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Diana Parsell Writer

Diana Parsell Writer

Diana Parsell Writer

Travel & Places

Richmond Offers a Great History-Packed Weekend

Tredegar site of American Civil War Museum

How is it I never knew what a great town Richmond is? It’s only a hundred miles south of our home in Washington, so I’m baffled why Bruce and I didn’t explore it sooner. We ended our recent weekend there vowing to go back, as there’s a lot more we want to see and do.…

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I Saw Glacier Bay Through 19th-Century Eyes

Caitlin Campbell Glacier Bay

(Reposted from August 2018) An email out of the blue from U.S. park ranger Caitlin Campbell sparked my first trip to Alaska last summer, capped by a special experience at Glacier Bay. Caiti first contacted me a year ago after stumbling across the website and blog I started to chronicle my progress on a biography…

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Japan Has Cherry Trees Blooming–in October!

cherry trees Mukojima in Tokyo

Cherry blossom buds are popping open in parts of Japan. Not all of the iconic trees are affected, by a long shot. But there have already been several hundred sightings of early blooms, according to an article in the New York Times. That’s six months ahead of schedule, of course. And the phenomenon appears to…

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Scidmore as National Geographic Female Explorer

Tourists at Muir Glacier, 1880s

Eliza Scidmore is known largely for her role as the earliest visionary of Washington’s cherry trees. She was also an intrepid traveler. And the National Geographic Society considers her its first female explorer. The Geographic recently spotlighted some of its pioneering women on its blog. I kicked off the series with an article on Eliza…

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In St. Louis, Intrepid Women on the Frontier

Brochure Women Writers of Frotier

I had never been to St. Louis until this fall. Funny I should have missed it, as I attended grad school in journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Mizzou classmates and I used to pile into a car and go eat catfish at a tin-ceiling hotel in Booneville. We drove to Kansas City…

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Pilgrims at Japan’s Koyasan, Long After Scidmore

  Today, Buddhists and other pilgrims flock to the sacred site of Koyasan, a mountainous area of temples in southeastern Japan. The New York Times ran an article about it in the Oct. 22 travel section. Eliza Scidmore wrote about Koyasan in 1907 for National Geographic. It’s interesting to see the different takes on the same place…

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With Japanese TV in ‘Hunt’ for Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossom show filming in Potomac Park, Japanese "Mystery Hunter" TV crew

Japan’s TBS network devoted a recent episode of its “Mystery Hunter” series to cherry blossoms. A TV crew filmed me last month discussing Eliza Scidmore’s role in bringing cherry trees to Washington, D.C. The episode aired in Japan two days ago, on March 18. What a hard-working bunch the crew was. They arrived in Washington…

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‘Drain the Swamp’ Gave Us Cherry Trees

Dredging in Washington river 1891

Donald Trump rode a populist wave to the White House promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Politicians have used the phrase for decades. Famously, President Ronald Reagan made it a catchphrase of his vow to reduce the federal bureaucracy. The “swamp” really did exist in Eliza Scidmore‘s day. Literally — but not quite. Many…

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I Stumbled on Santa Near White House

This guy is … obviously Santa Claus. I met him yesterday on my way to the Library of Congress to do research on my biography of Eliza Scidmore. These days I have a new routine on the days when I go to the library. I take Metro into town, but exit at the Foggy Bottom…

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Tokyo Park Inspired Washington’s Cherry Trees

Ramble Under Cherry Trees, Takashima 1897

“No other flower in all the world is so beloved, so exalted, so worshipped, as sakura-no-hana, the cherry-blossom of Japan.” — Eliza Scidmore, The Century Magazine, May 1910 It’s now blooming season in Washington. That means cherry tree fever along the Tidal Basin in Potomac Park. The display offers our own “Mukojima on the Potomac,”…

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