Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cherry Blossoms in DC

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Because Saul had a mandatory, college-sponsored lecture to attend, in full academic regalia, by celebrated portrait artist, Nelson Shanks, on Thursday evening, we were not able to leave for DC until Friday morning. We traveled to New Jersey in our SUV so that we would be able to bring home a stack of extra chairs for Passover that were still residing at Ari’s since his house-warming party. We met Saul’s sister, Rif and her husband, Paul, at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast before setting out, with Rif joining us, on the road to DC.

We had a very pleasant trip down. The weather has been absolutely spectacular this month. Last year I wrote that March came in like a lion and went out like a lion. This year, it came in like a lamb and is going out like a lamb. Peak cherry blossom season in DC is a full two weeks earlier than usual. As of this writing the crocuses, daffodils, and most tulips have come and gone already. All our flowering trees and forsythia are in full bloom. Outside, it seems more like early May than late March. After unpacking our gear at Ari’s house, we drove downtown and found a rare parking spot right in front of the National Portrait Gallery. Rif has never really toured DC and, in the two hours we had available, we ran around the enormous museum showing her all our favorite things. Then, we drove just a couple of miles to meet Ari for an early dinner at Founding Farmers. We left the car at a parking garage across the street where the rates went down considerably to $10 for the evening at 5:00 p.m. The attendants were kind enough to wait the ten minutes until the rates changed before validating our ticket and then sent someone across the street to the restaurant to locate us and give us our ticket. We were happy to tip them a few dollars for such great service. We shared a whole bunch of small plates for dinner which was great fun and very delicious. The restaurant is a very hip scene in DC and we would not have gotten a table on a Friday had we not eaten very early. We took advantage of the parking and late sunset by going for a long walk after dinner to see the White House. We had planned to drive to the tidal basin to tour the Roosevelt Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial at night, but when we approached the area, we were greeted with masses of traffic at a crawl and masses of tourists walking the streets and pathways around the National Mall. We drove around the clogged arteries looking for a parking spot for about an hour, and then finally decided that we would awaken early the next morning and head to the tidal basin, hopefully, before the predicted rain could wash out the blossoms from the trees. We were on Rock Creek Parkway, heading for Ari’s house when he realized that he had left his new iPad and computer at work. He wanted to finish reading the second book of The Hunger Games Trilogy, Catching Fire, on the iPad, so we decided to go to Moorenko’s for ice cream and then head back downtown to his office. Moorenko’s is really a gem. The ice cream is luscious and many of the flavors truly unique. The featured flavor was honey with sunflower seeds, which could have been bland, but the vanilla and honey flavors burst on the tongue and the seeds added a nutty crunch. Saul and I shared three scoops of different flavors because I couldn’t decide on just one (we also had cappuccino cinnamon and salted caramel pecan). Since office hours were long past, Ari was able to take Rif up to show her his new office space.

We were out of the house by 8:30 a.m. as the rain threatened to come pouring down at any second. We lucked out, however, and after much hunting, located a parking spot that allowed us to tour the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and the Roosevelt Memorial with just a short walk through cherry blossom-lined streets. Then, famished, we headed to China Garden in Rosslyn for dim sum, and arrived at the perfect time, just before the crowds, and with a great selection of dishes steaming on the wheeled carts. After breakfast/lunch, we drove further into Virginia to find a Tuesday Morning store which was rumored to have a gadget to froth milk for use with the Tassimo, which has recalled all the capsules associated with milk because they sometimes would burst while in use and cause burns. We didn’t find  the item, but decided that since we were already halfway to Belfort Furniture, we would continue to look for bedroom furniture for the room that Saul and I use at Ari’s house. No luck there, either.  On our way back from there, we tried to stop for dinner at a Fleming’s, but the wait was too long. Eventually, we wound up at yet another Lebanese Taverna in Tysons II Galleria, where we, again, had a very satisfying meal and dessert. We wandered through the mall a bit before heading off to wait in line at a nearby AMC Theater to get good seats for The Hunger Games in the IMAX theater. We agreed that the movie was very well done. From finishing the trilogy, I knew where to avert my eyes to avoid the more violent scenes, but from what I saw, an effort was made to downplay the gorier situations. I was quite happy about that because the books become so gory by the third one that I had considered avoiding the movies altogether. By the time we arrived back home and got into bed, it was 2:00 a.m.

We slept so late on Sunday that we spent an hour driving around the neighborhood to find a place for brunch that wasn’t mobbed. We eventually went back to the place where we started, The Heights, because Saul had the foresight to put our names on the list. We had never eaten brunch there before, and it was exceptional and reasonably priced. I think we will be going often from now on, especially when the weather is nice and we can walk over. We parked on the lot of the Giant Supermarket across the street in Columbia Heights and picked up a few necessary items there before heading back home to drop off Rif, who waited for us while we attended Talia’s first birthday party at the home of her grandparents in Silver Spring. Jess and Alex had driven down with Elaine and the girls after religious school for the party, but left to drive back as soon as the party was over so that the girls would be in bed at a reasonable hour. By the time we arrived in New Jersey to return Rif home, the girls had already had dinner and were in bed. We met Jessica alone at Friendly’s for ice cream because Sunday was her birthday and we wanted to celebrate in some way.

Yesterday, after some minor cleaning up and the installation of LED bulbs in my new recessed lighting fixtures, the work inside my house was officially completed. We met Larry at the Fireside Grill for an early bird dinner and climbed into bed early as we both had residual exhaustion from our cherry blossom weekend. I was so relieved this morning knowing that no one was coming to knock on my door to paint, or sand, or anything. The house looks gorgeous, better, I think, than when it was new. With this beautiful weather, my own weeping cherry tree is in full bloom today.

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