Washington DC touring!

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What a fabulous day!  In spite of still feeling a bit sick, Jazy and Lia were troopers today.

We drove city streets to the Metro station, bought $10 fare cards each, bordered the Blue train from the end of the line (Franconia), switch to the Yellow line and hopped off at L'enfant station!  The train was quiet, smooth, and fast.  Payment is based on zones and we're really not sure how much it cost us, but we have $3.30 printed on the fare card at the end of the day, so I guess $6.70 round trip today.

Here's what we did:

Supreme Court tour:  Fascinating tour!  Really neat to sit in this room and learn about the cases, Justices, and buidling.  In 1929, the building was built under-budget with enough money leftover to furnish it and return $95,000 to the government  Can you imagine that happening today?!  Security check and lunch in the cafeteria from the "grab and go" menu, most of which had been grabbed and was gone.  But we managed and enjoyed.  Two impressive spiral marble staircases, statues, extremely grand marble building.  We sat on Honduran mohagony benches- thought that was very cool, having been to Honduras recently.

Capital Visitor's Center- want to return to see the White House info and all the exhibits.  We got tickets for the Capitol Tour here and she cancelled my Saturday reservation for me.  No water, drinks, or food in this brand new, underground Visitor's Center as you go through Security check.

Capital Tour:  Terrific fast-paced tour of the Capitol building, including the old Supreme Court area, the Hall of Statues where the Inauguration Luncheon was just held (they were packing away the last of the inauguration infrastructure on Capitol Hill today).

Senate Building:  We stopped by Senator Hutchison's office to pick up tickets for the Senate Gallery.  Hooray for Hutchison's office.  They were very responsive via email and set us up with several tours, including the Supreme Court today and Kennedy Center on Monday.  All these activities are free, which is mind-boggling and refreshing! 

Marie Allen, who was in charge of the National Archives for many years, had advised me to fax the tour requests to both Senators:  "It couldn't hurt!" she said.  Hutchison's staff was helpful, responsive, and effective.  Senator Cornyn's was the opposite and although they did email, they were unable to schedule anything for us and seemed to have outdated info on the White House tours, which don't resume until mid-February after the inauguration.  I was glad I'd listened to Marie and requested help from both Senators. Senator Hutchison's staff was very gracious to give us the Gallery passes and offer us something to drink.  They were extremely professional.

Well, we got lost in the Russel Senate Building and Jazy finally extracted us.  But it was cool to see the Senate offices, including the one where JFK used to have as a Senator. http://www.senate.gov/visiting/common/image/russell.htm

Senate Gallery:  This was the coolest part of the day!  It was like going through a maze to check in all electronic equipment and backpacks and find our way from one guarded station to the next.  We filed silently into the upper gallery, and after changing seats with permission to see better, we enjoyed an hour of proceedings regarding the Economic Stimulus Plan, which they hope to pass in the next few days.

We were all a bit appalled at the poor listening skills on the floor.  Few Senators were even there (maybe 5 at any given time), Senators, Aides, and Interns are running all around, and the few people in chairs are all talking with each other.  Only one or two appeared to even listen, with some yawning coming from the front bench. 

We did see John McCain, Harry Reid, Mary Landrieu of LA, and here some arguments of others in the room.  We were hoping for a vote at 5pm, but it was postponed to 5:30, and then to 6:30pm, at which time most of us viewing decided to leave.  It was fascinating!

It took from 5:30 to 7:15 pm to walk to the Metro (a few blocks), take the train to the end of the line, and get Ciao Baby back to the campground.  We did not get a parking ticket ($20) in spite of not feeding the meter, since RV's are supposed to be free if cars aren't parked in their long parking spots- hooray! 

While it takes a long time to get in and out of the city, we love this campground.  Cherry Hill is $65 a night for the 4 of us and it requires a bus to the metro and is on the north side of town.  So this campground serves us well.  The other option, Greenbelt Park, and while it is $16 and close to the beltway and metro with RV parking at Greenbelt Metro station, it does not have any RV hookups and is on the NE side of town (requiring a drive on tough roads entering and leaving town).

Did you know a light is on in the cupola of the Capitol Building when Congress is in session?  It's an old sign (previously lanterns were used) so wives and boarding houses could know if the session was running late, for dinner's sake.

There were about 3 other tourists in town today.  While the streets are very quiet, an energy permeates this city.  The weather felt good today - it started at 16 wind chill, but warmed up until we were carrying our coats!  A gorgeous day and we were thrilled to be in our nation's magnificent capital! 

Our capital city makes me proud.





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