Last month, I spotted quite the intriguing photo on the White House’s Instagram. It was a stunning image of President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama, walking through the South Lawn. In short, the post said the White House was going to be hosting a #FindYourPark InstaMeet to celebrate National Park Week. To attend, an application needed to be submitted, and a select group would be chosen to join in on the National Park Week fun at the White House!
Ready for the super exciting part? I WAS SELECTED! Pardon the caps, but I deem them necessary in this case. I received the email Thursday evening the week I was already going to be packing up and heading to Washington D.C. with friends. Perfect timing, am I right?
I was ecstatic. I basically ran down the street on the phone shouting that I was selected to go. What an absolute honor. So, for the next few days I anxiously awaited our trip to the capital and my very special trip to the White House. I had no clue what the InstaMeet would be like. Did they select 20 participants? 50? 150? It was all a mystery.
To my surprise, when I arrived there were only about 12 other attendees waiting near the gate. I instantly wanted to start jumping up and down like a fool. I didn’t, which I’m thinking now was probably a good idea. I could have looked pretty eccentric and I don’t think that Secret Service particularly likes eccentric when vetting White House guests. Just a thought.
After we were triple checked by security, we started the tour. A few members from the White House digital team (HELLO, dream job) lead us, along with three park rangers (they were the coolest). We walked through the East Wing and into the gardens behind the White House. The park rangers gave us the lowdown on National Park Week and walked us through the grounds. They had tons of fascinating information about…well…everything. From trees that had been planted on the grounds to the measures they’ve taken to keep them alive, these park rangers knew their stuff.
We made our way down to Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden and it took everything in me not to get weird and immediately bypass the group and run down. And, oh boy, let me tell you, that garden is IMPRESSIVE. But I’m sure you’re not surprised. I wasn’t. The First Lady has some serious style and her garden was no different. She had rows upon rows of fresh herbs, lettuce, and more. We had the opportunity to walk through her garden – it was surreal. When else am I going to have that chance?! Don’t worry, I won’t get greedy, once will suffice.
After we walked through the South Lawn and the gardens, we headed inside for an East Wing tour. We were lucky enough to have David, Vice President Biden’s official photographer, along for the tour and now I’m kicking myself for not asking him more questions. His work is beyond incredible and he’s so down to earth. He took us through a visual presentation of many of the stunning photographs he’s taken both on- and off-the-clock. If you ever have the opportunity of meeting David, I highly suggest you ask to take a peek at his travel photography. He’s one talented guy.
As we proceeded through the East Wing, we were able to stop and take as many photographs as we liked. Well, I suppose that makes sense when you remember it was a group of IG-ers. AKA, all the photos. Nonstop. If you can get to the White House, make sure you stop in the china room for some serious glam. It’s fantastic!
Whew, what else can I say? It was a dream come true. I’m so thrilled to see how far we’ve come. The fact that the digital team for the White House – THE White House – hosted an InstaMeet is phenomenal! The White House is on Snapchat, Instagram, and basically every other major social media channel. If you’re not taking advantage of the fact that you can really get an insider look at White House events, President Obama’s travels, and more – you must. Go follow them. Now.
Who knows, you might even end up at the White House on an InstaMeet! Are you heading to Washington D.C. any time soon? Or have another spot on your travel to-do list? I’m already dreaming up summer day trips! And you know, reliving my day at the White House.