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2018 Wahington DC Cherry Blossom

Glassblowing Grapevine Texas

Grapevine Texas is a great place to visit with many quaint Texas shops to keep you busy. There is a Christian book store that offer free coffee samples and Olive Oil store that also has free samples to enjoy along with custom soap shops and too much to list. We found this and decided to give it a try this video documents the process.

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Washington DC

Washington DC and Cherry Blossoms

The time of year to visit Washington DC would have to be during the Cherry Blossom bloom however picking the “right” day can be tricky and last minute if you want to hit the blossom during its peak. My recommendation would be to keep the months of March and April open then check the local area news to narrow down the time you will travel.

A visit to the White House is a memorable experience during any trip to D.C.  and if you are interested in attending a public tour of the White House be sure to secure your reservation well in advance of your arrival to Washington DC

(no tours on MONDAY)

Public tour requests must be submitted through your States representative. Self-guided tours are normally available Tuesday through Saturday (excluding federal holidays) Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Requests can be submitted up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. You are encouraged to submit your request as early as possible as a limited number of spaces are available. The White House tour is free of charge. White House tours may be subject to last minute cancellation.

If you wish to visit the White House and are a citizen of a foreign country, please contact your embassy in Washington, D.C. for assistance in submitting your request.  All guests 18 years of age or older are required to present a valid, government-issued photo identification. All foreign nationals must present their passport.

Prohibited Items as of this writing (you may want to check for updates as this list is subject to change)

• Video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, iPads, tripods, monopods, & cameras sticks

• Bags of any kind (handbags, purses, book bags, backpacks, diaper bags, camera bags)

 • Any pointed object, including pocket knives 

• Strollers • Food, liquids, aerosols, tobacco, products, personal grooming items (e.g. makeup, lotion, etc) 

• Guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons/devices, toy weapons, or knives or any kind

*****There are NO storage facilities available at the White House complex or the White House Visitor Center. Individuals who arrive with prohibited items will be turned away.****

Permitted Items  (be safe and ask before you go) 

• Compact cameras (still photography only, no video recording or streaming, lenses must be less than 3 inches long)

• Umbrellas without metal tips 

• Wallets

• Cell phones (talking or texting is not permitted, still photography is allowed, please silence your phone) 

•       All items needed for medical purposes will be permitted (e.g. wheelchairs, electronic scooters, glucose tablets, EpiPens, medication, etc)

Visitors scheduled for tours who require the loan of a wheelchair should notify the officer at the Visitors Entrance upon arrival. Unfortunately, reservations are not possible. Visitors in wheelchairs, or with other mobility disabilities, use the same Visitors Entrance and are escorted by ramp from the entrance level to the Ground floor, and by elevator from the Ground floor to the State floor.

Please contact your Member of Congress if you have a hearing or visual impairment and require assistance during your White House tour. Guide animals are permitted in the White House.

The nearest restrooms to the White House are in the White House Visitor Center and public restrooms/telephones are not available in the White House. If you have an active bladder the “tour” is currently self-guided and should take about 45 minutes. I would say wait until after the tour for the large cup of coffee.

All visitors should call the 24-hour Visitors Office information line at 202-456-7041 to determine if any last-minute changes have been made in the tour schedule.

The easiest way to get to the White House is by public transport. There is no on street parking near the White House. The closest Metrorail Stations are the Federal Triangle (take the blue or orange line), Metro Centre (blue, orange or red line) and McPherson Square (blue and orange line).

The White House is the official home and office of the President of the United States. Every president in U.S. history has lived here except for George Washington, since it wasn’t built until after his presidency. However, Washington and the architect of the city, Pierre L’Enfant, selected the location and set forth the plans for its construction. In 1800, the second president, John Adams, became the first president to move in. The day after moving in, he wrote a letter to his wife, containing a prayer for the house. He wrote: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this House, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” Thomas Jefferson, complained that the house was too big, stating that it was “big enough for two emperors, one pope, and the grand lama in the bargain.”

The White House was raided and burned down during the War of 1812 by British troops. The White House was soon rebuilt and in years gone by was widely open to the public.  President Andrew Jackson had to leave the White House to stay at a nearby hotel after a party of an estimated 20,000 people refused to let the party end. They finally left as Jackson’s aides lured them outside with washtubs full of orange juice and whiskey. President Lincoln complained that he couldn’t get work done in the White House because he was constantly being interrupted with people seeking jobs and favors, or people coming to give him or ask for advice

Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, once stayed at the White House for 24 days and the staff had to make many adjustments to his odd behaviors. The Chief Usher at the time stated, “We got used to his ‘jumpsuit,’ the extraordinary one-piece uniform he wore every day.

