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Take a Short Road Trip for the Best Cherry Blossoms

by Borderstan.com — April 11, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From Dito Sevilla. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com, follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.

"Cherry Blossoms"

Tourists along the Tidal Basin. The blossoms are great, but not the best in the area. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Washingtonians, by now you’re sure to have noted that we are deep into the collective spirit of spring. Having been confined by the last endless winter to a life inside, the out-of-doors is our new way of life, that is, until we are safely ensconced beneath the cool breezes of an air conditioner the moment Washington’s quintessentially south pacific humidity returns.

But for now, and for the foreseeable future the weather is beautiful, the city is buzzing, and the tourists have begun blocking the left side of escalators everywhere.

Nothing quite says “spring has sprung” in DC like the explosion of interest in Cherry Blossoms. Tourists and locals alike flock to Washington to experience the monumental beauty of more than 3,000 century-old trees in full bloom — a majestic, all-out full bloom with their dramatic dream-like effect on our city.

A Virtual Tour

Not having taken the walk around the Tidal Basin myself this year, I took a quick scroll through my Facebook news feed. The past two days leaving me dizzy from the spectacular white pink- and rose-colored blossoms taking my friends’ pages by storm. It’s rather impossible not to love them.

Even an allergy sufferer like myself can appreciate the absolutely breathtaking splendor they evoke. A temporary luxury, a perfect moment afforded an otherwise imperfect city. The gift of a people we would come to both war and peace with, in ideal circumstances the explosive blooms last no more than two weeks. Like all of nature’s gifts, they are unpredictable.

If you’ve had opportunity to see them more than once, chances are that you’ve developed a favorite spot from where to experience them… a vista which you think captures them as they can best be seen… the spot where you show everybody how amazing they are… and aren’t you lucky to live in such a beautiful city… and blah blah blah.

One more clichéd transcendent experience from beneath a branch across the basin towards the Jefferson Memorial and I’ll gag. One more photo taken at dusk as the weeping blossoms cascading toward the water are reflected back, creating a horizontal Rorschach of pink and blue beauty and I’ll vomit. They are beautiful, they are majestic, but they are not the best.

Kenwood: The Best Blossoms

For the best you’ll have to take a little drive, an adventure for most of you pavement pounding, bike-sharing Metro riders — but an adventure well worth the effort. You’ll need a friend, a car, a free afternoon and the desire to have a life changing experience. Less than six miles northwest of downtown tucked away off River Road in the generally banal suburb of Bethesda is a neighborhood of 300 or so perfect homes set in the most spectacular surroundings.

Kenwood, built in the 1920s, straddles a country club with which it shares it’s name. Grassy hills, lush valleys, impeccably maintained multi-million dollar homes set among quiet one-way streets and following a natural creek might be beautiful on their own. However, Kenwood offers something a little more. Taking inspiration from the late Dr. David Fairchild. He was the original importer of 75 weeping variety of Japanese cherry trees. Kenwood developers Don Chamberlin and Edgar Kennedy planted more than 1,200 Yoshino cherry trees in their new development.

The trees, at least 1,200 of which survive to this day, are magnificent. On some streets, the mature trees and their blossoms create a canopy, a street wide overhead explosion of pink and white clouds set in motion by the lightest breeze. The setting is magical.

The mall and the tidal basin are quintessentially Washington. They are the best our city has to offer and they are beautiful. But you’re denying yourself the best our area has to offer if you miss Kenwood.

Take my advice. Get in your car and take the drive. One right turn off River Road just past the Whole Foods and you will have long left the ordinary. One turn and Kenwood will envelop you in a car wash tunnel of blossoms. Park. You’ll have to get out; you’ll have to walk it with your own two feet just to prove it’s real. It is and it’s the best.

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