4/10/24-4/11/24 – We get off the subway, and we make our way back to the Westin to grab our luggage. Our new hotel is less than a mile away at the Holiday Inn Express on Rhode Island Ave NW. So, our group is walking less than a mile with our luggage from the Westin to the Holiday Inn Express. We’re all pretty tired and pretty sore from all the walking we’ve done on a long and productive day on Capitol Hill. We could not wait to get checked into our new hotel and changed into some more comfortable clothes and settled in our new rooms on this last night of our trip.

Then again, maybe we shouldn’t have been in such a rush to get there. There was only one working elevator, the other two were down for maintenance. When I went back down to the lobby to grab something to drink after hanging with Rose and Kile and Stephanie for a little bit, the cooler was barely half full. I was not paying $4.95 apiece for a pair of 20oz sodas I thought I wanted. The $7.90 I ended up paying for two bottles of water that were probably better for me in the long run was still too much. And they weren’t even cold. I had to stick them in the mini fridge in my hotel room first.

I turned in for the night around midnight after I was done using my computer. As I’m laying in bed, I realized my house keys are missing. I thought to myself, “No big deal. Rose must still have them in her bag. I’ll get them from her in the morning.”

I barely got three hours of sleep at the Holiday Inn Express that night, and I’ll tell you why: Just before 3:30 the next morning, the fire alarm wakes me up out of a dead sleep. So now I’m scrambling to get out of my hotel room and trying hard to follow the instructions over the PA system to go down the stairs to the nearest available exit. As I make my way down the stairs, I hear someone say it was a false alarm. Wait, what? At this point, okay, whatever, it’s 3:30 in the morning, I’m not gonna argue.

I go back upstairs like nothing ever happened. Except something clearly did happen, because now I see Jon and his parents are trying to evacuate as I make my way back to my hotel room, knowing they have to leave early anyway to catch their train at Union Station. So I tell them the same thing someone else told me.

Apparently, someone was testing something in the building, which ended up setting off the fire alarm. I’m slowly but surely coming back down to earth after a shot of adrenaline to the spine, but now I’m having a hard time going back to sleep. I’ve pretty much given up on it at this point, since I knew I had to be up and around later anyway. I figured I’d be fine and ready to go back home when the time comes after I get some caffeine in my system.

Surprisingly, when I started telling the rest of my group at breakfast about the fire alarm going off overnight, some of them said they didn’t even hear it, which made me realize, “Wow, they must have been so tired from everything we did on Capitol Hill yesterday that they slept right through it.” And then I was like, “Okay, what if it had been a real emergency and we really needed to evacuate? What would have happened then?”

Rose gave me back everything I had put in her bag the day before, but told me she didn’t see my house keys. Now I’m like, “Oh no, this isn’t good. I must have lost them at the Capitol somehow. Thankfully, those keys won’t go to anything over there if someone finds them. But now that means I’ll have to stop at my parents’s house first to get their emergency keys when I get home.”

The less said about breakfast, the better. The bacon was too crispy. And I don’t even know how to describe the scrambled eggs. I’m sorry, but we couldn’t get out of the Holiday Inn Express quick enough after that one night. Such a huge letdown compared to the Westin.

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