Smithsonian Castle and Steve Berry: What Could Go Wrong?

Smithsonian Castle and Steve Berry: What Could Go Wrong?

In early April, 2017, Leah blessed me with a fantastic birthday gift. I love Washington DC, and although we’re friends, I’m still a big fan of author Steve Berry

All of Steve’s novels involve a lot of truth wrapped around a fictional cast. Reading his work is like a lesson in geography, world history and current affairs. If only high school had been this interesting. His latest book, The Lost Order was associated by plot with the Smithsonian Castle.

In conjunction with the book’s release, Steve held a private fundraiser for 50 people to support the Smithsonian foundation. It included an after-hours private tour of the Castle led by Steve and the curator. It also included a signed copy of the book, which I’d already pre-ordered on Audible.

Jillian, Scott, Leah, Steve and Benji

Our challenge was that we flew back from an event in Orlando the night before. We had a pre-dawn flight out of DFW and into Reagan National that was scheduled to arrive in time to catch our breath, eat, change into fancy duds and head over to the Castle. oh, and we had to fly back the next morning so I could fly to New Orleans to pick up Max.

This was the jist of our chat after about 2 hours of sleep over the last 30-something hours:

“Fly early,” she said.
“We’ll sleep when we get there,” she assured.
It’s 2:00 pm and we’re still sitting in hotel lobby waiting for our room to be cleaned.
“Don’t be grumpy,” she pleaded.
Yeah, good luck with that!
Best to make the best of it.
“Don’t push it, lady.”

4 hours spent on this plush couch at the Mandarin Oriental while waiting for our room.

We did eventually get into our suite at the fabulous Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC. It was just in time to change clothes for our event. Our friends, Benji and Jillian Stein were meeting us at the hotel right before heading over.

I wasn’t happy about having to don the dress clothes and jacket. I’d worn a uniform over the course of my 25 years law enforcement career. One of my retirement “demands” was that I’d only dress up if I absolutely had to. I guess according to Leah, I had to.

Despite the days of flying and zero sleeping, the tour was incredible. Steve led the group around the castle and would read scenes from his book that occurred at various locations within the museum. It was a cool Q&A with other fans and friends. I truly appreciated Leah making the effort to do this for me.

The funny thing was, we had just spent the week with them prior to an event in Florida. I guess I could’ve gotten the book signed then and skipped the Castle. Are you kidding me? This was one of my all-time favorite adventures.

Since we had an early flight home, it was early to bed without a chance to see much of DC. I always make it a point to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial while in town. I have 8 friends’ names who were killed in the line of duty carved in those granite walls. This trip wouldn’t allow the time.

Uncharacteristically, we Ubered out to Reagan National with time to spare. We arrived and quickly moved through the airport looking for our gate. It wasn’t to be found. We’d flown into Reagan but our departure flight was out of Dulles. Needless to say, we weren’t happy with tacking another 45 minute drive in hopes of not missing the flight home. Remember – I still had a round trip to NOLA to make!

Faces of People Leaving the Wrong Airport

I’m not sure how, but we made it to the gate in time to be whisked off and back to DFW. I was sleepy, happy with a well-worn t-shirt and of course, my signed copy from Steve.

The lessons learned are many, but the most important thing to remember is that if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen. There were a thousand reasons not to go to DC, but Leah only needed one reason to go. She loves me and wanted me to have this experience. For that, I’m grateful.

Adventures involve risk, but not all of them are life-threatening. Having a good plan with lots of flexibility are keys to a fantastic experience.

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