Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Freer Galley of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery


Date of Visit: February 5, 2019

We finally actually visited the Freer/Sackler after years of meaning to and ending up doings something else including at least once that we left home to go there and ended up at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden instead. I had visited once before, but this was Mik's first visit (and certainly not likely last as it's mostly temporary exhibits and even those he slept through half of this time...).


We started our visit on the B1 level with the "Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran" exhibit. Mik's favorite item in this exhibit was the sword. Visiting this exhibit first turned out to be the backwards way to do the museum as the way over to the Freer is through the back of this exhibit. It wasn't a big deal to backtrack and go through again. It just would've been more efficient to go left from the elevators and go counter-clockwise through the exhibits.


We next went through the "Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia." Again, we clearly were doing the museum backwards as the way we entered was designed as the end and we exited where the signage was more introductory.


Next we went through "Resound: Ancient Bells of China." This was my favorite exhibit as it was interesting to learn about the history and evolution of bells in China. I was going to just go home after this exhibit because Mik kept falling asleep through the Buddhas and the Bells, but Mik still wanted to see the Peacock Room, so headed over to the Freer next.


To get to the Freer, there is an elevator behind the stairs at the end of the gallery to the right of the gift shop (currently "Feast Your Eyes"). That elevator takes you to G. You then go down a hallway to another elevator past the stairs on the left. That elevator goes up to to 1 where the Freer Gallery of Art is located. This elevator is also the way to get to the accessible exit for the museum ("S").


We walked through the America exhibit on the way to the Peacock Room, which is mostly some paintings.


The Peacock Room was the main point of our visit and was definitely work seeing. Usually it has ceramics on display, but currently it's empty. Thus, you can really see how the room itself is a work of art and not just a place where art is displayed.


Before leaving, we wandered through the Korea and some of the China rooms. At this point, Mik admitted he was done for the day and we backtracked to the elevator to exit. (I also think you have to backtrack and go around building the other way to see everything as it appears there are stairs on the north side hallway that make it impossible to just roll all the way around.)

Overall we really enjoyed the Freer and Sackler. If we hadn't been approached by the lady at the info desk and given a map along with an explanation on how to get around, I'm not sure we would've experienced more than just the Sackler as the way to the Freer is rather hidden (and it's only accessed through the Sackler). There's also a "hidden" way over to the National Museum of American Art on B1 (currently the Bells exhibit), but that one does have its own entrance from the Enid A. Haupt Garden and a more obvious connection on B3.

Destination Info:
Freer/Sackler
1050 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20560

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Walt Disney World - Disney's Wilderness Lodge: Storybook Dining at Artist Point


Date of Visit: January 8, 2019

The day before our annual family trip I was reading the latest DVC magazine and discovered that you could meet Grumpy as part of the character dining at Artist Point. I was surprised to find I actually could get a reservation for one of the days on our trip and we went back and forth on whether we would keep the reservation or not because it was also the day we had booked the character breakfast at Chef Mickey's, which was something we overall preferred to keep. In the end, we cancelled our dinner reservation in Disney Springs for later in the week and went for a splurge dining day. It particularly made sense to not push this back to try next year since this year we stayed at Boulder Ridge Villas and we have not enjoyed our experiences getting to dining where we're not staying.


When Mik got the menu, he thought he needed help opening it because it looks like it's through a loop, but it's actually just a magnet.


We really enjoyed that the appetizers were shared as that meant we got to try them all. For the appetizers, Mik's favorite was the Hunter's Pie.


The winter squash bisque was also fun in the little cast iron bowls.


For his entree, Mik enjoyed the Magic Mirror Slow-braised Veal Shank.


The desserts are also shared, which in the end we really appreciated because it meant we didn't choose something that sounded good and end up disappointed as we didn't really enjoy any of them.


The meal ending with The Hunter's Gift to the Queen (cracked maple popcorn and ganache hearts) was not a disappointment, though, and good highlight to end the meal.


Overall we really enjoyed this character dining experience. Of course, the best part was Mik meeting Grumpy. Kirsten, Nora, and I also enjoyed visiting the Evil Queen.


Destination Info:
Artist Point at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
901 Timberline Dr
Orlando, FL 32830

Friday, December 7, 2018

U.S. Botanic Gardens: Seasons Greetings 2018 - All Aboard!


Date of Visit: December 7, 2018

Mik was surprised that it's really been five years that it has been a tradition for us to visit the Seasons Greetings exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. He loves the tradition, although he doesn't so much enjoy the cold weather on the way to/from. This year we were again sad that there was no Christmas tree exhibit in the West Gallery. In fact, that's where the train exhibit is as it seems they are no working on the area where they normally do the exhibit. Hopefully, that means the tree part will come back once both areas are open at the same time again.


