Here's the calendar:
July 2011: The trip coordinator of an arts group to which I belong contacted our senator's office about visiting the White House
August 2011 (or thereabouts): We are sent list of what we need to do and we must provide much personal information about ourselves. No photos are allowed.
December 1, 2011: Trip coordinator is advised that our group has been OK'd, tells us the date and our time which is 7:30 a.m.! We must be there 15 minutes ahead of time. Trip coordinator must quickly book a bus (she gave the company a heads up months ago).
Day before the trip: I find a pair of trousers that will hold my picture ID, a credit card and my telephone. I will leave the phone on our bus (which is secure per driver). I take my shower at night and drink an extra glass of wine so I can get to sleep by 8:30.
Day of the trip:
Get up at 4:30 a.m. and have time to get some breakfast.
5:15 a.m. drive to bus meeting point
6:00 a.m. bus leaves from Annapolis
6:45 a.m. we have reached D.C. and driver parks in front of the Willard Hotel and lets us wait on the bus until 7 when we will be allowed to get in line. It is cold outside.
7:00 a.m. we are in line and told to get into a single file in alphabetically order.
7:15 a.m. we are led through gates where our ID's are checked. One couple's birth years don't agree with what was emailed. They are not allowed in.
7:30 a.m. we go through another entry way and our IDs are checked again and we go through metal detectors. Someone sees a sign that photos are OK. We have all left our phones on the bus and are a tad annoyed.
8:30 a.m. we are finished!
Now, about the rooms and decorations:
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A mini-trip to see White House holiday decorations
Here's the calendar: