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Washington DC and Me!

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.

Happy Easter!

By Tami Brothers

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

Amelia Earhart

Wright Brothers

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,    

Mary Preston - April 8, 2012 - 4:12 am

It looks & sounds like you had such a wonderful time.

Sia Huff - April 8, 2012 - 5:26 am

Wow, Tami. You sure did fit a lot of sightseeing into 4 fours days. Good for you and your family.
Most of my life was spent living in Maryland. I was lucky enough to have many field trips to the monuments and museums. I still love going back. I guess that’s where my love of history developed.
I’m glad you braved the tour guides upset to get one on the Marble Compass. Great pictures :D and great memories.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip.
BTW: is that last picture really in the Oval Office?

Marilyn Baron - April 8, 2012 - 8:05 am

Tami Takes on Washington. Tami for President. Wow. You sure crammed a lot into this vacation. I have relatives in Virginia right outside of Washington, D.C., so we used to go there every summer. I’ve enjoyed some of the same activities you did. Love the Hope Diamond. Was really touched by the Holocaust Museum. Really liked your pictures, especially the Amelia Earhart picture, because I loved her story. When I go back I’d like to see the News Museum and the Spy Museum. Great blog post.

Maxine - April 8, 2012 - 10:44 am

We went once, but I was so sick I could hardly enjoy any of it. I really want to go back. Hubby just got back from taking the 5th graders. It is always a fantastic trip. I loved all your pictures!

Sandra Elzie - April 8, 2012 - 11:05 am

Great review, Tami. We’ve been numerous times…in fact, my father & mother are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

I loved the Lincoln Memorial & the different war memorials just below it. (Viet Nam and Korea) We also made it over to the WWII memorial…because of my father, and it was nice, but didn’t compare, IMHO, to Viet Nam and Korea.

Looks like you had a fantastic trip, but even after 4 days, you can’t see it all. Did you see the U.S. Mint? Too much to see in one trip.

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:25 am

Hey Mary! Thanks a ton for stopping by. We had a great time and if you haven’t been there, I really hope you get a chance to see it. Lots of stuff to do. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:25 am

Hey Sia! Oh man. We were pooped by the time we drove out of there. LOL with that tour guide. I couldn’t believe how grumpy he was. There was no one around the thing when I got on to get the picture. I was there maybe 15 seconds while The Kid snapped the picture. When he grumbled about me holding up his tour, I said some of his group might like a picture there too and politely offered to take the photo for anyone. I had to laugh because he didn’t even acknowledge my comment and his poor tour group didn’t even have time to stop. It did make for a fun story. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:26 am

Woops. Forgot to mention this. Sorry to say but the last picture was taken at the official White House souvenir shop. They had the podium where the president gives his speeches to the press and then the desk. If you purchases something at the gift shop (which I did ;) ), then you got to take your own photos for free. It was fun. I have a great one of The Kid looking pensive at the podium. ;-)

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:27 am

Hi Marilyn! LOL! I am so ready to be president. Not. ;) We have relatives in Virginia also, which was why we left Washington DC after only 4 days. Was a wonderful trip to both places. I have a ton of photos from the Amelia Earhart feature. I LOVE her and how brave she is/was. I could honesty do a whole series of posts just on the research of done on her. Love that we share that common interest.

We did have the Spy Museum and News Museum on our list, but we did not take into account how each of the Smithsonian’s would suck us in and have us staying much longer than we budgeted our time for. The Kid picked two of the museums he wanted to see, hubby picked another and then I had a few things in each of the other two that I wanted to pop in and see. Once there, we found way more that we just had to stop and see. It was amazing and well worth another trip just for those museums alone. Definitely going back and adding those other two to our lists. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:27 am

Hey Maxine! Thanks!!! You should have seen me trying to pick out which pictures to use. There were so many I wanted to add but I knew it was getting too long. I can’t wait to see what the other authors blog about in Washington DC in the coming weeks. I’d love to find some new places to add to my list. Thanks a ton for stopping by. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:27 am

Hey Sandy! Wow on both your parents being in Arlington. That place is beautiful. I have maybe 30 pictures I took of the rows of stones and the amazing scenery. Being there in the rain was an absolute blessing because the feel we got was like nothing I could ever explain. We did a lot of walking there as well, trying to take in all the sights we wanted to see. Unfortunately, we got there within a couple hours of closing. BUT we did make it to Kennedy’s tomb. That was also pretty cool.

I agree, those memorials were awesome! The picture above is one with The Kid looking at the names and is one of my favorites from the trip. The Korean one was also very cool with the statues walking next to the wall. They were all wearing rain coats and seeing them through the rain made it that much more memorable. The Korean wall was also awesome with ghostly images in the rock. It was all just amazing.

