I have lived in this area for a long time, but have never gone into Washington D.C. this time of year to see the cherry trees in full bloom during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Today the weather is going to be sunny, warm but very windy. Tomorrow is going to be even nicer, but the annual Cherry Blossom 10k race is tomorrow, so the crowds and traffic will be even worse in and around the D.C. area.
There will be four of us making the trip into Washington D.C. today, my wife Lena (bwitch16), my daughter Courtnie (Roguefairy13) and her boyfriend Joe and me.
I woke up around 7:00am and after a shower, started breakfast. As always, I turned on some hard rock/metal music to get me going! Joe was sleeping on the couch in the living room, so thanks to me, he was the first one up, then Lena and Courtnie came down to eat. After a big breakfast with omelets, bacon, sausage and biscuits, we cleaned up the kitchen and were ready to drive to the Metro Station (Washington D.C.'s subway system) to catch the train into Washington D.C. The closest station to Annapolis is the New Carrollton Station, about a 30 minute drive (at 70/80 mile per hour) away. This is also a Amtrac Train Station and a Greyhound Bus Station.
The long line outside the New Carrollton Metro Station
Once we arrived at the New Carrollton Station and parked (free on the weekends) we stood in the very long line to get to one of the many ticket machines inside the station.
If you already had a Metro Pass (for those that use it daily) there was no need to stand in line. I knew it would be crowded, but I wasn't expecting this! The line did move quickly though, and soon we were at one of the faircard machines. We decided to get day passes for the four of us, instead of the standard faircard. The difference between the two were, a day pass is good for the entire day until the trains stop running, a faircard is only good for the amount you put on it. You can add more if needed, but the price from the New Carrollton Station to the station closest to the Tidal Basin where the chery trees are, the Smithsonian Station, was $6.50 round trip. The price of the day pass is $7.80, and since we planned on going to another part of D.C. for lunch, it made since to get the day pass. With passes in hand, we went up to the platform and boarded the Metro train and we were soon off to D.
10 miutes later, we are this close!
C. The trip on the Metro took about 40 minutes, and once at the Smithsonian Station, we made our way up to the street level and started the 15 minute walk toward the Tidal Basin, passing the Washington Monument on the way. The weather was beautiful, a bit windy, but still very nice!
Courtnie & Joe on the National Mall with the Washington Monument in the background.
Here is a little history about the cherry trees and the festival: 1910 is when the first 2000 cherry trees arrived in Washington D.C. from Japan. But, to everyone's dismay, an inspection team from the Department of Agriculture discovered that the trees were infested with insects and were diseased and had to be destroyed.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival annually commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 new cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington. In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. In 1915, the United States Government reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan. A group of American school children reenacted the initial planting in 1927 and the first "festival” was held in 1935, sponsored by civic groups in the Nation’s Capital.
The Washington Monument
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees in 1965. In 1981, the cycle of giving came full circle. Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from our trees to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood.
The Jefferson Memorial
During our 2 mile walk around the Tidal Basin among all the beautiful cherry trees in full bloom, we stopped for a visit to the Jefferson Memorial, which we have never been to before, and Lena's favorite memorials in D.C. There was a stage set up just in front of the memorial with a band playing. We checked out the memorial, and the band for a bit, then continued our walk. Along the way, we found the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, which I did not know was here. What a pleasant surprise! This is a beautiful and tranquil area with many waterfalls, statues and quotes spread over 7.
5 acres along the Tidal Basin. This is a memorial not only to FDR for leading the United States through the Great Depression during the 1930's and World War II, but also to the era he represents. The memorial traces twelve years of American History through a sequence of four outdoor rooms-each one devoted to one of FDR's terms of office. I'm sure we will come back to this area again to enjoy it's peaceful setting, only when there are less people here :)
Once we completed our walk all the way around the Tidal basin, we were ready for lunch. As we made our way back to the Smithsonian Metro Station, we found masses of people everywhere! Holy crap!! There must be a million people here!! It was crazy how many people were here now! We eventually made our way to the down side of the Smithsonian Station, only to find it was temporarily closed because of all the people trying to use the station.
A Metro employee and a Metro Police officer were standing at the top of the escalators, which were turned off, only letting so many people down to the platform at a time. As soon as the platform would clear out, they would let another group of people down. We finally got down to the platform and boarded the train. With one transfer to the Green Line, 10 minutes later we were at the U Street/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Station. Here we got off the train and walked up to the street to find Ben's Chili Bowl right across the street! I have wanted to go here for some time, and now we were here!!
Me and Lena during our walk around the Tidal Basin
After a great lunch, it was about 3:30pm and Lena and I were ready to call it a day. Courtnie and Joe wanted to go back to the National Mall and meet up with some friends of theirs, so I suggested they go, and I would pick them up at the New Carrollton Station when they were done. Courtnie was very hesitant at first, but we finally convinced her to go.
I felt like a father bird pushing his young out of the nest and saying, fly, be free! hahaha. They had a cell phone, maps of the city, and day passes, so they shouldn't have any trouble getting around D.C. on thier own.
The Jefferson Memorial
We all headed to the Metro Station and rode together for a few stops before we split up. Lena and I arrived back at the New Carrollton Station, and made the drive home by 5:00pm. I was still full from our late lunch, so we just relaxed, actually Lena took a nap and I started on this blog :)
Around 6:30pm Courtnie called me and said they were headed to the Metro Station to come back to New Carrollton. I arrived at the New Carrollton Station just before their train arrived, so the timing was perfect. I meet them inside the station by the faircard machines, and as we were leaving the station, I noticed a couple getting ready to buy faircards.
I approached them and gave them our day passes. Since they were still good for the rest of the day, I figured they might as well make use of them since we were headed home. That was my good deed for the day, hope they had a good time in D.C. :)
Joe & Courtnie during our walk around the Tidal Basin
This was a great day, and I highly recommend anyone thinking of visiting Washington D.C. to visit this time of year! The blossoms are not around very long, so check the web site and if you time it right, you'll really enjoy the beauty of these trees, dispite the crowds. Here's the link to the National Cherry Blossom Festival site: http://nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/cms/index.php?id=390
Let us know when you come to visit. We would love to show you around, or help in any way we can :]
Safe travels to you all,
Mark & Lena