We made it into D.C. on Monday, March 6, for our first full day of exploring. Today I am sharing about a place that is important to every single American, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where they make money…literally.
To visit this interesting locale, you must have a scheduled tour, no “walk -ins”. To plan your visit, contact your U.S. Representative’s or Senator’s office. You must have your photo I.D., along with your confirmation number, and like in every single place in D.C., you must be prepared to be searched. This includes x-ray machines for bags (or they will hand search your purse or bag), belts off, pockets emptied, arms out, and security guards examining your pupils for dilation. Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly.
Our tour was the first one of the day. We arrived in plenty of time, too much time, actually. It was freezing cold. We parked near the Jefferson Memorial because it was free (and empty), but that meant we had a 1.5-mile trek to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. After waiting for 40 minutes in the wind, we were ready to hug the neck of the man who opened the door for us. The warm air was so inviting, that I didn’t even mind being searched…until they said, “Wait a minute, we’re not ready yet, go back outside.” The sheer heartbreak of it all! I hate to even recall it!
We finally got in, for real, and got searched. Right before entering, Mitchell realized he had his pocket knife with him. This is a major no-no in our nation’s capital. Washington D.C. has the least freedom in the “land of the free”. Terry stashed it outside and hoped to be able to retrieve it when we left. There’s always a little excitement when you travel with the Bashams!
We spent a few glorious minutes getting warm in a long hallway. It had various displays about the history of our currency. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this would the highlight of the tour.
The tour lasted about thirty minutes. One word comes to mind: underwhelming. We walked along corridors that had windows looking down into the area where bills were printed. A very attractive lady with a distinct speaking manner talked into a microphone, sharing information as we made our way through. She pointed out the unique security features in our money, most of which we already knew about. The tour ended at the machine where all the finished money is supposed to be spinning around a carousel and being wrapped, but we saw a whopping nothing. That part of the factory was down for an equipment upgrade. TV screens were playing footage of what normally happens in that area, but our TV was blank. Bummer.
We were told up front that no photography or videography was allowed. I was able to get a few photos outside and in the gift shop.
Terry got some playful criticism for wearing this old jacket – it does look rough! There is a story behind it. We were having very mild weather in Oklahoma, but we knew it could be cold out east, so we took jackets. Terry rarely wears a heavy coat, even in cold weather, so he only has light windbreakers. As we were leaving for our trip, he packed a windbreaker, but he thought he might need something heavier, so he grabbed this work coat that was in our garage and tossed it in the trunk. It turned out he was glad he had brought it because the temps were frigid those first days of our journey. This is Carhartt jacket that his Pa used to wear, so it has sentimental value. I’m used to seeing him in it and thought nothing of it. He did get some stares though, and some comments on social media about it, so I thought I’d explain. I think he will be getting a better one by next winter! The chart says he is about $1.6 million high. He joked and said, “I’m glad I wore my good coat so I’d look like a million bucks!” 😉
Mitchell is worth the most, even though he’s only 14!
The kids had been saving money for souvenirs for many months in preparation for this vacation. They were thrilled to find some very unique money souvenirs in the gift shop. I was able to get the coolest magnet I’ve ever seen: an iridescent $100 bill!
Was this tour worth getting up at 5:30 on the first day of vacation, walking over a mile in traffic, and waiting 40 minutes in the cold? No, but if you can go later in the day, or in the summer, or both, I think your take on it will much better than mine.
After this tour, we wanted to visit the Holocaust Museum which was next door. However, they didn’t open until 10:00. This was discouraging because the time was only 9:15! We hated the thought of waiting in the cold again. Thankfully, a little cafe was nearby and it was open. We enjoyed an expensive snack before going to the next stop.
Oh! and, in case you’re wondering, we did retrieve Mitchell’s pocket knife.
Next week, we will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I hope you will join me!