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The White House and a massive thunderstorm do NOT mix!

March 20, 2012

TJ and I blasted out of bed at 5:00 a.m. this morning and turned on the local news. They were reporting that it had rained an inch to an inch and a half all around us overnight. TJ walked to the window, looked out and said, “Nothin’ here!”

An hour later, we started hearing massive booms of thunder, and saw bright flashes of lightening. But at least it wasn’t raining……..until about two minutes before we stepped out to catch our cab!! It was POURING. I’ve seen a lot of drenching rain, but this had to have been some of the worst I’ve EVER experienced. Not to mention the crashing thunder followed by cracks of lightening. By the time we hopped into the cab (with an umbrella) we were both wet. When the driver let us out where we were to meet the park ranger that would get us on our way to the tour, it had slowed somewhat. TJ and I were early, so we were first in line. Shortly after we showed up, people started showing up left and right. Before we knew it, there was a line going down the street of folks waiting to get in. It was really pretty with the clouds, fog, rain and sun trying to peak out. I took this shot on my phone of the area directly across from the White House entrance and visitor’s center:

 

Finally, it was our turn to start making our way to the White House. First we had to run the gamut of security, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but freaked TJ out. The most intense one was 2 Secret Service agents, one with a dog sniffing us for explosives (the dog did, not the agents…). I told AJ that the one agent not holding the dog looked like he would eat his own grandma if he ran out of food!!

 FINALLY we came through these big wrought iron gates and to our left was the home of the President. We entered the East Wing and were allowed to take our own time exploring what there was to see. Besides the photographs of Presidents and their First Ladies through the years, the place was lousy with original oil paintings of Presidents from Harrison to Bush (the last one). Paintings of the Presidents that served in the 17 & 1800’s actually dated to their times, which was so cool! Plus, they had a china hutch full of crystal and china from the Presidencies of Lincoln, Hamilton, Kennedy, and Clinton, to name a few.

 We were able to poke our heads into the Vermeil Room, Library, and China room. The Vermeil Room is decorated with vermeil (a gilded silver) and is used for a variety of functions. There were portraits of some of the more modern first ladies hanging here (the Jackie Kennedy was fabulous).

 The Library is most often used for interviews the President and First Lady give. It houses over 2500 books by American authors about – what else? – America!

The China room has display cases set into the wall and houses one set of china from each President. All three rooms have paneling made from 1817 timbers that were salvaged during reconstruction in the 1940’s & 50’s.

Then we went upstairs to the 2nd floor and entered the East Room. There is an original portrait of George Washington hanging here, probably the one most of us are familiar with of him in his military outfit. This room is the largest in the White House and both Abraham Lincoln and JFK’s bodies lay in state there. Lynda Bird Johnson was also married in this room. Inside the room is a grand piano that would make Steinway cry! It’s legs are eagles and it’s about 12 foot long!

From there we passed into the Green Room. This room was used as a dining room by Thomas Jefferson! The walls are covered in green silk with a water stain pattern. It holds a coffee urn that was John Adams; and silver candlesticks of Dolly Madison.

 Next was the Blue room (which has the Presidential Seal over it’s door). This room has the White House Christmas tree placed in the middle of it for the holiday season. They remove the HUGE chandelier and bring in an 18 ft. Douglas fir. There are 20 foot windows, and the middle window perfectly frames the Washington Monument. Beautiful!! This room is most often used by the President to receive guests to the White House.

The last color room was the Red Room. Used for receptions, this room is where President Hayes took the Oath of Office. As we came out of the three rooms (we were allowed to actually walk through them) we passed into a hall and I was so happy to see the painting I did. Most of you will know what I’m talking about. It was the unconventional portrait of President Kennedy with his arms crossed and looking down. I swear, I saw about fifty paintings that I had to study in my Art History class!!

Lastly, we came into the State Dining Room. The room is used for “small” luncheons and dinners where only 130 people or less are at. The dining table that was in there seated about 30 people. It was a trestle table just like you’d find at The Room Store, but about 200 years old and better built! Then our tour was over and we walked out through the FRONT DOOR OF THE WHITE HOUSE!!!!! I mean, like we BELONGED there or something!! Strolled out under the portico and down the driveway. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but I got this one (this is where we exited):

TJ and I stood right under that, er, porch! I still can’t believe we were actually in there! TJ and I kept looking at each other and saying, “We are in the White House!” It was a surreal experience. On our way down the sidewalk, I snapped this pic of the Department of the Treasury:

And, yeah, everything here looks like this!! I swear I saw a Quizno’s that resembled this architecture!!!

