Friday, March 31, 2006

Cherry Blossoms

Yesterday we went down to Washington DC. My brother-in-law and his son from Chicago are visiting and wanted to see the Air and Space Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. And the cherry blossoms are blooming, so we wanted to see them also. Traffic from Baltimore to DC is awful so we took the train and then the Metro, much easier.

The Air and Space Museum was full of airplanes, space modules, and teenagers. They have a 'ride' where you get inside a capsule that simulates space flight. It turns upside down and every which way, and you couldn't pay me enough money to get me in one of them. It's cool to see things that have actually been in outer space. You can touch a moon rock, although I would bet that the smooth texture is the result of millions of touches and not the original surface.

From there we went to Arlington National Cemetery. First we went to John F Kennedy's gravesite, where they have an eternal flame burning. Also buried there are two of his children, one stillborn and unnamed, the other who lived for 2 days. I would bet that if that child had been born in this day, he would still be alive. Also buried there is Jackie Onassis; however, the "Onassis" part of her life seems to be beside the point, as her grave marker states Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

The gravestones extend as far as the eye can see. It's a very solemn place and a tribute to all the men and women who have died to protect our freedoms. We wanted to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers.

There is an honor guard around the clock and they change every 30 minutes. The guard on duty paces from one end of the area, stands at attention for a short bit, then turns and paces to the other end. He repeats this for his entire watch. At the time of the changing, another guard aproaches and with great ceremony and dignity, they pass the guard duty from one to the other. There were several hundred people standing around and watching and during the ceremony there was absolute silence. Not even cries from babies. After the official ceremony, there were 2 more where some visiting groups (one from a high school and the other an AmVet group from Wisconsin) presented wreaths and laid them on the tomb. And they played taps. It was a very moving experience.

From there we walked back across the Potomac River to the Tidal Basin (more than 2 miles). As we're walking acroos the bridge jet airplanes are flying overhead to land at Reagan National Airport. For security reasons (can't fly over the White House or the Capitol), planes must follow the course of the river to approach the landing field. There are some pretty tight curves that must be difficult for jet to negotiate. And the runway begins only yards from the river bank. Reminds me of why I don't like flying into that airport.

The cherry blossoms are stunning. I've lived in Baltimore for more than 30 years and this is the first time I've actually seen them in bloom.

Some of these trees are nearly 100 years old and their trunks are twisted and contorted into wonderful patterns. So I also have several pictures of the the trunks, which will probably become thermofax screens.

Just to prove that I was really there, here is a picture my husband shot of me. Sort of looks like I have a cherry tree branch growing out of my head.

From the Tidal Basin we walked over to the White House, another healthy jaunt. Security is quite tight around that building. Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House is closed to traffic, but they did that many years ago, even before 9/11. So here is the classic view of the White House. I don't know if George was home or not, the guys with the guns didn't look like they were taking questions.

From there we went to the train to come home and have dinner at The Hon in Baltimore, where the bread pudding is to die for.


mary m. said...

Good thing your husband took that shot of you in front of the cherry blossoms, otherwise we wouldn't have believed you were really there ; D

Thanks for posting those gorgeous shots. Speaking of moon rock, my 18-yr old and 90% of her friends are convinced the moon landing of 1968 was staged and didn't really happen. They say the pictures and video are unconvincing!

teri springer said...

Gee, thanks for the comments about Reagan National....I have flown in and out of there several times without noticing.....

You are lucky to have caught the cherry blossoms as they were late this year. I would sure love to see them but we won't be there until the 29th....class trip.

Mary, it did. I have several family members who were/are involved in the space me...the Soviets would have been sure to find out if it was faked (nothing like competition between countries and ideaologies to keep everyone semi-honest).


Elle said...

You're very right about the tight turns flying into Reagan. I did it 2 days ago to come home and got motion sickness from the Top Gun-style maneuvering the pilot had to do. Always a rough landing there.

Gorgeous cherry blossom pics.