Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ace Tours WW


What does WW stand for?  Is it a World War museum, a Wonder Woman set, a Weight Watchers office, Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, or the Washington Wizards locker room?  All of those are acceptable guesses but WW stands for the West Wing of the White House.  


I've toured the East Wing before and wrote about it here.  As for the West Wing, I thought there was no way to see it.  But the White House website does state that a way to experience a West Wing tour is by invitation from the White House or through a personal connection to a White House staffer willing to lead you on an after-hours tour. 

Last fall we were having dinner with friends and one of them mentioned that a tour could be arranged if we were interested.  Four of us jumped on the invitation.  Me, my wife, and another married couple gave our personal info so that the security office could run a background check on us.  It all went smoothly and we received an appointment to visit the West Wing.

That weekend, we walked to the gate near the visitor entrance and there were about two dozen people waiting to get in.  We approached the lady with a clipboard and gave her our names.  She said that we weren't on the list.  We said that we had an appointment for a tour of the WW.  We didn’t get a chance to say more before she interjected saying, “There are no tours today, the president is here.”  

We tried to say that we were meeting a friend who is inside but she wouldn’t have it.  She insisted that another event was going on and no tours were happening.  I guess we made a mistake by using the word tour because this wasn’t really a tour as she defined it.  Our visit was more of a meet-up with a friend.

Well, that was a bit irritating because we were sure she was wrong but there was not much we could do to change her mind.  We texted our friend and found out that we were at the wrong gate!  The gate we were at was for attendees of a garden event and that’s where the president was stopping by to greet all the guests.  The lady with the clipboard was correct in saying that at that gate only attendees of the garden even were getting in.

We walked around the corner and at that check-point there were no people waiting.  We got the attention of the guard.  He came out and moved a metal barricade to let us through after we told him we had an appointment.

He asked us for our IDs and verified we were on the list.  Then he let us into the garden.  A short walk later, we arrived at a screening check point.  Behind the tinted glass, there was another officer and near him stood our friend.
We got our visitors badges and headed to the WW.  As you probably guessed it, no photos were allowed inside.

We got to see the Oval Office (from the doorway) and the first thing that ran through my head was: if I could push the right piece of wood on the Resolute Desk a secret compartment might open like it did in the movie National Treasure.  The second thing that I thought of was, “Hey, that’s the sofa Kellyanne Conway put her feet up on!”

Speaking of Kellyanne, I actually met her once randomly at a golf pro shop in DC.  I wouldn’t have recognized her if I hadn't seen her on TV earlier that day wearing the same outfit.  For you curious golfers, she doesn’t play but her teenage son did.  All jokes aside, it was a pretty special moment to be staring into the Oval Office where so many presidents and world dignitaries have sat.

We also saw the Roosevelt Room, Cabinet Room, dinning hall, and walked by the Situation Room (door closed of course).  I did ponder about in which side-room did slick Bill seduce young Monica.

After exiting the building, we took photos outside the West Wing Lobby entrance.  Next stop was the Press Briefing Room.  I found out that the press room was originally a room where the indoor swimming pool was located.  It was built in 1933 so President Franklin Roosevelt could swim as part of his therapy.  Nixon cover the pool and turned the room into a press briefing room in 1970.

Inside, there were couple of cameramen/news people sitting in the press seats.  The podium was roped off but we did take photos in front of it.

After our tour, we exited through the two security check-points and back onto the street.  A short walk turned us from VIPs back into regular tourists outside the WH fence.

The five of us ended the day across the street at The Hamilton restaurant recounting our tour over some food and drinks.


The West Wing Entrance

Press Briefing Room



Ace delivering an imaginary speech to the nation

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