Ok, so after all the excitement, we ventured over to the National Air and Space Museum. Now, this is TJ’s favorite place, and I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t think I’d be that interested in it. Boy, was I wrong!! It’s like a big/little kid’s dream walking in there!! This is the first thing you see:

And I  was like, “Well, AW-RIGHT!!” Oh, and Tommy? Did you know that Ford manufactured airplanes for a short time? Check this out!

That’s it up top. If you look near the tail, you’ll see “Ford Motors”. The plane was built out of corrugated metal and  I just thought, “Now that is something Tommy would do!” Shoot, Tom’s held up pieces of corrugated metal building horse stalls and nearly taken flight in a strong wind!!

We also visited the WWII exhibition, and TJ and I were both excited to see a display that had Lt. Col. Doolittle’s actual medals (including his Medal of Honor (#1)) and a piece of the wreckage of his plane from the raid on Tokyo:

I am such a history dork that seeing these tangible pieces of history was really great. However, this whole time my poor TJ started having some kind of terrible allergy attack. He couldn’t stop sneezing, and his right eye kept closing involuntarily from the irritation his nose was going through. He was so miserable that we decided maybe we should get him back to the room and get some Benedryl in him STAT! But once we left the museum, his urge to sneeze seemed to go away. We thought, perhaps, there had been something in the museum that triggered it and decided to go on to the National Museum of the American Indian.

This museum didn’t seem to have near as many exhibits as the others, and a lot seemed to be closed off. But we were able to see a few things, like this GORGEOUS beaded dress:

And this cool, beaded Volkswagon. I can’t imagine the amount of time and work that went into beading this!

While we were walking around, TJ noticed some windows that looked out over the National Mall and took these pictures. I wish I could take credit for them because they are so good, but he’s a pretty good snap hound!

Yes, those are the elusive cherry blossoms that everyone loves to see. We’re going to pay a visit to the Tidal Basin, but here’s a little preview:

Finally, TJ couldn’t take it anymore and asked to return to the room. Right now he’s curled up, asleep – trying to recover from that nasty attack. While we were waiting to hail a cab, I snapped these shots just for fun:

I’m gonna warn you all that I am so in love with taking pictures of this building I’ll probably post one every day! 

This little guy posed for me, and I did not have to use my zoom lens. There were about five little sparrows hopping around us and were fascinated with the black thing hanging off my face!! I was so close at one point, I could have held one. I love birds, so this was a nice little moment for me.

And last, but not least, I have to leave my husband with this picture:

Hon, this here is the DOT and FMCSA!!! And let me tell you, I looked in their windows (yes, I did!) and there is paper EVERYWHERE. There is definitely no recycling going on here…..

See you all tomorrow! Who knows where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing, just pray that TJ is feeling much better!!

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4 Comments
  1. Mammy permalink

    I almost felt like I was there. And the pictures, especially the one of the white house, are excellent. You really should do a travel book or something. Can’t wait for the rest of the week! And, TJ, I’m praying that your allergies will go away so you can enjoy the rest of the trip. Love Momammy

  2. A.J. permalink

    Mother, how could you NOT think you would like the Air and Space Museum since everytime you chance to see a plane in the air, you practically hop on the roof of the car to see it better? Just curious…LOL It’s weird, though, because I recognize all the planes from the Night at the Museum II movie!

    That’s a really good picture of that little sparrow! He’s, like, “Get my good side, lady.”

    I can’t wait to see some close up pictures of the cherry blossoms, especially with your mad camera skills!

  3. Tina permalink

    I got your text w/picture of White House this AM but was driving to work. I was hoping you’d have all the info on the blog.Sounds like you had a great day. I believe TJ and I went to the Air Museum twice, because he really liked that one. Hope his allegies are bettertomorrow. You are all probably cutting ZZZZs right now. Hope you get up to Arlington. TJ didn’t get to see much of it the day we went. The fort with Caisson is behind the cemetary and AJ and I stayed across the street. We got in with my military ID, so not sure if you can get in, but think AJ really enjoyed it. Miss you but know you are having a good time. God Bless

  4. AJ, wait till you see the other pics I got of the little sparrows. So cute! They were right next to me, watching me. I put my hand out and one nearly worked up the nerve to hop on it!! All the animals here (even the RAT we saw at the White House) are v-e-r-y well fed and so cute (the rat wasn’t cute, just well fed). But to give you an idea, I took several pics of the lil’ guy in the tree and he was more than happy to sit there for me. In fact, he kept hopping closer to me on the branch…..

    I think I thought the A&S Museum would be more………………boy oriented? IDK how to describe what I thought. But, yeah, I was all over them planes. Especially the big Boing 747 you could look into the cockpit on.

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