My husband and I decided at the beginning of the school year to sign the boys up to participate in the Close Up program. As stated on their website, Close-Up's mission is, "Close Up informs, inspires, and empowers young people to exercise the rights and accept the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy."
He and I both participated in Close Up in the late 1970's, a few years after it had been established. We felt it would be a positive experience for the boys as well, especially given the fact that both David and Michael love history and politics.
Due to our food allergy issues, I arranged for my husband and me to go as well, requesting a room with a microwave and refrigerator, so I would be able to prepare food they could eat. We also decided to extend the trip so we could see a little more of Washington, DC since we were going to be there anyway.
Since the Close Up program took care of the hotel arrangements from Sunday night through checkout on Wednesday, I had to make reservations for the Friday and Saturday night before the program began and the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday night after it ended. We also drove instead of flying. I was a little apprehensive about this trip. This is the first time we've gone away where arrangements were made by someone else.
I have found Trip Advisor to be extremely helpful in locating hotels. While I usually book directly from the hotels' reservation desk, I scour the reviews and various hotels in an area. The nights we were looking for were mostly booked for several sports events and college graduations in the DC area. Add to that the fact I needed a microwave and fridge at a minimum. The Close Up hotel was fully booked so I found a room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Silver Spring, Maryland, in close proximity to the hotel Close Up had booked. Upon making the reservation, I noted we were driving and would arrive in the wee hours of the morning. This detail was included in the email confirmation I received. In addition, I called the hotel two hours before we left to remind them it would be a very late check in, most likely around 2 or 3 am, and a very friendly receptionist said, "thanks for reminding us, I will make sure everyone knows you'll be coming."
We drove at night and arrived at the Silver Spring Hilton Garden Inn at 3am as expected. What we did not expect however was being told we had no room, especially in light of the fact that I confirmed less than 12 hours before we arrived! There was a cooler in the car with some food and we had been driving all night. To say I was irritated would be an gross understatement. The poor man at the desk wanted to speak with my husband and not me and to be perfectly honest, I didn't want to speak with him either!
After a couple of phone calls, the guy at the desk found us a room in Bethesda's Hilton Garden Inn about 9 miles away. His directions however were sketchy at best and a 15 minute ride turned into an hour. By 5 am we were checked in, car unloaded and in bed. And so began our Washington, DC adventure...
|Hilton Garden Inn, Bethesda, MD|