Published On: Sat, May 20th, 2017

An Unplanned Visit to the National Arboretum

The plan for the day was to go downtown for the Asian Street Festival with Najwa and a couple of her friends.  Which we did.  Only there was no festival.  Apparently it was postponed; until next year.  So, we hopped on the Internet and found a tree climbing event for kids at the National Arboretum.  We’ve talked about visiting the arboretum for some time, so this gave us the perfect excuse.

We already knew it was a huge area; we just didn’t realize how many people visited it.  It was packed with people, and it was just because of the tree climbing event.  We ended up parking a bit into the arboretum and walking back towards where all the activities were.  It took us a while because the kids just saw a huge grass field and started running around, doing cartwheels, just being free-spirits.

National Arboretum - Najwa, Alani, Aiyanna
Najwa, Alani and Aiyanna
National Arboretum - Najwa, Alani, Aiyanna
National Arboretum - Najwa, Alani, Aiyanna

Unfortunately, by time we got to where they were climbing trees, the people standing in front of us were the very last ones they were going to let climb them.  Though standing there with three kids and 45 minutes before the scheduled end of the event, they cut us off.

So, we just walked around a bit.  The kids didn’t seem fazed, but I just couldn’t understand how the park rangers [I think that’s what they’re called at an arboretum] could be so heartless.  Whatever.

National Arboretum - Najwa, Alani, Aiyanna
Shaved ice always makes a kid forget a disappointment.

The National Arboretum is huge!  446 acres huge!  They had many different gardens and groupings of plants and flowers scattered everywhere.  And we barely walked around relative to the size of the place.  I kept seeing people jetting off on some trails that led further into the arboretum.  One day maybe we’ll come back out and see what’s out there.

National Arboretum
I like taking photos of plants, but this is about all I took this trip.

One of the highlights of the arboretum, which Nduku and I had never heard of, was the Capitol Columns.  Right in the middle of a huge field stand these massive columns, like a scene straight out of ancient Greece.

Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum
Every place has its landmarks. One of Washington’s most notable and unusual landmarks is the National Capitol Columns. The stately permanence of the Corinthian columns and careful siting on a natural knoll in the Ellipse Meadow makes them seem as if they have been there for a very long time. In fact, the National Capitol Columns are one of the most recent features added to the Arboretum, little more than a decade ago.
The columns began their life on the East Portico of the Capitol in 1828. They were quarried from sandstone near Aquia Creek in Virginia and were barged to Washington in the early days of our country, before the familiar Capitol dome was completed. Their stay at the Capitol was to be limited by an oversight. The dome of the Capitol, completed in 1864, appeared as if it was not adequately supported by the columns because the iron dome that was ultimately built was significantly larger than the dome that the designer envisioned. An addition to the east side of the Capitol was proposed to eliminate this unsettling illusion, but it was not constructed until 1958.More time would pass before the columns would come to their final resting place. It was not until the 1980s that Arboretum benefactor Ethel Garrett took up the cause of establishing a permanent home for them.
Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum
Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum
Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum

That’s essentially where we spent the rest of our time while at the arboretum.  There’s not much to do there but to admire the columns.  Somehow, the kids found a way to entertain themselves, running around in circles [which was driving me crazy for a moment], playing hide and seek, and just letting their imagination make up for there not being an actual event.

National Arboretum - Najwa, Alani, Aiyanna
National Arboretum - Najwa and Nduku
National Arboretum - Najwa, Nduku, Aiyanna
Aiyanna Photobombing.
Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum
Najwa counting for hide and seek.
National Arboretum - Nduku and David

Surely we’ll be back.  I just found out that they seem to always have some events going on from full moon hikes through the arboretum to family days.  Going to have to add it to my list of places to check up on when looking for activities for the kids.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.

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