Monday, April 11, 2005

Kids In Jail, Silly Tourists, and Oh Yeah, Beautiful Flowers

The much awaited Cherry Blossom 2005 (CB2k5) experience was just like CB2k3, but this time I've got pictures and a blog to record some keen observations. Not much surprised me this time around since the flowers looked the same, tourists flooded the tidal basin, and I had to hold back my urge to push people into the tidal basin (I kid, I swear, sort of).

The day began by parking at the Iwo Jima Memorial since my friend and I were better off walking across the Memorial Bridge than trying to move my car, let alone park it somewhere on the other side of the river.

Crossing the bridge wasn't too difficult since most CB2k5 visitors didn't venture too far off the beaten path. Of course outside of this area, every major intersection, bridge, pathway, walkway, waterway, skyway, runway, and blade of grass required expert walking skills to avoid those crazy people called tourists. Just saying that word makes me sick like I'm allergic to them that only gets worse and worse as this post continues.

I recognize I did a very touristy (sneeze) thing by participating in CB2k5, but I'm sure I walked briskly, pushed enough people out of my way, and regularly jaywalked enough so I would not get confused with a tourist (cough). I am much more a DC-area local enjoying the town, than some interstate traveling, "I'm sure we'll get a really close parking spot around the tidal basin around 1 PM", "gosh, there are a lot of important buildings in DC" tourist (fever).

(Unfortunately, most of my closeup pictures are a tad out of focus.)

After jaywalking an intersection or two, my friend and I made our way to the first set of cherry blossoms along the warter (if you don't like the tri-state accent, talk to NJ's own Tony S). This wasn't a high traffic area which was certainly nice, but only meant all the tourists (runny nose) were scrunched together right around the tidal basin. Heaven forbid their hotel front desk attendant didn't let them know there were other areas with trees about 100 feet away. It's fine though b/c the rest of CB2k5 or any other year for that matter really tests your patience with slow walkers (see my post about WSSW's to get some idea) and your ability to withstand claustrophobic anxiety. Plus, the desk clerk was probably looking out for us locals anyway.

There wasn't much to note in this area since it seemed this was where the locals like ourselves knew to go to avoid those wacky tourists (streptococcus throat). Nobody in this section shook trees to get their own blossoms, climbed trees for the cheesy yet very illegal picture, or littered. The trash bins weren't even half-full (or for you negative people out there: half-empty) since we already knew there wouldn't be enough trash bins for all the garbage, we just didn't bring any with us. Certainly the trash bins around the rest of thetidal basin overflowed in the high traffic areas. I'd say the average bin was piled with litter about 8 inches over the lip, so I have to give the tourists (dry eyes) credit for their garbage tower construction engineering skills.

Finally it was time to grin and bear the mine-filled area known as the tidal basin. If you're claustrophobic, this is not the place for you. One minute you're walking with some distance between you and the strangers in front and the next minute they're all over you with no place to go, like a bunch of zombies that take over a town in a cheesy horror flick who finally engulf the last family that miraculously survived that long.

(Better pictures get more space.)

It was in the tidal basin area that my friend and I came up with some fun activities for the entire family to enjoy. After reading the activities, you should write down your guesses for the answers found later in this post. My friend counted the number of people picking their noses, I looked for kids that should have been put in the slammer for climbing trees or picking cherry blossoms, and we both tried to stick our heads in as many pictures as possible. This is our turf and we had to protect it!

Actually, we didn't go out of our way to get in other people's pictures, but every 5 feet someone was taking a picture so it was unavoidable. I only felt bad for those with old school cameras since they couldn't erase that bad pic. All the more reason to go digital my friend. You got by with those old cameras that were so CB2K, but not now.

I find it funny that people south of the tri-state area are very passive walkers. While they have more slow walkers than the North, it's their follow-the-rules mentality that stops everyone in their tracks at random places. If you're walking along and someone is taking a picture of their friend next to a tree on the warter's edge, these passive walking tourists (hives) will stop where they are until the picture is done, while any forward (hardy har har har) thinking walker would just walk behind the photographer on the grass and keep moving. Believe it or not, it's not necessary to walk every inch of the sidewalk. In fact, it's pretty nice walking on the grass where you're really surrounded by the trees. There's nothing wrong with taking a little area to stop for some pictures as evidenced below, but there is something wrong when the people in front of you don't see the wide open grass to the left.

Walking on the grass really increased the number of times we could tally nosepickers and kids just asking for a $500 fine. By the way, our totals came to 3 nosepickers and 8 kids in the trees. If we had actually stopped and peoplewatched for even a few minutes more, I'm sure those numbers would have skyrocketed. In fact, here's one violator now. His face has been blocked to protect the guilty.

Another thing I've noticed about the tourists (chills) is that few choose to try a different path than the person in front of them. At one point we were crossing one of the small bridges. As we got 1/4 of the way across, the foot traffic slowed to a crawl. It was then that we decided to make our move to THE OTHER WALKWAY ACROSS THE STREET. Are we the smartest people in the world? Not really, but we do know that less people means faster walking. Look for yourself.

I'm convinced there's some sociology experiement going on here with a sort of "herd mentality", but really, it's not like the cars were moving much faster so crossing the street wasn't out of the question. I guess it's fine really since it just meant a faster commute for us outside-the-box walkers that not only observed an open sidewalk on the other side, but actually walked on it. Incredible, really.

Thanks to all this walking, we were getting really hungry and began getting a whiff of some great cinnamon, and it couldn't have happened at a better time. Before we knew it, we were in the heart of CB2k5 and found some cinnamon roasted almonds. Though the line was long, it was worth it as we finished these in about 22 seconds. I love the sign they posted "This is what you smell."

It was time to make the return hike so we made our own path away from the trees and tourists (puke). On the way back, one of the cars stuck in the massive traffic jam in the area thanks to the volume, decided to drive over the marked crosswalk and block all of us pedestrians. My friend made the comment "Now that is the most asinine thing I've seen all day." She was right on so many accounts and it was what everyone else was thinking. Of course, her reward was someone pushing her into the stopped car as they walked by. She was fine, but really, who does that? I guess they confused the crosswalk with a mosh pit.

All in all, it was a nice time at CB2k5 and I would certainly do it again. Sure the trees are the same and the tourists will always do silly and asinine things, but it's also a great outdoor experience that wouldn't be as much fun without'em. A blog about the beauty of the blossoms is nowhere near as fun as one about these animals that are really just cicadas with money that come out for one week every April.

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