WASHINGTON (WAVE) - There's something to be said about red, white and blue.
The land of the free and the home of the brave.
It's a fast-paced life where hard-working, professional women are dressed to the nines in a pair of running shoes. The roar of mammoth planes fill the sky while the sounds of constant honking rumbles through city streets, all between scores of government buildings and museums.
There's a monumental reminder inscribed on a wall, just names to youngsters, but a reminder of the somber reality our nation faced many years ago. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, born in Kentucky, is much bigger than I remember, and stands tall above the spot where Tom Hanks gave his memorable Vietnam speech in Forrest Gump.
It's been two decades since this energetic eighth-grader took on Washington, D.C. Fast forward, and I have an entirely new appreciation for our nation's Capitol after exploring the city with a baby in tow.
I've missed all of you on WAVE 3 News Sunrise! And no I wasn't off having a baby. I spent the week attending the American Meteorological Society's weather conference. Every year, conferences like these are available for meteorologists to attend in order to keep their seal of approval. It's an accreditation that every meteorologist at WAVE 3 News has. In order to receive it, one must pass a rigorous exam that tests our weather knowledge. After obtaining the seal, we must complete yearly requirements to keep the title, one of which is attending a weather conference to further our education.
I spent time learning about the newest bells and whistles on the market, but more importantly understanding new weather techniques to better perfect my forecasting and presentation on air. I had to laugh because the baby kept kicking me during some of the presentations. Maybe this little nugget is destined to be a meteorologist like mom and dad.
It's no secret when you're seven months pregnant that it's hard to walk, but the small amount of down time I had that wasn't spent resting my swollen ankles, I tried to take in some of Washington's finest.
Check out some pictures I snapped during my journey this week. Some observations:
When do people in Washington, D.C., work? Granted the weather was fantastic so I'm sure people played hooky, but the suit to spandex ratio had to be close. There were so many people exercising, walking with friends and relaxing. I couldn't believe it.
People are incredibly nice! I'm sure my huge stomach had something to do with it, but I was taken aback by how kind everyone was despite the hustle and bustle, offering to take pictures, picking up everything I dropped -- I'm super clumsy! -- offering to carry my bags, helping me up the stairs, opening doors, basically catering to my every need. It may have something to do with the fact that I don't think pregnant people live in the city, like, at all. Between the side-eye and flat-out stares, I'm convinced these wonderful people have never met a pregnant lady. Most of the time I felt like Medusa and they were about to turn to stone.
Politics. Politics. Politics. You can't turn on the TV without hearing about the race for the White House, so imagine the vibe standing right next to it. Every cab driver broke the ice with a presidential question, or baby question, to be fair. Donald Trump signs lined the streets while protesters set up shop outside President Barack Obama's home. At one point, the Secret Service cleared the entire street in front of the White House, blowing their whistles all at once, and pushing protesters and tourists alike to the other side of the street.
I snapped a picture of the deserted street that became a ghost town in literally five seconds. Dozens of armed men and women appeared out of nowhere, carrying guns bigger than my growing bump. All of a sudden a rush of black SUVs sped up the front driveway, parking in front of the White House. Men decked out in tactical gear escorted a young girl from one of the SUVs. She hopped out of the car, swung her backpack over her shoulder, and walked inside surrounded by a posse of Secret Service members. I looked at my watch and it was 3:45 p.m. I, like everyone else, assumed it was one of Obama's daughters making her way home from school. The chaotic scene was probably routine for everyone else, but my heart was pounding and of course the baby was kicking. It was pretty cool.
All of these memories from my trip are stories I'll be able to tell my new baby when he or she grows up. I have a feeling the state of our nation will be in a completely different place when my child is old enough to understand the significance of these simple snapshots. Let's just hope it's a good state for the sake of our next generation.
Previous Jones' Journey installments:
+ Week 10: Daddy drama
+ Week 9: My baby is looking like ... a baby!
+ Week 8: Baby has so much to say after listening to Dave Matthews Band
+ Week 7: Candid reflections on body changes
+ Week 6: My dream, baby!
+ Week 5: Oh, baby, 2016 will be life-changing
+ Week 4: Dear Skeptics: The pregnancy cravings aren't total baloney!
+ Week 3: The good, the bad and the ugly of early pregnancy
+ Week 2: What is Lauren thankful for during pregnancy?
+ Week 1: Lauren Jones is expecting a baby!