Sunday, March 14, 2010

Huntington Library

Last Friday we celebrated a birthday. Matt turned 49. Forty-nine is a sad one -- your last in the category of semi-young. Next year he will be officially old. But that's ok, because I'm already there and I will welcome him with open arms. In our family, as in most families, when it's your birthday you "rule." The entire family has to do what you want to do and eat what you want to eat. My kids don't like this tradition -- until it's their own birthday, and then they are tyrants. They are. I have spent many a birthday getting trapped in ball pits at Chuck-E-Cheese, and watching movies like Rugrats go to Paris.

I asked Matt on Tuesday (the day he got home from Israel), "What do you want to do to celebrate?" I had braced myself for the worst -- like a day at a race track watching cars, eating at Popeye's Chicken, or bicycle swap meet, but he said: "Huntington Library and Thai food." Huntington Library is one of my favorite places in Southern California, and Thai food .... well I've had a love affair with that for years. So I responded most sincerely "Good pick!!! It sounds like the perfect day." And it was.

The next day -- after school, we packed up the car and drove to Pasadena. We stayed overnight in a hotel that Eden (our travel expert) has been recommending for at least two years. He was thrilled that he finally got his wish to stay at the Embassy Suites in San Marino -- because they have an atrium and every room is a suite. (I'm certain I'm the only parent in the world who has a child who wishes for things such as this.) I did not find the San Marino Embassy Suite all that sweet -- so if you decide to stay there, let's be clear that I did not recommend it. Our non smoking suite made my pajamas smell -- like smoke. But, if you are traveling with a large group of kids, like a soccer team, or a marching band -- go there, please do. It doesn't bother the management a bit if they run around the atrium on all ten floors, riding elevators until all hours of the night.

On Friday, we rose early, skipped our free Embassy Suites breakfast and drove down the road to our favorite sidewalk cafe -- Julienne. (I wish for cafes like this in Temecula -- a place in my neighborhood would be oh so nice.) We welcomed the homemade rosemary raisin bread with ravenous appetites. It was just as good as our recollections of breakfasts gone by. Then we headed off to the Huntington for a day in the gardens. When we arrived at the big iron gates, the security guard reminded us that the Huntington doesn't open on weekdays until noon. So we drove to Old Town Pasadena for an hour of shopping. We saw a lot of cute cloths we couldn't afford, and had a chair massage at Brookestone. Harry and David were out of samples so we left the mall a little disappointed. But that was ok, because it was a beautiful sunny day, and Claire found a orange wool pea-coat on sale for $15.00.
At noon, we drove back to the Huntington. If you've never been there, here's why you need to go:

On the first Thursday of every month admission is free. That's right, free!! We paid full price, but that was ok, because it was a beautiful sunny day, and Claire found an orange wool pea-coat on sale for $15.00.

It has acres and acres of beautiful gardens.

It has libraries that hold antiquities, and paintings, the most famous being Pinky and Blue Boy


It has a conservatory with hands on learning (for kids of all ages);

It has a children's garden with little fountains and topiaries;

and.... on certain occasions, they hold classical concerts on the grass. Magical.

Strolling through gardens is a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon, or a birthday -- if you are turning 49.

May I offer this advise -- if you can, go at the end of April or in the Fall when the leaves start to turn; that's when the Huntington is at its best. And take LOTS of water. I repeat, take LOTS of water. You get thirsty wandering around the grounds. Take care not to go when it is really hot outside .... you will be miserable, unless you take an umbrella for every person in your party .... and a blanket, so you can sit and rest.

When we had finished meandering along the trails and smelling the flowers, we headed back to Old Town for some Thai food. It was an adventure for the pallet, as usual. Thai never disappoints. But we were not done there, oh no!! We discovered a Pink Berry two doors down, so we finished off our day with some fro-yo. (Pink Berry's is the best). I have to say here that I'm in love with their new Mango flavor. Have you tried it??? If not, maybe you shouldn't. I only had one bite, but I can't stop thinking about it -- and it's been two days! But I guess I'll have to, because I'm on a diet, and taking that one bite was cheating.

Happy Birthday Matt!!!

P.S. If you are interested in a view of the gardens from Eden's perspective, check out his movie. But be warned, it might make you a little motion sick.


Puttin' Down Roots said...

I loved going to Huntington, BUT it was 97 degrees outside. It was miserable. I should plan a day in April to take Scott...he would love it. I should do it as a surprise!!! Noah had a good time to, but the weather really took it's toll on everyone. But to see it during a different season would be amazing! I loved this post!!!

Lyndsay said...

Favorite pics: Eden with the tripod, Claire and Megaleaf, and of course the family shot at the end (taken with said tripod, I suppose). :)

kanishk said...

great pic
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