Travel Date: Friday, April 21 2016
A little backstory:
Two weeks ago (April 7th), one of my closest friends Ben, sent me an invite to a tour of the East Wing of the White House at 11 PM. I was in Philadelphia at the time for work, and he told me I needed to get back with him by 11 AM the next day. Oh, and I could invite up to 11 people including myself.
That evening at 11 PM, I sent a gazillion texts and a general facebook post. I apologize if you are reading this, and you received my text at night and woke up. By 10:30 AM the next day, I had my final list of 7 since some of Ben’s other friends had responded.
At 1:20 PM, Ben gave me 4 more tickets to find people for, so I invited a few more people I worked with in Philadelphia, since they had to RSVP by 2 PM.
And now:
The day before the scheduled tour, I drove down to DC, parked my car at the Metro for free, and commuted to Columbia Heights.

The good ol’ DC Metro. I need to download the DC Metro App on my phone again.

The Artist Prince, or ‘formerly known as Prince’ had passed. As Ben and I walked away from his apartment, we saw a silent projection of Prince Videos from across the street on a back of a wall. I’m not crazy about Prince or his music, but it was cool to the outpouring of tributes from his fans.

 

Ben and I head to the local DC bars with some of his friends, and enjoy the evening.

Travel Date: Saturday, April 22 2016

We get up, have breakfast, and head over to the White House. It is a rainy day, and fortunately, it is not pouring down heavily.

We wait in a long line.

We get to the front of the line for our group time. Note: that lady in the picture is not part of our group. But co-incidentally she does point to the start of the line at the same time I take this picture.

Slowly all my and Ben’s friends show up, and we take a group selfie.

Our first Secret Service encounter.

Tammy has got her passport and her kids IDs ready.

Tracey is cleared.

Rich may be questionable… just kidding.

Another stage of Secret Service security.

 

We make it through stage 2. And wait on stage 3.

Stage 3: the dog sniffers. Why don’t they have these at all airports?

After clearing stage 3: dog sniffers, and stage 4: metal detectors, we walk towards the actual East Wing of the White House.

Time of a group selfie with those who have been cleared.

And now that the entire crew is here, another one.

Time to enter the East Wing.

East Wing: The East Wing is a part of the White House Complex. It is a two-story structure on the east side of the White House Executive Residence, the home of the President of the United States. While the West Wing generally serves the president, the East Wing serves as office space for the First Lady and her staff, including the White House Social Secretary, White House Graphics and Calligraphy Office and correspondence staff. The East Wing also includes the White House theater, the visitors’ entrance, and the East Colonnade, a corridor connecting the body of the East Wing to the residence. Social visitors to the White House usually enter through the East Wing.

 

In the digital age,  POTUS and FLOTUS (President, and First Lady, Of The United States) have an introductory video, have a welcoming us to the White House.

Hallways.

Gardens.

The original and the future F.D.R.: Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Abe.

Various Presidential Moments.

More hallways.

 

 

Then we begin to see the rooms on the lower level. Unfortunately, many of the rooms are roped off. And the ones that we can enter have limited accessibility.

The Vermeil Room: Once a billiard room, this room contains a collection of European and American gilded silver (vermeil) objects, c. 1700-1950. Portraits of recent first ladies are displayed here.

The Library: contains over 2700 books related to American life. The Federal furnishings were made in New York, 1800-1820. The room is used for teas, meetings, and press interviews.

The China Room: A permanent display of tableware was created in this room in 1917 by First Lady Edith Wilson. Not every president has ordered state china, so both official and some family services are exhibited. The 1924 portrait of Grace Coolidge by Howard Chandler Christy features her white collie Rob Roy.

First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and possible future President.

Tammy on top of the stairs.

Tammy on top of the stairs… acting the fool. 🙂

We walk up the stairs, and get to the East Room.

East Room: The room has been the scene of state dinner, receptions, concerts, weddings and press conferences. Here the bodies of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy lay in state after their assassinations. The portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, the only object in the White House since its first occupancy in 1800, was removed for safekeeping by Dolley Madison when the White House was burned in 1814.

 

They didn’t have to roll out the red carpet for me. Seriously, you didn’t have to. Giggle.

The Green Room: one of three state parlors on the first floor in the White House, the home of the President of the United States. It is used for small receptions and teas. During a state dinner, guests are served cocktails in the three state parlors before the president, first lady, and visiting head of state descend the Grand Staircase for dinner.

 

The Blue Room: elegant oval room has long been a reception room. President James Monroe furnished the room in the French style in 1817. Original objects include seven gilded chairs, the sofa, and the clock on the mantel. Grover Cleveland, the only president to have a White House wedding, married Frances Folsom here in 1886.

 

Red Room: A parlor since the early 19th century, is often used by first ladies to receive guests. Here, President Rutherford Hayes took the oath of office in 1877. The American Empire style furniture was made in New York, 1810-1830. The marble mantel has been in the White House since 1819.

 

State Dining Room: the existing interior and furnishing date from the sweeping renovations made to the White House during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902. As many as 140 people can be seated at dinners and luncheons by using round tables. The portrait of Abraham Lincoln over the mantlepiece was painted in 1869 by George P.A. Healy.

 

The Old Family Dining Room: the presidents and their families took their meals in this room prior to the creation of a new family dining room in the private quarters in 1961. The room is regularly used to host small official events. In 2015, the room first opened for public view, as a showcase for moden American art.

 

Time to walk away to the exit. There is a surprisingly long line for something, and I don’t really want to wait in line. So I walk up ahead.

Ah, it is for taking pictures of the official Seal of the President of the United States.

I stick around the front of the line, until my friends who are waiting in line get there. And we grab a few pictures with the official Seal.

Ben and I.

Tommy Joe and Stephanie.

I walked to the exit door and turn around for a different perspective.

 

I see portraits of the last two presidents: President William ‘Bill’ Jefferson Clinton.

And President George W. Bush.

Time to exit the East Wing.

Group picture.

 

The front side of the East Wing.

More group pictures.

Goofing off.

Walking to the White House security perimeter.

One last look back at the White House and surrounding scenery.

 

 

 

 

We walk a few blocks and decide to have lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill.

Old Ebbitt Grill is a historic bar and restaurant located at 675 15th Street NW in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It is Washington’s oldest bar and restaurant. Old Ebbitt Grill has been frequented by numerous politicians, some known for scandals and maneuvering. And from what I hear, it is a frequently visited spot for meeting political insiders, and White House staff and interns after hours.

 

 

Tammy enjoying her Jameson tainted Irish Coffee at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

 

 

A group photo at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

 

Both Tyne and I get the Eggs Benedict. It is absolutely delicious, and reasonably priced for Washington, D.C.

After brunch, most of the group heads out to celebrate the rest of their weekend. Ben, I, Tracey and Rich decided to visit the landmarks around the White House for a while. And then it is time to say goodbye to Tracey and Rich, and off to enjoy the DC bar scene.

Reflections:
This was an amazing experience!

I’ve always wanted to go to the White House, and my friendship with Ben offered me the opportunity to visit it, and share the experience with him and others. Dining at the Old Ebbitt Grill immediately after the tour was a great finishing touch.

THANK YOU BEN! And thank you to all my friends who were able to come out, experience, and celebrate the moment.

Expenses: $100.55
DC Metro: $10.00 (Subway)
Wonderland Ballroom: $56.40 (Beverages)
White House – East Wing Tour: $0.00 (Tours)
Old Ebbitt Grill: $34.15 (Brunch & Beverages)