Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A White House, Museums and a View

Today I was up early again as Muffet and I were scheduled for a White House tour. Thomas was unable to go with us because of his conference. It was another cold morning and it was snowing again - the temperature was hovering around 31° but there were things to do. We decided that we didn't want to walk the 16 blocks to the White House so we took a cab instead. Once we were at the entrance point for the tours we got in line and made our way to the tour. We had to show a voucher and then go through three security checkpoints before we actually entered the White House. All tours at the White House are self-guided. Well they say self-guided but there is only one way for you to go - so you end up just following a designated plan. You enter into the East Wing lobby and then continue along the East Colonnade. While in the East Colonnade you get to peek into the Library, the Vermeil Room and the China Room. At this point the hall is blocked (this leads into the West Wing area and I guess, we as Americans aren't good enough to see that part) and you have to continue up some stairs. At the top of the stairs you enter into the East Room and then you follow a well marked and roped off path through the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the State Dining Room, the Cross Hall and the Entrance Hall before exiting out onto the North Portico. So you walk through about eight rooms, you are in the house less than 45 minutes and you learn very little. The house has 132 rooms, we saw eight - that is only 6% of the building. Now I realize that this is a working house and the home of the first family but I feel that the tour could have been much better. Here is a link to the actual tour - Welcome to the White House. I was very unimpressed and probably wouldn't do it again.
After the tour we walked to a coffee shop and had something warm to drink while it continued to snow.
Law Enforcement Memorial
Then we took a cab back to the hotel so that Muffet could get ready for the conference and I could gather my things for some sight seeing (you aren't allowed to take much into the White House). Then it was time to see DC. I decided to walk even though it was still snowing and a little cold but I thought I could handle it.  I walked from our hotel along E St. headed west and made my first stop at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. I walked around and took some pictures before continuing on my way.
Car at Spy Museum
When I arrived at 9th St. I went one block north and stopped to visit the International Spy Museum. I paid my admission and then joined a group of people and we were put into an elevator where we went up to a room where you assume an identity. Then you watch a short film before entering the exhibits. I probably spent a little over an hour in the museum - there is so much to see. Lots of interactive things and an exhibit on 50 Years of Bond Villains plus lots of information on real life spies. I had a great time and would love to go back just to catch things I missed. I left the Spy Museum and walked west along F St. and then turned south on 10th St. to go to Ford's Theater and the Peterson House. Lincoln is my favorite President and I have wanted to visit these two historic places for a long time.
Gun that killed Lincoln
I started at Ford's Theater where you walk through an exhibit and then when you are ready you can go into the balcony of the Theater and see where Lincoln was sitting when he was shot. After that I crossed the street to the Peterson House where you can see the room where the President died. You then exit the house and go up in an elevator to start a tour of an exhibit all about Lincoln. It was so interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the tours. While at the Theater I collected the National Passport Cancellation Stamps to add to my collection.
South view of the White House
I now wanted to get my Cancellation Stamps from the White House. Since I wasn't able to bring my things this morning I decided to go back to the White House Visitors Center to get them. After stamping all the stamps into my book I talked with one of the Rangers about other things to do in the area. Then I was on my way. I first went to the Ellipse where I could get a good view of the south face of the White House and take some pictures. Once that was done I walked back to Pennsylvania Ave. and then made my way to 12th St. to the Old Post Office Pavilion. We had heard rumors that the Pavilion was closed but the Ranger I talked to earlier said it was still open. So I entered the building and then went to the Tower entrance. Here I talked to another Ranger and got the Cancellation Stamps. I then entered the elevator and went up to the 9th floor. This elevator is glass and you get to see the inside of the Pavilion. At the 9th floor you get off the elevator and walk down a hall to another elevator that you take to the 12th floor where you can get great views of the city. I walked around the tower for about 15 minutes and took some pictures and talked to another Ranger. Here I got the entire story of the plans for the Old Post Office. I found out that the building was almost demolished twice but was eventually saved and now the Trump Empire is going to lease the building for 60 years and turn it into a luxury hotel - of course only the extreme wealthy will be able to stay there. The building is going to close sometime between the end of March and the beginning of May for renovations. When all the work is done and the building reopens the Tower will be accessible to the public again. I hope that is true because the views from here are incredible. [You can read about this at Donald Trump to open his first hotel in D.C.] After looking at the views I walked down a couple of flights of stairs to see the Bells of Congress, then I made my way to the 9th floor to take the elevator back down to the lobby.

By this time it was a little after 4:00pm and I was getting tired of walking. I had signed up for a walking tour of the monuments on the Mall (DC by Foot) but I didn't feel like I had the energy to do that walk after the long day I just had. So I decided to get back on E St. and make my way back to the hotel and maybe find something to eat on my way. I ended up eating at the Hard Rock Cafe and I relaxed and read some emails while eating. By the time I got back to the hotel it was around 6:30pm and I was tired and feeling a little congested - I guess from walking in the snow, cold and wind. So I took a shower and then jumped in bed to write this blog. I really need to get some rest because tomorrow is another busy day. Oh, I did try to some letterboxing but didn't have any luck and you can read about it at Letterboxing in DC.
View down Pennsyvania Avenue to the Capitol from the Old Post Office Tower

No comments :