Fitting that I would get to add a blog post about one holiday trip during another holiday. I thank all of you who stop by today for taking that extra step to support the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales and for supporting me. I hope you can enjoy this trip to Washington DC as much as I did.
The trip started with an e-mail to our congressman. We’d been promising The Kid a trip to Washington DC for years, but life and everything that goes along with it kept getting in the way. If one thing didn’t come up to make us cancel, then another would. Finally, we put our foot down and said Thanksgiving was the time we were going. No ifs, ands or buts would stop us.
After a twelve hours drive the day before, we didn’t have time to find the exact spot we needed to be for our White House tour at 7:30 the next morning. This is where the reference to e-mailing our congressman comes in. In order to tour the White House, you need to e-mail the congressman from your state up to six months in advance requesting free tickets.
*just a note in case anyone is interested in getting White House tickets*
When we received our tickets, it was suggested that we stop by the White House Visitor’s Center before attending the tour. Problem number one. Ummmm, the Visitor Center doesn’t open until 7:30 am. Second problem came up when we tried to find the address for the tour AND parking. As most people know, parking is a hot commodity in the city. We finally found a parking garage eight blocks from the place we needed to be. It was a good thing we tend to arrive early for everything because we made it to the location just in time to get in line and start moving.
Although the tour was pretty cool, we really didn’t get as much out of it as we had hoped. For some reason we felt a bit let down because we were only able to see a few select rooms. Don’t get me wrong. This was seriously awesome to think that we were where presidents and first ladies had stood, dined and even sat and read books. Not until we actually toured the Visitor’s Center did we realize what we had been missing. There was a short little video that gave some amazing history on the different pieces of furniture and other items in the rooms we had toured. We really wanted to go back and do the tour again just so we could look for those items.
Although the White House was cool, it was the tour of the Capital building that really made our trip special. Because of a mix-up in the White House tour dates (the tour was scheduled the day we originally had scheduled to leave home – we ended up leaving a day early to make the tour), our Congressman’s Staffer offered to give us a personal tour of the Capital.
Heck yeah! We took him up on it. That tour could seriously be a blog post in itself. We ended up getting to take an underground tunnel to the capital. That alone was amazing. A few other highlights were the tour of the original Supreme Court chambers, sitting in the seats on the floor of the Speaker of the House (although we were on the wrong side for our voting party), getting a rare tour of the Speaker’s balcony (picture was taken off that balcony looking out over the city), and a chance to experience some of the most amazing architecture I had ever seen. Our guide told us some hilarious stories, some that I’m not completely sure I believed. This is a picture of me braving the wrath of a very grumpy tour guide(apparently I was where he wanted to walk) to stand on the lucky spot (the Marble Compass) that is supposed to be the exact center of Washington DC.
Because we were there for only four days, we really crammed a lot of stuff together in order to touch a bit of everything we wanted to see. After our first day and the problems finding parking, we braved the Washington DC Metro. For a family of country bumpkins, this was a little scary. Funny thing is that traveling the Metro lines ended up being another highlight of our trip. We met some very cool (and nice) people who were more than willing to help us find our stops. By the final day, we were pretty good at navigating our way around and getting off and on at our connections.
It was because of the Metro that we were able to see all the museums we wanted to see. Washington DC did a great job of putting the stations at all the vital points. Even with this great transportation system, we were only able to hit the highlights of four of the five Smithsonian museums.
Mock-up of Julia Child’s Kitchen
Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers
Who doesn’t recognize this photo?
Gotta love that Hope Diamond
Chilean Mine Rescue
Saw some of the animals from countries around the world
Apollo II Command Module Columbia
Even snuck a friend’s book into the Library of Congress
We also spent quite a bit of time touring the Holocaust museum. This was the one place The Kid really wanted to see because they had been studying this in school. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take photos but I will always carry the images and information that I learned from that tour deep in my heart.
Our final full day was a miserable rainy mess. But that did not stop us. Thank Heavens for street-side umbrella salesmen (and hubby thought I was nuts to buy one for each of us – he was a believer by the end of the day). We walked more than seven miles in the pouring rain, touring ALL the memorials, viewing the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights (*Note- this place is NOTHING like what you see in themovie National Treasure -imagine instead a darktomb that is required to preserve the documents that are already faded and damaged from the elements), embracing the somber feeling of the Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
How could I write about Washington DC without mentioning the food? To be honest, we didn’t get to eat at many fancy places. Although I had budgeted a bit more than I thought we would spend, I also wanted to make certain The Kid was able to get the souvenirs he wanted. With that in mind, we did find some very creative places to eat. After the first expensive lunch at one of the Smithsonian museums, we found that the street side vendors were very good. We hadseveral park bench picnics of egg rolls and pretzels, grassy views of the Washington Memorial while eating hot dogs and (for The Kid) more egg rolls. Even a tent covered outdoor McDonalds made for a memorable stop during our trek in the rain (the squirrels loved it).
Just as this short post could never do this trip justice, the short amount of time we spend in Washington DC could never be enough. Those four days only wet our appetites to know more about the places we did tour and to see new places we only learned about while we were there. I definitelysee another trip in our future.
If you haven’t already considered adding Washington DC to your must-see list of vacation destinations, you really need to do so. Just being there gives you a sense of being a part of America’s history.
Oh! I highly recommend several good pairs of walking shoes and a comfortable bag or backpack. This city is definitely a walking city.
Tami Brothers is a long time member of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog and a new member to the indie publishing world. With the publication of her free short story, Drool Worthy, back in October, she has sincemoved forward with an ambitious publishing schedule for the next two years. Her first novella, In Her Wildest Dreams, is schedule for publication June 1st, 2012 and her second novella, Jasmine’s Question, is scheduled for release October 1st, 2012. 2013 is set with a whirlwind of releases as she introduces a new story each month. Check back monthly here at the PF&HTs blog as she shares her Organization Marathon and her Quest for Spiritual and Physical Growth learn more about her Living Life to the Fullest journey over at her personal blog, http://tamibrothers.blogspot.com.