Friday morning I was nervous as all get out...I had two meetings scheduled on the hill, one with a senior Senate Finance Committee staff member and the other with a staff person from Senator Max Baucus's office. Even though I kept telling myself the meetings would be a breeze, my stomach and nerves weren't so convinced. I took the Metro from the Foggy Bottom station (1/2 block from our hotel), switched at the Metro Center and popped out at Union Station. The sun was shining and I suddenly felt some confidence in my bones. I arrived about 4 minutes late to my first meeting but managed to smooth over the receptionist and front staff. I was supposed to have 15 minutes to share my thoughts on health reform, as luck would have it, I got 40 minutes. We had alively discussion and I left feeling quite good. I navigated my way to the Russell Senate building and was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming Senator Baucus's staff were and how friendly the atmosphere was...there is a reason Baucus keeps getting re-elected. My meeting with the Baucus staffer was equally productive and I was sincerely impressed with the enthusiasm and interest he showed in my requests. I walked out of there re-invigorated with the notion that one person can make a difference.
I popped over to the Russell Sneate building and dropped off some information at Senator Tester's office and then walked along the back side of the Capitol, passing a pro-life protest, the Supreme Court and the Congressional office buildings. I stopped into Congressman Rehberg's offce to drop off another packet about Fort Missoula Regional Park before heading back to the hotel to meet Jen.
We hopped back on the Metro and headed down to the Smithsonian/Mall. Incredibly, they were still taking down barricades from the inauguration. We met a delightful Ethiopian woman at the main Smithsonian infromation desk who filled our heads with all kinds of facts about the Washington Ethiopian community. We then headed over the the Museum of the American Indian for lunch. Fabulous! I had pumpkin/cocounut conszuela, maple brined turkey, and Indian pudding while Jen got a more Central American dish of braised beef and chicken wrapped in torillas, grilled brussel sprouts, and a squash dish. expensive as all get out but well worth the stop. The museum is well done and is beautifully designed. After about two hours we then trudged over to the Air & Space Museum...a complete wonder to both of us! We took all kinds of photos and gazed, mouths open at the displays and exhibits. Unfortunately at 5:30 we were promplty herded out of the museum like cattle to slaughter by the Museum security staff, cutting our visit way too short.
After Metro-ing back to the hotel we quickly changed and took a cab to meet another Purdue friend who remains one of my best friends, Eddie O and his wife Kathy in Georgetown at Cafe Milano. Excellent food, great company, superb atmosphere, and a penchant for laughter all combined to make our second night in Washington even better than the first. After dinner Ed and Kathy drove us on a night time tour of the monuments. It was really breath taking to see the big three (Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington) all lit up at night and the Capitol in all its grandeur. After our driving tour they dropped us off at the hotel where we promptly collapsed into a deep slumber.
Day three tomorrow!