Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Jerry and I went down yesterday on the Marc train to the Inauguration. It was a beautiful sunny, clear and very cold day. From 9 am and until 4pm, when we got back on the train, we were walking or standing in a jammed packed sea of people who, for the most part, were very happy to be there. We walked from Union Station past the Senate building east of the Capital. At that point people where still walking in different direction, we were totally winging it, not knowing what to expect and really enjoying the spectacle of the day. Very quickly people started being directed and we were in a huge flow of people heading south at one point over small boulders and engulfing small trees to cross a bridge and eventually make it to Independence Ave. All access to the mall was blocked from 1st to 15th streets where we all climbed over barricades and could see the true scale of the event. We found a good spot on the SW corner of the Washington Monument where we could watch a jumbo tron in the distance with the capital behind it and the full out flying American Flags (it was seriously windy) that ring the monument in front of it. There was another jumbo tron towards the Whitehouse that we could see a little as well, between the two and perhaps the effect of bouncing off the Monument we could hear amazingly well although with a bit of time delay between the two.

Because the Washington Monument is on a hill there were few people behind us, farther back on the other side of 17th street there was another jumbo tron and from there around the reflecting pool, beautifully frozen, back to the Lincoln Memorial was again solid sea of people. Because of the empty hill behind us, after Obama was done we got to 17th street pretty fast (our only fast travel all day). 17th was closed of coarse and we were soon in a crush of people again heading North on 18th street. There were no cars just building-to-building shoulder-to-shoulder people covering the sidewalks and street. Because we got out so quickly there were only a few hundred people in front of us, after six or seven blocks we turned around and looked behind us to see a solid wall of people as far as you could see. We went a few blocks past K and headed East, where Jerry new there was a Caribou Coffee and we got out of the crush of people for a while and amazingly sat down and got warm. Then, we headed towards Union Station on K Street which turned out to be the Shangri-La of venders selling all things Obama, what a sight for blocks and blocks. I did find the perfect pink BE THE CHANGE t-shirt for my daughter.

We made it to Union Station an hour early and figured we'd just go in and warm up, wrong, all semblance of order had broken down and we were soon stuck in a grid lock of people out side the building, no one getting in or out, it was classic dysfunction of crowd control and to skip most of the drama, except to say that when the police without bullhorns finally decided we at the head of the sea of some thousands of people had to turn around and back up Jerry cut through the crowd to argue with the police with me in tow (as we had held hand the entire day as not to get separated) to argue the impossibility of this feat with the full support of the crowd. We did mange to open up enough space for people to single file out from the building and eventually order was restored and we got on to our half empty train with 5 minutes to spear. The train station was very chaotic. However, the day was wonderful and we were both completely glad we went!

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