November 15, 2017

Descanso Gardens & Norton Simon Museum: A Day of Art & Nature

23550925_2065643786782725_6452397721793201755_oWho doesn’t like being surrounded by beauty?  On this DayTripper tour, my 34 passengers and I reveled in beauty, both natural and man-made. After picking up this appreciative group of travelers at the Daytripper Tour office, Mission Valley, University City and La Costa, our driver Ernesto took us north and inland to La Cañada Flintridge.  As we entered the gates of Descanso Gardens under the huge spreading branches of the giant oak trees, it was easy to see why the name of this urban retreat means “place of rest” in Spanish.  We were divided into two groups with separate docents for our walking tour around what used to be the home for Native American people 10,000 years ago. More recently we have E. Manchester Boddy to thank for preserving the property as his working ranch in 1937.  Boddy had the means to buy such a huge tract of land.  He rose from poverty to become the 23550014_2065644273449343_1955957016808816446_opublisher and owner of the former Los Angeles Daily News. What used to be his estate is now nationally accredited as a “museum of living collections” visited by 1000’s of people—like us!—every year. We strolled through 5 acres of rose gardens, under those enormous oak trees under which Boddy planted thousands of camellias (the largest collection in North America), and along the koi-filled stream in the peaceful Japanese Garden. We also enjoyed walking through the historic and beautiful Boddy House, where Mr. Boddy lived with his family until he sold Descanso Gardens in 1953 to Los Angeles County and relocated to San Diego. After dropping off half my passengers for lunch on their own in Old 23591983_2065644333449337_5158282226267714835_oTown Pasadena, the rest of us continued on to the Norton Simon Museum nearby, home to one of the world’s most remarkable private art collections ever assembled.  We knew we were in for a treat as soon as our bus pulled up to the curb alongside the museum and there outside was the famous bronze sculpture, “The Thinker” by the artist Rodin sitting on his pedestal looking over us! (I wonder what he was “thinking” about our group). Norton Simon was a billionaire industrialist who in just 30 years amassed an impressive group of European masterworks and a stellar collection of Asian art. We gazed on the only painting by Raphael on the West Coast, 3 portraits by Rembrandt, 6 paintings by Van Gogh, and over 100 works by the French artist 23592424_2065641666782937_3862465763064994341_oDegas. The imposing granite Buddha Shakyamuni dating all the way back to India c. 1100, sitting in his classic meditation pose made you relaxed just looking at him. All these treasures, plus more by Picasso, Renoir, and Monet, were right in front of us to absorb, to photograph, to remember, to take us away from all the troubles of the world.  Ernesto and I returned to Old Town to retrieve our lunch passengers there and bring them too to the Norton Simon Museum for the rest of the afternoon. I saw many of our Daytrippers relaxing in the Sculpture Garden before it was time to board the coach for our drive home. A brilliant sunset filled the sky…a fitting conclusion to our Daytripper Tour of beauty.

23631988_2065642640116173_3005824404445481976_o– Pat Brown

Tour: Descanso Gardens & Norton Simon Museum
Date: November 8, 2017


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