Cherry Blossom Bloom in DC and Beyond

Since moving to the nation’s capital in the summer of 2020, the only constant has been the inconsistency. Adding to the long list of things that were not supposed to happen was the cherry bloom.

Spring came unseasonably early for the infamous cherry blossoms of Washington D.C.

We had a few days of warm weather that accelerated the bloom cycle of the nearly 4,000 cherry trees that line the National Mall. The annual spectacle typically draws tons of visitors. I was told by several locals that on any other spring day, the Tidal Basin would have been filled with people standing shoulder to shoulder. Not in 2021, though. To discourage crowds, the park service limited access to the area and set up a live stream to view the blossoms remotely.

Alternative Bloom

The National Mall isn’t the only cherry blossom game in town, though. There’s a little neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland called Kenwood that has 1,200 trees. How they got there? I’m not sure. But by the looks of the houses, I imagine their homeowners association fees more than covered the cost. The residents are gracious enough to let locals trample their medians and treat their streets like a one of those drive-thru Christmas light parks…as long as you don’t park in front of their castles homes.

If you go

National Mall: Arrive early or late in the day for the lightest crowds. It’s a 2-mile walk around the basin so wear comfortable shoes. Masks are mandatory.

Bethesda, Maryland:  The tree-lined streets of the Kenwood neighborhood is a Covid-safe alternative because you can stay in your car and drive through it. If you want to get up close, you’ll need to park on Landy Lane and walk or bike north on the Capital Crescent Trail until you see the neighborhood on your left.

Inauguration Interruptus

Last spring, when I was making my pros and cons list of moving to D.C., high on the positive side was that I would witness historic events, like Presidential inaugurations.

Well.

Now I know how Tokyo residents felt when the Summer Olympic Games were postponed last summer. I suppose we all have to wait four years now.

Even without a coveted spot on the National Mall, I can still witness history, just by walking down the sidewalk (until reaching the security checkpoint). It is an incredible sight to see National Guard troops marching where vendors would have been selling Biden/Harris souvenirs and completely empty streets that, ahead of an inauguration, would have been bustling with tourists.

Officially, Inauguration Day commences at noon on Jan. 20 on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Instead of a traditional inaugural parade, President Biden will catch a Secret Service Uber straight to the White House. A “virtual parade” will begin at approximately 3 p.m., but I’m still not clear what that even means. In the evening, instead of the traditional glitzy inaugural balls, there will be a primetime television program called “Celebrating America” hosted by Tom Hanks. That airs at 8:30 p.m., because 8 p.m. was too early and 9 p.m. was too late.

Visit the website of the Presidential Inauguration Committee for more information.


Garden For All Seasons: Atlanta Botanical Garden

The trees are not tall enough to obscure the Atlanta skyline, but that’s part of the Botanical Garden’s charm. It’s not an oasis from the city, it is very much the city. One minute you’re in the heart of midtown with music blaring from cars and the next you’re under a lush trellis looking at a dragon-shaped topiary.

The Garden’s cornerstone event is Garden Lights, Holiday Lights, now in its tenth year. It’s the perfect pick-me-up if you’re looking for Christmas cheer. Countless bulbs light up the garden, bringing a smile to even the grinchiest among us.

If you go: 1345 Piedmont Ave NE. Click here for directions and parking instructions.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights: The 2020 version of this annual event features new safety protocols, so tickets are extremely limited. Get complete pricing, safety information and more.

Is the Membership worth it? : If you’re spending considerable time in Atlanta, I say splurge on the membership. The perks are nice and the family membership pays for itself in two visits.

Driving in Miami: Survival of the Fittest

Public transportation in Miami is lackluster to say the least. And with long distances between points of interest, your best bet is to rent a car. I compiled a few tips on how to drive like a local, whether you’re landing in MIA or FLL.

Continue reading

Roses on the Road

As a kid, I remember watching the Rose Bowl Parade on our very non-HD, barely color and monstrously boxy television set. I could hardly hear the announcers’ color commentary over my mother’s “¡Mira pa’ eso!” “¡Que cosa más bella Dios mio! ” and “Como inventan los Americanos.” 

Now I get to send her text messages with crisp photos, inches away from the floats.

Continue reading

Art Basel: The bourgeoisie and the rebel

Photo courtesy of Flickr creative commons

The first week of December, Art Basel arrives in Miami Beach like an alligator in a swamp. Waiting. Lurking. Watching. And then it leaps out of the murky water with its mouth agape and tail flexing, showing off its massive power over us mere mortals. And we are left with no choice, but to pay the entrance fee and walk into its mouth, which happens to be located at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Continue reading