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National park tips: This fake tower's view is real

The election isn't pretty, but the cherry blossoms of Washington, D.C., sure are

As you look at the delicate pink cherry blossoms that dot the nation's capital in the spring of each year, you may wonder how something so lovely had such an ugly start.

But it did because, well, Washington is just not Washington unless there's a little bit of international intrigue.

Tokyo wanted to gift Washington with 2,000 cherry trees, and so it did in 1910. Except that the trees were infested with pests. By order of President William Taft, the trees were burned.

Oops.

By 1912, international crisis averted, 3,020 new, uninfected trees arrived and were planted around the Tidal Basin. The Cherry Blossom Festival was born in 1935.

This year, the festival is March 20-April 17, but the peak of the blossoms is March 18-23, the National Park Service announced. That's when 70% of the blossoms are open.

Which raises this question: If you're wild about nature's horticultural handiwork, why not the azalea trails of the South or a wildflower hike in a California desert or eastern Colorado?

Those are lovely options too, but seeing something so simple and untainted against the backdrop of monuments reminding us of our history makes you remember that our nation's capital is not all about politics and punditry. Can there be a better antidote to an election year?

Info: www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. To see the cherry blossom cam: www.lat.ms/21Tuk1E.

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