MORNING STROLL: Cherry Blossoms and Tourists
Greetings! I am very excited because I am blogging on my new MacBook Pro. I'm like a kid in a candy store. It comes with a remote control, which I'm quite excited about, but I'm not too sure that I'll actually use it. It's a beautiful machine. And the engine runs real nice. But my screen is quite a bit wider than the one in this MacWorld photo.
EARLY THIS MORNING, before I headed into the office, I ventured down to the Tidal Basin in an attempt to enjoy the cherry blossoms before the area was flooded with mobs of people. I took some photos, but I haven't had a chance yet to upload them, so that'll have to wait 'til morning. Although I'm probably better suited to judge whether a steak has been cooked to a preferred temperature, I thought that the blossoms could use another day to be blooming at optimal pinkish-white brilliance. Things were a bit hazy out this morning too, so the sky wasn't as bright blue as I had hoped, but yet, the blossoms were quite nice. While I think people think of the most utopian view of the cherry blossoms is at the Jefferson Memorial, I think the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial looks even better with the more limited number of cherry blossom trees that pepper its precinct.
As you can see on the Wayfaring map I created, I stopped off at one of my most favorite off-the-beaten path memorials in the city: the District of Columbia World War I Memorial. It is a simple domed structure that reminds you of an ancient Greek ruin with Doric columns. I say ruin because it is, after all, one of the District's most endangered memorials according to the D.C. Preservation League. DC Watch has a good backgrounder on the memorial's history.
I also swung by the World War II Memorial and the Starbucks on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 17th and 18th streets.
SINCE IT IS CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME, that also means that the first wave of the nation's capital's tourist season will going into high gear in the coming weeks. Rock Creek Rambler is floating an interesting plan to keep tourists separate from D.C. locals who hate them. Surrendering Georgetown and downtown Washington to the tourist classes, RCR has carved out an area north of M Street NW, east of Connecticut Avenue and west of North Capitol Street -- essentially a bubble around the core of Ward 1. There aren't any guard posts, there are no security checkpoints to enforce the no-tourist rule, but you get the point. RCR doesn't want to see a school group from Iowa fouling up U Street, nor does he want to see a fanny pack anywhere the the upper 14th Street corridor.
OF COURSE, that proposal is all in jest, but with the tourist season comes another season: locals-picking-on-tourists-and-the-funny-things-they-do season. In the early days of this blog, and sometimes on DCist, I would be known for posting skewering observations of tourists. E-mails from relatives of mine and DCist commenters called me arrogant, pompous and downright unfriendly. I see their point to a certain degree.
But then there are instances like the following that can justify locals being angry at visitors to our city, instances where the tourists try to tell the locals how to live their lives. This morning, I was riding the Blue Line to the Smithsonian station so I could begin my stroll to the Tidal Basin. Since I am an experienced Metrorail rider, I have mastered physics to where I can stand up on a moving Metrorail car, open up a newspaper and defy gravity and forward momentum. I won't fall over!
But yet, as I was reading the newspaper while standing on a moving train, an older woman decked out in a sweatshirt that read "Louisville," perhaps in her 50s, told me the following:
You need to sit down. It's not safe. It's just not safe to stand up! These trains need to have seat belts!
I wish I had an audio recording, because she was using a tone where she was scolding me, as if I was spitefully challenging Zeus high up on Mount Olympus. She was concerned for my safety, yes, but in a way where she didn't want to be in the vicinity of one of Zeus' lightning bolts (seen here) that was to strike me down for my brash disregard for the laws of physics. I looked back at her:
I do this everyday.But was I playing with fate? Between the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations, there is a cross-over track, a junction where a Metrorail train derailed on Jan. 13, 1982, the same day of the Air Florida crash at the 14th Street Bridge. Fortunately, my Blue Line train navigated the cross-over track just fine. No disasters. I challenged the laws of commuting physics and I won.