After my eyes popped out of my skull, I texted that scenario to my husband with a lot of exclamation points and then I immediately replied “YESSSS.”
And the next few weeks were a whirlwind of travel arrangements and background checks and studying maps and buying clothes and checking out cool sites to see while I was there.
I traveled on a Monday and the event was Tuesday morning. I’m glad I went early, because it took that amount of time just to figure out the Metrorail system.
You want me to take what where?
A kind lady at the station helped me figure out how to get where I needed to go.
But there was a fire on the tracks the morning I got there that caused closures and delays throughout the day (like I don’t have enough problems.) I was headed for a meetup with fellow writers that were covering the event, but I didn’t make it in time. So I just hung out and people-watched and grabbed dinner and walked around for a while.
So the next day came and I got all dressed up (mascara at 6am should be illegal) and headed into town. I mapped out exactly which train I would need to take where and I was all set with my belongings for the day.
I quickly hopped on the train just before the doors closed and found a seat on the crowded train. I was giddy. This was it. I’m going to the White House!
I started reading the newspaper. After a bit the train announcer (that sounds just like the teacher from Charlie Brown, not helpful) announced a stop I didn’t recognize. I looked up and just about died.
Guess who was on the wrong. freaking. train?
I couldn’t believe it. I was several stops out of my way. I hung my head in shame and let out a big sigh and got off at the next stop. I marched straight up to street level and got a cab. I ain’t got no time for that getting lost business when I’m headed to the White House. I vowed to conquer the rail later.
The cab was only about 10 bucks and I was still pretty early before the gates opened so I hung out at a little cafe across the street.
And then the time came. I got choked up and emotional as I walked up the path to the security gates but I held the tears in and just started smiling instead. I went through security and walked up the drive to the White House.
I made it. My hands were shaking but I managed a good White House selfie (first try!) And it was on.
We walked into the East Wing and our small army of writers and bloggers started taking pictures in turbo mode like it was our last day on Earth. (The White House staff encouraged us to do so.)
There are a lot of beautiful rooms, and they do not skimp on nice, thick paper hand towels for the bathrooms (and don’t think I was the only one that nabbed one as a souvenir.)
The program started and we heard about several programs under the Let’s Move! initiative. A few of the highlights for me:
Every Kid In A Park– This is an incentive for fourth grade students and their families to get outside and explore national parks, lands and waters for free for a full year. Click here to see the rules and an explanation on why they target fourth grade students.
TeamFNV– Team FNV (as in Fruits N Vegetables) is an organization that uses popular celebrities to create cool ads to market healthy foods to children. The celebrities are unpaid and the ads are cool. Click here to see who the celebrities are and a lot of cool pictures from the photo shoots they have done with fruits and vegetables.
The official White House Chef came out and made a healthy Mason Jar Tuscan Kale Salad with ingredients home grown in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn. She admitted she got the recipe from Pinterest 🙂
Produce from the garden has also been shared with a local organization that prepares fresh, healthy meals for the homeless.
The First Lady talked to us about how the White House Kitchen Garden is a big part of the Let’s Move! initiative and students are invited every year to join her in planting the garden. It has grown over the years to approximately 1700 square feet.
She also spoke very candidly about her life as a mom and how she is very hands on with her own daughters health and fitness, as all parents are, and she discussed the changes she made in her own family early on for healthier eating, adding in a lot more fresh foods and limiting desserts to once a week.
She joked about how we can expect push back on that, but that we have the biggest influences over our kids’ lives. And though there are now many programs in place to help with nutrition and fitness in schools, that parents at home have a true power to change the standards out there and create a demand for healthier alternatives.
She also stated that she is very proud of all of the gains in health and nutrition as a result of the Let’s Move! program, and that she has no plans to stop her work on this project when her family leaves the White House, which was met with resounding applause.
My cell phone and laptop were on overdrive all morning and were completely dead when it was over. I planned to share pics on my social media channels as I made my way around sightseeing, but there isn’t a single place to charge a cell phone in D.C. along the monument paths, which really turned out to be the best thing.
I had my DSLR camera but since I wasn’t worried about social media, I took my time and was able to really concentrate on what I was seeing and soak it all in.
There are several places to stop and reflect, and I took the opportunity to do so. I thought through a lot of things.
After leaving the White House I could easily see the Washington Monument, so I grabbed a quick lunch and walked over to see it. It’s amazing.
From the base of the Washington Monument, I looked over a ways and I could see the World War II Memorial. So I thought, since I’ve come this far, I might as well head over. So I did.
There was a lot to see and a lot of detail. And from the World War II Memorial, I looked down a ways and I could see the Reflecting Pool. So I thought, well, I’ve come this far might as well keep going. So I did.
I sat by the Reflecting Pool for a while, and from there I could see the Lincoln Memorial. So I thought well, I’ve come this far… you can probably guess where this is going… Any other Forrest Gump fans in the house? I went to see the Lincoln Memorial.
After paying my respects to Abraham Lincoln, I could see silver statues just a little bit further down the path, so I walked over to the Korean War Memorial.
And then I looked down at my map and saw that I wasn’t very far at all from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial so I went to pay my respects to Mr. King.
I don’t mean to belittle what I saw, or how much my feet truly ached at this point. I spent so much time at the monuments and memorials that I wasn’t able to go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum before it closed, which is something I really wanted to experience.
I was very tender-hearted this day, so it was probably best that I save that one for another time. I grabbed dinner and a few souvenirs and I walked to the Metro station to make another attempt at getting to my destination successfully.
It was rush hour by now with everyone getting off of work and I’m proud to say that this time I nailed it.
Right train, right stop, right as rain and I had a celebratory cocktail at a little restaurant before catching the shuttle back to my hotel where I soaked in a really hot bath and vegged for the evening.
I had an afternoon flight so I didn’t have to move very fast the next morning which was entirely needed.
I will forever remember this experience and I was so blessed to be able to go. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will cherish this experience for a long time to come.
D.C. has a lot to offer and it was a lot of fun, but I was also glad to board my plane home and get back to the semi-small town life that I call home. Where there are no trains.
Thanks so much for all of your encouraging words as I tackled this adventure. I was happy to take you along, it’s been a lot of fun!
**For more photos from the trip, visit the photo album on the RealHonestMom Facebook page