The White House eventually became overcrowded and President Theodore Roosevelt had all the work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. He also officially changed the name to the White House. A few years later, President Taft expanded the West Wing further and created the famous Oval Office.

Public tours were suspended after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Public tours have once again resumed as the American spirt will never die.

When President Grant was elected, his wife forbid him from smoking cigars in the White House, of which he smoked approximately 20 per day. He used to go the Willard Hotel to work and smoke all day, and they kept a cigar box for him in the lobby. It didn’t take long before people realized that the President of the United States was hanging out in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, so people began stopping by to request political favors and gain influence. President Grant hated these people and began referring to them as the “lobbyists” –

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Washington DC

Additional Information Washington Monument

The Washington Monument- There is some debate about the monument being the “world’s largest” masonry structure at At 555 feet 5 inches from top to bottom however there is no doubt it is the largest structure made by the once secret freemason society. The monument honors George Washington the nation’s first president. This giant obelisk was designed by the freemasons a secret society that Washington was a part of. It took almost 40 years to build because of politics and budget cuts which explains why the marble changes colors a third of the way up. It was completed in 1884 and was the tallest building in the world until the Eiffel Tower surpassed it. The monument remains the tallest building in Washington DC the world’s tallest stone structure. The Washington Monument is the oldest of the Washington DC monuments.

Next on our list of places to visit while in DC would be the Lincoln Memorial which honors Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Lincoln abolished slavery, held the country together during the Civil War, and provided successful reconciliation after the war. The Lincoln Memorial was designed after the Parthenon, the Greek temple in Athens. The Memorial is one of the most visited sites in Washington. Take time to just sit on the steps and look out on the National Mall, Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building. This is a great place for reflection and to remember all of history which has happened all around you.

The National Mall is a must-see place which is considered the heart of the capital. You could walk through in a couple of hours but we recommend you plan at least five hours to see and experience all it has to offer.  Many of the nation’s important people and events are memorialized here. The National Mall is open 24 hours, 365 days week. The monuments are lit up and less crowded at night.

Street parking can be found along Constitution Ave, Independence Ave, and in between the two streets along 4th St NW, 7th St NW, and 14th St NW. There are also free parking spaces on Madison Dr and Jeffersion Dr along the National Mall. Most of the street parking is free, but is limited to two hours. There are also parking garages downtown that are a short walk from the National Mall. The metro is the easiest way to get to the National Mall. No tickets or entry is required. You can simply walk up at any point. The is the only monument that requires a ticket if you wish to go inside and to the top.

President George Washington appointed Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French-born American architect and civil engineer, to design the federal city in 1791 to serve as the nation’s capital. L’Enfant envisioned a “grand avenue” to serve as a site for national memorials between the White House and where the Washington Monument stands today

Blooming Cherry blossoms are the sign of Spring in D.C. and the three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the occasion. More than 1.5 million visitors descend upon Washington, DC each year to admire the 3,000-plus trees. The festival, which runs from March 20 – April 15, is full of events that honor both American and Japanese cultures and represents a close bond forged between the two countries that began with Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki’s gift of the trees back in 1912.

Peak bloom is the magical moment visitors want to be on hand for during the cherry blossom season. Peak bloom is when 70 percent of the trees surrounding the Tidal Basin have opened their buds, creating a sea of pink and white. The blooming period, when 20 percent of the blossoms are open before the petals and leaves fall, can last up to 14 days, depending on weather conditions. Just remember that "forecasting peak bloom is almost impossible more than 10 days in advance," according to NPS.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of the blossoms and a three week-long cultural festival held all over the city. The Opening Ceremony, a free event held at the Warner Theater has performances from American and Japanese artists. Other events include the Blossom Kite Festival, Petalpalooza and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

To get to the Tidal Basin and view the trees by Metro, use the Blue, Orange or Silver lines and exit at the Smithsonian Metro stop. From there, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the Tidal Basin welcome area, located at 1501 Maine Avenue SW. Via Metrobus, the 32, 34 or 36 routes will drop you at the National Mall, near the Washington Monument. A 10-minute walk south will bring you to the welcome area.

• The first donation of 2,000 trees, received in 1910, was burned on orders from President William Howard Taft? Insects and disease had infested the gift, but after hearing about the plight of the first batch, the Japanese mayor sent another 3,020 trees to DC two years later.

