The Huntington

19 Dec

Today we braved the cold and rainy weather with its muddy puddles and slick streets to visit The Huntington in San Marino.  We had no regrets at all.  Well…ummm…except for the $20 entrance fee at the door (gasp!).  We heard from one of the museum guides that they hiked up the prices after the $20M renovation in 2008.  It was well worth it in the end as The Huntington provided an abundance of art, intellectual resources and outdoor splendor all of which I’d always yearned for growing up.

On the way to The Huntington we enjoyed passing by beautiful stately homes all dressed up for the holiday season.  On one of them I willed my eyes to see Meryl Streep’s character Jane Adler from It’s Complicated pacing back and forth the kitchen window.  Snap!  Back to reality.  Karl’s navigation app on his iPhone couldn’t find the entrance so we had to turn around (when possible!) and try again.

The property’s main gate was nestled between a dense fence made up of various plants and trees.  Our umbrella immediately came in handy as we stepped out of the car and walked towards the visitor entrance.  The grounds and buildings were breathtakingly beautiful.  Not a single leaf, even one that had fallen from a tree, was out of place.  We spent more time perusing the botanical garden collections than the art galleries.  It was incredibly romantic walking in the rain.  I think the rain doubled the beauty of the scenery.  Everything seemed so fresh and alive.  I fought hard to stay dry at first but it was impossible and eventually had more fun getting wet!  Haha.  I would like to come back and see how this place looks sometime in the spring or summer.

We had brunch at the Cafe and both tried their Angus Cheeseburgers with fries and chips.  They had some beautiful outdoor seating but we had to stay inside because all the tables and chairs were wet.  It would’ve been nice though.  I peeked into their fancy Tea Room and saw Queen Elizabeth II sipping tea with some friends.  At least in my head.

Right before heading to the Cafe Room. I can easily imagine myself sitting here all day reading a Jane Austen novel.

A section of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.

Reflection bench.

Grandfather clocks made of maple and oak and a portrait of a mother and son depicting their family's material wealth.

My favorite painting in the gallery, "Free Floating Clouds."

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of abstract paintings and I gasped in delight upon seeing this.  It’s by California’s very own Sam Francis, a former World War II pilot.  I read that he created this giant masterpiece by spilling paint on the canvas in his Santa Monica studio.  Hmmm…I think I can do that…

More abstract works of art.

Karl got a kick out of seeing the wooden music stand and chair.

The entrance to the Japanese Garden.

Japanese bell tower.

This wooden bridge was off limits.

Japanese koi pond.

Overlooking paradise.

Traditional Japanese house flown all the way from Japan.

100% surrounded by bamboo. Sooo romantic!

The guide who took our picture here was a native American originally from the Apache tribe in Texas. I complimented him on his turquoise earrings and he shared that his grandfather gave it to him and that it had been around since 1840. Woah. What a daunting prospect to wear something that’s been around for ages!

Oops! I stepped on the moss. Karl performs the Japanese water purification ritual. When it was my turn, I swore I heard music!

A life-size Zen garden.

Donated by Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid. Just kidding. It’s the California Juniper in the Bonsai Court.

I can’t get enough of trees.

Hanging out at the Desert Garden.

The lost pink balloon creates a beautiful contrast against the greenery.

Where to next?

It started raining really hard when we arrived at the fairly new Chinese Garden. The tea shop was closed.:(

Now only if we hadn’t spent too much time daydreaming and smelling all the roses in the Rose Garden we would’ve been able to make a pit stop at their library.  Before we knew it, it was 4:30pm and time to go.  I guess we’ll have to come back next time.  Typical me wandered into their bookshop on the way out and entertained my eyes with Charles Bukowski magnets and notepads amongst a myriad of other poetic souvenirs.

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