Monday, May 29, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels to a Blue Land

This time we did not see any orange groves.
California! Yes! I love California!

It began years ago when my friend at Red Butte Garden who used to  live in southern California told me about The Huntington Gardens and Museums. L. lyrically described the gardens and insisted that I must go there and see for myself. I was convinced; the only question was when.

That was decided at an evening dining out at Cucina this past January with three "Garden Goddesses" aka members of the Wednesday morning rose garden crew. We get together outside of our work shifts to eat out or go to movies or have parties. And we are the volunteer "goddesses" (and a couple of gods too) because we are experts at rose care especially pruning, thanks to several years of training and guidance from the Rose Queens aka C.&C., the horticulturists.
One of our Red Butte beauties,
under the tender loving care of
the Garden Goddesses.

S. got to talking about a trip she took last year to Phoenix, about how she had spent a good deal of time at the botanic garden there and really enjoyed it, about how she wanted now to visit major botanic gardens al over the country. Me too! Us too!

We debated a variety of places, but thought let's start with the wisdom of L. Huntington Gardens of course. We felt like we were kind of directed there by our dear friend from Red Butte. We decided just to do it without really thinking it through, lest we all get cold feet and found reasons not to do it. Within 24 hours I had found us a Pasadena hotel (turns out it is the one that L. thought was the best one to use) and had booked my flight to Burbank. S. booked her flight and booked a rental car. In the end it was just us two who went. Oh well. It's hard to get a group of people together to take a long-ish trip.

We had two days for the gardens and several hours the day we flew home to explore other places a bit. I took a lot of pictures which mostly turned out pretty well. I've put them all up on You can find them here or by searching under people for my user name "frontiermidwife." Here is the album specific for The Huntington.

When I travel I have a short list of things I like to try to do every place I visit. Seldom do I accomplish everything on my list at every place, but often I get to 3/4 or so. I decided I can organize my next three blog posts around that theme, so here's how I like to spend time while traveling, and her's the report on how well I succeeded accomplishing my ideal agenda.

Sock Monkey agreed that the desert garden was just the best!

Well, that was the whole purpose for this trip, and L. was 100% correct. Huntington Gardens are fabulous! Everyone needs to go there. One of the best collections is the desert garden which has desert plants from al over the world. This is where most of my pictures are from. A heck of a lot of stuff was in bloom and were the most amazing shapes and colors.
On eof the stunning flowers in the desert garden.

The desert garden is reported to be the best one of all the Huntington Gardens. It's huge. We spent most of out first day only there, and were amazed and delighted the whole time.

Ever since I visited the Chinese garden in Portland OR, I have loved these kinds of gardens. The Chinese Garden at Huntington is full of lovely structures and viewpoints. The best, I thought, was the "waveless boat" which is a building attached to the land that looks like a boat that would have sailed on the lake. The wealthy property owner would have lounged with his family and guests (but only a few because the boat was not very big), and floated leisurely on the man-made lake, probably drinking tea, maybe listening to live musicians who would have been seated on the prow.

We had lunch at the noodle house that is inside the Chinese garden. The menu is simple and small, but delicious and we got to sit on a patio looking back at the waveless boat and the pagodas.
View of the waveless boat from the noodle house

There is 3-D model under glass at the garden entry showing plans for how the Chinese garden will be expanded. Construction was going on while we were there. I think it will maybe double the size of the garden. No opening date was given, but I would think it would be in the next couple of years. That will be a good time to go back, after the opening of the expanded Chinese garden.

The Chinese garden leads directly into the Japanese garden. Japanese gardens are a subset of botanic gardens that I have to seek out wherever I go. This one did not disappoint. I especially enjoyed how an artificial "mountain" had been created to walk through / over.

The tea house was inhabited by a squirel who amused the visitors but vexed the employee because, of course, you could not let the little critter be totally natural inside the house.
You can walk behind this beautiful waterfall in the
Japanese garden

And I really liked the time out we took in the Zen stone garden. We sat and just were silent for some time as one should in a place like that.

There is quite a large display of bonsai plants on the way out of the Japanese garden. I didn't take any pictures because each plant seemed to be more fascinating than the next. I decided I would have to photograph all or none. So I decided upon none, and just enjoyed the experience. You might want to take pictures when you go see those tiny, tiny artistic trees.

We walked from the Japanese garden into the Australian garden which proved to be more a forest than a garden. Or maybe an arboretum ... all trees, in other words. I was really tired by this time so we sat for some time just talking and bird watching under a lovely tall tree of some kind. I was really too tired to care what kind it was.

Eventually I got the energy to keep strolling. We passed through the sub tropical garden and eventually found the way to the rose garden. Now S. and I are experts at rose gardens by now. I have to say that I know I prefer the way our rose garden is arranged. Ours is very "organic", designed around circular or curving paths and interplanted with al kinds of other plants and flowers that complement the roses.
Zillions of roses al in rectangle beds

This one is the more typical arrangement of rectangular beds with just roses. Like a rose museum or library. The roses were all pruned to the same height and seemed to be designed just for you to go a "shop" for roses.

I wasn't crazy about the rose garden because of the style, but I do have to admit it was really really big. I'm sure they had many more specimens than we do. We only walked a small section of it because our minds got overwhelmed with roses. I was thinking that C&C would enjoy a "shopping" trip there, checking out specimens that we don't have that maybe we should consider.

