Sunday, April 4, 2010

Festival Blossoms

I've lived ever so close to the Cherry Blossom Festival for years... at least 17, maybe more.  And never once have I ventured into the Tidal Basin area to view them in person while in bloom.  In fact, most often I see the news images of the blooms and think "I should get out there,' and within a day of the initial plan, I'm seeing reports of terrible winds, rain, or other nature fluke that has destroyed the flowering beauties.

This year, however, Spring Break fell right on the peak bloom dates.  And the weather was guaranteed (ha, yeah right) to be bee-ee-ee- u-tee-ful.  So we woke up early, which isn't hard as the kids are never sleep past 7:30.  Never.  Somehow, the time lapsed quickly and it was after 10 when the kids and I were finally dressed and ready to depart.

We stopped at IHOP and had a perfect breakfast.   Time swiftly passed.  At 11:20 or so, we arrived at Metro's parking lot.  A half hour later, we were still driving aimlessly around the top two floors along with a flood of at least a dozen other parking-hopefuls in search of the elusive empty space.  Fed up, I took to following the exit signs to the bottom of the lot.  At the last minute, I took a turn to the right instead of trying to get out of the parking facility (I'd still have to pay for the pleasure of the unwanted tour).  Another turn and I was shocked to see two empty rows of parking spaces.  A joke? Neither I nor the other folk who followed me to the oasis thought it very funny.

We're always lucky to board the trains at the first/last stop. No fighting for seats, no standing up and holding bars, no struggling to fold up the stroller knowing toddle king will not willingly get back in it when time.Chi sees the hour-long train ride as a great adventure.  Ya was amused by the opening doors and made sure to say "bye" and wave to everyone he saw.  I've no idea why he opts not to say hello.

Once off the train, we emerged in the Federal Triangle. First stop: National Aquarium.  We almost missed the "fish museum," as it is housed inside one of the other government facilities.  I've never passed through a security screening to see aquatic life before.  (Oma said in jest, "What, are they worried we're going to shoot a fish?")  Instead of funding the electricity for the metal detectors, they needed to hook up an air conditioner.  I suspect, though, that the tremendously uncomfortable heat was to ensure that the total visit was no more than the 30 minutes the armed guard estimated (longer and you might melt).

Blossom beautyA hike toward the "pencil" (Washington Monument) led us to our first set of Cherry Blossoms.  They were white.  I was disappointed.  Chi watched as others climbed the oddly formed trunks of the trees to pose for photos.  She waited her turn and climbed.  I got a shot.
See? Nothing special about those blooms.  Then my kids ran around the trees a bit.  Other folk were making petals "rain" by shaking the branches wildly or hitting them with fallen sticks. Still others were plucking off clumps of petals to fashion hair ornaments.  We decided to let Yadon get a shot in a tree.  Then a park ranger appeared and said we were violating some unwritten policy by climbing the tree. (I admit I retorted, "Perhaps you should mention that to the other 100 people who are doing far worse damage.")

Yadon ran around the grounds a bit more.  We avoided touching the sacred (yet abused) trees.  The ranger went stealth and disappeared.  The other visitors continued to attack the trees.  At one point I had to thank God that I adore bright colors and dressed my little man in orange.  He wandered a bit too far away, and I, thinking Oma had taken him with her to deposit our Popsicle trash, broke my flip flops in a mad dash toward him and the busy city street when I realized he was not under her control.  I thanked the stranger who saw me approaching and corralled my toddler-sprinter, too.

Mall jogger
Moving a bit more cautiously (as I had to place my flapping flip flop just so to avoid the strap coming completely off the shoe), we moved on.  Next stop: The World War II Memorial.  All around the memorial are pillars representing the 50 states and the US territories.  Raised pictorials of the various special units (Tuskegee, like my grandfather, and the women) in action are set into the walls. And quotes are engraved throughout.  A fancy fountain sits inside the pillars, with water arching every which way.  Water collects into a pool about two feet deep.  There are several signs next to the pool that read "Respect the memorial: No wading, No coins."  The hundreds of people enjoying the memorial either were illiterate, didn't understand the fancy wording for "keep out of the water," or didn't care.  Pants rolled up, skirts held high, and shoes stacked haphazardly along the pool's edge, visitors were dancing, playing, and posing underneath the water falls.  Where's the ranger now? I thought.  One lady even heard me read the sign allowed and said to her companion, "I like wading," as she rolled up her trousers and struck a pose for a photo.

We continued on our Festival tour, following the cross walks toward the Lincoln Memorial.  I saw four trees with the pretty pink blossoms I had hoped to see.  The kids were getting tired, so we found a shaded spot and decided to take a break.  Chi was sleep in a matter of minutes.Yadon took a bit longer.
tuckered out
And as we hiked back toward the Metro, I attempted to get a few pictures of my disappointing blossoms, just to prove that I had finally made it out to see them in full bloom.
Cherry Blossom
I also retired my flapping flops as soon as I got home.

1 comment:

Taylor said...

Sorry it was such a hard day for you, but the shots look great and I think the trees are still so beautiful!