Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday in D.C.

Monday morning started with a sleep in to catch up from traveling. Some of the clothes and jackets from the night before were dry, and we dressed for more rain on this day. We had only one commitment and that was our Capitol tour at 2 pm. Breakfast was still on the table downstairs. One nice thing about the hotel we stayed at was the food. We had full breakfasts provided with many varied choices and featured items each morning. We also had three evenings of Manager Dinners. These were full meals provided Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening, the days we happened to be there. It was nice to not have to worry about meals except for lunch and snacks. There was still discussion of the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies from the Wyoming Inn last summer, but we can't have everything.

After breakfast we decided to go shopping before heading to conquer the Metro. We needed umbrellas, and we looked up the location of the nearest REI and headed there. I had one umbrella in the car but we each needed one to avoid a soaking similar to the previous night. I also discovered that I ended up carrying lots of stuff in a shoulder bag the night before. Extra coats, hats, maps, snacks, park passports, souvenirs, and more. But my bag was too big for the dimension requirements to go inside the Capitol, so I picked up a smaller, waterproof bag at REI as well. With all of our needed items we headed for the Metro.

Chad had directions to the parking ramp and had no trouble finding it. We parked and walked across the sky walk to stare again at the machine before us. We had also looked at the Metro website for the best form to purchase fare for the week. With a quick instruction from a Metro worker milling around, we each had a fare card and were ready to go. The train routing was easy to understand and we had a downtown detail map that showed the station locations as well so it was easy to pick our stopping point. The Metro was handy through our entire trip, but especially on this day to avoid walking long distances in the rain.
We went to the White House Visitors Center, which was not real exciting. Then we walked towards the White House and peered at it through the fence in the rain. The most interesting thing was watching the guards inspect vehicles going into the area with mirrors and dogs, then flipping down a huge reinforced metal gate to let them through. We jumped on train to Union Station for lunch before our scheduled tour of the Capitol.

I have to say the most impressive thing of the trip was the Capitol tour, and we have Senator Feingold and his office to thank for it. The Capitol was an impressive, history filled building. Our tour was a private tour for the four of us led by one of Senator Feingold's interns, Jihan. We requested the tour months before along with a tour of the White House which was not approved.(Not by any poor history in our background checks, the White House tour is just very limited.) We met in the office in the Hart Senate Building then after getting our hands and bags checked for explosives, we headed to the Capitol via an underground tram. We went past all the visitors waiting in line at the Capitol Visitors Center to the side door of the theater for the next introductory movie. First dibs on seats, along with another guided tour from a different Senator's office. After the movie we headed to the public area of the Capitol for a tour. Jihan was very informative and we learned a lot about the construction and artwork in the Capitol as well as tales of past government figures. Here is the center of designed Washington D.C. where for luck we all rubbed with our foot. Here is the rotunda dome design.
After this tour we hiked to the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Then down the mall to walk past the National Archives after we saw the huge line wrapped around the building. We headed to a nearby Metro station to head back to the hotel.