Next was the herb garden which was arranged similarly to our only in rectangular beds primarily. They had plants similar to what we had, displayed for the same reasons. Only once again, the whole thing was larger.
Sock Monkey found our favorite flowers in the whole world,
the California poppy,
the state flower of California!

During our visit we also checked out the tropical plants glass house, the American art museum and the library building with rare books (where I saw a 19th century map book  of the railways in northern Utah and the towns they went through such as Ogden which was way cool. It folded out to be very long from a rather small book, so you got a good sense of distance and milage. And it was beautiful.) We did not go into the European art museum. Of course there was the great gift shop and a very nice cafeteria with  a bar even. We're not in Utah anymore.

So, all I can say about Huntington Gardens is .... GO THERE YOURSELF!!!!!!


The souvenirs I have liked for many years now has been yarn from local yarn shops (LYSs). I look for a shop to visit, in the first place, and then ask the people there for some kind of yarn that they have that others don't or that few have. These days I end up buying mostly yarn handpainted by local or regional artisans which in turn goes into becoming socks or shawls or maybe hats and mittens.

This trip Skein was right on the route to and from the gardens. We stopped there the last morning on our way out of town. The owner was really eager to show off her stock. The other person there was the knitting teacher of the day (or maybe just the morning.) She sat at the large table (a yarn shop requisite) working on her own projects with a few sample things for ideas. She was very talented and knit really evenly and much tighter than I do. That morning she was working on a necklace, but I really loved the two yarn colors shawls she had finished on the table. 
The lovely shawl knit by the knitter of the day +
our souvenirs for future pleasure

I bought things for three projects. Not sure when they will be done, but eventually the projects will become my souvenirs of Pasadena. One was a skein of variegated pink yarn which I felt was requisite in the City of Roses.


So these past couple of years I have been teaching myself about beers and have developed an interest in the myriad of local beers now available al over the country. If I have the chance to go to a local micro brewery, I'll do it. Second best is a place that serves local brews. (Thus far I have not yet been to a place where a winery was handy, but one day....)

This trip is was a restaurant. It was a place famous for its burgers which had an overwhelming beer list. I had to let the server select one for me because the menu was so large.

I've learned how to ask for a beer that I think I will like. I start by saying I want a "beer for a lady" which often makes people smile. Then I tell them I'm from Utah where about all we can get is 3.2 ABV. In a brewpub in Boulder CO, I got that far, and the server immediately said, " Well, then, you MAY have this one or that one but not any of those others." Emphasis on the word MAY. He was watching out for me. And he did make a great selection, I have to say.

Other things I have learned. I like wheat beers. I don't much care for IPAs. I like both Czech and Belgium style beers. Pilsner is a name I can select out for myself. I don't like "hoppy" beers and for sure I do not like dark and heavy ones. And I don't like weird added flavors like pumpkin spice. A little bit of fruit flavoring like apple, apricot or lemon is refreshing. And there is one made at my favorite place right here in Utah that is a hot weather beer only made with lavender and honey which is just lovely.
Sock Monkey is a responsible consumer of alcohol.
Seldom do he or I actually finish a whole pint.

I got into this beer thing a few years ago when I was having a root beer at a local brewery, and I told the server that I had never acquired a taste for beer and didn't really know anything about it. He replied, "I hate Budweiser too. You might give artisan brews a try now that you aren't in your 20s any more." He was right. 


I'm actually not that big a fan or museums, even world class ones. In my mind museums are best for rainy or cold days in the winter when I just do not want to be outside at all. I never regret going to a museum, but they are always secondary to other kinds of things to see or do when I travel.
Tah dah! The actual Rose Bowl in person.

But nearly every town has that iconic something or another that is just a must see when there. What is Pasadena all about? The Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl of course. S. was really interested in both, so she found out the parade route. We drove it through the city, ending at the park where the Rose Bowl is located. She said that now when she watched the parade, she'd have a good sense of the geography which would make the whole thing more enjoyable.

AND if that weren't enough, it turns out that Griffith Park is just a tad out of the way between the city and the airport. (have you seen "La La Land"? Remember the dancing up in the air here? Plus the views of the city sparkling in the dark? That's the place.) So of course we took the little detour. We got to the observatory 30 minutes before it opened. It was a cloudy overcast day in which you could barely see that city. But we were there!
It's not always 72 degrees and sunny in LA.

We walked around the exterior and did get a few minute inside to get the sense of the place. It would be worthwhile going back again, paying for the extra parking and attending one of the shows. Next time. I never regret not getting the chance to do something or another. I just regard it as a reason to go back sometime later.


We drove around Pasadena a few times. It's overall an attractive city that has maintained and enhanced it's overall charm. All the important stores are downtown along with a lot of local places like a real good bakery where we ate breakfast that last day. 

Of course, that probably makes it a bit pricey. It is southern California, after all. We didn't look into that because we knew we weren't going to ever move there. 

I could see how it might get to feeling a bit small over time because you know of all the SoCal stuff that you might want to go and enjoy that are not there (like the whole beach and Pacific Ocean thing.) But to get to all those other places you pretty much would have to drive in the freeways, and the mere idea of that gives me the willies. So no, I'm not in love with Pasadena as a place I might like to actually live. But it sure is a nice place to visit.


None are close, and there was not enough time to go driving to check out something that is a bit farther away. 

Another trip for another time.

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