Thursday, February 5, 2009
Our alarm went off about 5:30am on January 20th. That was probably a bit late but we wanted to get some rest as we went to bed about 11:30 the night before getting all our gear. As usual, it took some time for us to get out of bed and then we had to strategize about what to eat and what to drink since we were really worried about the bathroom situation at the Mall and figured we wouldn't be able to go. We had a little food and drink and then our savior Loren got up downstairs and drove us to the Metro around 6:45am.
Our train station was Takoma on the Red line (metro map) and when we got to the platform, there were lots of people waiting. 1 train went by without stopping so we decided to go 2 stops north to Forest Glen (away from DC) so we could catch a train going south. That was a good strategy as the Silver Spring station had lots of people so we were able to get on before them.
Our plan was to switch at Gallery Place-Chinatown (woman fell on the tracks at this station) to the Green line so we could get off at L'Enfant Plaza which was close to the Mall. We heard some people talking about switching at the Fort Totten stop instead to the Green line (they were from Texas) and we thought that sounded pretty smart as it would be less crowded so we went ahead and did that and it worked out very well. We were cruising along until we started to get closer to downtown and then had lots of waits for other trains to clear stations. Finally, we were coming up to our stop at L'Enfant Plaza and we whizzed right through it. There was an absolute wall of people and the station was filled to capacity. We ended up at the next stop which was Waterfront-SEU. After wondering if we should try to catch a train back up to L'Enfant, we worked our way patiently through the station with the rest of the crowd. It was great to get out of the station and breathe some fresh, crisp air. We tried to duck into Safeway to use the bathroom but there were no public bathrooms so we started walking to the Mall.
We were able to walk for 8 or 10 blocks and then we started encountering lots and lots of people. We thought 'we've got tickets, where's our line?' Turns out this was the line for people with silver tickets and we kept walking and walking and walking for about 10 blocks till we hit the back of the line. A very helpful volunteer told us that security machines had broken and lots of people were being redirected over to the security gates we were walking towards and we thought there was no way we were going to get in but thought we'd try anyway. We got to the back of the line and all of a sudden, the line broke up and everyone started walking towards the capital. We had to stop of course to buy some Obama air fresheners but after about 3 or 4 blocks, we hit a wall of people. We could actually see the capitol and the stage and see what was happening and we couldn't believe it. We were close enough and this would have been fine to watch the ceremony but the blob of people was actually advancing towards the entrance. There was hardly any pushing and everyone was really friendly and we were all having a good time. It took about 1 1/2 hours but we finally got through security. Ellen and I separated near the end but regrouped right before security. They did a pat down as the machines were broken and they didn’t even look at tickets. We got into the Silver ticket area about 10:15 and the musical portion of the program had just started. It was really very open in the area we were and there was only about 1 or 2 people in line for the toilets which was a good thing because we were really ready to go. We took an area behind the reflecting pool, all the way to the left looking out from the capitol. We tried moving up closer on the right of the reflecting pool but we couldn't see much better and couldn't hear nearly as well so we moved back to our original position.
There was a lot of room until about 11:30 when a rush of people came from the back. We don't know if they just let lots of people in or they break down the gates but all of a sudden, it was very packed in but still very friendly and lots of pain. We watched the ceremony and could see some activity with our binoculars but couldn't make faces out on the stage. We all let out a huge cheer when Joe Biden was sworn in and yelled something about how great it was to see Cheney go. We sat in amazement when noon came and went and President-Elect Obama still hadn't been sworn in. We were so excited when it came time for the oath to be administered. When the mistake happened with the words of the oath, we were a little confused as we couldn't quite hear what happened through the loudspeaker but were so happy when the oath was completed. What a relief to be free of the Bush administration and so nice that we can have a peaceful transition of power in our country. We listened to the Inaugural Address still a bit in shock but really happy to be with all the people. When everything was complete, lots of people filed out onto the reflecting pool ice and everyone waved and sang good-bye to the helicopter taking George Bush away! Yeehaw!! That was really fun!
