Saturday, June 27, 2009

Washington D.C. Day 2 (May 9, 2009)

We had slept well through the night after a long first day of sight-seeing.  We were excited about today's adventures with our anticipated highlight of touring the White House.  We had been warned that we could bring nothing into the White House except for our car keys and cell phone; no cameras, backpacks, purses, bags, etc.  Since we would have all those things with us because we were staying outside the city, we had asked about possible storage places because there was no option at the White House.  "Some people store their things in the lockers at the National Portrait Gallery, or ask at a nearby hotel offering to pay," we were told.

Armed with this information we left the home of our friends after breakfast and began our trek into the city.  Our tour of the White House was at noon and we were to check-in with security at least fifteen minutes before but we wanted to be there a half hour prior.  We decided, then, to tour the National Portrait Gallery for a bit before making our way to the White House for our tour.  Plans settled, we got off at the correct Metro stop and began walking toward the museum.  We arrived about 10am, right at opening, or so we thought.

The National Portrait Gallery didn't open until 11am.  So now what? Not sure now where we would store our things for the White House tour, we put off the decision until later and decided to walk south to the National Archives 

and see our nation's founding documents.  Fortunately there wasn't a long line and we were able to move along inside in a short time and see:

The Declaration of Independence:

The Constitution of the United States:

The Bill of Rights:

But now we needed to hurry in order to make it all the way back to the White House in time.  It isn't terribly far block wise, but having to wait at each intersection due to traffic takes longer than walking without interruption.  We had no idea what to do yet with our bags and as time fleeted, we began to rush, get agitated, and short tempered.  With no other foreseeable options, David said he would stay and hold the bags and the kids and I could tour. 

At the gate with security, the personnel mentioned that "it would only take about 20 minutes and then the kids and I could come back and David could go in and the kids could do it twice." In my mind that was the plan, so the kids and I marched off.  By the time we got through the various security check points, it was at least 10-15 minutes before we even walked inside the White House doors.  It is a self-guided tour and we could only see a few rooms.  It was nice, and the neatest thing was walking out the front doors and down the steps at the end of the tour. We took a moment a the bottom of the steps to look back, marveling that we are at the White House.  We saw a butterfly window cling in a second story window and imagined that must be one of the President's daughters room.  It gave the house a personal touch.

Then I went in to hurry mode.  I wanted David to be able to have a chance to tour the White House.  I began at a face pace walking back, encouraging the children behind me to "spit spot, let's hurry," but we could not go in a straight line back to where David was because police had sections blocked off.  We ended up walking completely around the big ellipse (from left to right) you see in this picture from the Washington Monument:

David was waiting at the street just south of the White House on the right in the picture by those trees.  We couldn't walk straight on that street, so instead, ignorant of any other way I kept marching the kids around the ellipse (the top of the ellipse was closed off too).  We were hot, tired, cranky, hungry (by now it was close to 12:30 or later and we hadn't eaten since breakfast), and I was getting madder by the minute as I had nothing on me - no cell phone, id, money, nothing.  I had left that all with David not anticipating walking a marathon after the tour. By the time we made it back to David about 45 minutes later, we were simply spent. We were ready to sit, eat, and, frankly, I wanted to just cry and throw in the towel.

But off we walked back towards the National Portrait Gallery to a Subway we had seen earlier. It was a beautiful respite. We all sat down in the cool air conditioning, ate delicious subs, chips, and drank lemonade or pop, refilling to our thirst's content.  Upon entering the building, the kids immediately sat down at a table and when I told them to each pick a bag of chips they said, "we each get our own?!" with big, amazed eyes as we usually always make them share (an older couple sitting at a table who were the only other customers at the time got a big chuckle out of the kid's reaction).  But not this time, we wanted them to eat and satisfy their hunger.  As our tummies filled, and our feet were rested, tackling an afternoon of sight seeing didn't seem so daunting anymore.

We made our way to Ford's Theatre

for our scheduled timed tour we had procured earlier in the day when we arrived in the city. We had to stand in line and wait in the hot afternoon sun before our timed tour was allowed to enter, but it was worth it!  Inside we sat in the air-conditioned theatre and the park ranger gave an outstanding presentation (about 20 minutes or so) on the events of that fateful night. We all could feel like we were there. It was a definite highlight of our trip for many in our family.

We walked across the street and saw:

Inside we saw:

We then decided to end the day with touring the National Portrait Gallery.  This was one of my favorite things.  I loved all the history pictures, and the portraits of the presidents. We all enjoyed this sculpture of President George H.W. Bush in a horseshoe throwing pose:

Abby also had fun posing with another sculpture:
There had been an activity for families earlier in the day.  It was an  "I Spy" paper which the children enjoyed doing even though it was too late to turn it in for a prize upon completion:
I have other pictures of the day, but I won't share those here.  They'll be in a scrapbook, so next time you visit, and you care to see more, ask and I'll be happy to show them to you. 

1 comment:

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing your photos and trip stories. I went to Washington DC when I was in 8th grade and remember many of the same types of things. The White House was a very limited tour even when I was young. Back then, people who were not on school tours waited up to 3 hours to take the 15 minutes tour. There were no appointments.