Inauguration Day ended like it began. Standing in the dark, bitter cold in a crush of people. We arrived at the Metro station at 4 a.m. and there were already 50 or 60 people waiting for the station to open.
It’s difficult to describe how crowded the Metro cars were. Very much like the video of Japanese train “car stuffers” cramming people into the already full cars. I must say, however, most folks were pretty friendly and patient.
We reached our security gate (about half a mile from the Capitol?) around 5 a.m. and there was a crowd of a couple of hundred people waiting for the security check-in which didn’t happen until about 9 a.m. Four very long hours, with the bone-chilling cold creeping into your feed and up your legs.
Once through security we hobbled to a standing area about 100 yards from the Capitol steps where our new president was sworn in. We could see President Obama or the others except on the the Jumbotrons, the closest of which was about 40 or 50 yards away. Another 2.5 hour wait. Temp in the upper teens. And crowded.
Just in front of us was a large area filled with row upon row of folding chairs. The cheap seats but better than no seat at all. This is where we saw some celebrities: Chris Tucker; Bruce Springsteen; Spike Lee; Al Franken. I was impressed that these folks were willing sit in the cold with the rest of us.
Behind us, stretching out along the National Mall, all the way to the Washington Monument, was the sea of people you saw on TV, waving flags.
By the time the oath of office was administered, we had been standing in line and fighting for our live son the Metro, for 8 hours. All but 30 or 45 minutes in the cold.
After the ceremony, The million+ people had to go someplace. The streets and sidewalks near the Capital were packed, so we decided to skip the parade and go back to base camp. To say the Metro was crowded doesn’t begin to describe the scene.
After a nap and some food we got in our party clothes and headed down tot he convention center where several of the inaugural balls were being held. Sheryl Crow did a nice set and a little late the new VP and Mrs. showed, which we mistakenly assumed meant Obama wouldn’t make it. We knew cabs would be scarce but after more than an hour in the freezing cold, we gave up and called our friend Dianne (out of a dead sleep). Trooper that she is, she fought the traffic and closed off streets to come down and rescue us. (There will be a small shrine in our basement)
So was our Inauguration Adventure fun? Not by any objective measure. It was… and experience. Like WWII. An important moment in time of which we can say we participated. Would I do it again, knowing what I know now? Doubtful. But that’s true of much in life.
I’ll be processing photos and video for days and will post anything that I think you might find interesting.