This is a very belated report of a trip my husband and I made this spring to Washington, DC. Through careful planning and complete luck, we arrived to gorgeous weather and the famous cherry trees in full bloom.
We woke up before sunrise at hit the ground running. We made our way past the floodlit Washington Monument...
... and headed straight to the Tidal Basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial, where hundreds of blossoming trees ringed the water.
For a brief moment, we had the place almost completely to ourselves. But in a few short minutes, the crowds staring rolling in.
Absolutely beautiful, nyc, Some of your excellently composed shots of the lush pink against the sky made me think of clumps of cotton candy (fairy floss in Oz). I could almost want to lick them. This time of year is when all the cats want to breed. Maybe they were making an ad to get cats de-sexed. Puss looks a bit grumpy about it all.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
Bjd, I was surprised, too. I wondered why the tourists, both domestic and international, were willing to spend so much money when catching the trees in full bloom requires an enormous stroke of luck. I was also surprised that so many international tourists, many of them Asian, would travel so far when there surely must be bigger cherry blossom festivals closer to home. But I supposed DC itself is a big draw.
There was a festival celebrating the cherry blossoms, but we had wanted to go to the National Air and Space Museum, so we headed there next. The museums houses the world's largest and most important collection of aviation and space artifacts. It is the most visited museum in the country. And like all of the Smithsonian museums, it is completely free of charge.
My photos don't do it justice, but here's just a glimpse of what we saw. This is a modern prototype based on Leonardo's da Vinci's drawings of flight machines.
Here is the famous Wright Flyer. In Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, the flyer made four flights, the best covering 852 feet in 59 seconds. It was the first heavier-than-air, powered aircraft to make a sustained, controlled flight with a pilot onboard. This is the original airplane, only the fabric has been replaced.
Charles Lindbergh captured hearts all over the world when he flew his Spirit of St. Louis in the world's first nonstop, solo transatlantic flight. He completed the flight from New York to Paris in 33 hours and 30 minutes. Following this landmark event, aircraft industry stocks soared, along with the public's fascination with flying.
This gorgeous red number, the Lockheed 5B Vega, was owned by Amelia Earheart. In 1932, she flew it solo across the Atlantic, then flew it nonstop across the United States, both records for a woman. The Vega was the first design produced by Lockheed Aircraft, which went on to become one of America's great aircraft companies.
We saw a small but interesting exhibition spotlighting six African-American pilots who, beginning in the 1920s, overcame racial discrimination and realized their dream to fly. I was especially struck by the story of Bessie Coleman. Denied training in America, she learned to speak and write French and traveled to France, where she earned her internationally recognized pilot's license. In 1921, she became the first licensed African-American pilot.
The field of aeronautics grew by incredible leaps and bounds in a just few decades. In 1953, 50 years after the Wrights' first flight, the Douglas skyrocket became the first aircraft to fly faster than Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound).
In 1959, the X-15 became the first winged aircraft to attain speeds of Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound) and to operate at altitudes above 100,000 feet. During one test, it attained an altitude of over 67 miles, so high that it functioned more as a spacecraft than an airplane. In 1967, it reached Mach 6.7 (over 4,500 mph). Today, it still holds the record for the world's fastest and highest flying aircraft.
There is tons more to see that I didn't document, from hands-on exhibits to planetarium shows. I highly recommend a visit.
We ended the day with a delicious dinner and a late night stroll. Along the way, we passed by some old house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The next morning we headed to Georgetown and walked along the C&O Canal. This vestige of the American canal-building era is now a National Historic Park.
The canal is virtually unbroken and unaltered for its entire length of 185 miles. Rows of charming houses along the canal make this a pleasant place to stroll.
A typically lovely street in Georgetown.
By chance, we stumbled upon Old Stone House, the only surviving pre-Revolutionary building in the capital. Completed in 1766, it's not as old as the oldest buildings in places like New York and Boston, but it's well-preserved.
We returned to the crowded National Mall, stopping by the World War II Memorial. We had the place all to ourselves in the wee hours of the morning the day before and we would have taken some good pictures but, alas, the fountains had not yet been turned on.
Revisiting the cherry trees, I was sorry to see that a great deal of the blossoms had been blown off by a thunderstorm the night before. We enjoyed the peak bloom period for only one day. Oh well, still very pretty.
We meandered through the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, a site that sprawls across seven acres and feautures sculptures, waterfalls, and quotations chiseled on red granite blocks. It is beautifully done, but at this point I was growing weary of taking pictures, so I mostly just walked around and enjoyed. But here is a photo of a sculpture I'm conflicted about. FDR looks suitably dignified, but the obvious effort the artist put into concealing any depiction of the president's disability doesn't sit well with me. In my opinion, it reflects an ableist viewpoint and attempts to deify the man. The inclusion of his dog, however, is a nice little humanizing touch. At any rate, a life-sized sculpture of FDR using a wheelchair as he did in life was eventually added to the memorial.
We also visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial which also featured quotations from his speeches and writings.
Even in the presence of these powerful words, people can't resist making goofy poses.
This colossal statue of King depicts him as godlike and impersonal. I have to admit, it leaves me a little cold.