I hope you are coming to Washington, March 30-31 for Legislative Day. We have an exciting agenda planned. Meeting key legislators is an experience not soon forgotten.
This year our Legislative Day falls during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. While we can never guarantee the blooms (look to Mother Nature for that) there are great walks around the tidal basin so be sure to bring some comfortable shoes.
Here’s a little known piece of trivia regarding the Cherry Blossom Festival. Tokyo sent the original shipment of cherry blossom trees in 1910. But upon arrival, inspectors discovered they were infested with insects. They ordered them to be burnt on the spot. As a result, the first cherry blossom trees, from a new, bug-free shipment were planted in Washington in 1912.
Have you visited the Smithsonian Museums (there are 19 including the National Zoo)? Good to know, they are all free. The Smithsonian is named for James Smithson, an English scientist who died in 1829. He never set foot on American soil. How did the museums come to bear his name? He left his fortune of more than $500,000 “to the United States of America, to found in Washington, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” His remains were moved to the Smithsonian Castle in 1904.
One of my favorite spots to visit is Ben’s Chili Bowl. With all the hoopla over Bill Cosby, it will be interesting to see if his name is still on the wall. For years, Bill Cosby was the only customer to eat for free at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a D.C. institution since 1958. A sign reading, “Bill Cosby is the only person who eats for free at Ben’s Chili Bowl” was in place for years. After the 2008 election, the Obamas were added to the sign. Shortly thereafter, President-Elect Obama stopped in for an order of half-smokes. However, being presidential, he insisted on paying. Well known around the D.C. area, half smokes are similar to a hot dog, but usually larger, spicier, and with more coarsely-ground meat. The sausage is often half-pork and half-beef, smoked, and served with herbs, onion, and chili. Yum, they are delicious. My other low-cal favortie are their chili cheese fries; a huge plate of crisp french fries covered with their famous chili and melted cheese.
Getting around Washington can be a challenge for tourists. The metro is an excellent alternative and puts many locations in easy reach. Taxis and bike rentrals are also popular. We’re staying in Capitol Hill, which has is own Metro stop & taxis are abundant. There are 131 neighborhoods in D.C. and they are distinguished by their history, culture, architecture, demographics, and geography. Locals talk about "being inside the beltway" or "outside the beltway." The Beltway refers to Interstate 495, the Capital Beltway that encircles Washington D.C. "Inside the Beltway" is an expression used to characterize matters that are, or seem to be, important primarily to officials of the U.S. federal government, to its contractors and lobbyists, and to the corporate media who cover them, as opposed to the interests and priorities of the general U.S. population. When Richard M. Nixon was president it was said that Watergate would become serious only if it got "outside the Washington Beltway", if the depths of the disgrace were understood by the American people. We certainly know that it got outside the Beltway and the rest is history!
Being part of Legislative Day is a benefit our AAHAM members share. I hope to see you here in Washington.