I know a guy that knows a woman that works in the White House, and she generously gave up a Saturday afternoon to take us on a tour of the West Wing. The West Wing tour is not a public tour, the only way you get to do it is to be a big time donor, celebrity, or know somebody that works in the White House. Clearly, I'm in that last category. It starts with a background check several weeks in advance. Security to enter the White House is actually less of a PITA than the airport. At no time did I have to remove my belt and shoes, and my wife's insulin pump, which always causes all kinds of drama at the airport, was a complete non-issue. I think that mostly speaks to the difference between hourly TSA agents and uniformed Secret Service agents.
My wife at the Big Red One memorial just outside the White House visitor's entrance.
Main entrance to the West Wing
Me in the mud room / entrance hall to the West Wing. No pictures allowed beyond this point.
The walls inside are lined with poster sized photos that depict the day-to-day life of the President. My favorite was probably the selfie with President Obama, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Also on the wall was the original bell from the USS Constitution. We were at the door to the Situation Room at this point and somebody walked into that room, giving us a quick glimpse inside as the door closed. We also got to hang out in the Rose Garden for a few minutes, which was interesting in that it was completely devoid of roses. It's a little early for roses to be blooming in DC, but I didn't even see any roses bushes. The tulips were in full bloom, and gorgeous though. The Oval Office was also open and empty, so we got to look in from the door, where technically part of my foot crossed the threshold, thereby giving me the title to this blog post. I don't want to criticize the decorating, so let's just say I really hope that coffee table in the Oval Office is a family heirloom. The Oval Office is also much smaller than it appears on TV. We also got to look into the Roosevelt Room, where we could see Teddy's Medal of Honor, and Franklin's Nobel Peace Price, and the Cabinet Room, complete with cell phone caddy outside the door. No cell phones allowed in Cabinet meetings. That was pretty much it for inside the West Wing, so we stepped outside.
While we were out there we saw a shift change or something among the rooftop snipers, and two of them walked right by us. Those are some bad-ass looking dudes. They looked like they had body armor under under their uniforms, and the very large bags slung across their backs probably didn't have a change of clothes in them. A minute later another sniper came from the opposite direction, headed to the roof with take out from the White House mess. His rifle was just slung across his chest, and it was a little intimidating. After that we hung out in the White House Press Room for a few minutes. It's about 5X smaller than it looks on TV.
Selfie in the press room.
We ended the day with an expensive, but very good, dinner at Old Ebbit Grill.
Previously - bowling at the White House.