Thursday, April 27, 2017

(Travel Journal) DC Days 0 and 1

I keep referring to our travel day to DC as Day 0.

We left the house a bit before 8:30 that morning and, after a few stops, arrived at Rich's brother's house in Arlington at dinnertime.  There was some traffic in CT near NY and again in MD/DC due to rush hour but all in all, traffic was reasonable.  I plan to talk later on how we do road trips.  I know there are a lot of different viewpoints and opinions on this topic.

The girls played with their cousins and were in bed at a decent hour as their two older cousins had school the next day.  My BIL's and SIL's house has a finished basement but because of how open the stairways are it almost feels like a three story home.  There's a separate bedroom and full bath in the basement, along with a sofa bed.  Charlie, one of the girls' cousins, has two twin beds in his room and there was also an air mattress.  Anna and Emily slept upstairs in the room with him, which I thought was so cute.  Allie, who is most like me, opted to sleep downstairs with me.

The White House

The next morning, we were all awake around 7:00 and had two hours before we needed to head out.  The first thing we did in DC was actually the highlight of our trip.  Anyone can request a tour of the East Wing of the White House but I dropped the ball on this when I didn't begin to plan for our trip until a few weeks prior.  Lucky for us, my BIL has a connection to the White House and without us even asking, sent Rich an email saying we were added to a tour of the East Wing.  We did need to provide our social security numbers for a background check.

It's a five mile drive from where we were staying to the White House but we left an hour beforehand due to city traffic and we didn't know exactly where we were going to park.  City driving means you stop at 85% of the traffic lights because they are red.  And there's a traffic light at every block/intersection.  We drove around the area, didn't see any parking so we paid to park in the Ronald Reagan building.

Basically, for this tour, you are very limited on what you can bring in with you.  NO BAGS at all.  We could carry in our wallets, phones and small cameras.  I had to leave my bag with all my camera equipment in the van, along with the bag holding Anna's supplies.  This is one of the reasons why we opted to drive into DC instead of taking a cab, bus or the Metro.  We planned to return to our vehicle immediately after the White House tour to retrieve these belongings and have a private place to cath Anna.    

It was painful not having my camera, but I did use my phone.  It's just not the same.  (I feel the need to add that these are unedited, except for the one I took out the window.  I had to adjust the color.)














(The sun flare is unfortunately making Rich look bald.)



Tips for East Wing tour:
  • Make your request ASAP.  Yes, time is needed to run background checks, but these tours are limited in number and do fill up.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather as you will be waiting outside in line for a considerable amount of time.  You pass through many security checks and the line is slow moving.  
  • There are no bathrooms available while you're in line or during the tour.  Plan accordingly.

National Museum of Natural History

After retrieving our prohibited items from the van and a bathroom break, we headed off to our next stop, the National Museum of Natural History.  We were able to walk there from the Ronald Reagan Building.

I was once forced to spend two entire days touring the Air and Space Museum.  This is not an exaggeration.  Because of that experience, I tend to follow the girls' lead on what they want to see and not create an agenda or think that we have to spend x amount of hours in a museum.  Note that this museum is free of charge.




We walked through and took in many of the exhibits.  The museum was somewhat crowded during our visit with many school groups.  The girls finally reached the point where they were tired of walking and needed a considerable break so we decided to eat a late lunch in the cafeteria in the museum.  The food was somewhat pricey but actually pretty tasty for cafeteria-style service.

Washington Monument and World War II Memorial

After the museum, we went back to the van and drove over to the National Mall to check out some of the monuments.  There is parking all around the block and so we drove around once and scored a parking spot right next to the Washington Monument.  (Note that the elevator in the monument will be under repair until the spring of 2019.)










(Rich took this with his phone.  I kept meaning to hand my camera over to him so I could be in some photos and then completely forgot to.)

The weather was beautiful with clear skies and temperature in the low 80s.  With the sun and the humidity though, Anna was really warm and exhausted from all the walking.  We headed back to my BIL's house in Arlington to give the girls some time to play and relax before dinner.



Christi said...

great trip report
love all the architectural details in the White House

in high school we spent a whole day at the Air & Space Museum so it's never at the top of my list of Smithsonians to visit

the cartwheeler in front of the Washington Monument is a great shot as is the one of the three girls at the WWII Monument

and I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks it's worth it to bring out the "big camera". iPhone photos just aren't as crisp and clear unless you edit the heck out of them

MCox said...

Wow. I live in Arlington and my husband works in the Ronald Reagan Building. Would have been cool to run into you. I didn't recognize the neighborhood in photo though so must be North Arlington.