Close Encounters

Saturday my family was in town and we headed into DC for the day. Our first stop was the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Out of the Smithsonian's, this was definitely one of my preferred stops. Some of them get way too boring for me.

From the second level outside of the museum.

First we saw Julia Child's kitchen. I have never really watched her, but it was still pretty neat to see that. On the same floor, there was some robotics stuff that John was interested in and also a little history of transportation. There was a train built into the museum as well as some cars and a tractor trailer. This would be an awesome place to take kids one day. (Bonus- the Smithsonian's are free!)

Over the next couple of hours we also saw the other floors that had the original Star Spangled Banner, war histories, money, and a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln's top hat that he was wearing the night he was shot.

Following our short run through of the museum, John's mom & dad picked us up in their big van and took us over to the White House. First John's dad gave us a history of the DC area/White House and then drove us right up to the door. Obviously we had to get badges (they had already requested our SSN's and run background checks) and go through metal detectors, but that was it.

Looking toward the Washington Monument from the White House.

Our tour was special because it was a private tour. Normally to get a tour of the White House, one would have to write to their representative and ask to do a tour. The tours this way are self guided and certain areas are roped off, etc. On our tour, John's dad became our tour guide and was able to give us much more in depth information. Plus, we were allowed into many spaces not accessible on a standard tour and we were allowed to take photos. The downside- I can't share the photos with you. Sad.

Looking at the Jefferson Memorial from the front steps of the White House. See all of those suckers down at the fence looking at us?

Our tour consisted of the ground floor, and first floor of the White House, followed by the Briefing Room. The White House had two more floors that are First Family living quarters that we were not allowed into.

The first floor consisted of the library where the fire-side chats took place, the China room displaying all of the china chosen by the First Ladies (each administration gets to pick a new set of china- awesome looking? yes. Huge waste of money? also yes.), an entrance room (I can't remember what it was actually called!) the kitchen, and a glassed in conservatory-type room.

We stepped out the front door while on this floor and while we were out there, one (or both) of the daughters came home and we had to be shuffled around to not be in their way. Then while we were in the glassed in room, Secret Service rushed in and asked us to move quickly. I watched him as he left, and lo & behold- there was the President... walking right toward us! Before we could get shuffled out the door, the President walked right in and passed us, saying "Hi" to John's dad. Pretty sweet, eh? (There is where the "close encounter" comes in.)

The second floor of the White House had a giant ballroom that was being set up for the Governor's meeting this week, the Red Room, Green Room (both sitting-type rooms), and a giant dining room.

In pretty much every space that we saw there were elaborate flower arrangements. The flowers were all real and FRESH! I had to sniff all of them and take pictures.

They were all as amazing as this one and coordinated with the theme of the room it was in! Instead of being in vases, the bottom of the arrangement was "dressed" with giant leaves wrapped and folded in various ways. Awesome.

We left the White House from the North Portico.


After leaving the White House, we headed to the briefing room. This is the room shown in official White House briefings. Each news affiliation has their own assigned seats and camera space. The back of the building has desk/work space for reporters to write up their articles.

The North Portico of the White House.

So there you go.. a sort of inside look at the White House. I so wish I could share all of the photos that I took!

Betty  – (February 25, 2010 at 12:55 PM)  

nice pictures - you can really see the color change in the washington monument

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