When Dad brought us home this year's brochure after his work preview, I joked with him that is was such an original theme this year with it being called "All Aboard!" Doing it with different train depots certainly does make sense, though, and it was actually better than expected.


Mik's favorite was the Cincinnati Union Terminal.


My favorite was the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.


As usual, there was a tunnel walkthrough part and best of all this year it was back to being tall enough for Mik to roll through!

Also, as usual, the exhibit ends with an area that has two steps and a ramp that is way too steep. Just ask them to let you out the entrance and they'll move the barrier.


Before leaving we got our usual photo of Mik with the Capitol model. We also checked out the Union Station model that was added this year to the Garden Court's models of D.C.


Destination Info:
United States Botanic Garden
100 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20001

Monday, December 3, 2018

2018 National Christmas Tree Lighting


Date of Visit: November 28, 2018

Every year we've lived in the D.C. area, I've tried to get tickets to the National Christmas Tree lighting. This year I forget to enter the lottery, but luckily Dad ended up getting us tickets from a friend.


We ended up with tickets for the green seated section, but instead of going into the green section to the left of the stage, we followed the path to sit in the wheelchair section to the other side. The wheelchair section was good in that it was lined up with the stage and was on the platform so you didn't have to roll in the grass, which was hard to go through. The downside is the stage almost entirely blocks the Christmas tree. In hindsight, we should've just gone to the front of the green section as was available and then we also wouldn't have had our view totally blocked when everyone stood up for the President to light the tree at the beginning.


Overall Mik didn't much care for the tree lighting event, but mainly because it was cold. By the time the tree lighting started, we had been there for several hours with it being in the 40s and both Dad and he bailed after the tree was lit. Probably 75% of the people there did the same and those that stayed were encouraged to move up, which is what I did (also, moved over to better see the tree). I found it worth it and enjoyed the music and would totally do it again if I got the chance, but probably not with Mik.



Destination Info:
National Christmas Tree
President's Park (south of White House)
Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail 2018


Date of Visit: November 13, 2018

Another trip a few years ago we had wanted to check out the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail, but never got around to it. This year Mik wasn't really convinced to check it out, but since we stayed at Saratoga Springs it was an easy walk over to Disney Springs for his favorite of a pretzel dog at Wetzel Pretzels and by promising we would only stop if he wanted to take photos I got him to agree to do the trail on the way back to the resort. In the end, he loved it and even had me take some photos as it was easier for me to get some of the angles he wanted.


Beauty and the Beast Tree


The Little Mermaid Tree


Frozen Tree


Mulan Tree


Villians Tree


Dumbo Tree


Star Wars Trees


Mik with Star Wars Tree - I got in trouble for not getting all the lightsaber trees in the photo, but then he also didn't want to wait for people to get out of the way for me to have done it that way.


Peter Pan Tree


Mary Poppins Tree


Alice in Wonderland Tree


Fantasia Tree


Toy Story Tree


Overall we really enjoyed checking out the different themed trees. The timing of going right as it was getting dark was perfect as there weren't too many people and it was easy to take our time and get photos of what we wanted. It being early in the holiday season might have also contributed to the low crowds, but just, in general, it seems Disney Springs in more enjoyable before dark basically because people are mostly in the parks instead.


Destination Info:
Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2018



Date of Visit: November 12, 2018

We actually planned to go to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival last year, but had to cancel our trip due to a hurricane. This year we didn't plan to go and ended up catching the last day of it as it seems like it ran much longer this year than normal.


We started at The Cheese Studio with Braised Beef 'Stroganoff' for Mik and Cheese Trio for me. The stroganoff ended up being Mik's favorite.


Mik also really like the seating area by The Cheese Studio as he could actually use it, unlike the high tables they mainly have available around the festival.


Next Mik had the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle and I had the Twining's Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea and Chocolate Shake from The Art of Pairing.



At the Austrlia booth, we shared the Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp, which was my favorite of what we tried.


Finally, we tried the Warm Indian Bread with three dipping sauces. Mik mainly liked it for the bread, but did also like the coriander pesto dip.


Before leaving we made sure to stop at the Festival Center to get our passholder magnet and check out the chocolate sculptures (and get our free Ghiradelli square because not like we didn't still have leftovers from the Disney Cruise last month...).

Overall glad we at least got to experience the festival a little this year. Really wish we could've come four days during it, though, and got the passholder cutting board!

Destination Info:
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Lake Buena Vista, FL

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