Secret garden

Inspired by my new sense of adventure, I set of for a bicycle ride Sunday afternoon with nothing more than a picnic lunch, sunscreen, and an open mind. Too often, I head out on rides that are purposeful. I used to be better about just heading out the door for a spin – nothing in mind, no errands to run, just a little tour of the neighborhood. I have found while living in Washington I have not been doing enough of that. So, it was high time to get out the door and take a spin around town.

My starting point was the White House, it is fairly central and I thought something along the way might lead me to my next top. Sure enough, en route I saw a bus with an advertisement for the National Zoo and was reminded how much I have been wanting to go check out furry little animals! So, I whipped out my iPhone and mapped it out:

Google Maps

It didn’t look too daunting, so I set out along the purple line. I made it about 1/3 of the way before losing the line. I have a pretty good sense of direction for the most part, but I was having a hard time finding the Rock Creek Park bike paths. This wasn’t the first time I had trouble finding an access point to this system of trails. I have heard lovely things about them, but every time I’ve wanted to use the trails, they have been under a high bridge, down a steep ravine, or otherwise inaccessible. Unfortunately, it was no different this time. Met with steeper than expected hills, and legs that weren’t as fresh from the previous day’s long run as I had hoped (yes, I am still flexing my well-power muscle, more on that later!), I decided to cut things short. So I abandoned my plan and went rogue. By this time I had made it to Georgetown and knew there were several nice parks on the northern edges of the neighborhood – I was off.

As I was cruising along the road, I noticed a jaunty, yet nonchalant sign for the Tudor Place pointing up the road. I followed the arrow. I was pleasantly surprised with the discovery!

A true secret garden! The Tudor Place dates back to the very early 1800s. The land was sold to Martha Parke Curtis Peter for the $8,000 her step-grandfather, George Washington, willed to her. The house was designed by Dr. William Thornton, the same man who designed the Octagon House. Much later, in 1960 the house was named a National Historic Landmark.

My visit was limited to the much cooler outdoor space. As you can tell from the unfortunate quality of my pictures, it was humid (hence the halos), but very pleasant with shaded paths and secluded benches. After a tour around the exterior of the grounds, I found a lovely bench to sit down for a picnic. This regal creature kept me company.

The Tudor Place invoked thoughts of grand parties on what would have been a country estate at that time. I imagined ladies in beautiful gowns and parasols strolling arm in arm discussing the gentlemen they fancied, sharing  tea and shortcakes while planning the next campaign ball, and men in smart jackets whispering the political gossip of the day in hushed tones over cigars and Kentucky bourbon. Ahh, is it time for the next season of Downton Abby yet? I am obviously ready.

It wasn’t the destination I had intended, but that didn’t matter one bit – in fact that was the point. I think I will make my way back, perhaps packing a sketching book next time. It seems somehow fitting to sit on the grounds sketching.

This entry was published on July 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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