Blossoms and Tourists

(I extended this entry a bit, and moved its timestamp back a few hours so that I could say: today is 04-04-04!)

The cherry blossoms were at their peak yeasterday, so Amy and I spent the day strolling around the Tidal Basin in a clockwise direction, enduring cold winds and heavy tourist traffic to admire the trees in full bloom. We started at the Smithsonian Metro, walked west along Independence Ave, and swung left on 14th St SW. As it “turns” out, we had turned a block too soon, and had to deal with a walk through a tunnel and a couple of extra pedestrian crosswalks before rejoining the crowd of sightseers. (Note to self: turn left at 15th St SW next time.)

Walking the 3 km circumference of the Tidal Basin took about three hours, with a pause at the Jefferson Memorial to read the writing on the wall, and numerous camera stops at any moment that the sun deigned to peek out from behind the swift-moving clouds. The whole place was a mob. Thousands of people choked the walkways and bridges around the Tidal Basin, sometimes overflowing off the sidewalks onto the street, slowing passing vehicle traffic. The situation was worsened by recent rains, with dirty puddles blocking walkways and paths, forcing sightseers to walk in slow single file or to squelch through muddy grass. The Jefferson Memorial was packed as well, tourists milling about the open spaces, sitting on the marble steps, snapping away gleefully at each other and at the view. It was both fun and annoying at the same time.

We skipped the FDR Memorial in favor of a faster walk around the Basin, and reached a somewhat looser point in the crowd towards West Potomac Park. No places to sit under the blossoms, however, as the ground remained mostly damp and muddy.

It was sad to see the wall around the Washington Monument, still blocking access to the Monument grounds and further aggravating the tourist traffic. Amy and I squeezed through the worst of the crunch and headed for the Mall to stroll toward the National Gallery, just to say hello to the Girl in the Red Hat.

Despite the crowds, it was an excellent day. Photos here.