I waited by the visitors' center for a while around 6:30, the time when the students were supposed to get in. I debated with myself about whether I was being weirdly stalkerish to do that. I saw a large group of what looked like late teens/early twenties girls come into the gardens. One jumped up and down, she was so excited. That was just cute. I didn't see anyone I knew, so I headed back up to the conservatory. I figured it would totally be a weird stalkerish thing to ask the students if they were from [local university]. I went through the East Conservatory, and was getting ready to leave the Gardens entirely when H. called. She and her boyfriend had tried to get there and had run into a road that was flooded out. Well, the Brandywine Creek is right there. They had to double back. I was glad I'd taken the road which had the bridge. H. said she and her boyfriend were on their way to the Conservatory. I took my coat back off, and sat on the marble bench by the entrance to the Main Conservatory. H. was trying to catch up with the other students. I suggested trying the Children's Garden. We went up the spiral staircase to where you can see around you for a good bit, but didn't see that group of students. We went to the East Conservatory, where they have a big Christmas tree with white and silver decorations and garlands trimmed with blue butterflies. The way the butterflies slowly flap their wings makes them look very realistic. They do come up with some unique ideas for Christmas tree decorations.
The other students texted that they were on the Christmas route through the Conservatory, so we took that. H. said she was kind of resigned to us not actually catching up to them. The Palm Tree House didn't have toy trains this year, but the undersides of the palms and the ceiling were all decorated with little glowing green lights. It was really pretty trippy to look up at them. We went out to the Open Air Theater, and caught part of a fountain show, then admired the lights on the trees for a while. We went to the Peirce-du Pont house for a minute, then decided to go find the giant treehouses, which were also decorated. We found the ones near the Peirce-du Pont house, but the paths to the one overlooking the lake were blocked off. As I think about it, the paths might have been kind of flooded. It would have been cool to see the Gothic treehouse all lit up. H. and her boyfriend hit the gift shop and we called it a night. My feet were awfully tired by then. I'd stopped to rest on benches a number of times, but I'd been there from 5:00 p.m. until 8:30, and gotten more exercise walking than I normally get in a month or two.
I'll do an entry on how the trip with Mom and family friends goes. I certainly don't think I could've gotten much more mild of a December night as this one was, even if things were still rather damp from the big rainstorm. I got to be there with people I knew for part of my trip there, so that was nice.