Cherry Blossom Festival

by

“You don’t have to worry about the traffic. I’ll drive you there, you stay the weekend, and I drive you back. We take the tour, spend all the time we want, you take all the photos your memory card holds, no stress.” My friend Ann stood, palms up, shoulders in a shrug. “Peak is Tuesday, Saturday’s close enough. Come on,” she said.

The invitation was too sweet to resist. I’d always wanted to go to Washington, DC during the Cherry Blossom Festival, but was too frightened by the crowds and traffic. I’m a right lane, one speed all the way kind of girl. Slow speed. I’m from the country; and even though Washington is two hours away, the concrete lanes of Rt 66 and the Beltway around the District of Columbia shoot cars at rapid fire speed out of some type-A personality machine. Ann lives in Fairfax, just outside of the city, and was offering me all the perks and none of the hassle.

We pulled out of Charlottesville at three-thirty on Friday afternoon and arrived at her house a little after six. Over dinner, we discussed our next day’s agenda. I was so excited about riding the Metro, an underground monorail, and taking in the sights, I agreed to follow her anywhere, to any exhibit she suggested. I just wanted to experience the three dimensional reality of the pink and white flowering tree postcards I’d seen. “The Nation’s Capital at Cherry Blossom Time,” they read. “Wish You Were Here.” Now I was.

The sun was rising as we pulled into the Metro station and boarded the train. Few people were awake this early on a forty-degree Saturday morning. We enjoyed a clear sky and a brisk wind. I pulled my striped hat out of my coat pocket and pulled it over my ears. The Metro spit us out onto the Washington Mall, the Capital was to our right and the Washington Monument rose tall and brilliant white to our left. The only other people we encountered at that hour were runners blowing white puffs into the air.

We spent twelve hours downtown, and walked six miles. Our trek took us to the World War II , Jefferson, and Roosevelt Memorials, The White House, Capital, American Indian Museum, Moongaze and Sculpture Gardens, The original castle-like Smithsonian Building, and we strolled the two miles around the Tidal Basin surrounded by a profusion of Cherry Blossoms reflecting their pinkness in the water.

Ann dropped me off at my car this afternoon. “See,” she said, “if you take Rt. 29 North all the way to Alexandria, and park at the Metro station, it’s not bad at all.”

I hugged her. “Thank you for helping a country girl bolster her courage. This trip really was a dream come true,” I said.

“Check your email when you get home,” she said with a wink.

When I clicked on my inbox, there was a message from Ann with the subject: M. Dawn goes to Washington. I opened it and found a collection of Ann’s work: Photos of me in my quest for the perfect cherry blossom shot.

I saw online that the Three Rivers Quilt Show is in Pennsylvania this coming weekend. It’s at the Circuit Center on Hot Metal Street in Pittsburgh. The drive is a little over six hours. I’ve got the CRV now and Ann has the weekend free. Wonder if she’s up for the trip. I hear the Pennsylvania Turnpike isn’t quite as bad to travel as I used to think.

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6 Responses to “Cherry Blossom Festival”

  1. Virginia Phillips-Smith Says:

    Nice outing, Margaret. Wonderful story.

    • train-whistle Says:

      thanks for reading Jen. I remember a trip you and I took to DC to visit the art museum. The horn on the VW stuck when we stopped and asked the policeman for directions. Remember?

  2. ac pool Says:

    I had a good time too. ann

  3. curly Says:

    Beautiful, Train. Wouldn’t it be cool to be independently wealthy and just be able to write and travel and photograph to your heart’s content. Ah. I dream.

    Know what you mean about driving in the city. I have culture shock every year coming down to Cali, drivers blowing me off the road and poor Doris experiencing “California moments.”

    The CRV is a great car. Bulletproof.

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