Warning: Photo Essay - This will take a while to download... District of Columbia

Rule is, if you don't have a chair,
you have to salute the traffic...

I strolled around the Columbian district and our nation's capitol the other day, and saw a lot more tourists than politicians. Wandering around the White House, I saw people from all over this country - and this world. People line up for hours for a self-guided tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and are led by voices from speakers hidden about the grounds, Disney-style; "Welcome to the only building in the world, housing a head of government, that is open to the public," I heard as I passed the line.

The place was hot with security. I'm not sure if it was because of the NATO shindig, or just an average day around the world's most important building. I saw two tents with a pair of vans each, and at one, a couple of military-types stood outside with a German Shepard, looking pretty official. I asked one if the dog was for finding bombs or something and he said; "Yeah." as if he'd been asked that a dozen times today. All I know is, this guy must be glad that German shepards are good for this, because I know he'd hate to be standing guard like that, as America and the world passes by him, with him holding the leash to a tiny French poodle or something.

The police around here have the frustrating job of watching thousands of people pass by, and trying to pick out the one bad apple. Even wandering around, taking photos arouses suspicion. I said hello to a D.C. bicycle policeman and the next thing I knew, he and three of his friends were all around me. They were very polite, and when I gave them my card and told them what I was up to, they seemed pretty satisfied that I wasn't going to toilet paper the Presidential Trees or anything. I excused myself, and they probably followed me back to my bike, on camera, at least.

An odd thing happened while I was taking a photograph of the south lawn. There was an innocuous looking device, a few feet inside the heavy, steel fence surrounding the Presidential Palace. It was gray and about the size of a breadbox, and very electronic - very "big-brother" looking. I glanced at the guy beside me, and we shrugged with suspicious glee. This thing must have had some kind of surveillance on us, and I imagined that every word we said was being transmitted to a bunkered lab in Virginia, then recorded, digitized and stored on CD. I figured that by the eighth word I spoke, they had permutated my dialect and compared my photograph with their files, and they already knew everything about me, down to that time I returned from the Cayman Island with... oh, whatever.

I took one last, good look at the most famous address in the world and strolled away, and as I did, I heard over the gray, breadbox-sized speaker; "Welcome to the only building in the world, housing a..."

Saw this stairway on the west side of D.C., nearly in Maryland - architecture with history and character.

The Washington Monument is being overhauled and is covered with scaffolding, which barely touches the monolith. Does it look tilted? I swear it looks tilted...

They put this heavy, steel traffic guard up so the President can't get out, I bet. Poor guy, can't even sneak off to the drive-in if he wants to. I'll tell you what, if he and the First Lady could just sneak off to the drive-in movies every once in a while, this world would be a better place - it really would.

I caught this guy in front of the Capitol, doing the Senators' jobs.

This school group came all the way from Oregon to visit the "other Washington" and to have their yearbook photo taken in front of the Big House.

I discovered that the Smithsonian is a great place to take your kids, and I hope to do just that someday.

Why the tent? These vans are here for security, but, but why the tent!.

One reason why I don't cover
many stories in big cities.

I would love to mow this lawn. Man, that would be so great, with just a little push mower - me out there, sweating it out and cutting each blade just right, for the good of my country, and afterward, I'd have a cold beer with the President, and he'd look at the lawn and then at me and he'd say "you've done a fine job" and he'd shake my hand. Wow, what a day!

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