Smithsonian - Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian was definitely on our wish list while we were in DC, but since we only had time for one of the museums we elected to do the natural history museum.  I voted for it simply because I wanted to see the magic in Brent's eyes when he saw the dinosaur fossils assembled in their massive glory.

I loved photographing the dinosaurs because their menacing positions made them seem almost alive with movement.

There is plenty to see in the Smithsonian, but I have to admit that I was pretty underwhelmed by the Hope Diamond.  I actually thought it was incredibly tacky.  Does that make me less of a woman?

I was, however, very impressed with the fact that I saw a freaking mummy.  Like, a real one.  In real life.  Still getting over that one.

I was also amazed by the best insect camouflage I've ever seen... and also the fact that the insect exhibit was sponsored by Orkin.  Chest bump for irony!

We discovered a little cafe spot in the museum to stop for lunch and a cold one {best moment of the day}, so afterward we were a little buzzy wandering around the museum.

Sea creatures were not amused.

This place was huge, and I don't think we even scratched the surface exploring the wealth of information it has to offer, so I'd love to go back and spend the entire day there.  Highly recommend!

Boulder Dam Hotel

I suppose being in a long distance relationship isn't all bad... especially when you have a sweet boyfriend who turns a simple monthly visit into a weekend getaway at a historic little hotel just off the beaten path in Boulder City, NV.  Built in 1933, the Boulder Dam Hotel had a very old fashioned, welcoming air about it.  It reminded me of one of those beautiful estate homes in the south with the tall white pillars...

...and a warm, inviting sitting room.

Brent booked us a suite and the friendly receptionist was delighted to inform us we were lucky enough to get the Art Deco suite.   I felt like I stepped into a little apartment in Chicago in the 1920s - the decor definitely had a theme, but it wasn't overdone or tacky.  And I loved that we got a real key to the room!

The first floor of the hotel houses the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, which detailed the history of the town, the people who flocked there in desperate need of employment during the Great Depression, and the building of the Hoover Dam.

After we toured the museum (admission is included with the room), I took the opportunity to check out all of the little boutiques and antique shops that lined the streets around the hotel.  I stopped by the Boulder Dam Brewing Company to pick up dinner and a growler of Hefeweizen, went back to the hotel, took a bubble bath, and finished a good book.  I fell in love with the little town and would love to go back... I can only imagine how cute the town and hotel are when they are all lit up for Christmas!

Found: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

I can check #8 off of my summer bucket list Cheryl and I had a girls day last weekend, and we made a visit to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History to see the "All You Need Is Love" exhibit.  I really enjoyed the visit and was so touched by the message of the exhibit! My favorite room was the first one we visited - it was filled with historical and modern-day love stories from around Santa Cruz...

... a "I love fill-in-the-blank" chalkboard wall - on which (of course) Cheryl and I had to leave our mark!

One wall inside the room asked attendants to write their answer on the wall to the question "what is the craziest thing you've ever done for love?"

...and there were some interesting responses!  Cheryl left a message, too.

I had to leave the room when my favorite Ben Folds love song "The Luckiest" came on because it was just all too much and I wasn't prepared to cry in public.

Moving on to the largest room, we found it filled with large-scale art pieces, photographs, historical artifacts, and so much more... all in keeping with the seemingly limitless love theme.

The tears came back again when I saw the love stories people shared about their furry family members...

I think I enjoyed the interactive features of the exhibit the most... they really got me thinking and sparked some great conversations between Cheryl and I (not that we need much help in that department).

We took the "What's your love style?" quiz... and it was surprisingly accurate, I think!  Whichever color bead you moved over most correlated to the key on the wall describing your love style.  I moved the most pink beads over...

...so my love style was Agape, with a side of mania - ha!  Interesting, considering I don't want to have children!When we got to the 3rd floor of the exhibit, I was delighted to see there was an arts and crafts station to make our own love collage!

There is also a permanent exhibit on the history of Santa Cruz I found very fascinating.  "Where the Redwoods Meet the Sea" - the best description I can think of for this magical place!

I loved the time we spent here, and I really can't wait to see what the next exhibit will be after this one is done in July!