To the White House Batman!

So we finally made it to our Nation’s Capital, Washington DC and we were in awe the entire time.  We allotted two full days to take it all in.  Friday morning we went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (FYI all Smithsonian Museums are FREE, they each open at 10 and close at 5, and are opened every day of the year except Christmas).  We hung out with dinosaurs, mummies, narwhals and learned about the Poor People’s Campaign of the 60’s and stories of Japanese Americans that were forced into camps after Pearl Harbor.

From there, the main event……our tour of the White House.  In order to schedule a tour of the White House you must submit a request through your district’s State Representative (click this link to find yours).   They need at least two months to process the request, so be sure to plan a head! The tour is self-guided and I was completely terrified of accidentally stepping into an area I wasn’t supposed to be and being tackled by the secret service, but once we got started it was all very clear.  The tour consists of the East Wing only.  We saw the China Room, the Green Room, the Library, a few more parlor type rooms, and a formal dining area.  My favorite part was viewing all the famous art work you occasionally see on TV or in books, like the famous JFK portrait below.  It was such a neat feeling to walk the halls where the most powerful men and women in the world have, see what they see and experience something not too many get to.  This shot I took of the Washington Monument from the White House front porch will probably go down in our trip’s history book.

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After the White House we went to check out all the different memorials and monuments.  Lincoln was even bigger than I had expected, BJ was actually a little disappointed, and it was probably the first time since 6th grade that I had read the complete Gettysburg address.  The Vietnam War Memorial Wall brought me to tears and BJ helped a veteran find his fallen comrade that had saved his life and many others.  We walked through FDR’s and MLK’s on our way to the Jefferson monument, where we called it a day.

We took the weekend off and hung around the Pohick Bay Campground where we were staying.  We took the pups on little hikes, hung by the fire and caught up on work (adulting, ugh).

Monday we had a private tour of the Capitol building.  We were offered this after requesting and being approved for the White House tour.  I’m not sure if every Representative offers this type of tour, but be sure to ask.  Katie, in Representative Loudermilk’s office, was our tour guide and she did a fantastic job.  There is so much history in the Capitol and so many interesting stories.  We saw where Washington’s tomb was to be on display forever, but his family knew he would not have wanted to be treated as a King, so after some back and forth in the courts, they were granted the right to bury him at Mt. Vernon where he wished.  We saw the original Supreme Court, the original House of Representative’s floor and where Ab Lincoln’s desk once stood.  We walked the House floor and saw the bullet hole where Gabby Giffords had been shot (eerie) and where the President addresses the nation.  The Capitol tour, for me, was actually better than the White House, but I’m definitely glad we did both!

After the Capitol we grabbed lunch and then headed over the National Archives (again, FREE) to see the ORIGINAL Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.  The room was very dark and the words of the Declaration of Independence had pretty much faded, the only stroke remotely legible was the giant “J” of John Hancock’s signature. It was somewhat crowded and there isn’t a line, so it was kind of a mess, with folks pushing their way through.  But nothing could ruin that moment for me.  Everyone should take the time to visit DC, see the sites and soak in the history!

On the way home we stopped at Arlington National Cemetery.  I felt the tears start the moment I saw the first grave stone.  There were so, so, so, so many.  It did bring me some comfort to see that some of the men and women laid to rest had lived long, full lives.  And of course there were the others that went too soon, serving and protecting the American people.  We walked to JFK’s burial site, along with Jackie.  Then over to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier where we witnessed the changing of the guards.  We read all about the decision to create of the tomb, who would be interned there, and the many others just like it in Europe, where they also honor an Unknown American Soldier.  I felt silly as tears rolled down my face reading each story, watching the soldiers marching to guard the tomb, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the millions of lives lost at war and the brave people that risk it all for me.  Thank you for your sacrifice!

We used the Metro for all of our inter and somewhat outer city travels and I highly recommend it! We took SOOOOOOO many photos and I had planned to create a gallery, but have yet to download and purge from my phone and BJ’s.  I know, it’s pure laziness, but after working I like to step away from this screen for as long as humanly possible, you get it.

POOF, like that, it was over.  Something we had been anticipating for months had come and gone.  It was a whirlwind and exciting trip that I will NEVER EVER forget and I just feel so lucky that we got to experience it all.

We’ve been traveling with breaks in small destinations and we’re currently at our longest stop in a while, 2 weeks just outside of Ashville, NC.   We plan on taking long motorcycle rides through the Smokey’s, eating BBQ, drinking craft beer and relaxin’.

Stay Tuned!