1 The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Designed by Gordon Bunshaft, the building is basically an open cylinder elevated by 4 cement legs with a large fountain in the center. This modern building houses modern art.
2 The most prominent structure in DC is the Washington Monument, built between 1848 and 1884 as a tribute to George Washington's military leadership from 1775-1783 during the American Revolution. It is currently closed after being damaged in the earthquake of Aug. 23, 2011.
3 The US Capitol sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. It is, of course, the meeting place of the US Congress. Construction began in 1793. Congress met in the first completed portion in Nov. 1800. Today, the Capitol also houses an important collection of American art.
4 This is the Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the "Castle." Designed by architect, James Renwick, Jr., it is constructed of red sandstone in the Norman style and was completed in 1855. Located on the National Mall, it houses Smithsonian Institution's administrative offices and information center.
5 This is the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, which houses the largest publicly held collection of African art in the United States.
6 Also part of the Smithsonian Institution is the National Museum of the American Indian, dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. This curvy limestone structure was designed to evoke natural rock formations shaped by wind and water.
7 We ate lunch at the Mitsitam Cafe in the Museum of the
American Indian. Here I am with Executive Chef Richard Hetzler.
8 Mitsitam means "let’s eat" in the Piscataway and Delaware languages and the Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook showcases the Americas’ truly indigenous foods in ninety easy and delicious recipes.
9 The cafe features native foods found through out the Western Hemisphere.
10 The fascinating menu is divided into five different regions: the Northern Woodlands, Mesoamerica, South America, Northwest Coast, and the Great Plains.
11 The Mitsitam Cafe’s offerings feature staples that were once unknown in the rest of the world. It was quite a pleasant dining experience.
12 Our next stop was the US Botanic Garden. More than 200 years ago, George Washington had a vision for the capital city that included a botanic garden that would demonstrate and promote the importance of plants to the young nation.
13 Established by the US Congress in 1820, the US Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic gardens in North America. Its collections date to the 1840s when 250 plants, and an unknown quantity of propagation material gathered by the Wilkes Exploring Expedition (1838-1842), were brought here.
14 This is a cacao (Theobroma cacao), native to the deep tropical region of America. Its seeds are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate.
15 Its flowers are produced in clusters directly on the trunk, which is also where the fruit forms. The ovoid fruit, called a cacao pod, contains 20 - 60 seeds, or beans, and are the main ingredient of chocolate.
16 A member of the orchid family, this is Eria lasiopetala, also called the shaggy petaled Eria because the underside of the petals are quite fuzzy.
17 This section of the conservatory is devoted to world deserts. It is filled with succulents, grasses, shrubs, and other flowering plants. This barrel cactus is Echinocactus grusonii and to its left-rear is a Parry's agave.
18 There were so many unusual ferns to look at. I believe this drooping fern is a type of Goniophlebium.
19 These are bromeliad plants called Tillandsia.
20 This is a lovely flowering plant called Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' that thrives in shade gardens.
21 Begonia Black Fancy - Black Fancy has a black palmate leaf with green marbling and I must get a couple for my begonia collection.
22 A very impressive papaya tree
23 I was especially drawn to this orchid - Dendrobium Spring Dream, which has pure white flowers with a soft blurry lavender color at the ouside edges.
24 Orchid Coelogyne flaccida - These flowers were quite fragrant.
25 Satin Squill (Drimia elata) is a perennial bulbous herb, native to South Africa.
26 Part of the hyacinth family, it has overlapping reddish scales on the bulb.
27 Our last stop was the grandiose Union Station to catch our train back to NYC.
28 You enter the station through grand archways.
29 This handsome building is constructed of marble and the vaulted domed ceilings through the arches were pieced together with amazing craftsmanship.
30 Another look - Union Station is the most visited destination in Washington, DC with over 25 million visitors a year. It houses more than 130 stores and also serves as a venue for world-class exhibitions and international cultural events.