Springtime in D.C.

In April, 21 Flying Longhorns explored the sights and sounds of our nation’s capital.

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Washington, D.C. is a city of contradictions—a bustling metropolis teeming with quiet, enduring relics of American history. As 20 Longhorn travelers (and one stowaway Aggie) discovered on a five-day trip in April, it can be hard to juggle all there is to see and do in America’s capital city. Their solution: opt for the unusual.

The group got a taste of the Forty Acres when it toured the UT System Office of Federal Relations. Over breakfast, UT System Vice Chancellor Bill Shute, BA ’84, Life Member, explained his mission in D.C.: to promote research from all UT branches in an effort to increase federal support for the system’s 15 campuses.

“I didn’t realize Texas had anything like that in Washington,” says first-time Flying Longhorn A.J. Batla, BS ’66, Life Member. “It was nice to see that UT has a presence there.”

Another trip highlight also included a fellow Longhorn. Kyle Oliver, BS ’02, chief policy advisor to U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, wore his UT cowboy boots as he led the group on a behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Capitol. From standing on the Speaker’s Balcony to visiting the floor of the House of Representatives—stops not on the official Capitol tour—travelers got an exclusive look at our nation’s legislature. The unexpected access made the tour a nearly unanimous trip favorite.

“Visiting Speaker Boehner’s office and balcony was a real highlight,” says Mike Tyson, BBA ’62, Life Member. “We’d been to the Capitol before, but never gotten to do something like that.”

The group also visited many D.C. staples, including the National Mall, the Library of Congress, and Mount Vernon. Though the trip dates fell during the popular Cherry Blossom Festival, the elusive blossoms didn’t pop until the tail end of the trip, thanks to a surprisingly cold spring in D.C. Lucky for Longhorns, the bright pink buds could be spotted surrounding the Tidal Basin from the bus window on the way to the airport for the flight home.

“Overall, I thought it was a fantastic trip,” Batla says. “We got to see the highlights of D.C., plus some spots that weren’t as touristy. It was a nice way to see the city.”

Photos courtesy Thinkstock, Jordan Schraeder, and Susie Bogan.

 

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