Saturday, January 31, 2009

President Obama's Inauguration: DAYS 1-3

Day 1: Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
At the end of November, I had a surgery on my Achilles tendons and have been in casts on both legs for two months. So, today we left for DC to attend President Obama's Inauguration...and discovered how hard it is to travel with a wheelchair. We didn't rent a car for the trip, so we are taking the subway everywhere and walking (or riding in the wheelchair!) alot. It gives me a lot more appreciation for people who use wheelchairs all of the time. It would be very hard to get around town without help. I'm so glad I get my casts off when we get back home.

Today is also Wesley's birthday, so we went to Union Station for dinner. Our friends Pat and Richard Merkle, who live a block away from Union Station, met us there. It was fun seeing them since we're not in DC very often. Since I had several huge projects due before we left for DC, I was really tired. So we went back to our hotel, watched Discovery Channel for a while, then crashed. TRIVIA: Union Station (pictured left) is the site of President Obama's Eastern States Ball, as well as several other balls and dinners during inaugural week.

Day 2: Thursday, January 15, 2009
Today was a slow day. We didn't leave the hotel til 1:30 PM. Then we went to the Capitol to pick up our inauguration tickets and have a late lunch. We walked through the capitol and looked at the exhibit in th Senate corridor about past inaugurations. It was interesting to see what inaugurations used to look like. TRIVIA: All of the inaugurations at the US Capitol were held on the East Front of the Capitol (where the new Capitol Visitor's Center was just built--shown at the top of this entry) until President Ronald Reagan held his on the West Front (facing the Mall).

Day 3: Friday, January 16, 2009
Today we visited embassy row and Woodrow Wilson's retirement home (shown left). We walked up Massachusetts Avenue where there are lots of Embassy's from different countries around the world. Then we got to President Wilson's home. There we saw the interior of the home and a presidential china collection that was almost exactly like the one they have in the China Room at the White House. It was at President Wilson's house because his wife, Edith, actually started the China Room Collection at the White House.
Since I had casts on both legs, we got to ride in President Wilson's old Otis elevator (a picture of Wes and me in the elevator is on the left). It was awesome to think how many times he used that same elevator, too, since he had a stroke right before he left the White House and had a hard time taking the stairs. We spent several hours with the nice curator there, and my mom and I got some interesting ideas for the book we are writing together about DC.
After we left the Wilson home, we walked to Connecticut Avenue for dinner and passed more Embassies. It was fun to see all of the flags and to try to guess which countries flags they were before we got close enough to read the brass plaques on the door.
Along the way, we found this cute Panda painted with Chinese designs. Then we went to dinner and watched the unbelievable story of the plane that crashed into the Hudson River. That pilot was a hero, for sure. Today ends our laid back, "Enjoy DC" part of the trip. Tomorrow the real stuff starts.
TRIVIA: If you are on the property of a foreign embassy, you are theoretically on that country's soil. So, let's say, you are on the property of the British Embassy in DC, you are considered to be on "British Soil"--not American. And while you are on the grounds of the British Embassy, British law applies. So, theoretically, if you are walking along Embassy Row, you can go to dozens of countries within an hour's time--without a passport!

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