Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thinking Thoughts of Spring

Even with this minor set back, I will continue to think thoughts of spring. What better way to think those thoughts then to post some cherry blossom pictures.

A kite eating tree

Winter Strikes Back

It was a balmy 70 degrees this morning. Twelve hours later the temperature is moving toward the freezing mark. It has been rainy and windy all day. Sometimes the rain was just pouring down. Now it is actually, and I hate to say this, there is snow coming down.

Will this winter ever end! This had better be the last of this.

This might look like rain but it's snow showers. Ugh!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

More People than Petals?!

That's certainly the way it felt when I ventured down to the Tidal Basin on Saturday. I only got to the very fringe of it but everywhere you looked were people. People walking bikes. People with dogs, People with strollers. People. People. People.

I decided to only go down to where the paddle boats are and then tuned to walk back to the Mall. To give you an idea of just how many people were down there, I had to cross Maine Avenue to head back north. It took three lights for me to get cross the street. Three.

Walking up to the Mall all there was wave after wave of people. This was before noon. I can only imagine what the rest of the day had in store.

Trying to get close to the Tidal Basin

People watching the parade.

Near the cross walk at Maine Avenue

This is the cross walk at Maine Avenue

More of the cross walk

Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

Here's something that rarely happens: having cherry blossoms actually on the trees on the day of the parade. Those times are few and far between. Usually the blossoms have peaked several weeks early. This time, because of the crappy weather we've had, they were out late.

Needless to say there were lots of people down watching he parade and seeing the blossoms.

Here are a few pictures from the parade.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

More from Friday's Cherry Blossom Viewing around the Tidal Basin

Here are some more pictures of my walk yesterday around the Tidal Basin. I went today too and will post some of those pictures a little later.

The sun was out for the first part of my walk. But about an hour or so in it started to cloud over. After walking around the Basin I headed home. I ended up on the Mall and had a short rest on one of the benches there. Then walked to Union Station to catch the Metro.

It was a glorious afternoon.

The Martin Luther King Memorial from the Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms Hitting Their Peak

It is now official the cherry blossoms have hit their peak:

Park Service spokesman Brian Hall said the bloom was declared at its peak after Mary Willeford Bair, natural resource manager, inspected the trees Thursday morning and reported back.
Peak bloom is defined as the day when 70 percent of the blossoms are open. They then usually last seven to 10 days, barring high wind or heavy rain, Hall said.

I went down to the Tidal Basin after work on Friday. I wasn't sure if I would get down to see them otherwise or how the weather would be on Saturday (turns out the weather will be spectacular). I'm so glad I went down. The Tidal Basin was spectacular. Here are some pictures to prove it.

I might even try to go down and see them today. I'll have to see just how crowded it is. But I will have more pictures.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nationals Sweep the Marlins — What an Amazing Day at Nats Park

In what can only be called picture perfect baseball weather a bright sunny warm early spring afternoon, the Nationals completely dominated the Marlins in a 7-1 victory. This was Mark's and I first time in our new season ticket seats and they were great. In fact everything was great.

Stephen Strasburg pitched a near perfect game. As the Post put it:

Stephen Strasburg has been more bluntly impressive and produced gaudier statistics than he did Thursday at Nationals Park on a chamber-of-commerce afternoon. But rarely, if ever, has Strasburg been more essential to his team, more assured in his mind-set and more artistic in his craft.

Powered by an obscene change-up and a precise fastball and unbothered by miscues behind him, Strasburg carried the Washington Nationals to 7-1 sweep-sealing victory over the Miami Marlins. Strasburg struck out 12 and yielded one run on three hits in 62 / 3 innings, his first win of the season coming one day after the Nationals’ bullpen exhausted itself for 71 / 3 innings. He dashed any remaining question about diminished velocity with 96-mph aspirin tablets, and he steamrolled ahead after two errors.

As important as Strasburg's domination throughout the game was his calm throughout the game. In the past, Strasburg has gotten rattled when things get a little off track. This happened in the game against Atlanta with Ryan Zimmerman's error. I was concerned in the fifth inning when Ian Desmond made an error with two out. I thought oh no how will Strasburg handle this. But he had no problem. He struck out the next batter. He had a similar reaction when he gave up a home run in the seventh. But again he immediately settled down.

As for the offense, it did not fail Strasburg as it sometimes did last year. Jayson Werth started it off in the second with a home run. I guess he was still pumped up from his grand slam from the night before. Then in the eighth inning the bases were loaded. Up comes Bryce Harper (who seems to be slowly coming out of his slump), he's walked and in comes a run. Now the score is 3-1. Ian Desmond came up next. Mark says to me Desmond really needs to do something here. As if on cue, on the next pitch, Desmond blasts a grand slam.

The Nationals win the game 7-1. What a fantastic day at the ball park.

Jayson Werth crosses home plate after his two run homer in the second inning.

Ian Desmond scores after his grand slam blast in the seventh.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Cherry Blossoms Closer to Full Bloom

The warm weather is finally working its magic on the cherry blossoms. Here are a few pictures from the trees that are near my house. In the last day or so they went from just buds to full blossoms. That means the trees around the Tidal Basin are not too far behind.

This weekend should be spectacular!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Metro Breaks for Blossoms

Once again this year Metro has decided to suspend its weekend maintenance schedule during the Cherry Blossom Festival. So there is no weekend track work going on at all any where until April 13. After that it’s back to the unending delays, interruptions and near chaos of weekend service.

I blogged about this last year. In general my overall opinion of Metro has not changed all that much.

I was very impressed with the way they dealt with the passenger who had a heart attack on the train I was on. Their response was quick and immediate. They moved quickly to figure out the situation and then get people out of the way. And to get help to the man as quickly as possible.

The main problem with Metro seems to the problem it has always had. It rarely seems to be able to communicate in a timely fashion what exactly is going on. Delays seem to have few if any announcements. When stations are closed over the weekend (when buses replace trains), finding out where to get the shuttle bus always seems to be a hassle. Metro people seem to be few and far between. I will admit they have gotten a little better at this. Rhode Island Avenue was closed twice so far this year. On both occasions I took the Metro and they had enough people out to tell you where to go to get buses.

This does not extend to when trains are single tracked through stations. This can get confusing again a simple announcement saying the train now pulling into the staying is going in the direction of would be more than adequate to help people out. And nothing can confuse people more to have a sign saying all trains board on one side of the platform. Then have a train pull in on the side where trains aren’t supposed to be running.

Ah well. At least for a couple of weekends there won’t be any track work. And the cherry blossoms will be out. I guess that is enough of a reason to smile.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Spring Is Trying to Bust Out All Over

Yes, it really is trying to bust out all over. There are signs of it everywhere. Spring is about to be sprung that there is no doubt. Now if the weather would just cooperate every so slightly and be well spring like. Below are some pictures of how spring is working on being spring.

This past weekend was pretty good except for the very cold and strong wind on Saturday. It made for a very cold day. Sunday was a little better. But today well today was channeling the Carpenters' Rainy Days and Mondays. It was pretty cold to start but got a little better.

It is promised later in the week that things will improve. There will be bright sunshine and warm weather both at the same time.

Here's hoping.