The trip started like any other day. We (those of us on the Stars on Ice tour) hopped on the tour bus and drove six hours from Connecticut to Baltimore, arriving at 4:00 a.m. Unfortunately, we missed the opening reception the night before.
Meryl Davis and I met in the lobby of our hotel so that we could check in, get our apparel and walk to Starbucks for much-needed caffeine. After meeting with Amanda Evora, we ran into one of the members of the gold-medal-winning U.S. men's sledge hockey team. I felt very ashamed of myself for not even knowing that our sledge hockey team had won! (In my opinion, the Paralympics does not get enough attention. It is incredible what those men and women can do!)
After this little detour, all the Olympians piled into city buses to make the hour-and-a-half drive to the White House. I was so exhausted from the new schedule of the tour that I admit I was not very excited about this day trip.
We arrived at the White House and had to pass through two security screenings before being let onto the grounds. Once we were inside, I finally started to really appreciate what was going on. All the pictures and artifacts mesmerized me. I love history, especially when you get to see it first hand. I get very lost in my imagination of what it must have been like to live through each of the presidencies.
They sectioned off a portion of the building and basically gave us free run of it. After so long, we were all corralled into groups by sport. We were told that the Vice President and Dr. Biden would be coming to meet with us first, to take pictures, and they would be followed by the President and Mrs. Obama.
When we were told we were going to Washington, I never thought I would ACTUALLY get to meet the president. I figured we would all group together, he would wave to us, stand in front to take a picture, and that would be the extent of it. However, we actually got to meet him and the first lady, and shake their hands. I was so impressed. Michelle Obama is a hugger... who knew?! She went around and made sure to give each person a hug, and Barack (Yeah, we are on a first-name basis) shook every single hand.
It was at this point that I realized how invaluable this experience was. I have never been star struck before, but to get to meet the leader of our nation, and to be a part of the history he has made, was the most humbling experience.
After our visit to the White House, we all went on to the Senate building for another reception (one that we actually got to attend this time). To be in these places that so few people get to see was truly amazing.
This trip was definitely an experience that I will keep with me for life. I am so glad that I did not give into my cynicism and decide to sleep through the event!