Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration of President Barack Obama

I am still healing from the cold weather that we endured.  The day started at 3 a.m. when we got up to shower and layered into as much clothing as possible to be out the door and at the OC by 5:30 a.m.

Here is the moon at 5:15 a.m. from Calvert St. bridge.  

Once we arrived at OC, we got coffee and bagels and waited for the rest of our group to arrive.  Once we were all good to go with coffee, etc. we thought we would take a chance with the metro since we were right at Woodley Park stop.  We got down in the station and there weren't a whole lot of people around yet (this was pretty surprising since I saw on the 5:00 news that there  was already a line just trying to get close to the Shady Grove station and they were already letting people onto the Mall (mostly because people had slept there overnight, even though it had been said that wouldn't be allowed)).  A train came fairly quickly and it was just PACKED!  I was pretty convinced at this point that we were all going to have to walk to Union Station, around the East side of the Capitol, and then over to the South side of the festivities.  We had scheduled ourselves enough time to do this, but we've all had like 3-4 hours of sleep so no one is looking forward to this!  We decided (ok Mike thought it was a good idea) to wait the 4 minutes for the next train first and if that one was just as packed, we would start walking.  Well thank goodness we waited cause 4 minutes later, along comes a train with barely any people in it!  We metro'd to Union Station where we started on our walk Southeast around the Capitol to 1st and C St. SE.  It was now only ~6:30 a.m. [since the Metro had worked out so nicely].  The crowds were already crazy and we decided it would be best to part ways (sorry Em!) and get in line for security at the Blue Gate.  We emailed the rest of our group and headed down where we needed to be.  We stood in line from 7:00-8:00, security opened up around 8:10, and by 10:00 a.m. we were fully through security (FINALLY) and walking to Blue West!

Definitely a HALLELUJAH! moment to walk under that gate!

The crowds still waiting to get through the Blue gate.  Most likely they did not.  There were thousands of people who never got through in time.

Jon and I - freezing but waiting for everything to begin!  You went from line to line, and crowd to crowd; waiting for one thing, then waiting for the next.  Jon  was sleepy from his jet lag and all he kept complaining about was how if he was watching on TV he could be having Pizza and beer (this started around 8 a.m.).  He then moved on to talking about wanting a big bucket of fried chicken.  Seriously he talked about so much that I am still craving pizza and fried chicken!

This is the best picture of the millions on the Mall on Tuesday - truly amazing to know that so many people were there for this historic occasion!

This one is curtiusy of the Jamestown Post-Journal!  Only picture I've found showing the crowds from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol!

This is what I could see from behind where we stood at Blue West

Snipers everywhere - it kinda made you feel safe and uneasy at the same time....

Obama taking the Oath to be the 44th President of the United States!

Obama's first speech as Commander-in-Chief

To give you an idea of how close we were I took the last two pictures of Obama's Oath and Speech with nothing more than the standard zoom on my camera.  He was only about 1" tall, but it was really cool to not need a jumbo-tron to see him!

These next 2 shots are from Emily - they were so great that I wanted to share!

This is from the podium where Obama was sworn in.
Actually standing at the podium where Obama stood early that morning.  This is what he was looking out on, minus the estimated 2 million people!

After Obama finished his speech, we started to make our way out of crowd and back toward the House office buildings so we could warm up (there was hot cocoa waiting!!)  After security at Rayburn told us that Longworth was our best bet - we continued slowly walking up the hill - SLOW was the only speed any of us could walk.  We passed line after line of people/crowds waiting to get indoors until we got to an entrance at Canon where only about 5 people were waiting in line to get in.  We got in line and had no problems getting in (vs. the first 2 buildings that we tried that didn't even have their doors open yet!)  It was wonderful to be indoors with heating, sit down, and have hot cocoa with snacks like powdered donuts and double stuffed Oreos!

By 2:30 we thought maybe the crowds at the Capitol South Metro stop would have died down a little so that we could get on the metro... yea right!  Please see photo below:
So once again we started to walk East of the Capitol back to Union Station, which was just as disastrous.  I gotta say at this point, it was unanimous that we could no longer handle standing still in a large crowd waiting to get through some line!  We were all freezing, and exhausted, and had just had it!  So we started walking up Mass Ave.  We walked and we walked and we walked some more.  We finally got to where the roads were open again and started making attempts to get a cab to our respective neighborhoods........most cabs were occupied so we kept walking.  Somewhere after Thomas Circle, I had given up hope of us finding a cab and had accepted the fact that we would be walking the entire way home (1.5-2 miles still left to home).  We finally got a cab (2nd big HALLELUJAH! moment of the day) which we piled into.  We were back in TH7 around 4:30, very quickly changed out of all the winter layers, threw on sweats, turned the heat on high, and got under as many blankets as I could find to spend the rest of the evening watching West Wing.  

I am so happy I went.  It doesn't seem that big a deal when I just think back on going.  Then I look at the pictures above again and I see the pictures of Obama standing there and I have this "holy crap" moment where I remember that I witnessed this amazing piece of America's history, LIVE!  It was very cold, a very long day and I was pretty sore the next day, but I honestly would totally go again!  The girls would mention this and of course the boys responded with an enthusiastic "HELL NO!" :-P

Here is my list of tips and suggestions for you if you ever find yourself attention a Presidential Inauguration   And if I ever make it back to one, I hope I remember to look these up!
  1. Buy hand and feet warmers in advance, they will charge you and arm and a leg to buy them there.  It's a given that they're not going to last a full 7 or 8 hours, but they will last for a short time and they will be TOTALLY worth it 
  2. You're not allowed to bring a flask or thermos through security.  But, you could buy a cheap-o thermos to keep you warm while waiting in line to get through security.  They had trash disposal set up before you went through security so as long as it's nothing you care about, you can just pitch it.  
  3. On that note, BRING SNACK FOOD!  It's a really long day and it's going to be late afternoon before you actually get to eat again (there are no restaurants really around the Mall or House offices buildings without having to walk a ways).  Just a zip-top bag with a few things like granola bars or crackers that you can fit in a coat pocket.
  4. Crochet yourself a nice, WARM hot/scarf/mittens set.  You'
  5. You're leaving home at like 5:30 a.m., and it doesn't really cross your mind to grab your sunglasses, but do it!  It's almost like seeing the light of day for the first time ever if the sun comes out and you're unprepared.

***This post has been revised***

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