We did have the US Mint on our list to tour, but when we were in that area, it was not yet open. By the time we made it back around, we had flat run out of time. It is on our list for the next trip. :alien:

pjpuppymom - April 8, 2012 - 11:59 am

Great blog and photos, Tami! We went four years ago and saw much of what you highlighted in your blog. We didn’t make it to the News or Spy museums either. Ran out of time. Loved the National Art Gallery. Glad we were able to go to the top of the Washington Monument when we were there. Amazing views! I highly recommend the night monument tour. Gives you a totally different perspective, especially of the WWII and Korea monuments.

The kids loved seeing money made at the U.S. Mint and enjoyed the Air and Space Museum a lot. Touring the National Archives was awesome.

We had arranged both the White House and Capital tours through our Congressman. The Capitol tour was the better one by far, as you noted.

Carol Kilgore - April 8, 2012 - 12:11 pm

I can tell what a great time you have. Adventures in the rain are always the best ones!

We’ve made two short trips to DC, but I’d love to go back and spend a week.

Natalie G. Owens - April 8, 2012 - 12:34 pm

Washington DC holds lots of great memories for me and your blog post brought them to the front of my mind! I loved Georgetown and walking/driving by all the beautiful embassies. Plus M Street was great and loved the energy of the city. I’m so glad you had fun! x

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - April 8, 2012 - 2:18 pm

I’d say you did an admirable job of getting to as much as posible in the time alloted. Do go back. There’s so much to see. If you need restaurant recommendations for your next trip let me know. Hubby worked in the old Post Office building downtown and we’ve lived in the DC area twice now.

Pam Asberry - April 8, 2012 - 2:46 pm

It sounds to me like you crammed an incredible amount of sightseeing into such a short period of time. I have never been to DC but thanks to your great blog post the bug has definitely bitten me! Guess I’ll add it to the list. Happy Easter!

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 10:33 pm

Hey PJ!!!Oh man! I wish we could have gone to the top of the Washington Monument. When we went it was shut down for repairs. :( Definitely going to have to add that to our list of ToDos. Seeing money made is definitely at the top of The Kid’s list as well. Going to have to fit that one in as well. Glad someone else felt the same way about the Capital as we did. Doesn’t make us feel so bad. Thanks a ton for stopping by!!! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 10:33 pm

Hey Carol! You definitely have to spend some time there. I thought 4 days would be enough and boy were we wrong. There is so much more I want to see. And that rainy day turned out to be one of our favorites. Thanks for stopping by! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 10:34 pm

Hey Natalie! Big wave here!!! I’ve heard of Georgetown but never even thought about adding it to our list. It is there now. ;) Also adding M Street. Thanks a ton for all these great new ideas. You rock! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 10:35 pm

Hey Carol! I will definitely be getting that info from you. I knew there was some awesome places to eat, we just didn’t dig that deep before going. Everything else filled the time, so next time we will have to make that one of the features. Oh and I got a picture of that old Post Office! Love it!!! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 10:41 pm

Hi Pam! Definitely crammed a lot. And you really have to add it to your travel list. There is so much history and the architecture alone is worth the trip Happy Easter to you to!!! :alien:

Kendall Grey - April 9, 2012 - 8:37 am

Wow, Tami! I’m super jealous. I’ve only been to DC once for an RWA conference, and I didn’t get to see any of the city. Sounds like you had a spectacular time. I definitely want to hit the Smithsonian with my kids one day and the capitol building too!

Glad you had so much fun! Thanks for sharing your experiences and for the awesome pics.

Ciara Knight - April 9, 2012 - 3:12 pm

We tried to get tickets to the White House tour, but they had suspended it for awhile due to terror threats. I hope to take the kids next summer. I’ll definitely go to the capital.

Susan - April 11, 2012 - 3:24 pm

What a great report on Washington. I’ve been a number of times and this brings back great memories. I love the book you picked out in the Library of Congress. Super cool place, I think.

Tami Brothers - April 11, 2012 - 7:39 pm

Hey Kendall! Washington DC was a ton of fun. I think you and your kids will LOVE the Smithsonians. Definitely pay the money for the guidebook of all five museums. We got ours halfway through the third one and was bummed because we missed some really cool things.

Thanks a ton for stopping by. When you do make it to DC, I’d love to hear about the experience!!!

Tami :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 11, 2012 - 7:40 pm

Hey Ciara! We weren’t sure if we were going to get tickets until right up when we received the e-mail a week or so before. That’s why we changed our dates and started vacation early. Definitely stop by the Visitor’s Center first. They share a bunch of really cool stuff that you can look for as you walk through. Thanks a ton for stopping by!

Tami :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 11, 2012 - 7:40 pm

Hi Susan! Figured you would like that book!!!! I can’t wait to hear about your Washington trip. I’m sure with your creativity you have some awesome places that you’ve visited and I never even thought about. Thanks a ton for stopping by!

Tami :alien:

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