Capitol Tails, Park Ranger Led Evening Tour of the Monuments

How did I spend my Friday evening? On a guided evening walk of the Mall, led by a National Park Service ranger. With my dogs. And it was fun.

That’s how we ended up at dusk standing in front of the World War II Memorial, along with a small group of tourists, enjoying the view of the sun setting behind the Lincoln Memorial. It’s so easy to forget how beautiful this city can be … And I really appreciated the gentle reminder.

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I learned about Pets in the Park randomly, and since it was a beautiful fall evening and we didn’t have other plans, we decided to check it out. After all, as G said, it’s not like we’d be leashed together; if we didn’t like it, we could stroll off on our own.

So we arrived at the Mall and found a parking spot right on Constitution Avenue, well before the meet up time of 8 pm. We took a leisurely stroll down to the WWII Memorial, passing geese and ducks migrating slowly across the grass for the evening. While the dogs were fascinated by the goose scat and followed their noses to find fresh new samples, I was starting to regret that I hadn’t put on bug spray …

We walked around the memorial and its semi-fascist colonnade, with each state listed according to its acceptance into the Union. We didn’t see any other dogs. Of course, we were early. But still, no dogs.

Closer to 8 pm, we saw a dude with a dog. Was he just a dude with a dog? Or was he here for the ranger tour? And where exactly were we supposed to meet up?

When Eddy the Ranger and his colleague/observer Cathy arrived, there were about 10 or 12 people and five dogs gathered at a sign for ranger tours. In the meantime, our dogs had made friends with several tourists – their bus seems to stop right at the corner for the evening tour of the Monuments – and even the toddler who liked to grab at the dogs’ noses and eyes didn’t really seem to faze them.

So there we went.

First to the WWII Memorial and then across the street to the scaffolded Washington Monument, where we learned random trivia about the Monument. Who knew that the original “monument” was the statue of GW on a horse, the one that currently sits in … Washington Circle, natch.

We learned about the masons and the slow settling of Washington – I mean, the city is founded on a swamp – and how the city looked during the Civil War. The dork in me loved this. I had recently read several books – both novels and nonfiction – about DC a hundred years ago. So it was great when Ranger Eddy took us to the Mall and pointed out where Murder’s Bay was and how that entire area was covered by the Potomac River …

In short, I loved it. We loved it. Humans and canines alike. And the best part? Eddy the Ranger started the program because he wanted to engage locals in the history of the community. He succeeded. Now, I want more of us locals, history lovers and canine afficianados to join on the beautiful evening walks. Just bring bug spray and water.

In case you’re wondering, the dogs slept soundly.

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