macarons at Paul on our way out to C’s place, where we met with the BF’s cousins, who were coincidently in town, and had food and drinks at the Looking Glass.

The next day, we finally wandered around Georgetown.    There will be a separate picture post of that, but for food, we stopped at Moby Dick’s House of Kebab, because there isn’t much kebab up in Maine, and it’s called Moby Dick’s House of Kebab!    It’s a fast foodish sort of place, probably a little on the plain side, but good.    For some reason, we had a macaron theme to this trip, and were forced to stop at Macaroon Bee, which was next door to the place on Wisconsin Ave where we had some afternoon iced coffee.    Their passion fruit macarons were awesome.    Actually, they were all awesome (better than Paul, though that’s to be expected).     Dinner that night, with C and the cousins, was at the Heights in Columbia Heights, another place we’d been to before, and enjoyed again.

Saturday, we had a little time to kill before the big event, which lead to the discovery of my favorite light fixture ever.

This was at Taylor Gourmet, a great, fast sandwich shop.    Exactly what we needed at that point, as we were saving room for the main event that evening.

The main event was Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis.    It’s actually across the river from Annapolis proper, in a residential area, on a creek.    It’s the kind of place were you first line up to park, and then have to line up to get into the restaurant.     You then order a bunch of crabs, they dump them on the paper table-clothed picnic table in front of you, hand you a mallet, and you go.

One Claw Down
The aftermath

It was freaking fantastic.    I was covered in Old Bay and crab juice by the end, and crabs are so much work I’ll never feel the need to do it again, but if you go to Maryland and eat seafood, you need to find a place like this, and go once in your life.    It’s awesome.    We finished the evening with a wander around Annapolis and ice cream.    It was an incredible day.

Sunday was for winding down.   We had a great brunch at the Coupe, watched C play some soccer, and had a pot pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies.   We were on the plan at 10:00 that night, and taxied into Portland just shy of midnight.     All in all, it was a great vacation.

Washington, DC

So we were in Washington DC from last Thursday to Tuesday.    The weather was gorgeous (though ungodly humid), and we had a really good time.    There was a fair amount of Smithsonian Museum viewing, and some really good food (Ted’s Bulletin, I’m looking at you!).    We also got to experience Friday Night Jazz at the National Sculpture Garden, which is the kind of experience my little city isn’t quite big enough to handle, and was therefore a fascinating urban experience, despite the fact that I do live in a city.

But the main reason we were there was to see Dead Can Dance at Wolftrap, which was an amazing concert.   I know of Dead Can Dance because of the BF, who’s had them on his concert bucket list for a long time.     Even though they coming closer to us in either Montreal or NYC, when we realized we could see them outside of DC, we jumped at that chance, because we could visit BF’s brother at the same time (and there is something to be said about free lodging when you can get it).

The concert was amazing.    We had fifth row, just off center stage seats, so we could actually see the people up on stage.    The venue itself is gorgeous.   The Filene Center is beautiful, and there didn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house.   (We actually watched the third encore from the back of the lawn area so we could sprint to the shuttle bus ahead of the crowd, and the sound was still amazing.)    The area’s actually a National Park, so we were able to wander around the woods a little bit before the concert.

Lisa Gerrard was wearing this gorgeous blue velvet dress with this gold tabbard style thing over it.    She must have been hotter than hell, but she looked regal.     The band sounded amazing.   If you’re not familiar with them, I can’t easily describe the sound, but they were as good or better in person as they are on their albums.

As a bonus, the opening act was a percussionist who was the kind of instrumentalist you often don’t give percussionists credit for being.    He did a solo tambourine piece that was absolutely brilliant.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I’ll be back posting flower pictures later.   Per my usual habits, there are way more of those than anything else…

Orchids at the National Botanical Garden

Final installment in my pictures from DC (I am so behind posting these…) There was really neat orchid exhibit at the National Botanical Gardens while we were down there.

The Garden is next to the Capital, and I highly recommend visiting it. There’s an outdoor garden, and a glassed in house, that has a number of different rooms with different flora from different regions. And the best thing? It’s free!

DC, Day 1, or How We Are not the Only People with Wonky Late Winter Weather

You see these pictures? Several months ago, when we booked our long weekend in Washington, DC, based on prior experience, we fully expected that we’d be awash in cherry blossoms when we got there. (Heck, the organizers of the 100th anniversary festival expected the same.) But, they got the same heat wave we got, so the flowers were well and truly gone by by the time we got there. (I managed to find a petal or two…)

But the weekend wasn’t a total loss. We were there mainly to see BF’s brother C and his GF M, so we had a lot of fun hanging out with them. And let’s face it, we don’t go to DC purely to see plants anyway, though I can certainly find plenty of plant based ways to amuse myself there.

And anyway, it’s still warmer down there than it is here, so the trees are starting to leave out, the native flowers trees are going nicely, and there are bulbs of every shape and color out, so it was still fun to walk around and see the outdoor sights.

This was day one – the march around the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Tidal Basin.

United Stated Botanic Garden

Here’s the indoor portion of the United States Botanic Garden, located inside a lovely old school glass conservatory, which you can see from the picture above certainly isn’t on the small side. It’s set up with a number of different room, representing a variety of habitats, including desert, Hawaii, the primeval forest, and the center room, which is set up as a jungle. The central room is large enough that you can tour the canopy and see a variety of canopy plants. And, there’s even an entire room of orchids. Some highlights:

United Stated Botanic Garden

Our Sunday in DC, we spent another day wandering around the National Mall. The highlight of the day was the United States Botanic Garden, which is a stone’s throw from the Capital Building. (The view from the picture above is taken from the conservatory entrance.) The garden is funded by Congress, so it’s not a part of the Smithsonian, but it is tax-payer funded. It’s interesting seeing a nice garden with a number of climate zones in the midst of government buildings. What follows is pictures from the outdoor garden. There’s also the plants inside the conservatory, which was a large enough group of pictures that I’ll put some up in a separate post.