Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Day 2 Mommy and Me in DC

Where do you go when you have a plane voucher to use by the end of the year, you refuse to fly by yourself because of airport anxiety, and your daughter has been asking to visit the Capitol for a year?  You take a mommy and me trip to DC!  
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5

Did you know: If you are traveling to the DC area, you can contact your State Representative or Senator and they can arrange tours for you for many of the Government offices including the White House, Congress, State Department, the Supreme Court and others.  Requests should be made as early as possible for the highest chances of getting a spot especially for the White House.

Longworth House Office Building
Today is Friday, and our big tour day all booked through our US Representative's office.  We are scheduled to see the US House, Library of Congress, Supreme Court and the State Department.  The only tour we requested that we couldn't do was the White House, which can be hit or miss at any time of the year.

By now Lydia is a pro at swiping her Metro card and we are off with the commuters early today to see where our government works.  First stop is the Congressional office for IL13, Rodney Davis-R, where we met some of his staffers and our tour guide for the morning.  Morgan showed us all around the Capitol and House of Representatives.

Cornstalk Pillar in US Capitol
Previously having lived in Orlando FL, there is nothing to compare to the history we got to see being in the Capitol.  While much of the Capitol was rebuilt after the War of 1812 these cornstalk pillars remain.  If you look closely you can see holes that were burned out of the sandstone because of the heat of the fire when the British burned the Capitol.

Original US Senate Chamber
As our nation as grown so has the need for different spaces for the parts of our government.  The original US Senate chamber has been restored to its original appearance after being passed to the Supreme Court who used it from 1810-1860 when the Supreme Court moved to another outgrown chamber in the Capitol before gaining its own building in 1935.

The day of our tour the House was not in session so we were able to visit the House floor and sit in the seats of our representatives.  Due to security we were unable to take any cameras, phones or purses with us into the room so no pictures to share.  But memorable to know we sat in the seats that we see on C-SPAN and where new legislation is made.  One of the holiday surprises we found on our tour was the Capitol Gingerbread house.

Capitol Gingerbread house
We found some lunch in the Longworth dining hall before making our next scheduled stop of the day at the Supreme Court.  We did not find many restaurants among the congressional buildings or around the mall but the office buildings and Smithsonian buildings had cafeterias or food courts which were good to eat at if you knew where to look.

Supreme Court

Sandra Day O'Connor exhibit at
the Supreme Court
Everything is BIG when it comes to our national government buildings so going around the corner to our next tour appointment of a Supreme Court lecture was not as quick as we thought and we missed our second appointment, a lecture in the Supreme Court Chambers. WE still visited the Court and was able to spend some time in the visitor center which we would have missed otherwise.    Lydia enjoyed reading about about Sandra Day O'Connor  our first women on the Court.  One of the trailblazers that lets my daughter truly believe she can choose any career she wants.

The next stop on our schedule for the day was the Library of Congress, as a couple of book lovers we looked forward to this, we didn't have great expectations of what it would be, but the beauty of the National Library blew me away!

Library of Congress Great Hall 

And these images are just in the grand hall outside of the main reading room, which has its own adornments, statues and murals.  To enter the main reading room you must have a library card and be 16.  Many rare and valuable books are in the collections at the Library of Congress including 1 of the remaining three bound copies of the Gutenberg Bible!  Seeing the Gutenberg Bible was especially wonderful for us due to our previous work with bible translation.  Lydia is not old enough to go in the reading room but we did visit the Young Readers Center down the hall where she got to see copies of Harry Potter in various languages including Braille.  Its a cozy two room center with space to curl up with a good book and fun activities to do.  Lydia enjoyed the short escape from the bustle of the rest of our tours.

Above: main reading room,
R: Young Readers Center
We had been our feet for most of the day so we headed back to the hotel before our evening adventure.  Lydia had brought her American Girl doll, Isabelle with us our trip and Isabelle's story takes place in Washington DC.  It was only right to take Isabelle to the American Girl Store for her own souvenir T-shirt.  The store is located in a mall not far from a metro stop so we were off for the evening to the mall! (with brownies in our jammies when we got home).

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