It was a weekend of full-on activity.
Saturday I did a tour of the White House.
I belong to a type of support group for lonely Aussies. When I first came here I used to go to a lot of their activities and functions but I hadn’t been to anything for a couple of years until I saw an email from them saying they had 30 tickets to see the White House – I was really quick to respond.
No cameras were allowed; actually no handbags or purses were permitted along with a long list of other prohibited items. That presented a problem about where to put the items we were allowed; passport, keys, metro card, money/credit cards and mobile phone. My passport is bigger than most pockets I have.
We met at the gate and were lined up alphabetically for a series of security checks; the first one they checked passports and asked our date of birth; the second one they checked our passport against a list; then there was the metal detector and check of our meager allowable possessions.
Once inside it was a self guided tour of the East Wing – in each room there were secret service people more than willing to answer questions or tell a story about the room.
We saw the library, containing 1,400 books – a room often seen on TV; the East Room where Paul McCartney recently performed and where receptions, ceremonies and press conferences are held (we’ve probably all seen the President walking from a private elevator down that strip of red carpet to the East Room); The Green Room; The Blue Room; The Red Room and the State Dining Room. As the guard in this room said: “look carefully at the carpet and you will see stains; this is not a museum”. When buffet receptions are held guests are served in the State Dining Room and then wander around and sit throughout the other rooms. He commented that food and wine is often spilt on the 18th century furniture!
Once we were outside everyone whipped out their mobile phones for some “I was here” shots: With the exception of a photo taken of a man sitting on the metro in a cat-in-the-hat hat, I haven’t used my mobile to take photos so I was pretty pleased that these turned out (and that I figured out how to get them from my phone to my computer!). We were not allowed to take photos directly outside the entrance.
The manservant met me with a rental car and we visited friends for a lovely sunny-day lunch and relaxed afternoon. There are no photos of the delicious spinach quiche and pastries with fresh fruit but here is where I saw my first bit of autumn colour.
Then we took our rental out to Virginian friends who were hosting a pumpkin carving party (and I thought Aussies came up with any excuse for a party!). We didn’t carve a pumpkin but were really amused by the intense looks on the faces of those participating. I’m not sure who ultimately won – there were two judges and they each announced a different winner!
There was a massive pot of chili and hot dogs and then a table laden with sweets and the night finished with a fireworks display. A really fun night out.
*** Sunday was not a day of rest as we went to the USA Science & Engineering Festival on the National Mall – I think I will have to cover that on another day! I am exhausted tonight and think I got a touch too much sun today – it was a glorious day down on the Mall.