We had one busy day and now headed back to our hotel – in the dark. Everyone was tired and everyone was hungry and here is a BIG tip about visiting Washington D.C. Don’t expect to eat anywhere around the capitol/White House area at night. Not going to happen … well, we did find food, but it was a challenge and primarily ended up to be McDonalds.
Anyhow on the way back, we did make a slight turn to the right to see the White House. If you haven’t been to the White House in the last two decades or so, you will find the street very different from what it used to be. Interestingly, TODAY is the 20th anniversary of the street being closed. At first it was temporary, but after 9/11 the street closure became permanent. I’ve seen the White House before, but the family hadn’t and they all thought it looked small and unimpressive. Last time I was there, we went inside and I was unimpressed with the scuffed-up walls. I know with people always walking through, it would be easy for walls to get dirty, but how much does a can of paint cost?
I also have a picture (from last time) of a guard chasing me off the porch. I wasn’t trying to do anything illegal. I knew we couldn’t take photos in the house, but I thought since I was outside, it would be ok. Not.
Across the street from the White House is the Blair House – at times used as the Vice President’s quarters, but is actually the White House guest house. When we think of the Blair House, we think of a white townhouse-looking building – which it is. However, the total house is actually four townhouses and has 70,000 square feet of space – enough for security and several visiting dignitaries. If you haven’t been to Washington D.C. – there are several websites that give you virtual tours inside both houses. Kind of interesting.
We made it back across the bridge (now we had walked ten miles) and were back in the National Mall where we visited the World War II Memorial. I think this was my favorite – but probably because I was seeing it at night and the fountain was beautiful – especially with the Lincoln Memorial in the background.
This memorial was dedicated by President Bush in 2004 and actually was considered controversial. Critics said it was built in an area reserved for protestors. Others said it obstructed the view between the Washington and Lincoln Memorials and still others said it had been build too quickly. Most memorials had been in the works for years as the design was decided. But, it was explained, this was for the World War II veterans and they were dying off. Later, I learned that there are two places in the memorial where it says “Kilroy was here.”
So the reason we were waiting for the train was to get into the city. And yes, the train finally did come. The train ride itself was good – comfortable seats. Those who were commuting (like us) were in different cars from those who had travelled the entire way from Chicago and other points west.
After an hour and a half (or so, can’t remember exactly) we made it to Union Station. (Union Station, D.C., not Chicago – just think if you were on the train and you were very tired. You wake up after hours of travel to hear the conductor say you’re at Union Station which is where you started. Ok, enough of that.)
We went from the Amtrak part of the station to the Metro part of the station which is D.C.’s subway and very easy to figure out and also an easy way to navigate the city.
We got off the Metro downtown near Farragut Square which is known more for “Farragut Friday – when 20 some food trucks show up” than it is for the statue of Admiral Farragut – of Civil War fame. Alas … we were not there on Friday.
After checking into our hotel, we headed toward the monuments.
Except we got stopped.
Everything was stopped.
Someone was coming!
Turns out the Obama girls were coming home to the White House and someone said the Grandma was also in the car. When the cars got there – they were going so fast, who knows who was inside. But once they passed, everyone started walking again