Like I wrote in a prior entry, that particular Sunday was a busy day for me. I started off with going to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (link is definitely NSFW) and I ate an early dinner while I was at the Bier Baron. After the event ended and I finished eating, I decided to get back on the Metro and head to the White House so I could check out the National Christmas Tree.
Even though I’ve lived my entire life in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area, I’ve only been to the National Christmas Tree two other times. One of them was when I walked past it one spring or summer day but that was in the off-season when it just looked like a typical pine tree. The other was when I went during the winter holiday season and that was when Bill Clinton occupied the White House.
Yeah, I know it’s kind of pathetic that I live in the area and I haven’t made more of an effort to actually visit the National Christmas Tree. This year I decided to actually schedule a visit since next year a new Trump Administration will take control of the White House and Trump seems to have gone out of his way to continue with pissing off people on Twitter. I just want to photograph the Washington, DC area as it is now before Trump takes over because I have a feeling that the DC area will never be quite the same as it is right now.
Like I wrote earlier I last went to the National Christmas Tree when Bill Clinton was in office. While the White House has always had a fence around it, there was a time when you could walk close to the fence then cut through this fenced alleyway over to the Ellipse where the National Christmas Tree is located. Thanks to 9/11 the entire downtown area has become more fortified, including the White House. Basically one now has to walk one block away from the White House, turn a corner, then walk another block back towards the Ellipse side of the White House. This new path definitely increases walking time to get to the National Christmas Tree.
It didn’t help that on the night I went there were even more cutoffs because of a scheduled motorcade of limousines carrying certain VIPs to and from the White House. Living in the DC area you get used to having streets and sidewalks get periodically blocked off to make way for these special motorcades. Here is what it was like at the intersection of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest.
I eventually made my way back towards the White House on the Ellipse side. My feet were sore but all that walking was worth it once I reached the National Christmas Tree.
Surrounding the National Christmas Tree were a variety of toy train layouts resembling small villages and towns with a toy train running through each.
There was a display of smaller trees with each one representing a U.S. state or territory.
The next photo shows the tree that represented my home state of Maryland.
The one other time I went to the National Christmas Tree during the winter holiday season I remember that there was a giant lit Yule log and I could warm myself by the fire. I didn’t see any Yule logs or bonfires this time around but I encountered something that I didn’t expect. There was a tent sponsored by Google enticing people to do some computer coding in order to get a free cup of hot chocolate.
This exhibit was somehow tied in with the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. (Although, for the life of me, I didn’t see how doing some computer coding was in any way related to visiting National Parks Service places like the Lincoln Memorial or Mount Rushmore or Yosemite.)
Basically you had to queue up outside and wait until someone opened the tent door and let you inside. Since I went on a Sunday night I didn’t have a long wait outside. Once I was inside the tent I had to wait some more until a station with a Chromebook (you can definitely tell that Google sponsored this) opened up.
Once I reached the next available Chromebook I found that it was opened to the Made With Code site. I definitely recognized that webpage because I had previously visited it on World Emoji Day back in July and I created my first personalized Emoji. Using the Blockly programming language (another indication that Google sponsored this) I created this Christmas-themed Emoji.
The next step was to wirelessly send my newly created Emoji to the nearest hot chocolate dispenser.
A screen at the top showed a selection of recently created Emojis. I found the one I created and chose that one.
Here’s where the cool part came in. The hot chocolate dispenser poured out the drink while creating special foam at the top that resembled my newly created Emoji.
There were some specially provided tables where you can center the hot chocolate and take a picture of it.
Given that cool looking foam featuring an Emoji that I personally coded myself, it was almost a shame to drink the hot chocolate. I was just glad I had my smartphone with me so I could photograph it for posterity and drink my free hot chocolate without regret. (As for the hot chocolate itself, it was okay but I’ve tasted better hot chocolate at Starbucks. I can’t complain too much about it since I got it for free.)
There was a stall that sold the official 2017 White House ornament. It was nice looking but I didn’t buy it since I have a small artificial tree these days and it can’t hold too many ornaments.
The last picture I took that night was of a life-sized nativity scene that was placed near the National Christmas Tree.