Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Washington, D.C. 2015 {Days Three & Four}

After a very dramatic and crazy cab ride home on Monday night, I got to bed late, so I slept in a bit on Tuesday, and woke up to snow on the ground.  I ordered room service, and enjoyed watching it continue to snow out the windows in my room.


I eventually headed up to Capitol Hill for the opening of the 114th Congress, and I enjoyed the view of a snowy DC on the drive...

I was actually in DC because I had been invited to view the swearing in of Senator Cory Booker, and attend a reception.  I went 14 months prior for a similar event, because he had won a special election in October 2013, but he won a full 6 year term this past November.  

I had invited someone I met at the 2013 event to meet me in DC for this event, so we rode to the event together.  As we were approaching the Senate Office Building, I thought to myself "that looks like Cory walking down the street".  I didn't say anything about it.  When the cab stopped, we hopped out, crossed the street, and Sara ran inside as fast as possible.  I stopped and gazed down the street to see if that really was Cory coming toward me.  It was!  He was about to cross the street so that we were on the same block, so I waved, and he waved back, and then he told the call he was on to hold on, and we chit-chatted for a few minutes.  It went something like this:

me: "Hey!  I'm came here to see you, and I get out of the cab and here you are!"

him: "I'm glad you stopped and waved at me"

me: "of course!  I came from Texas to see you again"

him: "That's awesome.  How are you liking this snowy weather?"

me: "oh, it was colder in Texas when I left, so it's fine"

him: "are you going to be at the reception later?"

me: "you bet.  See you there"

....Cut to me walking into the senate office building....

sara: "where have you been?"

me: "talking to cory out on the street"

sara: "what?!?!"

me: "yeah, I thought I saw him as we were driving up, but when we got out and I finally determined it was him, but you had already ran inside"

sara: "how did I miss that?!"


I had a good time chatting with an interesting collection of people before and after the swearing in.  Again we saw "America's Rabbi," Shmuley Boteach.  He had his kids take pics of us, so I gave them my phone and had them get a snap too...

I had lunch there in the Senate building and then went to Cory's office for a tour.  We were cutting it close to the afternoon reception, and didn't think we were going to get a tour, but one of his staffers went to law school in Texas, so we bonded over talk of queso, and he gave us the tour.  As we rounded one of the corners, I almost collided with Cory.  He said something like "Well hello again!".  My friend Sara was already around the corner, and she just shook her head and said "You are getting serious face time with the Senator today!"

The afternoon reception was great.  No, it was better than great, and not just because they had a big cake ;-) 
I had such a good time, and got to stand less than 6 feet away from a total of 6 US Senators.  Several came to speak about Cory and what a great member of the Senate he has been over the past 14 months.  We heard from Senators Menendez (New Jersey), Coons (Delaware), Schumer (New York), Merkley (Oregon), and Cardin (Maryland).





I only took my phone with me that day, and not my real camera, so pics aren't super.


I just think all these candids are hilarious.  We were having fun.

But we had some serious discussions too...
Criminal Justice Reform was our topic of conversation here



After we left Capitol Hill, we made a stop at the W hotel.  We went up to their rooftop bar, and enjoyed the view.  Here is a pic of my drink, the ice-cycles, and the White House...


{Day Four}

I saw the news on Tuesday evening, and they showed the Panda cubs playing in the snow at the DC Zoo, so when I woke up on Wednesday morning, I packed quickly and booked it to the zoo.  I wanted to see Pandas playing in the snow!  Needless to say, the zoo was NOT crowded.  It was COLD!

The pandas were not playing in the snow, but were eating their breakfast in the Panda House







I didn't really have time to see any other animals.  I went back to the hotel, collected my bags, and headed to the airport...but not without making the cab pull over for me to take a few snowy DC pics!
and then a few pics out the cab window...


I'm thrilled it snowed while I was in DC!  I love snow and love seeing cities in their winter wonderland state.  It was another great trip!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Washington D.C. 2015 {Day Two}

Monday morning, I woke up and took a cab to the Capitol because I had a tour scheduled.

I hadn't been to the Capitol for a tour in many years.  Back then, the Visitor Center wasn't even open.
It's located underground, and has two big skylights where you can get a good look at the dome.

Not the best view right now, but I'm happy they are fixing the dome, because it was literally falling apart.  The grounds crew walked around each day collecting pieces that were falling off.  A little known fact (but one I already knew and that surprised the tour guide with my useless bank of knowledge):  the dome is made out of cast iron.  It is just painted white.  Cast iron + weather = rust and falling to pieces.  
In the visitor center, the centerpiece in Emancipation Hall is the original plaster model for the bronze Statue of Freedom that sits atop the dome.  The plaster model was completed in 1857.  It's 19 1/2 feet tall and weighs 13,000 pounds.  
This room was the U.S. Supreme Court chamber from 1810-1860.

They have lots of draping on the inside to catch anything that might fall due to the external construction.  Unfortunately, it covers up a lot of The Apotheosis of George Washington.

but you can still see George sitting there under his blanket...






After the Capitol tour, I took the tunnel over to the Thomas Jefferson building of The Library of Congress.  I had never been inside before.  It is probably the prettiest building in Washington, D.C. 


A look into the Thomas Jefferson Reading room...


Here is Thomas Jefferson's book collection.

Additionally, I saw the Library of Congress Bible collection which includes the Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz, a Civil Rights exhibit, and luckily caught the end of a 10 week exhibit of the 1215 Magna Carta.

Here is a view of the Capitol from the Library.
After I left the Library of Congress, I walked across the street to my favorite building...
I was cold, but happy to be heading inside The Supreme Court.


I have no idea why, but I had not ever been inside.  Obviously, I loved every second of it.  
Justice Thurgood Marshall....
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor...
Justice John Paul Stevens...
They had a Sandra Day O'Connor exhibit, which I loved!

The chamber...
I got to take the "tour" inside the chamber too...
You can't take pics inside, but you can from the doorway...
After I left SCOTUS, I walked around the Capitol to the west side steps...
A look down the mall before I walked all the way to the White House.  In the cold.  With the wind hitting my face.
I walked through the Sculpture Garden and they have an ice skating rink set up right there, across the street from the National Archives...
By the time I made my way to the Natural History Museum, I was frozen.  I decided to pop in and warm up for a minute.  I had good timing and caught an IMAX 3D showing of "Jerusalem".  It was pretty good, but best of all I got to rest my feet and get warm!
I also checked out the Hope Diamond before leaving...
I finally made it down to the Washington Monument.
And to the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse

This is me... Frozen after walking 7.03 miles into the COLD WIND.

 

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