Our last day of Washington DC exploration took us back down for a visit to the Gallery of the House of Representatives. In order to see the Representatives at work we had to first visit the offices of one of our State Representatives (Michigan in our case) to get tickets. We found the building, cleared security, and walked the long tall marble halls until finding the office of Carl Levin. After a short visit with one of his aids (who had schooled in Kalamazoo) we got our passes and went to the Capitol.
Our visit was timely - we arrived about an hour before the scheduled vote on HR 3350, a modification to the Affordable Healthcare Act that aims to allow you to keep your current health care plan if you like it. The bill was introduced by Fred Upton, a Representative from Michigan (actually representing our legal residence address of Kalamazoo).
We sat in the Gallery for nearly an hour and a half, listening to the various speeches and trying to make sense of the proceedings. The audio levels in the room were a bit too low to always catch what was being said. Ultimately after a couple intermediary votes the Bill passed, but isn’t expected to make it through the Senate nor past the Presidents’s desk.
This was definitely one of those times when we come out of an experience much more curious about things than going in. The common logic with travel and exploration is that you should do a bunch of research before hand to figure everything out and understand it all once you are there. We tend to flip that on its ear, mostly doing little to no before-hand research before visiting a place, knowing that while we are there different things will catch our interest and we will research them on the back side after the visit.
Once the bill had passed (to virtually no reaction from the assembled Representatives which we thought was strange) we left and joined up once again with the Keiters for the rest of the afternoon.
Miranda wanted to view the White House and it seemed like something that a complete visit to Washington DC shouldn’t be without, so we made the walk over. It was good to view it in person, it helps to give perspective on scenes that you normally see on TV, but after a few minutes in front of it…well, it is just a fancy house behind a fence. So after the necessary photo we made the walk back to the Mall area for another visit to the Museum of Natural History.
It was a bit bittersweet as we knew this would be the last exploration time where the kids could all be together. We had just shy of a couple hours before the museum closed so each found exhibits that we wanted to view yet and headed in those directions. MsBoyink and I stopped for a much-needed cup of coffee then headed to the exhibit on the Human Genome.
We explored it a bit but MsBoyink is finding that with her recent cataract surgery that between the heavy amount of reading museums can require and the odd lighting they often have (especially if the artifacts are historic or otherwise sensitive to light) that exhibits like this can get tiring. We chose a walk through the gem and mineral displays, and then found a bench to watch the other exhibit in places like this which is the crowd of people walking through them.
We struck up a conversation with an older gentleman sitting on the adjacent bench, who happened to also be from Michigan. He was part of an 8th-grade trip from the Detroit area that left Michigan at 4:00AM Wednesday morning, visited Gettysburg, then came to DC for a monument tour, a medieval dinner, the White House, Mt. Vernon and museum visits. He looked exhausted and we could understand - that’s a lot to fit in in a short couple of days. Makes us wonder how much the kids will remember of it.
We had a Metro ride home that for whatever reason made MsBoyink and I a bit nauseated, so after dinner and a short rest to recover from that we finished the night with a campfire - our first good one since being with Keiters in Oregon in June. We didn’t even let a light sprinkle stop us from getting that last S’More in.
This morning it’s time to part ways with our caravanning partners - they head north to New York while we need to point the nose south by southwest aiming for Texas.