A "Capitol" Adventure - My Family Travels
Our conference group
We dressed up for all our meetings

Who doesn’t love our nation’s capitol? A diverse mass of cultures, the highest government in the country, and overpriced restaurants all in one place?! Sounds like heaven to me.

This past February, I took a trip with my coalition, YSAP, to the always beautiful Washington D.C. for a CADCA conference. There are no words to describe this trip. Adventure is an understatement, to say the least.<

Bright and early at 3 am on a snowy Sunday morning, I left with my group for the Des Moines International Airport. Eight people, two cars, and way too much luggage. After seven hours of bumpy plane rides, layovers, and delayed flights, we touched down at Reagan International. Tired but excited, our walk to baggage claim started off well. However, after an hour and a half of waiting, my group came to the realization that two bags had been lost. Oh dear!

Attending conference meetings in sweat pants is completely unacceptable, so we find a taxi and a Wal-Mart. Buying some very simple dress clothes for two of the males in our group, we head back to our patiently waiting yellow cabbies and move onward to the Gaylord National Resort. This resort is: __________ (insert adjective of choice). Magnificent, breath-taking, extravagant, awe-inspiring. Like nothing I’ve ever seen before, I am rendered speechless.

Walking inside only adds to the immense grandeur. The Gaylord has an indoor atrium, complete with an indoor fountain and massive trees. Cobbled walkways lead to fancy restaurants and pricey boutiques. Sadly, the registration led to disappoint. Amidst all this beauty, our reservations had been recorded wrong. I was informed that I would be staying in a room by myself! Most people would find the beds that imitate clouds, flat screen TVs, and an ornate bathroom all to themselves a luxury. However, I love being around people, so this wasn’t my favorite part of the trip.

Not allowing anything to put a damper on the trip, I put on a smile and ate an amazing Italian buffet at the Pienza Italian Market. After that, I worked out in a gym much more sophisticated than I have ever seen.

The first day of meetings passed in a blur of information, new friends, and incredible speakers. The second day was…life-changing. As a privilege of being a member of CADCA, we spent the day on Capitol Hill and talked with our Iowa legislators! A small-town girl like me talking with important lawmakers?! What a huge deal!

Along with attending meetings and meeting some of the most important people in the US, we experienced D.C. I went shopping at Union Station and bought incredibly over-priced souvenirs for my family. I took a tour of the Capitol and the Senate Hart buildings. I rode the metro and gave a homeless man a sandwich. I ate authentic Mexican food at Rosa Mexicano in National Harbor. To sum it up, I had the time of my life.

After an exhausting and enlightening week, I was ready to go home but got to spend one more night in my favorite city because of weather delays. Our adventure wasn’t quite over, either. Waiting at baggage claim for our luggage (which luckily arrived safely this time) I saw none other than Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson! As if governors and senators weren’t enough, she was icing on the cake. I still can’t believe I got so lucky.

After arriving at my little, very un-glamorous apartment complex, I fell into bed and slept for 17 hours straight. I woke up craving the bright lights and missing life-long friends. I can’t wait to go back!

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