Despite my warnings, one of the most frequent questions I receive is "How can I get to see the White House?". Sadly, it's just probably not going to happen and, even if your Congressman does get you in, you're probably not going to be allowed to bring your camera. I know, I know, I find this a great loss as well, and it's probably officially time to go back to referring to it as the Executive Mansion, as that is what it is now.
But one of the virtues of living in Washington, DC is that when opportunities arise to go off the beaten path,you're in a position to do so.So it was last week when I was invited along to take the Holiday Tour of the White House (certainly not because of my humble efforts with this blog, it was my wife's fault). Wonder of wonders, we were even allowed to bring our cameras, so I clicked away unabashedly, loosing any rights to mock tourists for the remainder of 2009 and much of 2010.
So for all those who will never get to take the standard tour, and for those who do but don't get to bring a camera along, here's a little travelogue for you. Before we start, I apologize for the quality of the pictures; I am at best an indifferent photographer.
Our tour starts with the inevitable wait to pass through security. The line to get in extended down much of 15th St along the Treasury Building until we were able to access the checkpoint at the corner of E St. Thanks to some Northern Virginia asshats I won't deign to name, we had to jump through several additional hoops to verify our names, but the line moved smoothly and with good cheer. The Park Police even seemed to be in the holiday spirit, decking their horses out in Santa caps.
And as much as I despise the way DC has become increasingly an armed camp, I have to hand it to the Secret Service. It is possible to be thorough and professional without being officious and just downright rude, and they pulled it off nicely.That unpleasantness aside, we moved through the screening quickly and with rather less hassle than you would see going through an airport security checkpoint. At this point, we were on the White House grounds, ready to enter the East Wing.Which is where we'll pick up tomorrow.