Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Day to Remember

I've had a lot of memorable days in my life. Yesterday was definitely one of those days when even in the midst of it, I kept saying, "I can't believe this is happening! What a great day!"

Why was it a great day?

First, its a great weekend: my friend Lyzz (from the '09 Ride:Well Tour) is here to visit! She arrived on Thursday morning and didn't leave until tonight (Monday). That being said: yesterday was an especially stellar day.

The morning started by meeting my friend Anna for a coffee (straight espresso for me!). Then we were off to the occasion of the morning: The White House garden party. Evidently, the White House opens up its garden twice a year (fall and spring) to "special guests." By invitation only, the "general public" are invited into the White House grounds to see the gardens. My friend Anna is a senior staff person for a Senator, and through work she obtained tickets to this party and kindly invited me along - also saving a ticket for my weekend visitor. :)

Entering the White House grounds was surreal. As crowds gathered on the sidewalk two fences and a street away from the beginning of the grounds, we passed through security guards by simply showing them a slip of paper and letting them look in our bags. The next thing we knew, we were looking at trees on the grounds planted by presidents past. As we stood next to the East Wing admiring Jacqueline Kennedy Garden we saw a big fluffly black dog appear: sure enough! It was Beau - the first dog!

We took photos posed feet from the main door. We admired the Rose Garden as we wondered if Obama was sitting in his Oval Office only feet away from us. We decided such a question was answered when security suddenly seemed to double and one of Obama's senior staff persons walked past. :)

The grounds were beautiful and I am greatly appreciative of such an opportunity for a tour. The gardens, the flowers, the trees, the vegetable garden, the naval band playing, the incredibly friendly staff and volunteers - all of it - was great. A huge thank you to is in order to all the volunteers who put the event on: and of course to Anna for thinking of me as a worthy guest!

Leaving we kind of thought to ourselves: now what? How does one spend a day when we've already been on the White House grounds?

Back to Plan A, we decided. Originally, Lyzz came this weekend so we could go to the official dedication of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior Memorial. The first memorial in DC to an individual who was not a president (and not white), this is an event that has been much anticipated since its original opening in August - when this event was canceled due to Hurricane Irene. We were late, but hoped it would be ongoing and decided to take our chances as we began the 2 mile walk to the memorial.

Fortunately, we arrived to discover it had not ended. As we drew near, Lyzz wondered aloud, "is that James Taylor? He can't possibly be playing live, could he?" She excitedly ran ahead and I caught up to her in time to discover: Yes! James Taylor.

Seriously: James Taylor? Does it get better than this? As we soaked in another song he announced it would be his last and we sighed as we realized we missed most of the set. Surely the event was over: it was nearly 2pm.

Oh, were we mistaken. On and on we went: we also saw short performances by Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow and others. It ended in an encore of countless artists singing "Love Train" together. Only one word can describe this experience of singing, dancing, and celebrating together in a huge but not congested crowd: AMAZING

After a stroll through my favorite memorial (Theodore Roosevelt!) and then to see the new MLK Memorial, we eventually walked our way back through part of the national mall. We landed in a pub for dinner before finally making our way home where we had ice cream for dinner as we crashed lazily on the couch watching a movie.

Pretty close to a perfect day, if I might say so myself. Or at the very least, a memorable one!

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