Tag - junior ranger

1
Return to Great Falls Park
2
Lotus and lilies lovely in July!

Return to Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park seemed like the perfect excursion on a sunny day during a long holiday weekend when we’d all eaten too much and not gotten outside nearly enough. Each pairing in our family of four needed to be broken up every 20 minutes. I hoped watching the water tumble over rocks would be good for all of our souls.

It was. The trip even garnered my son’s “favorite part of Thanksgiving” when asked today by the dentist. But that doesn’t mean it was perfect. My daughter, aged four, is not one to go long without whining these days. She’ll turn it off on an instant if we find the right antidote: a race, a “look over there,” and sometimes things I don’t care to share! She’s spunky and opinionated, and not accustomed to the kind of long hikes I thought I might take my kids on all the time if I hadn’t had so many postpartum (and lingering) health issues. Fortunately, her older brother has more stamina than he did when I read and wrote about the memoir Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure, but I still marvel to think about how long Patricia Ellis Herr’s 3- and 5-year-old hiked with her. And how often!

Unlike those treks to peaks in New Hampshire, our short excursion in Northern Virginia was alternately beautiful and blissful and incredibly annoying. Mostly due to the finicky nature of my four-year-old. The path was fun until her brother outpaced her and me.

DSCF5151

The reflection of a tree north of the falls was pretty cool until she complained she was hungry (which will happen if a child doesn’t eat her lunch and her parents don’t give in to piling her with snacks instead as they might on weaker days).

DSCF5160

The view of the kayakers was impressive and garnered lots of commentary, but once we left the overlook, it was all downhill, so to speak.

DSCF5172

DSCF5173

I thought we might last more than 90 minutes and actually get a little ways down the River Trail. I recalled her brother scrambling over rocks at not quite her age and enjoying it. But alas, she had to pee. And we didn’t learn until later that further into the park, just before entering the woods, was a building with a flush toilet. Read More

Lotus and lilies lovely in July!

In midsummer, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is transformed into a flower paradise. The lotus are at their peak now, and walking among them is truly a transformative experience. The ponds are filled this time of year with what seem like fields of floating flowers.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens child with lotus

There are light pink lotus and dark pink lotus with beautiful blossoms and leaves that are bigger than a toddler’s torso and rounder than their heads. Other ponds feature different kinds of lilies including white and purple varieties.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens purple lilies

I’m told the large “Amazon” lilies will bloom later in the season, toward late August.

A very cool (and tiny) lizard on the steps leading toward the nature center was a great find to begin our day.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens lizard

This year, we met up with friends, and it was a completely different experience than the visits we’ve taken in the past with our children, now 8 and almost 4. Our friend’s older son, almost 8, is a true nature explorer who finds interest in the smallest spider and excitedly flips over finding a frog. He was great to have in our walking party! We spied — and heard! — plenty of frogs.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardensfrog

The many turtles we met ranged from palm-of-your-hand small to one that appeared to be nearly two feet long that a kindly visitor pointed out to us as it swam among the lotus.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens large turtle amid lotus

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens small turtle

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens turtle

My kids enjoyed the trip the two previous times we’ve gone, and I liked walking further out to a viewing area where we saw herons when my daughter was in a stroller. But this year, with my daughter a little older, and sharing the experience with two buddies my children’s ages and another friend a little younger, no one needed to coax the kids to do anything. It was a regular self-directed nature class, with them out-doing one another to find cool stuff.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens looking for wildlife

We didn’t travel as far in our 90-minute excursion as we had in years past, but we certainly went a lot deeper.

The park’s website recommends you head there in the morning before the flowers close in the summer heat. The grounds open at 7 a.m., and the garden shop (where your youngster can get a Junior Ranger activity book) opens at 9:00 a.m.

For more info, see http://home.nps.gov/keaq/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Looking for more locations for lotus viewing?  The lotus flowers in the pond at Green Springs Garden Park in Alexandria (near Annandale) are reportedly blooming now, too, and Meadlowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia also has lotus in its three lakes. Further up north is Lilypons Water Garden in Adamstown, Maryland where I’m told the lotus are nearing the end of their peak bloom, but lilies will be blooming through October.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens children looking at lotus

Bottom line on lotus viewing:

  • go soon (this weekend!)
  • go early in the day
  • wear hats, sunscreen or long sleeves/pants if you’re out past 10 a.m., and some natural bug repellent
  • take at least one camera! (My son got some of the best shots!)

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens lotus

Copyright © 2015 Mindful Healthy Life. Created by MtoM Consulting.

Mindful Healthy Life eBook Guide to Holistic Family Living cover

Get our eBook Guide to Holistic Family Resources!

Join our mailing list to get a link to our eBook, the Mindful Healthy Life of Metro DC Guide to Holistic Family Resources. The eBook has hundreds of listings of practitioners, wellness centers, yoga studios and more plus activities, events, blogs, Facebook & email groups and lots of great ways to connect and engage in healthy living in Metro DC. You'll also receive our blog posts and seasonal newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!