Just Keep Walking
Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
9Trip End Jul 09, 2010
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Much has changed since our visit 20 years ago. Since 9/11, no longer can you drive past the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Most of the streets surrounding the White House are closed to traffic. No more standing in line around the Elliptical for public tours of the White House. All tours must be arranged through a Congressman. We passed through 2 security checkpoints much like airport security. Not much is allowed in the White House either. No bags, cameras or other personal items
Did you know the White House has over 140 rooms? And according to the Secret Service they are all used! Only 5 of these rooms are open to the public. We entered through the East Wing, where the First Lady has her offices (yes!) and enormous paintings of the former First Ladies hang. In the East Room, the largest room, hangs 3 crystal chandeliers. This room is used for the President's formal press conferences. First Lady Abigail Adams also used to hang her laundry to dry in this room. What a dichotomy!
President Jefferson dined in the Green Room, aptly named for the green water-silked fabric which covers the walls of this room. A coffee urn owned by the Adams and silver candlesticks owned by the Madisons are displayed in this room. The very elaborate Blue Room is used for receptions and bears the honor of being the only room in which a Presidential wedding took place, that of President Cleveland. First Ladies use the Red Room to receive guests. President Hayes also took the oath of office here. The last room we viewed was the State Dining Room, which can accommodate up to 140 people for state dinners. The White House prayer, written by John Adams, is inscribed on the mantle: "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it
Jonathan and Charis enjoyed the White House tour in their own way. We counted objects and looked for pictures of Presidents they recognized. Lots of people look like George Washington to Charis. They really enjoyed looking out the windows toward the National Mall area and beyond. From one window there was a great view of the Jefferson Memorial, which they recognized thanks to the Ultimate D.C. sticker books they completed during one of our travel days to D.C.
Today was a day filled with LOTS of walking. If I had a dollar for every time I heard "How much more walking?", we could have flown to D.C. Well, probably not but it seemed that way. A spin on a line from Finding Nemo kept playing through my head: "Just keep walking, Just keep walking, Just keep walking! And that we did...
Through the Air and Space museum, where we saw a Lockheed space craft that flies 1,291 mph. I told Jonathan if we had flown in that to D.C. instead of driving we would have been here in just over an hour. "We should fly in that next time", he said
We walked some more over to the Russell Senate Building, where we met a small group of other people from Oklahoma, to begin our Capitol tour with one of Senator Inhofe's interns. The best part of this tour for Jonathan and Charis was riding the special congressional tram from the Senate Building underground to the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). No walking necessary!
The CVC took nearly 6 years to construct and is just behind the Capitol. It was built completely underground so as not to spoil the view of the Capitol from the rest of the city. From there we walked more as we toured the Capitol, which is indescribably grand and more impressive than the White House to me. Jonathan and Charis, however, were not impressed one bit. We skipped viewing the Senate and House in action to get them back to the hotel to do something they were impressed with--swimming at the hotel pool! Good treatment for tired feet.
Charis fell asleep at dinner tonight...at least she didn't fall asleep in her dinner!
Can't wait to tell you about our Wednesday activities!