Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Phickle Thoughts: Inauguration Edition

Mrs. Fickle and I decided to head down to the Mall today for inauguration. Metro opened at 4 a.m., running on a full rush-hour schedule with extra long trains. We decided to head out around 9, since we weren't really aiming to see Obama, but rather to see the crowds, and be a part of the historic moment.

When we got down to the metro we found it had actually been temporarily closed because it was just too busy. The guard told us that if we had been there 45 minutes earlier we would still be waiting to even get through the fare gates and onto the platform. A handful of people walked up the escalator as we were standing there, saying they'd waited too long.

So we decided to just walk. The Mount Vernon trail goes by our apartment, and so we set out on foot. It was cold. It was a long walk. And crossing the Potomac was long and painful. But it was totally worth it. We got down to the Mall, walked up to the Washington, caught some of the preliminary ceremonies, snapped some pictures, and took in the scene.

Then we walked back, grabbed some Caribou Coffee, and watched the actual swearing-in from the warmth and comfort of our own couch.
We walked at least 7 miles round trip, probably more.
One of the most remarkable parts of the experience was that we were able to just walk right up to the Washington Memorial. The west half of the mall was simply open, with no security checks. There were plenty of police and security personnel around, so it all seemed really safe, but it was really remarkable that we could get to the Washington without going through a metal detector/bag check. We couldn't even do that on the 4th of July.

It was really nice.
Another of the more remarkable elements was how wonderfully nice everyone on the Mall was. People were helping each other out, no one was in a rush, or pushing, or rude. In D.C., that's a rarity. It felt really cool.
The route to the Mall that we took was one of the lesser-traveled routes to get there. Pretty much it was only locals who went the way we did, and only those locals who didn't want to try to take metro and/or a bus. And who were willing to walk 3+ miles through the cold to get there.

We passed a bunch of unpopulated back streets. One of the neatest things was seeing a long line of police cars lined up on a back street. They were all just sitting there, ready to go if they were needed. There were tons of police patrolling the crowds, but there were also tons waiting in the wings if anything happened.
On the way back we saw a bunch of crows chase off a hawk. At one point they flew right at me, and just a few feet over my head. I was in a great spot to get a picture, but it all happened too fast for me to get my camera up and pointed in the right direction. Tragic really, since it would have been an awesome shot.
It was pretty awesome to be a part of this historic day. I'm super glad I got to be here for this.

Hail to the chief
He's the chief and he needs hailing


rachel said...

Ha. Those are the lyrics that are in my head EVERY time I hear, "Hail to the Chief." What was that movie called? "Presidents" or something?

Mike said...

"My Fellow Americans". And is it sad or simply telling that I always think of the other version: "Hail to the Chief, if you don't I'll have to kill you"?

Sounds like a nice experience.

Jeff said...

Mike, that's the version I think of too, possibly because it's the second one in the movie and so is the freshest in your memory after you see it...

Stephanie said...

I thought everyone was in a great mood. We took the metro at 6 and got there around 8 and stayed for the whole thing. We walked across the 14th Street bridge, stopped at Potbelly below your apartment, and then grabbed the metro. Home by 3. Great day, glad I was there!