September 20. Well today was the big day. Fortunately for us Jim from the sailboat Freedom met a woman here at the yacht club that works for one of the senators here in D.C. She was able to have our names added to a list of people taking a tour of the White House today. It’s very unusual to be able to take this tour on such short notice. As it was, we had to provide all of our personal information to the senators office so they could forward it to the Secret Service for background checks.
Our tour was set for 1130 so we set out by 0930 for a short bike ride downtown. We had to leave our bikes at the Washington Monument and walk the last 2 blocks as the Secret Service will not allow anything to be left anywhere the White House. Pennsylvania Avenue is now a pedestrian mall in front of the White House and bikes aren’t allowed to be chained anywhere.
So we arrived an hour early but we were encouraged to get in line to have our I.D. checked before we entered. The agent at the gate checked Jim & Deb’s photo ID and ushered them inside the gate. He then checked Christy’s and mine before sending her through and sending me to the holding area. WTF?
It seems that everyone else is on the guards entrance list except moi. Somehow a senior guard from inside the building has been made aware of my presence and he comes out to interrogate, er, interview me. It seems that for some reason my background check was not completed. I show him the invitation that had been sent to us via Email but he’s not interested. He copies the info from my Drivers License and along with my Social Security number he goes back inside and leaves me in my own special isolation area.
It sucked to be in my own little fenced off area. As the other people arrived for their tours they wouldn’t make eye contact with me. Just a quick peek and then look away. Oh my God, what did he do? Is he a terrorist? Is that Osama Billaden? A threat to the nation? No, that’s just Bill, somebody screwed up his paperwork so he’s on a government sponsored time out.
After about 10 minutes of this solitary confinement I got cellmates as a pair of bubble headed girls were stuck in “the area” with me. Soon after that, a pair of grandmothers and a disabled veteran were also ushered into “the area” After about 4 hours or twenty minutes the senior agent came back, apologized for the delay and let me rejoin my group. Good thing for him because I’m sure when I used my drivers license as a spoon and tunneled my way to freedom it would have been a career ender for him. I’m not bitter and I don’t think that incarceration has changed me, but I guess time will tell, Bitches.
The tour itself wasn’t so much of a tour as it was an unguided wander through the White House. There was an agent in every room and if you had a question they were more than capable of answering anything that you might ask. Some of the rooms haven’t changed in close to two hundred years. The oval office is changed every time a new President takes office. There were pictures of each Presidents office as it looked during his term. Some were dignified while others looked homey, even kinda comfy. Kennedy’s was stately and yet beautiful while I’m sure the only taste Nixon had was in his mouth, holy Christ what a disaster. He should have been impeached because of his taste in interior decorating.
After the tour Jim & Deb went back to their boat while Christy and I headed over to the Air and Space Museum. It was quite the display with everything relating to flight that you could ever imagine. This was a big thing on my “must see” list. I was a little afraid that Christy would be bored but nothing could be further from the truth. As we were walking through the very extensive Wright Brothers display Christy actually fell behind as she read every placard in sight.
After we got back to the marina we went out to the boat for a while. We had such a late lunch that we decided to have a quick snack before going back into the yacht club to watch Jim perform.
Jim plays the guitar and sings very well so it was an enjoyable time. The marina here is full of a very eclectic mixture of liveaboards. During the evening we met a young soldier who is one of the guys we saw the other day in the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. We’ve also met some of the key members of the Seven Seas Cruising Association of which we are members. Then who walks in but state senator Larry Craig. I would have never recognized him as being anything but another cruiser. He’s the guy who was just arrested in that police sting because his foot brushed another mans foot in a public restroom. He spent a good portion of the evening with us just shooting the bull. He seemed like a regular guy with a good sense of humor and he kept his feet to himself.