Every month, the Huntington Library (near Pasadena) has a free day. You can get several free tickets, but only if you call or get online at the right time on the first of the prior month. I tried for several months, with no luck. Then, I was able to get four tickets for Thursday Dec 5th. I also was able to reserve lunch at the tea room.
The night before, Donna and I drove up for a sleep over at sister Carol’s. The next morning, we picked Dad up at 9am, then came back to collect Brother-in-law Dennis. The weather was perfect – sunny and crisp. We just bundled up with several layers.
We got to the Huntington just about 10:45 or so. What a surprise. The entire entry building had been leveled. They are doing some major construction and remodeling, adding new buildings and gardens.
We decided to start with the Chinese Garden. That too was undergoing major construction and expansion. Even so, it is impressive. Buildings, bridges, and greenery surround a huge lake. Dad wants to come back next year to see how it develops. Next, the Japanese Garden, a classic beauty. Dad and I walked down into the garden while Dennis and Donna skirted around it with the wheelchair. We met on the other side, then through the Rose Garden to our lunch destination, the Tea Room. If you haven’t had the English tea there, make a point of it. It is the full treatment – tea, scones, salads, tea sandwiches, fruits, cheeses, and plenty of desserts. What a treat! Dad especially enjoyed the caviar.
After lunch, we went indoors to view the art, starting with a temporary exhibit of the California missions. One of the docents shared some insights about Father Junipero Serra’s journey. The exhibit was huge. We learned a lot, including the tidbit that some of the indians fought the missions tooth and nail. In fact, they even burnt the San Diego mission to the ground and killed the missionary. So, the missions are glorified in literature and film, but there is more to the story. The rest of the building contained pictures and sculptures.
We didn’t make it to the other art buildings or the library; will save that for another trip. Last stop, the Desert Garden. This is one of my favorite areas at the Huntington, maybe because it is so unexpected. Most of us would think, cactus and succulents, so what? But when you get in the garden, immersed in 11 acres, with over 5,000 different species and 50,000 plants, trees, and shrubs, you get a whole new appreciation for those hearty xerophytes. Dad and Dennis both remarked several times at how impressed they were with the grandeur. It was the capstone of our visit. It took two of us to push the wheelchair up the hill to the exit (see the pictures), but it was well worth the effort.
On the way home, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset, which Donna caught on camera. Then a delicious dinner at the Natural Cafe before returning Dad to his home. We showed Rachel a few pictures of the day. She was also glad of her day of rest and recuperation. Overall, the day was great for Dad. He was stimulated with lots of beauty, and got plenty of exercise. I’ll bet he slept soundly that night.