Accidentally Going To See The National Christmas Tree

So I realize this is really late to be posting, but this has been sitting in my Drafts folder tempting me to share. The Saturday after my classes ended for the semester in December I convinced Eric to go downtown to go ice skating at the National Sculpture Garden. This is no small feat because he really doesn't like ice skating. We have been together for three winters and just this past winter break did I convince him to join me for that oh-so-romantic couples skating I dream of. ;) I actually really, really like ice skating, which is amazing because I hate falling down (I can barely even walk down hills because I'm so afraid of falling). When I was much younger I even took advanced skating lessons from a ridiculously good ice skater, Liz Fernandes, and I mean ridiculously good: she was a Scottish National Pairs Champion, a British Silver Medalist in Figures & Freestyle, a former international competitor, and a national freestyle coach...and she was my teacher when I was in elementary/middle school in a small town in Indiana. Random. But she was awesome.

Anyway, I digress.

We went all the way into downtown DC (which is a trek from our apartment that is halfway to Baltimore), paid $16 to park near the Mall (it is still way faster and cheaper for us to drive into DC rather than metro), got to the outdoor rink and...were sorely disappointed. All the reviews I had seen made it seem like you actually got to skate around the sculptures. This is not the case. They set up a little tiny circle for the whole world to skate on which is in the center of all the sculptures, but you can barely even see the artwork from the ice rink. If you have ever been to the outdoor ice rink in Cincinnati at Fountain Square, it's exactly like that, except maybe a tad bit bigger. But it's nothing super unique or awesome like all the reviews made it out to be. So, we didn't go skating. Paying $10 each to go around in a tiny circle is not our idea of a good value, and I was feeling pretty jipped about the whole thing anyway. Hopefully we can find somewhere else to go skating for a better price someday while near DC. (Though it seems...unlikely. Also, after skating in Indy over winter break, I promised Eric to not make him go skating ever again unless we're in Rockefeller Center.)
A picture of me in front of a giant silver tree
at the National Sculpture Gallery...
instead of on the "ice" rink
Since we had gone all the way downtown anyway, though, I suggested that we go see the National Christmas Tree. When they did the lighting bit (with lots of famous music bands), I unfortunately had class. Class! So I didn't go see it. And then classes ended, and without them I have no reason or inclination to come into DC.

So we headed down the Mall toward the White House. It wasn't too cold (the whole winter was weird) but it was a little windy. As we came up on the Washington Monument, something crazy started happening. Three giant helicopters appeared in the sky, two of them eventually turned around, and one of them landed in the President's backyard.

One of the giant helicopters
So, uh, yeah, that was cool. I'm sure this happens all the time in DC, but we don't live in DC. And when I'm at class (a mere half mile from the White House), I don't really get to go outside, and therefore don't notice this sort of thing.

We follows the helicopters which also led us to the tree. A bunch of people were congregated behind some (as we found out) temporary barriers and there were many police not letting us walk along the walkway to see the whole tree. So we stood with all the people and watched for something to happen. Nothing ever did... then the helicopter took back to the sky and they removed the barriers, and we went to look at the tree.

The 2011 National Christmas Tree
The tree was...unimpressive, to say the least. These pictures actually make it look way better than it did in real life. The decorations were used for the prior tree, which was hurt the previous year and removed. The lights were too long, pooling at the bottom, and looked so tacky. The tree itself looked smothered underneath the lights and it was all lumpy and crooked. That is the National Christmas Tree?? We thought it was a pretty sad display.

Luckily, though, there were some neat trains going around the tree in a big display, so that was cool. I am a sucker for trains, and model trains are no exception. :)

Also ringing the main tree were little trees for each of the states and territories. Neither the Ohio nor Indiana trees with handmade decorations were all that notable (a lot of the decorations on all the trees had water damage, so I wonder how much better they looked before being submitted to a month's worth of weather), so we didn't take any photos. Some of the states' were really good though.

You can see the mini state trees in this picture. There was also a random guy with a tripod on top of the White House, but I can't remember if this picture was before or after he left. It was pretty awesome though.

One of the best pictures we have!

My hope is that this year's tree is better. There's a decent chance we aren't going to go back. Or I may just come down on my own one day before class and scope it out.

Accidentally Going To See The National Christmas Tree Accidentally Going To See The National Christmas Tree Reviewed by Maria on 2:37:00 PM Rating: 5

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