We got back to San Diego on Saturday, after what seemed a marathon flight from D.C. through Dallas. Crowded planes, crowded airports, no time for lunch at Dallas, so a very dry pre-packaged sandwich purchased at Dulles. I can remember, back in the last century, when plane travel was a lot nicer.
We took a tour of the Capitol on Friday, then went to a wonderful Turkish restaurant for lunch across the street from the National Portrait Gallery. We toured that briefly, then took the Metro to Dupont Circle and walked to the Phillips Gallery which is near our “boutique” hotel. After touring that small but impressive gallery, we walked back to get our luggage and catch a taxi to our hotel near Dulles for that night.
We had a great vacation, shouldn’t really complain, but we did have on big disappointment, no white house visit, even though we had requested one well in advance. Here is a letter that I just wrote to Senator Boxer that explains the situation.
Dear Senator Boxer
Last Friday my husband and I took a tour of the Capitol with two charming young women from your office. They did a good job, and we enjoyed it. I had called your office the day before to confirm the call, explaining that I would probably be on the Metro one hour before the tour time of 10:00 am when someone from your office would call me on my cell to confirm our appointment for the tour, and might not hear the call. The young man I spoke with said he would confirm our tour, and told us we should be there by 9:40 am, even though the email letter I received on June 20th said we only needed to be there 15 minutes early. At about 9:30 am on Friday, while we were walking from the Metro to the Capitol, I received a call from our tour guide, asking us if we were going on the tour, and I confirmed. We were standing under the statue of Liberty by 9:40 am. Our guides showed up around 9:50 am. We then waited around 15 minutes for another couple to arrive. We were a bit unhappy.
I had also asked to have a tour of the White House last June. I had understood that the tours were given on a first come first serve basis, and that the tour could be requested as early as three months in advance, and that the tours would depend on the White House schedule. In the email letter I received from your office on June 20th, I was told I would receive an email seven to ten days before the requested dates (June 20th through June 23rd.) Even though we were traveling to New York, Philadelphia, and Gettysburg during that time, I checked my email daily. No email from your office. I finally called on June 19th when we arrived in Washington. The young man I spoke to was a bit vague about why I had not received an email, but said that no, we had been rejected by the White House—something about a large volume of visitors. He then went on about what could be done to get us a tour—in the next four days (?) I asked. Well no. I was very upset, but didn’t say anything more.
I probably would have thought no more about the matter until I spoke with the other couple on our Capitol tour. I had said I had been disappointed not to get a tour of the White House. She asked if I had received an email from your office. No, I said. Well she hadn’t either, and had called the week before. She had been a bit more insistent. She had requested the tour last May. She had found out that there had been a recent change in your computer system, and that some of tour request had been lost in the process—hers being one. Mine another I guess—since there were White House tours going on that week. She had been allowed to go on a tour with the new Senate interns.
I am still very disappointed. My husband is 75 and I am 71. I doubt we will get to Washington again.
Margaret McCown Liles