Fun & Weird
Visiting the National Arboretum: Attempt #1
A few weekends ago I rolled out of bed with a mission! After 10+ years of living in DC, I was going to stop saying I wanted to go to the National Arboretum and use a rare weekend I was in town to actually do it. In addition to the bonsai museum, the azaleas are supposed to be quite marvelous, and this was the month for them!
I looked up the hours, noted that the crowds can get heavy and the parking sparse after 10AM on the weekends and headed straight out the door, stopping only to glance at the weather — scheduled for a high of 50F.
Pulling into the grounds a little after 8AM, I was struck by how beautiful the grassy expanses were. Especially after coming in off New York Ave, which is old warehouses and buildings still in the process of being revitalized. But barely 2 miles from the Capitol, there’s a delightful wilderness in the middle of everything. The green contrasting nicely with the gray overcast sky.
I pulled around to the Visitor Center and popped in to get my bearings and maybe a map. Super friendly attendant who took the time to walk me through each of the National Arboretum’s sections, pointing out things not to miss and explaining the eagle situation.
Yep, there were eagles nesting! And apparently they picked right smack in the middle of the azalea gardens to do it. Which meant road closures. Fortunately those gardens are pretty close to wear I parked and the exercise would do me good. Had I brought my mom with me, it would not have been so great, so visitors with limited mobility take note, seeing the azaleas right now requires A LOT of walking.
As I exited the visitor center I noticed a light mist was falling and the temperature seemed nowhere near the promised 50 degrees. But I took it all in stride, speeding my way through the trails.
Some things were in bloom.
Others held great promise.
But clearly the peak was a few weeks away.
And I hadn’t realized that the eagle’s nest had closed the foot paths as well as the roads.
But I did discover a new kind of pine, I’m now obsessed with the beautiful lace bark pine!
As I emerged from the trees, the mist had turned into a light sprinkle and I realized how woefully under dressed I was for the unspringlike, sub-40 temperatures. Oops.
I was reminded of one of the downsides to traveling solo. When you make dumb decisions, like choosing not to bring a coat or an umbrella, there’s no one to call you on it in time.
It both looked and felt like I was back in England. Long expanses of wet grass, chill wind, and fake ruins in the distance. 🙂
At this point I was pretty chilled and still had 30 minutes to kill before the bonsai museum opened, so I decided to drive around the National Arboretum, ultimately stopping at the beautiful Asian Woodlands which overlook the Anacostia River.
About 5 minutes along the path I heard the rain starting to come down hard among the trees so I sprinted for the pagoda, bypassing someone’s dropped insole. How do you not know you’ve dropped an insole??
That’s when I realized I wasn’t getting wet, but I was getting hit in the head. Ahhh, April hail. Of course!
At this point my fingers were so cold my phone screen wasn’t responding when I tried to take pictures, so I decided to pack it in for the morning. It was beautiful enough that I was inspired to come back in a few weeks when the azaleas were at their peak. That’s supposed to be this week, so I’ll report back when I go.
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