Hurry Up and Wait

Saturday morning continued a theme for the weekend: Hurry up and wait. We had to meet the bus at 8:15 a.m. to get to White House in time for the 9 a.m. tour. Things had been somewhat chaotic because people kept dropping out. But we made it to the stop where we waited in the bus for bit. We had to abandon everything except a photo i.d. Cell phones, wallets and  umbrellas are allowed. All I could think was that John Steed could have a field day.

Then we walked a couple of blocks to the entrance where we waited in the cold and wind with probably a hundred or more folks who had appointments at various times to take the tour. Eventually the line began to move. The guards looked at the id, asked for a birth date and then directed each person to the other side of the barrier.

Except for three people in our group whose birth dates didn’t match the information on the list. So as the rest of the group went on its way to stand in another line, Larry and I and assorted spouses waited for the three who had been exiled to a corner with several other people. In the meantime the line closer to the building had come to a dead halt and we were told to wait down by the entrance until it began to move again. We waited some more and our group members were finally released from exile. We made our way up to the end of the second line where we were separated from the people taking the 9:30 tour who seemed to be getting in at the same time we were. We finally got to a second checkpoint where another guard checked our ids again. Then we walked up a ramp and around a corner and into a building to the metal detectors.

Larry had a happy reunion with two former colleagues, one of whom has been in the Secret Service for 40 years. And finally we were inside. It was all very rushed because of the crowds, so here are some quick impressions with info courtesy of the guard: The chandeliers date from 1902 and the engineer supervising the lowering and cleaning said only six have been broken.

The first ladies’ taste in china and clothing is generally pretty awful except for Jackie Kennedy who of course displayed elegance on both counts.

The gardens visible from the windows are color coordinated with a largish white rose of sharon, spiky lavender, interspersed with some shorter unidentified yellow something.

We were back on the bus and in the hotel by 10:30 and had way too much breakfast. Larry crashed for a while and I took a walk across the National Mall to the Newseum.

Next: Crying at the Newseum.

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