One of the most monumental pieces of modern sculpture in the District isn't anywhere near an art museum--it's on Capitol Hill in the middle of a Senate office building. It's almost an office building in itself, an eight-story-high piece of modern art by the sculptor and mobilist Alexander Calder (1898-1976). Calder drew inspiration from the bright, spacious atrium of the Hart Building (Second and C streets NE, just a few blocks from Union Station). In the year before his death, the master designed a maquette for "Mountains and Clouds," the only one of his works to combine a hanging mobile and a grounded stabile.

His model, which can be seen in a corner of the atrium, was used after his death to create the massive metal sculpture in the Hart Building today. Curved black crags rise under brooding clouds, all dwarfing the potted trees that decorate the atrium's marble floor and the tour groups who file by.

Set in the middle of the Capitol's most coveted office space, the sculpture and the atrium provide a welcome respite from the rush of the Hill.

Tired tourists looking for something a little offbeat can also spend a few minutes in air-conditioned contemplation before setting out to conquer the rest of the Capitol complex.

--Andrew Curry, San Jose, Calif.

Cabin Fever

It's vacation time, and you know the drill. Make reservations, pack up the family and drive forever.

Unless you are heading for the cottages at Algonkian Park, in Loudoun County.

Just 15 miles west of Tysons Corner, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority maintains a dozen furnished cottages along the forested banks of the Potomac River. The cottages accommodate four to 10 people. Each cottage has a deck with a river view, air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen--and most have fireplaces. If you really want to rough it, get a deluxe model, with the hot tub. Prices range from $115 to $185 from Monday to Thursday, and from $130 to $205 on the weekends.

When you're not cocooning, the park has a shady 18-hole golf course, a boat landing, a huge swimming pool and a miniature golf course, all within walking distance of the cottages. To get there, take Route 7 out of Tysons, then, just past the Loudoun campus of Northern Virginia Community College, turn north onto Cascades Parkway for about two miles to the park entrance. For more information call the Algonkian Park office at 703-352-5900.

--Laura Butler, Potomac Falls

The Insider's Guide needs you. Submit items (with address, daytime phone and Social Security number) via: e-mail (shrodert@washpost.com); fax (202-334-5587); mail (Insider's Guide, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). No items promoting personal business interests accepted.