DC is AWESOME!!!
I’m currently sitting in a hotel room in DC. I came to DC for the Teach For America 20th Anniversary Summit. I flew in on Thursday, and took a metro to the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown DC. It’s about 3 blocks from the White House.
So, of course, I went to the White House to take pictures at night. It’s just like it looks in the pictures. Just like it. And I couldn’t stop smiling. I was in DC looking at the White House!!!! It meant so much more to me now that I am involved in politics/interested. More so than in 2000 (the last time I was in DC apparently), when I kept asking “Is that the capital?” “What about that?” Until I was sitting in the middle of an intersection at the end of our first day and asked “Is THAT the capital?” And it was.
So this time it meant so much more. I also wandered over to the Washington Monument to take pictures at night.
Then it was back to the hotel to sleep.
Woke up this morning and ate free breakfast at the hotel. It was fine, normal hotel breakfast.
Then I went exploring.
First to get a ticket for the Washington Monument- it’s free but you need a ticket. Then some pictures around the area with my phone- because I was heading to the White House and you couldn’t bring a camera into the Prez’s house.
Then off to the White House!!! So excited, the last time I was here in DC, I wasn’t able to tour the White House because we couldn’t get a ticket. Due to working in a Senator’s office, I knew that you had to contact their office (or a representative’s office) and request a ticket at least 3 or 4 weeks in advance to your trip. They should have a form online for you to complete.
You check in at the gate with the park rangers, then go through the first checkpoint (are you on the list and do you have your id). Then you walk a bit further and go through a second checkpoint (are you on the list and do you have your id- see bureaucracy at work- it was a grand total of 100 yards from the other checkpoint- the only way you could have gotten there by by-passing the first line was dropping in from the sky or tunneling from the metro, although I think bit of those would be a bit obvious). Then you go through a portable trailer that has a security checkpoint again (this one is the body scanner and an x-ray machine). Then and only then can you go into the White House!!
You walk through a bit of a garden and then you enter on the East wing. You enter the WH and walk into a wood paneled room with portraits and other paintings on the wall. There is a visitor’s desk to the right where you could pick up more information or ask a few questions. There is a line backed up to here already. And that line snakes through the entire WH open to the public (which isn’t that much). You will walk pass an undisclosed part of the WH and look a pictures. Since February is Black History Month all of the pictures were about the President(s) and famous black people. Then, further along the white hallway with wood floors you can see a garden (unlabeled on the map) outside to your left. This garden has very pretty bushes. J
Then, after passing through a pale green atrium with former presidents hanging on the wall, and a bust of Abe Lincoln, you arrive into a hall that has three rooms leading off of it. This hallway is really dark and dreary, but has china displayed. Apparently, most/every president orders presidential china to their specifications, now it is displayed for all to see. There was a set from Lincoln, Jefferson, Harding, Jackson, etc. They were cool looking, but the little devil’s advocate in me went “How much do I pay for this china every 4-8 years? Can’t they just order a white/presidential set like once every 50 years or so?”
The rooms leading off this hallway were: the china room, the library and the vermeil room. The China room in the last room on the left- it literally is a sitting room with the other china that wasn’t in the hallway in cabinets around the room. It was not earthquake safe however. There was a large circular couch in the center. The first room on the left was the Vermeil room. Which is apparently a form of yellow. It is designed to be a lady’s sitting room and has pictures of the most recent former first ladies in it. Painted portraits, btw (another waste of money in my mind- just take a picture and show the progression of technology).
The room on the other side is the library. It has over 2,000 books and is often used for diplomatic receptions.
Then you head up stairs, of course on a grand ballroom style stairs. I have no clue what you would do if you were in a wheelchair or had a stroller.
Upstairs you find the east Reception Room, the blue, green and red rooms, and the state dining room. All of these rooms have magnificent rugs, famous painters on the wall and old furniture. Really old- like 1810-1830 old. They were all very pretty- but very cold- not family friendly non lived in. Which makes sense, since they are not lived in or used very often.
You exit on the rear of the WH and get to walk away or take picture of the outside. So of course, I took pictures. J
Then it was back to the hotel so that I could get my camera to go further exploring. Agirum, my roommate from LA Corps 2009, was there from her flight. She’s nice but we never really hung out. Then I thought I had plenty of time between now and the ticketed time for the Washington Monument tour, so I went to register for the conference, so that I could do it when it wasn’t busy.
The conference is at the Washington Convention Center and is huge!!! Registration check-in was easy. We got a reusable bag, program, lanyards, and ID badge.
Then I only had 45 minutes to walk back to the Washington Monument (WM) and rushed over. My knee and legs protested and I ended up limping for the rest of the day. I made it in time, with 15 minutes to spare however. But the national Park service was nice enough to let us go ahead an go on the tour. You enter through a security check point and then take an elevator up to the top.
The views were spectacular. Absolutely breathtaking. BTW- did you know we had a national castle? Neither did I. You could see for miles. I took amazing pictures of the pentagon, white house, Lincoln memorial, water, skyline, everything. I even met a RGV CM who is working in an IDEA school! J We chitchatted for a bit, but then I was off to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. All Smithsonian museums are free (they do ask for donations, but they are still free).
I visited almost all of the exhibits there:
-the First Lady’s Dress Collection (they have a dress from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama). Not all of the dresses are on display due to the fragile condition of some of the dresses. Pretty awesome collection of kinck-nacks and other collectables. My favorite was the election pins saying “Vote for Betty’s Husband.” Apparently, a lot of the First Wives started getting involved in politics. Note: there were some dresses from people who were not wives- they were the hostess of the WH, so a daughter-in-law or daughter, for a president whose wife had passed away.
There was an exhibit on 1939, a house from Ipswich, the Price of freedom, segregation, and so much more. I didn’t get to see all of it, but it was so cool to see so much of our national history.
By this time I could literally barely walk, so I grabbed a veggie burger and went back to the hotel, where I took a nice hot bath and got ready for the conference.
Tonight, there was a regional reception. All of the Texas sites were in one room- that’s a lot of people. I did get to meet Robert and Becky, who are instrumental in facilitating my transition to the valley.
There was lots of yummy food and general conversation, but since I really didn’t know anyone it was kind of awkward- everyone was reuniting with old friends. I was able to talk to a few people who were still teaching in the RGV but not that many. I picked up a TeachForUs t-shirt that I plan to personalize soon with my tagline.
Then it was back to the hotel and sleeping for an exciting day tomorrow!