Washington DC – wow, what an amazing city and experience. Six days here doesn’t even put a dent in all there is to see and do. I am so lucky that I was included in a couple events that Theresa was attending- one being a Happy Hour sponsored by two Washington congressmen and a personal night tour of the Capitol by congressman Derek Kilmer. But I will get back to all that later.
We arrived late Monday night and had an Uber ride to our hotel with Theresa’s boss. We are staying at the Hotel Monaco, which is kitty corner to the arena where all the major sports teams play and we are directly across from the National Portrait Gallery.
Monday night the hockey team Washington Capitals was playing game six of the semi-finals for the Stanley Cup. We were all hungry so the three of us and another of co-worker decided to walk a few blocks to a Mexican restaurant and have some tapas before they closed. Theresa and I checked in first and left to meet the others. Well, in that short time the game had ended and the Caps (Capitals) has won so everyone leaving the arena was in party and celebration mode. Car horns would give 3 strong honks, then everyone would yell “let’s go, Caps!” Honk honk honk! Let’s go, Caps! Then lots of cheering. It was a great welcome to DC.
Theresa had stayed at this hotel before but was really disappointed with our room. It actually was on the lower level and the only windows were up high and you looked up to the street. Kinda creepy. I like to people watch but not be the one watched. And the ceiling of our room was really low so you felt cramped. We arranged to move to a better room Tuesday after all the hockey fans had checked out in the morning. The new room is great and we are super happy.
Tuesday morning Theresa left for her meeting at the House of Representatives and I took off walking and exploring. It was raining so took a hotel umbrella, thank goodness, because at one point it was torrential rain. I am really good with directions until just close to my destination then usually turn the wrong way, so of course I needed help from time to time til I was smart enough to see the great street signs and also use Google maps on my phone. I walked past many important buildings like the FBI, Dept. of Justice, several of the Smithsonian museums, the new African American museum, the Washington Monument, the White House and ending up at the Portrait Gallery. My goal was get oriented and then hit it hard on Wednesday. But I learned at most of the exhibits you need a ticket to get even though they are free. That is how they control how many at a time are in the building. The popular ones daily allotment of tickets often means waiting in a line early in the morning and hope you get one. So, for example to see Museum X, Y or whatever you go before the ticket office opens, stand in line, chose a tour time, then go back later for the time your ticket is for. Some exhibits you can order tickets in advance. I am still learning some of that.
Anyway, after a long day of walking I joined Theresa and 2 coworkers in our lobby for a short happy hour and appetizers, then got to go with them to a rustic downstairs bar a few blocks away for a no-host Happy Hour sponsored by Congressman Derek Kilmer, 6th congressional district and Congressman Denny Heck, 10th congressional district. (Both present, plus a congressman from Colorado ). There were about 20 -25 people and all very welcoming to me being there with them. It was interesting eavesdropping in on conversations and people watching. There was a lot of schmoozing and not much drinking. So even though we did 2 happy hours I had a total of 2 glasses of wine, Theresa and coworkers either water or maybe a wine or a beer. Just want you all to know it was very good behavior and not a booze fest.
Theresa and I then hiked 30 minutes to the Capitol building where Congressman Kilmer gave a night tour to about 15 of us. It was fabulous. The Congressman has a great sense of humor, an obvious love of history, and a ton of fun trivia facts about the Capitol. By the way, a normal person can request a tour through their district representative but you need to do it months in advance. It is not a drop-in thing at all. The House was working but in recess so we didn’t tour the floor of the House, but we got to go up in the gallery. We did get to go on the floor of the Senate. There is lots of security but all very friendly and efficient. It was a really great tour, about 1 1/2 hours, then the Congressman walked with all of us to where we catch an Uber, taxi or Metro to go to our various destinations. He stayed with us until the last person had a way back where they needed to go. In case you can’t pick this up, I really liked and was impressed by Congressman Kilmer. That district should be very proud he represents them.
We got back to our hotel around 10:30 and were hungry so went into the bar where they were still serving late snacks. Our waiter forgot to put in our order (even though we had paid) so he felt bad enough to get us a couple free drinks and added some truffle fries to our order. I think we got to our room around 12:30….
Wednesday morning I was lazy and fell back to sleep after Theresa headed to her meeting at the Senate. And because my feet hurt, I got a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. It is touristy but a great way to get around and learn more interesting facts. I got off at Union Station and had lunch and people watched. It is a beautiful building and super busy. I wandered across the street to the National Postal Museum next door to Union Station. There was a docent giving a tour to a couple people so I joined them. What a fun and interesting museum. Our guide knew so much and we saw very rare stamps like the up-side down Jenny airplane, very unusual stamps like the one that is a feather (for airmail), one from 1937 taxing marihuana (spelled that way then). In reality it was a tax on hemp, so, no, marijuana was not legal in 1937.
While there we got a really special treat. The musical Hamilton is coming to DC in June so all over the city there are special exhibits opening soon. The Postal Museum will be displaying the dueling revolvers from the famous Alexander Hamilton – Aaron Burr duel. They had just brought the revolvers in by armed guard that morning and were setting up the room. Our tiny group of 3 got permission to peek in the room and take pictures as long as we stayed behind the roped area. The exhibit opens Friday and there will be long lines, so seeing this way was super cool and special.
I hopped back on the bus and got out at the stop for the Holocaust Museum and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Theresa wants to go to the bureau so I was on a fact finding mission about tickets. They suggested trying Thursday because with the holiday and also tons ( and I mean tons!!!) of school tour groups it would be very hard to get tickets for Friday.
OK, this enough for chapter 1 of the trip.