Every year the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, blossom in spectacular scenery signaling the coming of spring. While I have lived most of my life in the Washington DC area, I don’t recall ever seeing the cherry trees in full bloom. Now that I am retired and have free weekdays, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to experience this scenery, especially when the blooms were in their peak. So Thursday, March 24, 2016, Mary Ann and I prepared to battle the crowds and witness this event. We parked at Reagan National Airport in Virginia and rode our bikes to DC to the Tidal Basin. It was a perfect day – mid 70s and sunny. Adjacent to the Tidal Basin is the Jefferson Memorial and within view is the Washington Monument. While it was crowded, there was no problem getting around, even with our bikes. Many people were dressed up taking family pictures. From the Tidal Basin we rode our bikes round Haines Point, where the trees (I think these were cherry trees) were in full bloom.
The history of the cherry blossoms begins in 1912 when Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo presented 3000 cherry trees to the United States. Every year the gift and the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.
After posting on Facebook, my sisters seem to have a memory of our family going to see the cherry blossoms when we were kids. The back story is that when I was a kid, our family was late for Easter sunrise service. So Mom packed us all up in the car and drove us down to the Tidal Basin. My sisters even remember that I was the one who was so tired that I forgot to remove my pajama top before putting a shirt over it. After seeing the cherry trees we went to a later service. So it may be true that I have seen the cherry blossoms before, but it was about 50 years ago – I may have been 9 or 10 at the time, so it shouldn’t count.
Mary Ann and I originally planned to view the cherry blossoms today (March 15, 2016) but on the way there we learned that the blossoms had not come out yet. So a quick change of plans. We decided to go to one of the Smithsonian Museums. We chose to go to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. We have never been there even though it has been open since 2004. (Shows how much we know… we thought it just opened recently).
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. Besides the native American indians residing in North America, the indians from South America as well as the Hawaiian Indians. (I didn’t know Hawaii was originally spelled “Hawai’i”). Some of it was interesting – the Hawaiian history and the South American Indian history, expressed through the Great Inka Road through the Andes mountains. However, the American Indian exhibit seemed to be overly focused on the way the Europeans made treaties and broke treaties with the Indians. While true, it seemed to portray Americans as bad people.
To give an indication of the popularity of the museum, the American Indian museum is next door to the National Air and Space Museum. While there was no line to get into the American Indian museum, there were big lines to get into the Air and Space Museum. ’nuff said.
Side note – outside the museum, as we headed up to the Eastern Market for a late lunch, the streets were lined with spectators. Roads were closed. Helicopter hovering around the Capital. Apparently, the Prime Minister of Ireland was soon to be approaching the Capital in a motorcade. We passed the spectators, many wearing green, and the numerous bureaucrats waiting to get a glimpse of a bunch of cars. HaHa.
Mary Ann and I took a day trip to Harpers Ferry National Park on March 7, 2016.
Harpers Ferry is a National Park in West Virginia that became famous before and during the American Civil War. The town is located at the junction of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, separating Maryland, Virginia, and now West Virginia. Leading up to the Civil War John Brown made his famous raid of the Federal armory (which manufactured muskets).
It was a great day again – very warm for March, but very comfortable. And it was a Monday. Nice warm weather and no crowds (Monday). We hiked from Harpers Ferry along the Appalachian Trail into Virginia for a couple miles and back.
Now that I have been retired for a few days, I got to thinking. Comparing working with retiring. Take the ‘work week’. A work week usually has 5 work days with 40 or more work hours. What about the ‘retire week’? How many days are in a ‘retire week’? How many hours in a ‘retire week’? When is the end of the first ‘retire week’? When does one ‘retire week’ end and the next one begin? Is there even a ‘retire week’?
When working there is the dreaded Monday, Tuesday without a name, Hump day Wednesday, Thursday without a name, Thank God its Friday, the weekend, the dreaded end of the weekend. But what retirement? While there is no dreaded Monday or Sunday evening, there is no Hump day or Thank God its Friday.
Someone should come up with names for the days in retirement. It can’t be Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Personally, my last day was a Monday. Everyone wondered why. Well it was the end of the month and I thought that was what I was supposed to do. So, I had the shortest possible last day of work. The good thing was that I didn’t go straight to the weekend. I immediately retired instead of waiting for the weekend to end and Monday feel like the first day of retirement. I guess I got a 4 day head start.
For many years it has been a goal for me to see Garth Brooks in concert. The opportunity presented itself back in February. The family got together and bought tickets for the late February concert in Baltimore, MD. While technically this occurred before retirement, January 31, 2016, I am bending the rules. Heck, it is close enough. I originally planned on retiring at the end of 2015.
The concert was great (as most concerts are). We enjoyed listening to all the old hits, the ones that made him famous. My favorite two songs were “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance”.
On my first day of retirement (March 1, 2016) , it was a great day outside. I took a few hours to do the first of many of my experiences. I went to Sugarloaf Mountain and hiked the base of the mountain. The total mileage is over 7 miles. Not too hilly, but long. It took over 2 hours.
As with several of my experiences, this is not new. However, it is an experience I want to do in retirement. There will be several entries for hiking as I want to have many of these experiences.
This experience is a bit different since I have retired. Contrary to hiking on the weekend where we had trouble parking and passed a hundred hikers, today I saw 3. Got to love being out in nature without the crowd.
The first experience for this blog has to be ‘start a blog’. Not a minor task. It took several tries and I think I have it going right. I started it last month, but finally with the help of Mary Ann, we got it up and going.
Feel free to comment. Let me know if you want to be a contributor.