The first full day on my own I braved the metro bus system and made my way towards the Washington Park Arboretum. Within a half hour I was deposited at one end of the park but I was a little clueless about how to enter this sanctuary. Finding a trail that seemed to include some green space, I made my way around a playing field and a playground before locating a cross walk to the arboretum, discovering in the process that if I had walked down the street a short distance I would have reached the same spot in less time.
The only problem with the particular bus line I had selected was the location of the stop. This line dropped me at the far end of the gardens, known as the Pacific Connections but the information center and trail maps were at the other end. I meandered along the graveled path stopping occasionally to study a Monkey Puzzle Tree, Cedars, Ferns and Western Azaleas. In the center of this oasis was an interpretive shelter, constructed with cedar posts and adorned with beautiful metal hangings of fern cutouts.
I continued on the structured walkway towards an interesting stone gazebo separating the Pacific Connections Gardens from Rhododendron Glen. Here I learned that the arboretum was another Olmsted creation, and the stone lookout was a prominent feature of Olmsted designs. From this vantage point I was able to look down over a broad section of the park and let the serenity of nature take over for a bit before moving on.
It was here that I made the mistake of leaving the graveled trail for a dirt path through the rhododendrons. I was soon hopelessly turned around, not knowing which direction to take for the Visitor Center. I passed sections that looked like they were used for school or camp groups but no signs indicating where I was. I jokingly texted my husband that if I did not return he should tell the rescue squad that I was lost in the arboretum. His response was “what is it about you and getting lost in arboretums”. To be fair I did not have any map to guide me and when I did finally get a map I still found trails that were not on said navigation tool. In any case I soon found a couple of people that I could ask for directions and was rather embarrassed to find that the visitor’s center was right around the next curve.
Leaving the information center with map firmly in hand, I continued exploring the gardens making my way back towards my starting point and a visit to the Japanese Gardens.