The Senator and Jennifer go to Washington Print

As usual, I registered for the annual NCBFAA Government Affairs Conference, which is an exciting several days of political activity on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I always work photography into it somehow, as well.

This year the trip became problematic because I had hernia surgery in late July and was still under doctor's orders not to lift anything over 10-12 pounds. A lightly packed camera bag was a bit more than that but doable; my suitcase and computer bag, however, were not.

Enter Jennifer, who volunteered to do my heavy lifting. We used to travel together frequently before she and Duane got married, so this seemed like a great way to have some fun together. Plus, since Kelsey had just moved back to DC, it gave us a chance to have dinner with her on Saturday, and spend much of Sunday with her, too.

So, we did it.


Photography note:  The photos embedded in this article were all taken with my iPhone.  The real photographs are in the slide show at the end of this article, and you can see those photos (all 122) by clicking the thumbnail once.  My photos were taken with my D800 and my infra-red converted D200 and have my watermark on them;  Jennifer took her photos using my P7000.

As usual, as soon as my suitcase appeared, MacGyver became upset. When I gave Sue my dress shirts so she could fold them into the Eagle shirt sleeves, he immediately camped out on them.


Dishing up dinner for him became sufficient cause to leave my shirts alone, so Sue was able to fold them and I migrated into the bedroom to pack my suitcase.  Naturally, so did MacGyver.


Ultimately, I prevailed and finished packing, after which Sue dragged my suitcase down to the garage and put it in my car for me.

I picked Jennifer up early the next morning and after checking through security, we spent some time in the Red Carpet Club.  We took United's 777 flight back to Dulles airport and, to soothe Jennifer's somewhat frayed nerves (she doesn't fly as much as she used to, and besides she has children now) we had libations with breakfast.


We had been concerned about the weather throughout the week prior to the trip;  Hurricane Isaac had turned on a lot of rain and had worked its way up to the northeast.  Just before we left, the weather improved dramatically and I packed my infra-red D200 along with my D800, and my P7000 for Jennifer to use while she walked around DC.  Initially, our pilot said we were going to arrive about 45 minutes early, but then a severe thunderstorm rolled through DC, dumping a lot of rain and bringing 50 mph winds.  We circled for a while and it finally became necessary to divert to Richmond, VA to take on more fuel.  We did so, the weather improved, we took off again and landed at Dulles three hours late.

After changing our dinner reservations at Kinkead's from 7:00 to 8:30, Jennifer and I managed to get to the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, put the luggage in our room, catch a cab and make it to Kinkead's at 8:35.  Whew.  We enjoyed a great dinner with Kelsey and turned in for the night.

My meetings on Sunday didn't start until 10:40 and because the weather was beautiful, I walked around outside from 8:00 until 10:30, taking mostly infra-red photos of the Capitol from all sides.  It was a spectacular day for infra-red photography--bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.  The Capitol is a special place and there were very few other people there besides me.


After my meeting that morning, I met Jennifer and Kelsey at the Old Ebbitt Grill for lunch.  It's a favorite of ours and lunch was terrific, as usual.  After lunch, Jennifer and Kelsey went off on their own while I walked over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to take some infra-red photos. The Wall has much meaning for me for obvious reason and it's always moving to be there.


I also walked over to the Korean War Memorial, which I had never seen.


There are 19 larger-than-life size statues of soldiers on patrol.  It's really well done and is quite moving;  it's wonderful to see night or day.  I took some infra-red photos there and Jennifer and I went back to see it Monday night.

After an exhausting day of walking and photography, I went back to the hotel to rest my weary bones for an hour before the PAC reception that everning.  I particularly enjoyed introducing (or re-introducing, as the case may have been) Jennifer to my colleagues at the reception.  We stayed for about 45 minutes and then went to DC Coast for dinner.  It's another favorite of mine and Jennifer had never been there--great place for foodies.

After dinner, Jennifer and I went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial so she could see them all at night.


Monday, I had meetings all day and Jennifer went off to the National Gallery of Art, primarily to see her favorite Painting (Degas's "Four Dancers"), and more museums on the Mall.  That evening we attended the Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association dinner meeting with Customs at Finemondo Restaurant and participated in some interesting conversation.  After dinner, we went to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, then walked over to the Jefferson Memorial, and then walked back to the Mall, where we finally hailed a cab and went back to the hotel.


Tuesday was our day on the Hill.  We started with a 7:30 breakfast in the hotel, and since it was 9/11 there was a special moment of silence and ceremony as a color guard presented the flag for the pledge of allegiance.  Those of us who had served in the military were all seated at a special table in front and I confess to being moved by the standing ovation that everyone gave us.

Jennifer accompanied us on our visits that day to the offices of Janice Hahn, Mary Bono Mack, Dianne Feinstein, Xavier Becerra, Dana Rohrabacher and Laura Richardson.  These visits took us to the Rayburn House Office Building, the Cannon House Office Building, the Hart Senate Office Building, and the Longworth House Office Building. I took photos of Jennifer in front of every sign where we visited someone, such as:


At the Hart Senate Office Building, I had Jennifer take a photo of me with my elevator (old family joke).


Congresswoman Richardson was very kind, upon learning that Jennifer was there for the first time in eight years, in walking all of us over to the Capitol and taking us inside to see the women's rest room, a new fixture.  Women had had not facilities in the Capitol for over 100 years and Speaker Boehner had arranged for funding to put it together;  it's beautiful and it was a special experience being able to get into the Capitol.  Congresswoman Richardson also took us down to the Capitol Subway and arranged for a ride to the Rayburn so we could get to the NCBFAA Congressional Reception without having to go out to street level and back through security.  It was very kind of her and was a genuine treat for Jennifer--and the rest of us.

We spent about 45 minutes at the reception, which took place in the Gold Room in the Rayburn building, watched the sun set, and then went to Nora for my birthday dinner.  We both love Nora and it was nice to be back.  I had a plum frangipani tart for dessert to celebrate.


It was delicious--as was the rest of the dinner.  We came back to the hotel, where I took a photo of the Capitol from the middle of the street in front of the hotel before retiring for the evening.

I had an all day meeting Wednesday so Jennifer spent the day at the several museums, including the Holocaust Museum, and we made our way back out to Dulles for our flight home.  It was a little late but far less eventful than our flight in, and we arrived home safe and sound. 

The trip was a wonderful time for me and for Jennifer, even though it was really busy and exhausting.  It was great fun and I hope we can do it again.  Click the thumbnail below to see the real photos.