I never intentionally visited the cherry blossoms when I was growing up in DC. I was always aware of them and appreciated them, of course; my mother worked right near the Capitol, so I was regularly by the Mall, and I had friends in Kenwood, where the neighborhood streets are lined with the same Yoshino variety, but we never planned outings and I never watched the parade. Believe it or not, last year was the first time I ventured to the Tidal Basin specifically to see the trees and that was just because Charlie woke me up early on the weekend of peak bloom and it seemed like a good way to spend a few hours!
This year, though, having experienced the magic of a morning surrounded by the soft pink petals, I knew I wanted to share peak bloom in the heart of DC with my husband. (What can I say? I'm a romantic. Spoiler alert: Charlie isn't, as you might have read yesterday...) I convinced Jon it was worth a pre-dawn alarm and reserved a ZipCar for 6am on Saturday morning - we wanted to catch the sunrise but also hoped to avoid the worst of the infamous crowds.
We parked on Independence Avenue just after 6:30, the sky already lightening, and Charlie gallivanted beside us as we walked past the Holocaust Museum towards the Washington Monument and on to the Tidal Basin. Despite the early hour, we did have to navigate other tourists on the street, but I was glad to see the paths along the water were relatively empty. (Interestingly, at 7am the majority of people we ran into were professional photographers, couples taking their engagement photos, and groups on photography courses!) We meandered counter-clockwise around the Tidal Basin as the sun rose, passing the MLK and FDR Memorials before arriving at the Jefferson Memorial. It took an hour and a half to complete our loop; by the time we got back to where we started, the paths were packed.
I'm especially glad we went early because of Charlie - as the crowds increased, he grew more and more overstimulated and became a bit of a liability. Much to the amusement of people around us, he went into full hunting dog mode whenever we saw ducks or geese, nearly launching himself into the water at one point! He also went a little bonkers when we met Fala, Roosevelt's dog, which was hilarious. Charlie made the outing into an adventure - it was crazy, but I loved all the family activities we enjoyed as a threesome while Jon was here. I'm so thrilled that this can be an annual thing once Jon's visa is granted!