We started filing out of the Mall on our way to the Rayburn building. By this time, Dave's feet were freezing cold and he could hardly feel anything. Once we started walking, that helped a lot. We sat in line at the Rayburn building over an hour trying to get in to attend a Minnesota party in the Transportation and Commerce room. We were able to get a little food there at least and then we made our way to Congressman Walz's office to find a place to rest. Once there, we made ourselves at home and had some food and plunked ourselves down on the couch and had a good rest. We met some other Rochester folks and had a nice greeting with Congressman Walz and then another good long chat with Gwen Walz. Both she and Tim related to us the most poignant moment of the day. Congressman John Lewis from Georgia was able to greet Barack Obama coming out on the stage and they both thought about the journey for Congressman Lewis from one end of the Mall with Martin Luther King at his “I have a dream” speech August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to the capitol for inauguration of Barack Obama. Here's an article discussing John Lewis and Barack Obama’s relationship. Gwen Walz also spoke of the incredible sound waves rolling up the Mall and how amazing it was to hear them. What a great day!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Woke at 5:53, quite exhausted and quite exhilerated at the same time. Doing some carbo-loading to get through and hope to take off to Metro soon.
Don't think we can email from the Mall, but will certainly try.
Hope to make it through to the 3:00-5:00 reception at Walz's where they will have cocoa and sandwiches. Only small snacks are allowed in to the ceremony. Water won't be available either.
We have some conflicting information in the materials we got about where to enter through security, so are a bit concerned about that and taking the more conservative approach going on the source that says there are fewer gates.
There is a spot in our Silver standing area where it may be possible to see the ceremony AND the parade. Gates open at 8:00, and we are sure there is already a long line.
Time to get our gear and layers on!
Monday, January 19, 2009
We're getting ready too. Trying to finalize when to leave (aiming for 7:00?), confirm if better to Metro to Judiciary Square or Federal Center, and plans for post-ceremony. We scoped out our ideal spot for the AM with view of JumboTron and Capitol Building, but we'll take what we can get. We will likely not try to see the Inaugural Parade, but that would be so great if we could.
Ohh, we can't forget to bring binoculars!
And, people are buying Depends because of the 4,000:1 ratio of people to port-a-potties.
We thought about calling up to Tim Walz's office to see if they would come down and give us our tickets but it was great to stand in line. We met some great people. The woman below from Florida from Florida told us about her regreat at missing the March on Washington and was determined not to missed tomorrow. She was even inspired to run for office this last election and won. We'll post Ellen's interview with her later. It was really moving.
We also met these 2 young men from Sudan who came to the US in 1998 and just finished college and have started a business to get better water for Africa. Their web site is http://aqua-africa.net.
Buildings (it was closed), walking by the Supreme Court, waiting in
lines, and meeting lots of people. On the Hill, many less vendors.
The lucky people were carrying large ticket-containing envelopes.
The men working in the background of this photo told us at ~3:30 PM that they had to report to work at 3:00 AM and would be taking a lot of Red Bull to get through.
Many people were really dressed formally for the big occasion of ticket-getting. Everyone wanted to share where they were from, why they came, etc.
At both Senate and Office buildings, staffers came out to the lines
and asked for North Dakotans. Those folks got to go to the front of
Lines were 30-45 minutes to get into Congressional office buildings. Most offices were open ~8-4 for people to get tickets. some of the fun was figuring out which building to go to, meeting fellow state-mates in line, and hearing inspiring stories.
It's not that's cold really (now that we're Minnesotan), but we aren't taking any chances. Our inauguration gear includes:
1 bottle of water each
Camera, 2 extra batteries, 1 extra disk
Phones - Ellen's doesn't work on the Mall, but Dave's sometimes does - texting most reliable
Lightweight blanket from JazzFest which can serve as a poncho in case it rains (no umbrellas allowed).
