Friday, May 4, 2012

Washington DC

Every year when I go to Malice Domestic in Washington DC I like to spend some time checking out the city. Since the conference really doesn’t begin until Friday evening, once I’d registered Friday morning, I took off. I really wanted to see the cherry blossoms. I had noticed that Friday was the last day of the cherry blossom festival and this year was the 100th anniversary of the cherry blossoms.

The subway system in Washington is easy to use. The entrance to the Metro was right next to my hotel. I will say the escalator ride down was a little eerie. It seemed to take forever and was so steep and went so far down, I thought we were headed for the center of the earth. Even though I was staying in Bethesda Maryland, it wasn’t hard to get where I was going. Just one change of trains and a few more stops and I walked up into the National Mall.

It seemed like every kid in the universe was there for a school spring trip. Both sides of the long grassy area that goes from the Washington Monument to the Capital were lined with charter buses. There were lots of smaller groups, too. It was a world of tourists.

According to my map which had cherry trees drawn in, I didn’t have to go all the way to the Jefferson Memorial to see the cherry blossoms. There were some trees along the roadway that ran next to the tidal basin.

I passed the Department of Agriculture and skimmed the lawn around the Washington Monument. As an aside, I came to Washington on a group trip when I was fifteen. I was too impatient to wait in line for the elevator to the top of the Monument and decided to take the stairs instead. Was I out of my mind? It was mid summer and I did walk up all the stairs to the top, spent five minutes looking out what I remember as a little window and then took the elevator down.

But back to my cherry blossom quest. I walked past the Holocaust museum and the Mint. Ahead I could see a hint of water. I was almost there.

And then I was in full view of the trees that bordered the tidal basin. And they were all covered in – could it be – green. Not a cherry blossom anywhere, not even an errant petal on the ground.

It turns out that the cherry blossoms didn’t care about the calendar date for their festival, they came out a month early and had long since fluttered away to be replaced by leaves.

The only delicate pink flowers I saw were on the tote bag I bought at the Smithsonian Castle.

The funny part of all this is I’ll probably remember this misadventure far more than if I’d seen the fluffy blossoms. It seems like the kinks in the road are far more memorable and interesting than perfection.

Have you had any interesting misadventures?


Linda O. Johnston said...

How fun that you took the time to visit so many great sights, Betty. Maybe I'll do it next time, too.

Camille Minichino said...

What a keen observation, Betty! Even for readers, a story about missing the flowers is much more interesting! After all we can always get pictures of them.

Also, I've always dreaded those endlessly long DC escalators - one time I caught my skirt along the side -- don't know what would have happened if I hadn't been young and strong enough to yank it out before I fell!

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, I forgot to mention the best part - the museums are all free!

Betty Hechtman said...

Camille, what a scary escalator story. I worry on very crowded escalators that people won't get get off and walk away quick enough and then there will be a pile up of people falling over each other.

Camille Minichino said...

Yes, Betty, I always leave LOTS of room between me and the person in front!

Shirley said...

I worked in DC for years. The escalators can get very crowded. Of course, the 'tourists' are sightseeing and don't realize the 'escalator rule' is 'stand on the right and walk on the left.'

We had such beautiful warm weather early so the cherry blossoms were early, too. Sorry!

Betty Hechtman said...

Camille, I took one look at the mob on the escalator down to the baggage at Reagan and took the elevator.

Betty Hechtman said...

Shirley, I enjoyed the walk even if I didn't see any blossoms.

Dru said...

The escalator was definitely steep and I thought it would never end.

I love that you took us on your trip to the Cherry Blossom. Sorry you didn't get to see it though.

Betty Hechtman said...

Dru, so you took those escalators, too. Where did you go?

Ellen said...

When I've gone to Malice, it's usually been the dogwood trees in bloom. The blossoms are at least as pretty as cherry, and twice as big, so I never felt deprived.