A long, tiring, and exciting day. I am thinking of writing a letter to the US Government asking them to consider changing the inauguration day to sometime in June or July (July 4th?). Holy, it was cold out there. Still somewhere in the range of a million to two million people came out. I was honoured to be among them. Here is my story:
12am est or so: post an update on facebook asking if anyone wants to give me a wake up call at 3am est so I can start out for the metro in good time.
3am - thank you Deb Steele!!!!
3:30am -on the road
4amish: line up on the highway, hoping I'm in the right line. Tune into local radio with announcers and reporters saying they have never seen such traffic in DC metro area, and there all long lines at all metros already.
4amish - to 6amish - fret, stew, and try not to panic as I wait in traffic. Hearing reports on radio that metro parking lots are full or near capacity.
6amish - car ahead of me stops to let someone off at the metro station entrance. Rest of the cars ahead disappear, and I don't know where to go. Almost drive right back out of parking lot before just pulling over into parking meter stall, no US change. Grab my car rental contract, and hope I don't get towed.
615amish - board train, quite crowded, and gets more as we stop at other stations. Frequent stops in between stations- very polite driver comes on to PA to announce trains ahead are in stations. 8 trains right ahead of us, and as many as 8 behind (and we're the early birds!). As we pull into stations, announcements to crowds waiting to board that other trains will be coming very soon and not to push into already crowded cars.
7:30am - get off in downtown DC, up onto the street, huge crowds of people walking to entrances to national mall. Join the crowds.
8am- come into mall area from behind Lincoln memorial, no security check, and try to walk as far up as I can and as is comfortable crowd wise. Watch a young man exclaim "I'm here. YAAA! Came all the way from California!"
People so excited and jubilant. Jumbotron playing concert from a couple of days ago. People dancing, waving American flags.
I come to a place where volunteers say that the areas ahead are now closed due to crowds, my impression is that I am near the halfway point on the mall, a little short maybe.
8am - 10:30am: trying to stay warm in the cold, take picture, talk to people nearby, ask to borrow people's binoculars - cant really see that much further from where we are, or from these particular binoculars.
1030ish- inauguration ceremonies start. Crowd goes wild when democratic politicians announced, not so much when republicans appear. I'm a little disppointed, but it makes sense. Obama is all about inclusiveness, no? When Obama appears (any Obama) crowd goes really wild!
President Obama seems really...whats the right word...sombre? He seemed to me to be really feeling the weight now squarely on his soldiers. Millions upon millions have put their faith in this one man. Part of Obama's speech is to throw that back, and say that Americans have to have faith in themselves and each other.
Once Obama is sworn in, an African-American lady goes through the crowd - free hugs! Predominantly African-Americans in the crowd. Could feel their pride.
12pmish - Obama finishes speaking, crowds start moving, I with them, while a national poet says a poem.
Huge crowds, everywhere, it seems.It takes me about an hour or so to find a restaurant with food, a washroom, and seating space. CNN and free wifi is a great bonus!
Board another crowded train, one change of trains at an extremely crowded metro station, and then sleep a bit on the train back to my rental car - which thankfully has not been towed!