A few weeks ago, we traveled from our home in Wisconsin to the eastern United States. While Donna stayed with our daughter and son-in-law in State College, PA, I continued on to our nation’s capital, Washington, DC. I went there to attend a legislative training conference for an organization where I’m the legislative liaison. The conference was very well done and I learned and experienced a lot. A little more on that later.
Since this was a legislative training conference and we were in the Washington, DC, it’s only logical that we make the trek to Capitol Hill to practice our new found knowledge. So off we marched (actually rode buses!) to the Hill to meet with our legislators and talk with about our concerns and issues. At this point, I need to mention that the day before our trip to Capitol hill was the Snowmageddon that hit the East Coast, with the Washington area getting about 4 inches, a minor annoyance here in Wisconsin but stops most activity in Washington! Schools and universities were closed and the government was on a three hour delay. Well, the day of our trip to the Hill, snow was still on the ground, it was about 25 degrees and the wind was blowing out of the west at 20-25 mph. So it was really cold by Washington standards. Since I had plenty of time between my legislative appointments, my original plan was to walk to the Washington Monument, wait in line to ride to the top, take some photos then walk back for my first appointment but that cold wind stopped me in my tracks. So on to Plan B, find something to do inside. First, here are a few photos that I took on our way to Capitol Hill, all from the bus!
After getting off the bus at about 8:30 AM, I did manage to take a few photos of the Capitol area before finding someplace to warm up, I wasn’t really prepared for this cold wintry blast. The week before, it was in the 70’s and the cherry trees were starting to show their blossoms. Those blossoms that did show turned a dirty brown!
The two photos below are of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in the foreground, overlooking the Reflecting Pool towards the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
On my cold walk around the Capitol grounds, I photographed these maintenance workers attempting to clear the ice and snow off the sidewalk near the Reflecting Pool. Guess which one is the supervisor!
The photo below is the west side of the Capitol Building. The flag on the right indicates that the House of Representatives was in session. The left flag is in front of the rotunda and there is flag pole on the far left without a flag. That indicates that the Senate was not in session at the time this photo was taken.
Since I needed to get out of the wind and warm up, I got in line to enter the Capitol visitors center. This center is on the east side of the Capitol and one enters underground. After about a 10 minute wait and processing through security (much like airport security) you are then inside the Capitol. In the old days (like really old days, pre 9/11) visitors could wander around the Capitol to the Rotunda and the National Statutory Hall of famous Americans. No longer, to enter the Capitol visitors must be on a tour. Here are photos of people in line for the tour.
This visitors center does have a very nice museum and exhibit area if you are like me and didn’t have time to take a tour.
After warming up with a cup of coffee, I headed over to the Hart Senate Office Building for the first of my two appointments with Wisconsin Senator’s Johnson and Baldwin, rather I should say with their staff members. And once again, had to clear security before entering the complex. While waiting for my appointment with Senator Baldwin’s staff member, the Senator herself showed up for a photo op with group presenting her petitions. It was a photo op so I took a few photos and had a very brief chat with the Senator.
After my meetings and some lunch in the Senate cafeteria, I had some time so decided to take a tour of the Supreme Court. After clearing security again, there is a self guided tour on the first floor and on days when the court is not in session, a 45 minute presentation in the courtroom itself. Worth it if you have the time.
The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the law and is the guardian of the constitutional liberties in the United States. Prior to the current Corinthian style building was built in the early 1930’s, the Supreme Court met in various locations in the Capitol Building across the street. As I was wandering around, I came across the spiral staircases, now closed for public use but open for gawking and photographing!
Visitors can exit the Supreme Court is through the main doors on the second level and down the high marble steps. It’s pretty impressive view of the Capitol just across the street.
Just down the street from the Supreme Court is the Library of Congress. I was told they have a very interesting tour and one can get a library card too! I think I’ll do that next time.
My last appointment of the day is with my Congressman Mark Pocan. His office is in the Longworth House Office Building. After clearing security once again, I found his office and waited a bit for my appointment to begin.
Rep. Pocan had just returned from Wisconsin having been delayed for a day by the east coast snow storm. He is very interested in constituent issues and is a good listener. At the end, one of his staff took the photo below.
After meeting with Rep. Pocan, I had some time to kill before a reception began at 5 PM. So I headed over to the one inside warm spot that was still open, the Botanical Gardens! This one of oldest botanic gardens in North America and is designed to inform visitors about the importance, value and diversity of plants. Again, it was warm and pleasant, again worth a stop when touring the Capitol area.
After the reception at the Rayburn House Office Building (another security check!) it was time to catch the bus back to the hotel. Since the sun was just setting (the weekend before was the start of Daylight Savings Time), it was good light for a few more photos.
With the sun low on the horizon, there were a couple more opportunities for photos on the bus ride. In between photos, the bus driver regaled us in (tall?) tales about some of the sites we were seeing. Made our last night in Washington very enjoyable.
That’s my one day on Capitol Hill, I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did. Next week, more Washington but from a working trip there a number of years ago. Stay tuned.
Until next week travel safe,