Exploring the DC Cherry Blossoms

Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival

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The mayor of Tokyo gave America a gift of 3,000 cherry trees in 1912. They arrived diseased and many died. In true Washington fashion, this setback simply represented an opportunity for more gifts and to hold more ceremonies. Eventually, the trees took root and the Washington DC cherry trees grew from a simple gift to a national celebration.

My trip to the DC Cherry Festival happened during a “Bleasure” trip to DC, part business and part pleasure. I got some good pictures and the timing of the bloom was spectacular. I was also reminded of why it is so important to be an adventurist and to travel true to yourself. I didn’t sweat the planning and in return, I didn’t savor the trip as much as I could have.

Image on contrails over the Washington Monument during the Cherry Blossom Festival

Fields of flowers and the rights of spring

I was prepared to slog through my quarterly business trip to DC taking great excitement in finding a computer animation of need case for my latest algorithm update. Then I checked the bloom calendar and saw that the peak bloom was predicted during my visit. The extent of my planning was to not book the redeye back so I could have a free evening to snap pictures. I have been coming to DC quarterly for the last three years and the city feels very familiar. My Smartrip card lives permanently in my wallet. Tuesday’s splinter sessions let out early and I hopped the metro from Crystal City into the National Mall. What I saw surprised me.

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First off, there was a major construction project to put in drought resistant grass in the Mall which forced the roving bands of school tour groups onto the sidewalk.  Secondly, the lighting was brutal. I got a good shot of Washington Monument, but it was entirely too much to ask for my Android to compensate for the lighting.

I killed some time in the Smithsonian, discovering that my childhood computer was now a museum piece, and the butterfly exhibit was free on Tuesday.  Besides, it gave me the excuse to put goofy childhood photographs on our blog.

An Apple II computer on display in the Smithsonian
Me on my Apple computer when I was growing up

Notional “peak bloom” day

My presentation went but I will not bore you with the details.  Thursday’s sessions let out and I was soon back at the Tidal Pool chasing my shots on the notional “peak bloom” day. There were considerably more people out today than Tuesday. The pervasive chatter in the crowd was that the weekend was going to get crazy busier than it already was. The serious photographers were respectful of shot angles and the lookie loos passed out of your frame quickly enough. There were many cell phones out taking selfies right into the sun glint corridor and straight up into indiscriminate flowering branches. I traversed through the flowering tunnels all the way to the Jefferson Memorial. It was fascinating to read his quotes the walls of the memorial and to imagine any candidate in this year’s election reading them with a straight face:

I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

or

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief.

I am a huge fan of Jefferson, and after going to his memorial he is moving way up to ‘Big Time’ in my fandom.

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Washington DC Cherry Trees on the Peak Blossom Day
Cherry blossoms around the Tidal Pool with views of the Washington Monument

My favorite spot to see the Cherry Blossoms

I found my spot that framed the memorial, tidal pool and sunset and settled in. I realized that I should have a tripod to properly claim my spot (and maybe my SLR and not my cell phone). I knew I was in a good spot when I saw serious photographers arriving. They set up their tripods and responded to requests from tourists to take their pictures. The response was usually the same – ‘your face is going to look very dark against the setting sun’ but everybody was very polite on cordial.

As the sun sank lower and it was show time. I could hear the clicks of the cameras around me, and then we were given an extra treat. One jet laid down a perfect contrail on takeoff, while another passed right into the frame for landing. Thank you gods of photography.

A picture of the Jefferson Memorial framed by Cherry Blossoms

Reflections on my impromptu Bleasure Trip

My trip was completely successful for what I wanted to do. Wander down to the Mall and take some pictures on my cell phone.  I have been coming to DC for regular meetings for many years now. The city is familiar but doesn’t feel like the comfort of returning home. I have my routine of restaurants to visit and my preferential hotels.

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More than anything, I realize how much I miss my wife Jenn and her radical non-repeater ways. I miss her searching Yelp for the trending restaurants and exotic side trips. My next DC meeting is in July and I will make sure that I bring my most valuable travel item – Jennifer. We’ll see the museums for certain, and do our best to avoid DC’s sweltering summers. Perhaps we travel by train to New York and visit The City, or keep going to Boston to see the Freedom Trail. I am sure that she will find ways to make DC exciting and new to me, and as always, I can’t wait to explore the world with her. 

If you are heading to Washington DC, be sure to check out these 25 Tips for Your First Trip to DC

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