Trabants, Wonderplace, SparkLab, National Mall, Capitol Riverfront, Side Yards — One Long, Adverturous Day
Today was dedicated to the little ones. I wanted to get Najwa out the house, spend the day away from all the devices that Najwa gets glued to when we’re at home. I was going to need some help, so we picked up her friend Alani and headed out.
On the way to the National Mall, we made a quick stop to the International Spy Museum for the 10th Annual Parade of Trabants. Trabants are these tiny-looking cars that were common in East Germany during the Cold War, used to smuggled people to the other side of the wall.
There were these small blocks that anyone could see if they could fit in. And it was one thing to contort your body to fit; the question was if you could stay like that for hours, not moving or making a sound, hoping not to get caught which would’t have guaranteed a not-so-pleasant ending.
For the girls, though, escaping from East Germany would have been a breeze.
Then, we were off to the main attraction.
The first time Najwa and I went to the National Museum of Natural History, I didn’t realize the Spark!Lab closed earlier than the museum; hence, we only spent about 15 minutes in it. I wasn’t going to make that same mistake today.
But first, we started out at Wonderplace where kids get to use their imagination.
Wonderplace is sponsored by Wegmans so it’s all about fresh foods, mostly vegetables and stuff that’s challenging to get kids to take an interest in. It’s fascinating to see how easily they start pretending to prepare, cook and eat fresh foods. I mean, they really were at it as if they really were in a kitchen and really shopping for fresh foods. It helps that all the pretend food was healthy.
Next to Wonderplace is Spark!Lab. Today’s theme was inventing something powered by wind or water. And with what looks like ordinary objects — cardboard, scissors, tape, whatever — their imaginations kicked in and they created, well, I’m not really sure what they made, but they were convinced their inventions would make the world a better place.
Also in Spark!Lab was a Solar Tree. It was a pole with a bunch of wires with different endings on them. You connect the different male and female ends and different lights lit up. All powered with solar power. I’m not sure they understood it, but they’re getting there.
We spent quite some time at Spark!Lab, until they closed. Then we headed to the exhibit next to it, Places of Invention. The exhibit focuses on particular cities where inventions really blossomed. The girls first got introduced to a computer unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The Apple.
They were also introduced to the birth of Hip Hop in the Bronx. And they even got a chance to do a little scratching.
We walked around a few more exhibits, around the museum in general, even took a ride in one of the simulators, making this a much more fruitful trip to the museum than the last time.
Afterwards, since the next event I had in mind was a few hours away, we just hung out on the National Mall.
When I was growing up, seeing the U.S. Capitol Building was looking at a world landmark, a sight that people travel across the world to witness. For Najwa and her friend Alani, it’s amazing how it’s just a building in the background of their normal lives. And how surrounded by tourists gawking at the national monuments, they just play as if they’re in their front yard playing a game of tag.
We hang out there for a while then headed to Archives Metro to go to our last event of the day.
We hopped on the Metro at Archives and headed to The Yards.
For the nightcap, I saw this free event at the Capitol Riverfront called Side Yards. I read somewhere that it was a show of performers, which is was, that would be fun for all ages. When we got there, there were IDing and handing out bracelets for those old enough to drink. Funny, the girls weren’t happy that they couldn’t get a bracelet.
There were several performances, side show type of stuff. Fortunately, before I felt too guilty having Alani out late in that environment, there were a bunch of kids out there. None had bracelets.
It got crowded quick. Real quick. And the ground was pretty muddy, I guess from an earlier sprinkle. We walked around, but there weren’t really any other performers that intrigued the girls so we headed out to the rest of Capitol Riverfront.
It was a long day. I felt a bit guilty for having Alani out so late. We started our day before noon; it was almost 9:00 pm by time we made it back to the McDonald’s by the house to wait for Alani’s dad to pick her up. We were all pretty exhausted. We did some serious walking. When Alani’s dad got there, though, I had to ask him to repeat his question, confused about what he was asking. He asked if Najwa can come with them as they headed to the movies to watch Trolls.
Unbelievable. Of course, I said yes, but was amazed at the girls’ stamina! Najwa apparently did doze off near the end of the movie, and promptly fell asleep once she got in the house. But it was a device-free adventure of a day, so all was good.