Sunday, August 2, 2009

A trip to the White House

I had a great time visiting with my parents during their visit down to DC last weekend.  I wasn't sure whether to relax and take it easy or go crazy with touristy trips all weekend, but I think we managed to strike a good balance.  Friday, after a long and eventful trip to the city, my parents got to come to my work BBQ at CEQ.  Van Jones was out on vacation with his family, but I was able to introduce them to most of the rest of the people I've been working with for the past few weeks, all of whom are great.  After that we took a trip down to 8th Street to Banana Cafe, one of my favorite places to go out in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  Almost every night of the week Gordon is upstairs jammin' on the piano to any song you can throw at him - anything from the Beatles and Billy Joel (just don't ask him to play Piano Man!) t0 R. Kelly and TLC.  
Saturday we took a trip to Eastern Market and wandered around enjoying the afternoon.  My dad bought me one of his favorite books - Chesapeake by James Michener.  I've got a stack of books that I've been meaning to get to but I'm really looking forward to that one.  Saturday night was a bbq with the housemates.  Since we travel so much it's rare that we're all in town at the same time, so we were thankful for the opportunity.  The menu: hot peppers and fresh baked bread, corn casserole, and chicken, beef, and shrimp kabobs.   
Sunday we got off to a slow start but covered a lot of miles in one day!  We headed up to the National Buildings Museum to see the 'Washington: City of Symbol' exhibit, which displays the history and design of the city and the first planners' attempt to balance between DC's place as a national symbol, an ever-evolving city, and the center of a government by the states.   I would recommend this free exhibit to anyone who comes to DC.  I also really love the actual building structure inside the Buildings museum itself.  It's a huge open space with enormous pillars and gorgeous detail.  What really gets me is how incredibly tiny I feel when I'm in there.  It's just such a different, fun feeling.  

Next we were off to the White House for a tour of the West Wing.  While I'm at my current job I am allowed to take people in during off-buisiness hours and give tours, and this was my first one.  I'll admit, I thought it was pretty cool that I was able to do this, but it was even more exciting than I had expected just being able to walk around inside the White House grounds.  I think we were all in awe.  This being my first tour, I brought a map and a print-out that explained a little bit of all of the rooms we were going to walk through, but somewhere between the gates and the three security checks we lost the papers!  I was feeling pretty bad about this since I didn't really know anything at all about we were looking at, but luckily we were right behind a nice boy giving a tour to a young married couple.  After trying unsuccessfully to eavesdrop on what he was saying for a few minutes, we politely asked if we could listen in, because clearly he knew a lot more than we did.  I'm so glad we did this!  As a secret service emergency responder, he's been giving tours for three years, and really knew his stuff.  We walked to the Rose Garden (couldn't go out because the Obama girls were outside playing), the Navy Mess Hall, the Cabinet Room, the Roosevelt Room (used to be called the Fish Room), the Oval Office (so beautiful), and the Press Room (a lot smaller than I expected).  We learned about Norman Rockwell's four historic pictures on the wall (worth $.25M each), the carpeting and desk in the president's oval office, why Obama puts fruit out in bowls instead of flowers (healthy eating model), what it's like on the weekends (jeans finally okay) and when he brings his kids in.  Unfortunately, we were only allowed to take pictures outside the White House and in the Press Room.   With enough notice I can take anyone in so you might just have to come down and see for yourself ;)