Although the misty, rainy weather on Saturday toned down the crowd on the first day of the Cherry Blossom Festival, families still visited the indoor museums in droves.
I myself rode the Metro into town earlier Saturday afternoon, and followed the flowing crowds while on a different mission: dino research, and freelance preparation.
Dinosaurs are somewhat simple to study from a journalist perspective, due to being immobile. Therefore, they perform wonderfully for photo shoots, and will pose for hours on end until your writer’s brain can pinpoint each perfect word for their every tooth, nail and claw.
As I explored the Smithsonian, or rather felt a little trapped from the hordes of adults and children alike, childhood memories caught up to me. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. with the Carnegie and was no stranger to fantastic dinosaur displays.
And since it was part of my research, I filtered as quietly as I could through the bone displays, and listened to what the first-time-goers (mostly children) had to say.
My favorite was, “Where’d their skin go, Daddy?”
A great question, I thought. Someone definitely wants to learn.
Daddy didn’t have a satisfying answer, at least from what I could tell from the kid’s face. Instead, he gently nudged his son to the neighboring exhibit to let the next family take a look. Perhaps the dinosaur skin explanation took place there, out of earshot.
The crowds made it impossible to sit or stand in one place for longer than a minute. So let myself get tugged along with the current, admittedly so I could avoid injury.
However, a few of the crowd members were so tiny that I occasionally had to look down to make sure I wasn’t bumping into a wayward toddler. It actually happened twice while I snapped photos of the stegosaurus display. From then on, I was a lot more cautious about where I was putting my feet.
My favorite moment was when I slipped away from the dinosaurs, and joined a tour group in the Oceanography exhibit. The tour guide was showing off the giant squid specimin on display, and jokingly referred to the Washington Monument outside as a giant measuring stick of sorts.
In the case of the giant squid, that particular sea creature lives 2.5 Washington Monuments deep into the ocean. Thank goodness.
As a note, the dark specs in the misty sky are not from a dirty lens – despite the gray weather, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival kite fliers still took to the skies.
When my Metro ride brought me home, a sullen line of newspaper bins greeted me. I trudged passed them to my bus after snapping a photo and scribbled down a few more notes-to-remember about the day’s fun and picture taking.
I additionally explored the Smithsonian American History museum with a fellow partner-in-crime. I spied the original Star-Spangled Banner, Lincoln’s original top hat and many other pieces of American history. To note: all Smithsonians are free.
This was preparation for next weekend, when the real festivities of the cherry blossom festivities begin. I took the time to practice using my camera, and familiarizing myself with the mall.
Let’s see what kind of difference that makes.