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Exploring DC: Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery

2018 July 30
by Becky

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

We’re celebrating one year of living in Old Town TODAY. This was officially the fastest year of my life. Yet we survived, nay, we thrived. No question about it, this place feels like home. And we’ve certainly done our best to do everything!

We learned our lesson the last time we lived here: Don’t wait.

So we’ve done museums, ventured out in nature, eaten all the food, splashed in all the water, driven the drives, walked the walks. Something top on our “didn’t get to it last time” list was a trip to the Outer Banks and that’s happening in three short weeks! There’s been no waiting on anything.

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

So I’ll take this chance to talk about our most favorite recent exploration, which was the Burning Man exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. We’d been anxious to get here but had yet to make it until I heard about this crazy display of party culture and creativity. We entered knowing almost nothing about Burning Man and left with it on our life bucket list.

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

Burning Man artists and their art are featured throughout two floors of the gallery, so it’s room after room of gorgeous, over the top costumes, vehicles, jewelry, and structures that make up the ‘temporary city’ in Black Rock Dessert each year. The boys were pointing and exclaiming and I couldn’t stop reading all the descriptions out loud to them, it was all fascinating. Many of the pieces were accompanied by video screens, depicting how the work of art functioned, which was so fun to watch as most of the big stuff shot fire or was set on fire. Metal and recycled materials and fire seemed to be the running theme.

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

The boys especially enjoyed the spaces where they could ‘leave their mark’, like the chalk board room and enormous temple made of intricate laser cut wood that was reconstructed in the gallery’s Grand Salon. The boys took time to write messages on tiny pieces of wood before hiding them somewhere in the temple.

One of the most exciting spaces was the “shroom room” which I won’t ruin for you but will say it’s not to be missed. Finn was completely obsessed. No matter the viewer’s prior Burning Man related knowledge, one can’t leave this place without feeling the magnitude of this yearly event.

BurningMan at the Renwick Gallery

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this exhibit but not to worry, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. It’s free and a fantastic way to spend a summer morning. Apparently there will be new pieces coming in September to refresh the show that’s running through January, so we’ll be back! The three of us can’t stop talking about this visit.

Summer Exploring: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

2018 July 22
by Becky

Last summer, Finn and I journeyed over to this hidden spot along the Anacostia river, just inside the DC boarder. I’d learned about the spot from my tried and true all-things-DC-for-kids resource Kid Friendly DC, and boy was she right about this place…it’s incredible. So, since it was on the top of this year’s summer bucket list, we headed over to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens last week—this time with Ethan in tow.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Ponds

The gardens are made up of large manmade ponds with wide paths for walking between and around them, making this place totally stroller friendly. Amongst the reeds and cattails are framed views of blooms and sneak peeks of swampy creatures like giant bull frogs, tiny fish, and plenty of turtles. The boys made quite a tally of animal sightings.

This turtle was so tiny, hard to capture his miniature size on camera. Just swimming under and around the lily pads. If I was a turtle, this is where I’d want to live.

Turns out, we timed things perfectly because the lotus and water lilies were in peek bloom. We thought about waiting and going over the weekend for their annual festival, but since the forecast said “rain, rain, rain”, we opted for the Friday before. It was the most perfect day to be outside surrounded by nature.

Overall we’ve been so lucky with weather this summer. There was one week of real heat, during which we were gone (ha!), but otherwise it’s been delightful, barely hot enough to head to the pool (though we’ve been going anyway). I feel like we’re on a mission to spend as much time in all these fabulous outdoor spaces as humanly possible before the real summer weather hits.

Anyway, my personal favorite part of these ponds is the underbelly of the operation. Where the creatures hide, where tiny, perfect leaves float in clusters among the lily pads. It’s shady and kind of magical under there.

 

Due to the peek blooms, crowds were bigger this time than our visit last year, but still very manageable. Navigating the ponds was easy and the kids had plenty of opportunities to run around. Finn found a treasure—a seed pod from the middle of a lotus—which he carried through the whole visit.

We spent about an 2 hours looking around, people watching, and taking pictures. Our last stop was at the back of the gardens, for a walk along the boardwalk that takes visitors out to the marsh. As if this place wasn’t lovely enough, it opens up to a huge river marsh area full of birds, butterflies, and more creatures.

There is plenty of seating to do some serious bird watching, but my boys aren’t quite that patient (like not even close) so we did more of a walk-by viewing of the area. We were there at low tide so it was very muddy, but the water is up two feet at other times of the day.

I’d say this is a top choice for where to spend a lovely morning in DC, and it’s different for every season so worth making a few trips. I’d love to see the marsh in Fall color, I’ve heard it’s spectacular. Now if only it had a children’s garden with some sheep statues it would fill the gap made by leaving our beloved Botanical Gardens behind in St. Louis! I’ll be sure to make the suggestion next time I’m there.