This weekend, President Obama will spend two days at the luxurious Sunnylands, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg estate in Southern California, with Chinese President Xi Jinping so they can relax, play some golf, and talk about the important things that only the two most powerful leaders in the world can talk about, like "how best to manage a complex, sometimes combustible relationship between the world’s two biggest economies," as The New York Times put it. (There will also be a lot of talk about hacking.) They'll probably talk about silly little stuff too, like how wild that Game of Thrones episode was, because this meeting is also about getting to know each other.
It's rare for the leaders of these two countries to spend so much time together, given their insanely busy schedules and living on opposite sides of the world. So White House officials decided the best venue would be Sunnylands, a massive estate 100 miles east of Los Angeles that is used to hosting guests of some repute such as Queen Elizabeth II, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Hope. But their real bread and butter seems to be political guests, because they count members of Congress, Richard Nixon, Condoleezza Rice, George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan among past guests. There's just something about Sunnylands that makes Washington types go gaga.
Could it be the "the quirky yet fascinating [golf] course that can play as a testy nine-hole course or as an ingenious 18-hole course that seems to double back like a snake coiling up on itself," that attracts so many political heavyweights? Probably, considering Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Nixon, Reagan and Bush Sr. have all played. But there's no sign Xi and Obama will tee off together. (Obama's a golfer, but no one knows if Xi hits the links.) It's probably the lush, green landscapes, beautiful mountain views and interesting decor that will occupy their time. George Bush Sr. used to fish at Sunnylands. Maybe Obama and Xi will cast a fly or two together and cool their winnings on a grill. (via The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands)
And Ronald Reagan used to dance the night away with Sandra Day O'Connor! Could a dance lesson be a diplomatic bridge between the two? Hopefully. (via The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands)
Even a Republican grumpy gus like John Boehner occasionally relaxes at Sunnylands. That's how great this place is. (via The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands)
This is a sprawling shot of the main compound, complete with blue flamingos near the very flat, calm water. (via AP)
Who wouldn't want to break bread, or have mimosas over brunch, in a room like this? (via AP)
Or relax after a taxing round of golf on that couch, with that view behind you, while your partner lounges and you discuss different ways to make North Korea bend to your will? (via The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands)
You could go for a walk on this twisting, turning path during your stay at Sunnylands. You might think this path has no destination, but you would be wrong. It takes you to your happy place. And foreign policy conclusions. (via AP)
There are nameplates showing where important old guests planted things during their visits. Here, we see some kind of plant Barbara Bush gave life to. Maybe Obama and Xi will get their own peace plant. (via Flickr)
There is also a lot of cactus at Sunnylands. (via AP)
Seriously, look at these cacti. So many of them, all in different shapes and sizes. (via AP)
These are the kind of modern gazebos you can expect at Sunnylands resort. They're designed to let the sun in rather than keep it out. The sun will help Obama and Xi stay mellow during their trip. (via Flickr)
Here's another shot of that astounding mountain view, this time featuring some strange peacock statues. (via Flickr)
Did we mention the cacti? Saying cacti is a lot of fun. (via AP)
There is at least one soothing stream with rocks in it, for discussing the constantly flowing financial markets and global economics. (via Flickr)
And waterfalls! Seriously, no one can hate on waterfalls. They are always the best part of everything. No matter who you are, or where you're from, everyone loves waterfalls. (via Flickr)
If that other gazebo isn't up to par, there's always this one, too. It seems pretty zen. (via Flickr)
There is one thing that could derail this entire trip, though: snakes! (via AP)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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