Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Washington D. C.Cherry Trees Fact Check

Originally the National Cherry Blossom "prediction date" was March 18-23. I was All-In for the March 18th, pre-season.



I did not venture into this decision making blindly. I did check for updates at cherryblossonwatch.com. I figured someone has to know for sure by looking out the window or something. Sure enough on Friday morning March 18, the updated status stated March 23-24, right smack in the middle of Spring Break and the crowds, oh the crowds, was the next "projected blossom bloom best". Could I possibly face and mingle in with another flower show crowd?

The first thing to do is check the weather. March 18 was scattered clouds with a high of 67. That is a dang near perfect forecast for walking around D.C. It was a prediction me and Goldilocks could live with, not too hot and not too cold, just right.

To be honest, with the "predicted" Nor'Easter threatening the east coast over the weekend, I was afraid the blossoms would all blow away. So I went.

What will I find in Washington D.C. on March 18?  Here are the facts.

The first sign of life were the ducks along the Washington Channel heading toward Haines Point, a good "free" place to park in three hour increments. I would not resort to calling them lame ducks because they did tolerate me for a while. Note: You can probably make it to the Lincoln Memorial and back if you don't stop and pause too much along the way in three hours. More about making the predicted parking deadline later in the list.


One of my first stops and it should be yours too is the Jefferson Memorial. Looking across the Tidal Basin I could already "predict" the blossoms were going to be a bust. The way it works in Washington is, you can become disappointed the cherry blossoms aren't co-operating, turn around and go home or stay and discover all the other possibilities and work with that to make a happening day. Not everyone will go home happy but at least give it a try, you might just find something even better.


 I have been to the Jefferson Memorial umpteenth times but never underneath. Have you? The bathrooms and gift shops are down there and a few other cool things. The NPS bookstore store is where you can get your Passport to Your National Parks book stamped.


 Had I worn my longer fleece coat, people may have mistaken me for Jefferson, close to the same haircut too!



 You can also find this bust of Jefferson on the lower level.  I am sure it is not the original but it is a Jean-Antoine Houden just sitting there to admire close enough to touch but I wouldn't do that, the Jeffersonians would be on you in a minute. It is still pretty cool to see it up so close.




 You next want to take the elevator up to the portico.  You can take the steps too but if it is a new adventure, take the elevator. Press the portico button and wonder where you are off to. For the simple minded like me, according to Merriam-Webster, a portico is a colonnade or covered ambulatory especially in classical architecture and often at the entrance of a building. It all makes sense now. The elevator opens on the opposite side and the handicapped entrance is to the right and the rest exit left around the corner into the portico. The bigger than life Mr. Jefferson is there. I like the quiet in this rotunda.  It commands respect. He is so tall, 19 feet to be exact.




Here you have Jefferson's view of the White House and if you were at the opposite end you would see Franklin Delano Roosevelt's view when he watched every day as the Jefferson Memorial was being built. It is quite the view in my eyes. I am not sure I ever saw it or noticed it from the other side. Each year the Jefferson Memorial hosts the Easter Sunrise Service.




I will next take you on a brief highlighted tour of Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.  You can take the higher path or along the Tidal Basin. When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, everybody and their uncle is taking this lower trail. It is spectacular but don't miss the interior of the park. It is something to witness as well. Along the Tidal Basin there are some low hanging branches so you will have to dip to watch your head doesn't walk into a limb.




This is the postcard shot everyone is going for, the cherry blossoms and the Jefferson Memorial.
 It is a focal point.


 Inside the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, I call it a park because it is so big and spans the four terms he served as President of the United States, you will find some startling samples of the state of our country during the Roosevelt years. No other person will ever serve that long.  We have a two term limit on that office now. I always enter at the wrong side but you are going back in history so it works.

 On my last visit to the memorial I cut out Fala in the photograph, Franklin's faithful companion. He was another popular picture taking spot.  Children wanted their photo sitting on Fala. Funny the things we like to photograph.


I am thinking the bronze engravings of the New Deal are too complicated and hard to comprehend with all the social programs Roosevelt enacted. Many people not only profited from them, they gained their dignity back. Recognizing that I suppose would be not selfie but selfish or would it be?  We have all gained from these programs. This was an incredible time in history when the government came to the rescue.


This is a photograph taken with the bronze statues depicting the bread lines during the Great Depression. It was also a popular spot many visitor's wanted to take photographs of, some wanted to get in line with the men as they amused themselves. I found that a striking contrast to the world we live in today. I do not know for all, but I know for myself it is hard to conceive such poverty. My family certainly was not rolling in the dough when I was growing up but we never went hungry. We have a generation of youth today that losing their cellphone for the weekend is a hardship. I don't think many children today get what hardship really is. It was just my observation. If you don't have a cell phone you are lost. Back in the day, getting lost had a certain charm about it, you always found your way home.


Words of FDR


After exiting the FDR Memorial bear to your right and you will come upon the Martin Luther King Memorial.  This is another monument you will not want to pass by.  Look at that wispy, dreamy sky.