• First Lady Helen Herron Taft planted the first tree in West Potomac Park Many First Ladies, including Mamie Eisenhower, Lady Bird Johnson, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, have officially commemorated the blossoms.

• The earliest recorded peak blooms occurred on March 15, 1990, while the latest recorded peak bloom occurred on April 18, 1958

• The majority of the tress are Yoshino and there are also Kwanzan varieties

No visit is complete without a stop at the “The United States Capitol” which is a monument, a working office building, and one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.

Visitors can enter the building through the Capitol Visitor Center, located underground on the east side of the Capitol. Begin your experience at the Visitor Center by visiting the Exhibition Hall but as in most places there is a prohibited items list.  Liquid, including water Food or beverages of any kind, including fruit and unopened packaged food Aerosol Containers Non-aerosol spray (Prescriptions for medical needs are permitted.) Any pointed object, e.g. knitting needles and letter openers (Pens and pencils are permitted.) Any bag larger than 18" wide x 14" high x 8.5" deep Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices Guns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworks Knives of any size Mace and pepper spray Razors and box cutters also never hurts to call and ask for any updates to these items

The Capitol Visitor Center, the main entrance to the U.S. Capitol, is located beneath the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol at First Street and East Capitol Street.


The United States Capital Building History

In accordance with the "Residence Act" passed by Congress in 1790, President George Washington in 1791 selected the area that is now the District of Columbia from land ceded by Maryland. He also selected three commissioners to survey the site and oversee the design and construction of the capital city and its government buildings. The commissioners, in turn, hired the French engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant to plan the city of Washington. In October 1792 a letter arrived from William Thornton a Scottish-trained physician living in Tortola, British West Indies, requesting an opportunity to present a plan even though the competition had closed. The commissioners granted this request.

Thornton's plan depicted a building composed of three sections. The central section, which was topped by a low dome, was to be flanked on the north and south by two rectangular wings (one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives). President Washington commended the plan for its "grandeur, simplicity and convenience," and on April 5, 1793, it was accepted by the commissioners; Washington gave his formal approval on July 25.

President Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capital building's southeast corner on September 18, 1793, with Masonic ceremonies. The sandstone used for the building had to be ferried on boats from the quarries at Aquia, Virginia and workers had to be induced to leave their homes to come to the relative wilderness of Capitol Hill where funding was inadequate.

The War of 1812 left the Capitol, in Latrobe's later words, "a most magnificent ruin" on August 24, 1814 British troops set fire to the building. Immediately after the fire, Congress met for one session in Blodget's Hotel, which was at Seventh and E Streets, N.W. From 1815 to 1819, Congress occupied a building erected for it on First Street, N.E., on part of the site now occupied by the Supreme Court Building. This building later came to be known as the Old Brick Capitol.

When the Library of Congress in the Capitol's west central section was gutted by a fire in 1851, Thomas Walter was commissioned to restore it. He also encountered obstacles in his work on the Capitol extensions. The project progressed rapidly and the House of Representatives was able to meet in its new chamber on December 16, 1857, and the Senate first met in its present chamber on January 4, 1859.

As the new wings were constructed, more than doubling the length of the Capitol, it became apparent that the dome erected by Bulfinch no longer suited the building's proportions. In 1855 Congress voted for its replacement based on Walter's design for a new, fireproof cast iron dome. The old dome was removed in 1856, and 5,000,000 pounds of new masonry was placed on the existing Rotunda walls. Iron used in the dome construction which had an aggregate weight of 8,909,200 pounds and was lifted into place by steam-powered derricks.

On November 6, 1898, a gas explosion and fire in the original north wing dramatically illustrated the need for fireproofing. The roofs over the Statuary Hall wing and the original north wing were reconstructed and fireproofed, the work being completed in 1902 by Clark's successor, Elliott Woods. In 1901 the space in the west central front vacated by the Library of Congress was converted to committee rooms.

Opened in 2008, the U.S Capitol Visitor Center is the newest addition at nearly 580,000 square feet, the Visitor Center is the largest project in the Capitol's more than two-century history and is approximately three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself. The entire facility is located underground on the east side of the Capitol so as not to detract from the appearance of the Capitol Building and Grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1874. The Capitol Visitor Center contains exhibits, orientation displays, theaters and other facilities to make the visitor's experience in the Capitol more informative and meaningful.