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Waiting at the White House


Growing up I was fascinated by the White House. I was in awe of the fact that a house could have 132 rooms and a bowling alley. I bought a book that I practically carried everywhere which gave readers a behind the scenes look at America’s most famed residence. I loved reading the stories about celebrated White House pets (Herbert Hoover had two alligators, Calvin Coolidge owned a black bear), and I literally fell in love with Socks, the Clinton cat (Truth be told, I may have named a hamster or two in honor of this famous feline). Obviously, it wasn’t the building itself that captivated my attention, but the stories within the walls that I found intriguing. Perhaps it goes without saying that when I arrived in Washington DC last week I spent unnecessary amounts of time standing about the gates of the White House in similar fashion to an awkward school girl as she hovers over her phone waiting for a boy to call (oh come on… I wasn’t that girl).


Naturally, I choose to stay in a location that allowed me to pass the White House on my daily walks through the city. So within 15 minutes of checking into my hostel I was already camped outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – or more precisely the current Obama residence. I’m not sure what my intentions were, but I can only imagine that I looked like one of those crazed teenagers hanging outside the concert hall in anticipation of the arrival of the Jonas Brothers or something. I should have brought a sign that said “Obama – I can be your Dream Girl”, that would have really completed my look. I’m surprised I wasn’t escorted off the property as I frantically searched the grounds using my telephoto lens for any indication that the Obama family actually resided there. There was no sign of the newly installed Malia and Sasha swing set, or of Michelle’s organic garden, I didn’t even catch a glimpse of the newly acquired White House First Dog – Bo. I was severely disappointed.


On my last visit to DC I was able to walk right into the White House and take a tour of this historic home. Today men in armored vests stand guard on every corner and even dot the roof of the building watching over the crowds. This time barricades prevent passerby from coming within at least a block of the exterior of the building and tour requests must be made six months in advance through one’s Member of Congress. Visiting from a foreign country? Good luck. International visitors must speak with their embassy office in Washington DC in order to even begin the process of obtaining tickets. Oh and once lucky enough to gain entrance don’t even attempt to bring any of the following items onto the grounds:

“Prohibited items include, but are not limited to, the following: handbags, book bags, backpacks, purses, food and beverages of any kind, strollers, cameras, video recorders or any type of recording device, tobacco products, personal grooming items (make-up, hair brush or comb, lip or hand lotions, etc.), any pointed objects (pens, knitting needles, etc.), aerosol containers, guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons/devices, or knives of any size.” – From the White House website

Next time, rather than while away the hours in front of those ominous iron gates, I think I would rather pull out my trusty White House guide book and catch a glimpse of our Presidents in action. Although this would eliminate any potential sign making, I think it may be for the best.


Posted by Jennylynn 09:34 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites

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