The Smithsonians are hands down some of the most amazing museums in the world. I get asked quite frequently by my bike tours which one is my favorite. The Natural History? The Air and Space? The American History? These are the most popular and offer things you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Who can deny those ruby slippers, after all? But my favorite, the sanctuary in the city, is the botanic gardens. It truly is the garden of Eden resurrected at the foot of our nation’s Capitol. I could probably go on for hours about the irony of putting up the secret garden next to the very seed of American corruption. What a lovely metaphor for our government pulling the wool over the eyes of the American people. But…. I’d actually rather just show you some pretty pictures and take you on a journey. So American of me. Sigh.

The Entrance

As a passionate fiction reader, I’ve always imagined the perfect reading room as an atrium filled with plants, and a quiet fountain with benches, and windows all around with skylights, and dripping with flowers. When I walked into the entrance room of the botanic gardens for the first time, I knew I’d found it. Peace and beauty incarnate.

The latest trip happened to be on a day we had a really bad storm. As the winds blew and the rain pelted onto the window panes, and the glass ceiling lightly dripped, we were sprayed with the gentle man-made mists inside of the gardens.

The gardens are brilliantly set up so that each room you go in gets a little more amazing. It’s not unlike a zoo in that you pass through different parts of the world. I found this little gem in Hawaii.

My favorite of anything by far were the cacti. Nature has to be so creative to make things grow in harsh desert environments. I’ve always loved the landscape of the Southwest. It’s so interesting and reminds me of time spent as a child on vacations through long empty roadways in New Mexico. The only hard part for me was trying to remember that it’s a museum and therefore you are not allowed to touch. A couple of times I just couldn’t help myself. Look at this weird fuzzy. How can you not just reach out and touch him?

This guy is what my stepdad Rick would call a true critter.

My favorite. Enough said.