Ellen is dressed to go skiing but without the goggles and skis.
Awesome socks from Minneosta mohair farm: http://www.austinsmohair.com/
Ski bibs (fashion sense is long gone)
Ski gloves (in case it's really cold) and regular gloves
Full wool ear-flap hat
Dave has on 2 hats (one with ear flaps), long-johns and jeans had cold toes after a while.
After the show, we took photos and rested on a blanket by the Wash. Monument (find us at www.redbowphoto.om/obama2009 in gallery 0089).
Then witnessed people having fun with George Bush's head (some kicked it to let out anger and some kissed it to thank him for enabled the election of Obama) and made our way to the Lincoln Memorial. Couldn't get too close but met a nice group from Ohio that was hamming it up a the CNN news truck
By the White House, we saw interviews for Spanish TV of the crowd including folks from London who came to see the day. Saw the set up of the reviewing stands for the Inaugural parade and started shopping, shopping, shopping. Established souvenier stands and stores have stocked up on Obama gear, empty store fronts became temporary Obamavilles, and lots of people on street selling everything you could imagine. Groups who made CDs during the Campaign, knock-offs of Official Programs, etc.
In the evening, dressed-up people with ticket holders around their neck started appearing, cars of people with clipboards and lists pouring out of them, and welcome wagons for what seem to be musicans coming out of limos.
Ellen was quite upset that we were late to the show, but we got to hear the last half and to see a tiny silver of a JumboTron.
We got out at Farragut North metro and walked ~ 12 blocks south the Mall. No crowds at all really (everyone was at the show already). Walked/ran past tons of sellers of merchandise including the usual T-shirt, hats, etc, but also Obama snowglobes and other unique things worth examination later. We went to the Washington Monument side of 17th St and there was no security when John Mellencamp was singing "Little Pink Houses". We were bummed to miss Mary J Blige.
Then Queen Latifah, Shakira and Usher with Stevie Wonder, will.I.am, Ashley Judd, Springsteen, Jack Black, Garth Brooks. The crowd went WILD whenever they showed Obama. Highlights of the show for Dave was U2 singing Pride which Bono et al wrote about MLK's speech on the Mall, and, for Ellen, it was singing "One Love" with the masses and seeing the awesome Pete Seeger. We really enjoyed Obama's speech and got it on video. There was a bit of groaning among the crowd when they announced the more traditional things like the Marine Corps Glee Club, but folks got really excited about Samuel L. Jackson and especially Beyonce.
Here's a nice news story about the show: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/bal-te.concert19jan19,0,2342420.story
The absolute best part of the concert was being part of the crowd. Everyone was so excited and kept saying to the person next to them "isn't this incredible"? Just so much happiness, relief, and excitement within a diverse group of people. Coming from all over the country and even the world.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Patti in Alaska sent a long list for the high school students where
she works, and various folks, including us, want some special and/or
tacky momentos of the day.
Some travel problems today in that rental car wiper fluid froze and
had to swap cars. Clearly, we're not in Minnesota anymore! Now we are
in the car heading back to DC hoping desperately to connect to public
transportation to get to the mall in time to see Beyonce etc.
We trying to work out details of what parties we will attend.
We would have loved to attend the Green Inaugural ball on tuesday but
tickets were $500 and, like all balls they sold out in15 minutes. Now
tickets are over $2,300.
Franti's Tuesday show at the 9:30 Club sold out on Saturday just
before we tried to buy.
Lots of invites to daytime Minnesota parties with our politicians
which we hope to do. Al Franken had a fundraising brunch this AM
which we didn't hit, but we sure hope Norm Coleman's lawsuit is
defeated and Al can be in DC for us.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
shovel snow because it got above zero finally! Ellen's holding one of
many Obama pins. We got this one in 2006 when we saw him in Rochester
campaigning for tim walz and amy klobuchar. If you can't see, it says
"Barack Obama for president. Coming Soon!". Who would have thought?