Monday, July 4, 2011

The District

In early April, we took a quick day trip to Washington, DC to attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival and visit the World War II Memorial. Where does the time go? It has been less than 90 days, and I am drenched in sweat just sitting here in the humid heat.

Cherry Blossoms 2
Under the cherry tree

Temperatures were in the 20s (°F) and it was hours before dawn when we packed Akemi into the back seat with the cooler. This was her first trip out of town so she was intensely curious of all the strange sights and smells along the way. Unlike me, she did not fall asleep during the entire 7-1/2 hour drive.

Driving across Pennsylvania was a bit treacherous at times with the intermittent heavy snow bands.

PA Drive to DC
In Pennsylvania

When we stopped to gas up and eliminate, I saw a bag of Utz barbecue chips sitting on the shelf on my way out. I read in various places online about how wonderful Utz potato chips were, so quickly grabbed a bag and paid for it. Like a junkie with a fix, I tore open the bag.

The scent that emanated was gamey, not what I expected. As a result, the flavor turned me off even after trying on 3 separate occasions along the drive. It was probably a bad bag of chips, since I cannot imagine something like this being palatable. It's not like I bought a bag of deep fried intestines. Perhaps that was an unfair comment, since I have not yet tried deep fried offal. I'll give their chips another try the next time I'm in PA.

As if traveling in a magical land or crossing zones in an MMORPG, the snow switch was flicked off as soon as we left the Pennsylvania border and entered the warmer Maryland climate. When we headed out that morning, I did not believe the DC forecast of mostly cloudy, rain, with temperatures in the 50s.

Cherry Blossom Map
Festival map

Despite the aid of a handheld GPS, we still drove around for 30 minutes recalculating wrong turns, nearly running over people wandering the streets, as thousands of people shuffled everywhere we looked. We finally found parking (red star on the map) along the Potomac River in East Potomac Park, a couple kilometers away from the heart of the festival, and joined the thousands.

Until recently, I didn't realize that DC residents were not represented in the Senate, have a nonvoting representative in the House, and were unable to vote for the President until the 1960s. While it is merely a district and not a state, I find it interesting that not all Americans are represented.

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

Most of the sites along the Mall are grandiose; however, amidst the aura of magnificence, it is impossible to miss the World War II Memorial with its numerous pillars, each representing the states and territories of the Union, and columns representing the conflicts that took place in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Within the Memorial is the Freedom Wall. Each star represents 100 American soldiers who died or are missing. The plaque adjacent to the wall notes that there are 4,048 stars assembled.

WWII Memorial Freedom Wall
Freedom Wall

It is difficult for me to imagine this large plot of land was green in 2001, without the stone and water landscape. The construction of the Memorial was completed in 2004, only 7 years ago.

Nearby is the Korean War Memorial. Compared to the World War II Memorial, this memorial resonates more solemnly.

Perhaps it is the realistic statues of marching soldiers with flowing garb in the shrubbery. Or the wall of polished black granite etched with spirit-like images looking on. The World War II Memorial, on the other hand, is built with what appears to be symbols of strength and victory, with its tall, strong white pillars.

Additionally, rain tends to make for a more somber presentation.

Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Memorial

All the walking that we did made us quite hungry. Food and souvenir tents along with portapotty stalls were located in a parking lot along the Tidal Basin.

I stopped in my tracks when I read "teri mayo dog" posted on a couple of menus.

Terimayodog with fries
Teri mayo dog

Toppings included cole slaw with a little shoyu and French fried onions. It hit the spot or I was incredibly hungry. Seriously, it was tasty. The fries were pretty good too.

I realize we all poop and having a conveniently located place for this function when you don't know the town is a luxury, but it still made me feel a bit repulsed entering a portapotty.

Cherry Blossom Portopotty

Akemi did pretty well having walked over 5 hours with us. Even though her fur is weather-resistant, because of the heavy rain and construction, she became a bit muddy to her dismay. On the walk back to the car, Bug poured a bit of our bottled water onto her belly and feet.

As is customary with shiba inu, she preened herself and looked as clean as always in no time.

Akemi Meets Cherry Blossom
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

Akemi was zonked out for several hours on the trip home. It reminded me of the The Hunt for Red October where Jack Ryan's fear of flying due to past trauma, established early in the story during a flight to Washington, DC from London, is dead asleep on his return flight having undergone a harrowing fighter-helicopter-ship-submarine adventure.

Having traveled cross country twice (still missing a few states), I wish all Americans could visit our nation's capital and travel across our great country. We are fortunate to have beautiful, diverse, and fertile land, culture, and people.

- Cassaendra

2 deep thoughts:

Mrs. L 09 July, 2011 21:19  

I loved my trip to Washington DC, but it was before the WWII memorial was done. The Korean memorial really was a quite reflective place.

And I've found that the best chips (and chips you can't find anywhere else) can be found in little grocery stores attached to gas stations on the nations freeways!

Cassaendra 10 July, 2011 09:37  

Hi Mrs. L,

I wanted to get more local snacks, but I could picture how irritated my husband would be with me coming out with bags of snacks each time we made a pit stop, especially if he thought I was lying about having to use the bathroom just to check out the goods. He is annoyed when our dog pretends she needs to pee every 5 feet, an excuse to check out the smells. :)

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