The few blog posts under this one are re-run from emails sent before I started blogging. I apologize for the repetition, but I love these stories and hope you will too!
Hi everyone!! I am so sorry it has taken so long to let you all finally know about our Inauguration Day adventure, but I have basically been recovering from it! LOL!
It was an amazing feeling to be down there, even though we got nowhere near the actual festivities. But we were on the Mall with the other 2,499,996 people, and the amazing technology of the "jumbotrons" and incredible sound system made it feel like we were RIGHT THERE. Of course, everyone watching at home also felt that way, but you didn't have the frostbite, so we were definitely the lucky ones!
Yes, the 2:25 tap on my leg in Sue Ellen's guest room as she gently reminded me that we had to, ummmm, GET UP in the middle of the night, was a shock, but the coffee got flowing, and the warm brown sugar oatmeal kicked in, and soon enough we were showered, dressed in the fifty million layers, depends in our pockets, and on our way! Oops. Casey forgot her phone. Back in she went, and then, YES! We were on our way!
Worried we would have to wait in line for the shuttle, we were sure to arrive early to the Loudon County commuter lot. We all burst into laughter to find ourselves one of only a handful of cars. Wide, stunned eyes stared out from heated interiors as we pulled by and joined the ranks of the I-can't-believe-I'm-awake-at-this-hour waiters. When the bus pulled up, we all walked like zombies in the yellowish light.
Sue Ellen and I, of course, broke the horrified silence on the bus by whooping it up a bit. We were greeted a few minutes later by amazingly cheerful transit employees who reminded us how to get back, passed out little papers with details and travel tips, and cheerfully sent us on our way.
That would definitely be a theme among the kabillion workers and volunteers. All were smiling and cheerful, and on the Mall were calling out directions, advice, and "Welcome!" Such a great culture of "come on down!"
We then bussed and Meto'd--and again, the train driver continually updating us as we lurched along, stopping frequently to wait for trains in front of us--and finally we arrived at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro.
Along with about 800,000 others. OMG! The first hint of what was to come as we stood shoulder-to-shoulder through the people-moving area and then up up up up up the non-functioning escalators. I always love to see uniformed officers under such circumstances, and they were everywhere. We started our habit of thanking them as we shuffled past, and I was surprised by their, "Oh no--thank YOU for coming down!" responses--a consistent answer the whole time we were out there.
We then joined the crush on the street, and from then on, we were basically shoulder-to-shoulder for the rest of the day, with only short reprieves when we simply couldn't take it and would duck into a corner for some breath.
The feeling on the street when we arrived (it was still dark) was festive and chant-filled. "Yes we did!" rang out periodically, as we watched buses unload scores of law-enforcement pesonnel, smelled the already-for-sale hotdogs and various food vendors, were wowed by the bling-covered t-shirts for sale and in the crowd (Obama looks great in bead-azzle), and joined the crowd in front of the local-news camera. We watched a group of police officers surveying the crowd from a walled perch, happily taking people's cameras and taking pictures of the crowd for them.
We finally made it to an open Mall area and poured in from 12th Street, then made our way back up to about 7th Street, where we found a spot not too crowded and with a good view of the Jumbotron. I have to say, I was BLOWN AWAY by the technology. The video was clear and the sound was AMAZING. No need for the radio except for curiousity's sake to get updates on Metro, etc. Sue Ellen's blackberry email alerts (thank you Verizon for being free and clear all day) told us the parade route was filled around 9, and by 10 they were discouraging people from coming to the Mall. (It didn't stop them apparently.)
I texted a friend who was watching from home to get crowd estimates, and he said probably about 2 million. Sounds about right, and I think every one of them TOUCHED ME. OMG! But the good thing was that the crush of people kept us relatively warm, if you don't mind the claustrophobia.
The Jumbotrons played Sunday's concert to keep us entertained during the four-hour wait--we got on to the Mall about 7 a.m. By about 10 I think we decided to just sacrifice the toes we could no longer feel and debated whether numbness or sharp pain (a la fingers) was scarier.
But once the actual ceremony started, none of the other distractions mattered and all our attention was focused on the screens. Chants broke out every time an Obama appeared, and the Na-na-na-na-na-hey-hey-hey, Good bye! song when Bush was on screen.
After the ceremony was a ridiculous crush of folks to get back on the Metro, and it took us two hours of tight tight tight crowds to finally shuffle our way onto the train, and then the bus (much less crowded) and then the car (easy) and to Mark's SMILING FACE as he served up a delicious dinner in front of American Idol. I was SO HAPPY to be back in jammies and under the covers, and while I had planned to head back to NC that night, I was happy to hear the roads were icey and friends recommended I stay one more night. Phew! Thank you Mother Nature for the unexpected snow day!
It was worth it, and it was an amazing experience, but not exactly fun! I am SO GLAD to be back in my bed!
And so ends Jen's Obamablog.