Cherry Blossom Bloom in DC

IMG_4897This past weekend was the peak bloom for the iconic cherry blossoms in Washington, DC. The trees were a gift from Japan many years ago, and each year locals and visitors spend weeks eagerly awaiting the short-lived ‘peak bloom’ – 2-3 days of incredible flowers before the petals begin to fall. Since the peak bloom fell across a weekend, and the weather was beautiful, we decided to join several million other people to check it out.

Bonus - Joey enjoyed watching airplanes take off and land from Gravelly Pt Park
Bonus – Joey enjoyed watching airplanes take off and land from Gravelly Pt Park
IMG_4922
After a quick snack, Joey & Daddy set off to explore the Jefferson Memorial

We’ve been here long enough to know better than to drive into DC (ever! but especially not for a big event), and to realize that the metro would be packed and hectic. We decided to leave our car in IMG_4925Gravelly Point Park in Virginia and walk the last 2 miles to the tidal basin and monuments. This was a great idea. We still had to catch someone leaving the park and wait for their parking space, but within five minutes we were parked and ready to go. The Mount Vernon Trail extends from Mount Vernon (south of our house) into DC past the tidal basin (well north of us), so we hopped on that with hundreds of other bikes, strollers, walkers, and joggers. We were notably the only family with a baby backpack, our trusty Poco carrier.

IMG_4953
Success- naptime in the Poco

The cherry blossoms were beautiful. The trees were even beginning to shed some petals in the wind as we wandered about, so it was definitely worth it to make the trip when we did! We explored the tidal basin, Jefferson Memorial, the mall, Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and the Washington Monument. The weather was perfect, and everyone had a great time!

IMG_4978This was also an opportunity to spend a long time walking with Joey in the poco and both of our cameras in preparation for our upcoming family vacation. We wanted to see how long he would stay happily in the poco (forever it seems, he loves it), if he would nap in it (yes, but later and not as long as he would at home), and how accessible our cameras were (we need to work on that some more!) We also let Joey demo his new Patagonia Baby Capilene, which he and I loved. It kept him dry (not sweaty), protected from sun, and never too hot or cold.

Backcountry.com 20% Off Coupon

Don’t Forget to Think Like a Child

IMG_2034Joey absolutely loves wandering around outdoors now. “Outside! Outside Mama!” is my most oft heard request. We always try to fulfill it even in cold, rain, or snow. However, I have to admit that spring weather makes it a lot easier! We found a little park a block away from us with a series of wide trails through the woods. Joey can roam freely up and down the trails to his great delight, carefully navigating over tree roots and collecting rocks. We listen to birds and keep an eye out for squirrels. It’s just a small park in a suburban area, but we’ll take it.

Today, I took him through the park to get a bagel at the grocery store (another favorite activity of Joey’s). On the way home there is more uphill than down, and he started lagging. I stopped with him for a drink and snack, and taught him to play hide and seek behind a large tree. He quickly assumed the role of hiding (“Bye!”) and popping out (“Peek!”) with great enthusiasm, consumed with giggles. After several iterations, he disappeared behind the tree and fell silent. I couldn’t see him (I knew he was close behind the tree – I would have seen and heard him if he left). Curious, I approached the tree.

IMG_2041IMG_2038

Joey was standing inches away from the bark pointing to something. As I came closer, he smiled and said “baby bugs.” I looked too and saw a line of little black beetles climbing up the tree, traveling along the channels in the bark. Joey was absolutely fascinated. He was not touching or harassing the beetles, just watching them. “Beetles” I taught him, and he repeated it promptly. We knelt down and crawled along the leafy ground to follow the line of beetles across the trail and downhill into the woods. I lifted him up to watch them reach higher extents on the tree. Joey calmly watched the beetles for 18 minutes, completely captivated.

Earlier, we spent half an hour at the creek where Joey experimented with dropping in leaves, sticks, and rocks to see what would float downstream
Earlier, we spent half an hour at the creek where Joey experimented with dropping in leaves, sticks, and rocks to see what would float downstream

He would have stayed longer, but it was nearing lunch time and I urged him to continue home. He stopped at each subsequent tree to check for beetles, even those in our yard. When we got home, Joey collected both of his books featuring bugs and asked where the beetles were in the books. He is so very curious about the little bugs climbing up the tree bark. I looked up beetles on the computer with him so he could see more pictures and identify their eyes and wings.

My job is to be curious, explore, and learn more about the world. Even for me, it was a remarkable reminder to watch a small child discover something new today. We are all curious – we just become too busy to remember it, sometimes.

So once in awhile, stop and think like a child. Look for something you haven’t seen before in a place you visit often. Wonder why it is there and what it is doing. If you need help, just follow the nearest toddler around for half an hour.


Backcountry.com 20% Off Coupon

Joey is wearing a North Face Reversible Wind Jacket in 24M size, which is perfect for early spring weather in Virginia.