Friday, April 1, 2016

The White House Tour That Almost Wasn't

At the end of our epic road trip we received an amazing invitation to tour the White House. It was an invitation that we couldn’t refuse… it was like it was meant to be. I say that because the day the announcement was made that a group I am a part of was touring the White House the tickets were gone by six o’clock that morning. Trust me when I tell you that I six in the morning I was probably still sleeping. I didn’t think to much about it and we continued on with our road trip. Then one day while I was lounging on my aunt’s couch after a long, hard drive I received a text asking if I would like to attend the White House tour. “Absolutely!” was my response without even having to give it any thought or figure out the logistics. We would be there.

Everything fell into place. We had a date and time to attend the tour, we cleared security, we had no other obligations that weekend, and the kid’s dad and grandparents were super excited about them visiting the White House.

We were scheduled to leave on Friday morning so we could spend the day touring the Smithsonian and other DC landmarks prior to our Saturday morning tour. Thursday evening, after a long day of car shopping and visiting old friends, I received a message that our tour details had changed. Now we needed to be in DC by Friday morning at 930a. For a moment I was extremely disappointed at not being able to attend but then I remembered who we are and what we do. We are travelers… we adjust, we regroup, and we make it happen and that is what we did. I threw stuff into suitcases, prepared the house for us to be gone, and left to pick up the kids from their dad’s house. By 1am we were on the road. Fueled by coffee and red bull and the adrenaline of driving the 6.5 hours overnight to get there on time, we rolled down the highway. It was an uneventful drive. I played a rotation of 6 cd’s and sang the entire way there. The kids tossed and turned trying to sleep… it’s a hard adjustment going from traveling in a 37 ft RV to an SUV.

After a bout with rush hour traffic we made it to the hotel around 8a giving us just enough time to dash in change clothes, find a place to park the car and catch a taxi to the White House. We joined the other eager and excited individuals in line to take the tour and that’s when I was finally able to take that sigh of relief. We did it. We were there.

While we waited in line the secret service man who had been chatting with the lady in front of us informed us that the president’s motorcade would be approaching soon and soon enough the lead car arrived and we waited with anticipation for the rest of the parade to approach. The flashing lights rounded the corner and the procession began. I couldn’t count the number of security cars it took to get the president and maybe his family safely into their home but it was a sight to see.

Finally it was our turn to go through security. That was some pretty intense security, which is understandable. 

Then we were in the White House. It was a surreal feeling to walk down the same hallways as American history. To explore the same space that Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy once occupied and the same space that the Obama’s still occupy was an experience  that can’t be described… only experienced.

After we oohed and ahhhhed over the magnificence of the white house I decided to take the kids down memory lane and show them how they got their start. We traveled the roads they father and I used to walk, saw the first apartments we stayed in, the neighborhoods we called home. I was excited to show my oldest son a life he no longer remembers. We laughed as I told them funny stories from when he was a baby. They listened as I described the struggle and how real it was (and they could see it with their own eyes), we ate patties and cocoa bread on Howard’s campus as I gave them the tour. We just really enjoyed returning ‘home’.

By the end of the down memory lane tour I was more than exhausted. I was running on 36 hours with no sleep and that wasn’t good. We made our way back to our hotel, which still wasn’t ready. We relaxed in the car for the next hour before finally able to head to our room. After such a long day we were all pooped and in the bed by four thirty. We were all asleep by 8p.

We slept in Saturday morning. When we were finally up we were eager to get our day started at the Smithsonian Museums. We caught the train, which was another experience I wanted to kids to have, and made it to the National Mall. We toured the monuments with the hoards of people before pushing our way through the crowds to get to the Natural History Museum. I was surprised at the long lines to get in and realized that Easter weekend may not be the best weekend to visit the touristy sites in DC. We were there however and we waited in line like the rest of the visitors. The kids enjoyed the museum but it was short lived due to three hungry kids. We rushed the last portion of the visit and made our way outside to the food trucks. We enjoyed lunch behind the museum and then made our way to the next museum. Unfortunately the line was way to long and we decided to call it a day. We did explore the Air and Space museum the next morning before we got on the road to make the long journey home.

All in all it was an epic weekend and I’m so glad we got to make the trip.

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