Words of MLK 


Traces of the Cherry Blossom Trail


Two years ago a Park Ranger told us three original cherry trees are in existence in this area and the spot is marked.  There were so many people with blankets picnicking in the area that year we assumed someone was sitting on the spot. Had it not been for this contemplative woman, I may never have stopped to look down to see all the pennies at the base of this tree.


Apparently it is tradition to leave a coin
Far be it for me to break with tradition.
It looks like there is still hope in Washington.


On April 18, 1958, the Japanese Pagoda was presented as a gift to the United States by the mayor of Yokohama to symbolize the spirit of friendship.


In 1954, Sadao Iguchi, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States presented a 300 year old Japanese Stone Lantern to the city of Washington, D. C. to commemorate the 100 Anniversary of the "Treaty of Peace, Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan. The Lantern is lit to officially open the Cherry Blossom Festival. It has a twin in Ueno Park in Tokyo.


Hurry past the WWII Memorial.  You get another glimpse of it heading towards the Lincoln Memorial walking along the reflecting pool with the Washington Monument and the U. S. Capitol Building in the background.



You can make it to the base of the Lincoln Memorial, where to your right you will find the NPS Vietnam Memorial Booth.  You can get your National Park passport stamped there, if someone were on duty.  The windows were locked. It was just another reason for a return trip.




Pay your respects to the Vietnam Veterans.


Head over to the Korean War NPS booth get stamped and find out you can get all the Washington : The Nation's Capital at the Washington Monument but that is not the same as visiting them all. Another excuse to come back. Time is ticking you have 35 minutes left on your 3 hour parking privilege.


You need to book now. Take Ohio Drive along the Potomac. This is just a suggestion and there seems to be less attractions to cause a distraction.  You will need to hurry back to the car. Luck is on your side.


On your way you will see Potomac River on one side and a baseball field on the other.  The baseball field was once an Air Mail Airstrip. I know this because....


Air Mail 


The world's first airplane mail to be operated as a contiguous scheduled public service started from this field May 18, 1918.

The route connected Washington, Philadelphia and New York. Curtiss JN-4 H Airplanes with a capacity of 150 pounds of mail flew the 230 miles in about three hours.

The service was inaugurated by the post office in cooperation with the Aviation section of the signal corp of the U.S. Army on August 12, 1918. The service was then taken over in its entirety by the Post Service Department.



Across the Potomac River you may spot a monument.  There is no time to paddle across but you can snap a quick picture to later find out that is Lady Bird Park and the Memorial is the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial.

Rounding back behind the Jefferson Memorial we are doing a walk- jog with less than 10 minutes to make it to the car.  It is not that far but you have to find a cross walk to safely get across the street and head just beyond Buckeye Drive and the Tennis Courts.  The car is in sight and so are flashing lights. U-Oh. I was instructed NOT to take a picture. Crest fallen we believe our parking time is up. We still have two minutes. Getting closer we realized something is going down, there are three police cars. One car is parked lights flashing in front of a car, one is behind and a police car is blocking the road. He pulls away. As we pass the scene of the crime, I see a police officer dressed in full military garb it looked like.  He had on a bullet proof vest, his car was marked park police.  He was leaning onto a car of 6 passengers of Asian descent or could possible be American-Asian descent.  What could they have possibly done to cause three police cars to respond? Not enough seat belts? Did they go through a stop sign? Maybe they just missed the cherry blossoms that day. I can understand three police cars and bullet proof vests.  It is the world we live in now, but I can't help but think what a pity and what a crime. I did take a picture of the situation in my mind and I still can't decide who I feel more sorry for, the family surrounded by police cars or the police officers all suited up to protect themselves from the people they try to protect.

We did make it back to the car without a ticket. It was a privilege to park for free, even if we were given a three hour window to see as much as Washington D.C. as we could, luckily the cherry blossoms were mostly only buds. With all the pictures I take we never would have made it back in time.


 You can see the Capitol Building is being renovated and I see three maybe four flags flying in the wind. What we all must remember and keep in mind is that the flag represents our pride and our freedom and that building houses the representatives that we trust to set aside the politics and the bureaucracy and support the citizens of the United States. We hold these powers to be self evident.



Did I find a Cherry Blossom Tree in full bloom?  I found one and that was acceptable to me. The blossoms are now scheduled to be in full bloom, at least 70 percent according to the website, March 23-24 cherryblossonwatch.com , keep checking or take your chances.  If you are going, good luck, but even if the trees are not all cooperating, you won't be disappointed. D.C. is a delightful day trip anytime, just watch your time for parking or pay the price.


The Washington Weeping Willows will still Wow you.

Not to disappoint, I was lucky enough to be in Washington at the peak three years ago.  So if you are looking to identify Cherry Tree Blossoms in D.C. I got you covered at
http://delcotopten.blogspot.com/2013/04/top-10-blooming-cherry-trees.html
scroll to the bottom of that list for the names of the trees.

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