Sunday, January 25, 2009


I left Middletown around 10am on Saturday January 17th to head to the Inauguration. My intention was to leave in the wee hours ofthe morning but that was wishful thinking. I had not finished packing and the cold made it much harder to carry things out to the car. I kept a check on the weather for my route and things seemed to be looking good for the trip. I wanted to geocache on the way to get more states so I made sure my Palm and GPSr were loaded with cache's.

In all, the trip to D.C. was pretty boring and uneventful. My road trips are usually from Ohio to St. Louis or Ohio to Charleston, which is the same old boring scenery. I had never driven this route before so I at least got to see some new landscape, which was nice for a change. I decided to stop in Pennsylvania to do a cache and the first one I stopped at was at this church on a very high hill. I drove past it at first thinking there might be an access road behind it but the road I was on was also a steep (and winding!) hill. It had just snowed so this did not please me. I went about a mile up the hill and kept looking for a place to turn around. Once I did that I slowly made my way down the hill again. I checked out the hill to the church and it had not been plowed and no cars had been up there since the snow. Even with 4-wheel drive I didn't want to attempt it so I got back on the interstate.

I needed gas so I stopped a couple of exits up and refueled. I checked the GPSr and there was a cache within half a mile. It turns out that it was at the local fairgrounds... a very small fairground! When I got within 20 feet of the cache I pulled over and realized that it was up a little hill and I was wearing clogs. I went to the back of my Jeep and pulled on some other shoes and carefully walked sideways up the snow-covered hill. I just knew I was going to fall on my ass. I got to the cache site and tried to grab it but the case was actually frozen to the tree it was resting on so I had to jab it with a stick to get it free. After grabbing a Travel Bug and signing the log I closed the cache and put it back for the next person. I looked at the hill I had to walk down and tried to figure out how, exactly, I was going to make it down to the bottom and not landing on my butt. I started by taking teeny tiny baby steps and soon, due to a fear of falling and my own momentum, I was soon running (not by choice!) down the hill. I really thought I was going to fall, but thankfully did not!

After this event I wasn't feeling the desire to do another cache... it was so damn cold! On the drive to D.C. Elizabeth called me to give me some bad news. Apparently the guy who lives in the condo above her had a pipe bust and the water was now coming into her condo ceiling and she had no water. All I could imagine was staying at her house for several days without showering and then having to drive home like that. Yuck. I told her that it is what it is and we will just have to cope! I arrived at her house around 8pm and after chatting for a bit we went to a wing place around the corner for some wine and food. I was exhausted and knew that the next couple of days were going to be non-stop so I went to bed as soon as we got home.

The next day was the "We Are One" concert, which started at 2pm. When I woke up Elizabeth’s friend was over and he had somehow found a way to turn the water on – Yay! I was glad to know that I didn’t have to stink the next three days! I made the mistake of sitting around with Elizabeth chatting more so I got a very late start. After driving to the Metro and the long ride in I didn't get there until 2:20pm. The crowd was unbelievable! Even with the cold and miserable weather, there were so many people there. I knew that there was probably no chance in hell of getting close to the Lincoln Memorial so I just walked around, listened to the music and took pictures. Whenever I heard someone I liked start singing or speaking I would just go to the nearest JumboTron to watch. I met several people, including a family from South Carolina. The energy of the crowd was really indescribable. I don't think that I have ever been in a place with that many happy people in my entire life. It was great! Throughout the day the only negativity I saw were the Bible Beating protesters who think Obama is the Anti-Christ. Needless to say, they didn’t really have anyone stay and listen to their message.

On the ride back on the Metro I realized that I had not eaten the entire day and I was starving and very tired. When I got to the car I called Elizabeth and told her that I was on my way home. She asked if I wanted to stop by her friend’s house and initially I said that I was too tired. She said they had made food and then I realized that I had no key to Elizabeth’s house so if I went home she would have to also. The thought of food after not eating all day sounded wonderful so I said I would come. Three of her friends were there, including the guy I met that morning who turned on the water. Also there were his wife and one of Elizabeth’s boyfriends. She had made some sort of beef dish, which I would never have eaten normally (but I was starving, so I did!) and tomato basil soup. We chatted for a while and I found the two guys to be quite nice and very engaging. Her girlfriend kept mentioning serial killers no matter what subject we were talking about. I think she thought she sounded cute but really, I found it annoying. I told Elizabeth that I was tired so she gave me the key and I headed home. I had another long day ahead of me.

Elizabeth had to work on Monday so when I woke up she was gone for the day. I had to be at Congressman Boehner’s office at Noon to pick up my Inauguration tickets. I got on the Metro around 11:15am and headed to the Capitol. I got to the Capitol South Metro station at 11:45 and to the Longworth building at 11:50. I stopped across the street to assess the situation. There were hundreds of people waiting in line! I finally found the end of the line and learned that it went up the street, down another street and back around the block to the door. Why on Earth did I think this would be a quick in and out?? I quickly made “friends” with the girls standing around me who provided comic relief for the next THREE HOURS and 10 minutes! About an hour into standing in line someone behind us magically had Subway sandwiches… how did they get those? I felt like tackling them, I was so hungry. My original plan was to QUICKLY get my tickets, get something to eat and then head to the National Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian. Yeah, this was not exactly how I had planned the day!

While standing in line we saw Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank. He was standing outside of the Cannon House across the street taking photos with some people. That was pretty much the highlight of the three hours. Every once in a while a representative from a Congresspersons office would come outside and yell the name to see if anyone was from their constituency. Sadly, no one from Boehner’s office came outside. The girls I was standing in line with lucked out and someone from their Congresswoman’s office came outside so they didn’t have to wait as long as I did… those bitches. The problem was really getting through security. Some people in line must have just come from the airport because they actually had luggage with them. I mean, that really must have slowed down the security process! Around 3 o’clock I finally made my way into the building and wandered around for several minutes before finding a floor map. I took the elevator to the basement and found Boehner’s office and gave them my name. The girl handed me a manila envelope and I was on my way. I stopped just outside the office to text Rob to tell him that I had the tickets. When I did that a couple of girls standing outside the office asked if I would take their picture in front of the office. Turns out they were from Middletown also. We took each other picture and I made a pit stop at the bathroom. On my way out I got a text message from Rob asking what section we were in. I had totally forgotten to look! We were in Silver, which was the farthest ticketed section from the Capitol. I was kind of bummed, but still glad to even have a highly coveted ticket at all!

I left the Longworth building clutching my envelope. It tried to lick it to seal it because the tickets could easily fall out, but it was either too cold or my saliva is defective and the glue would not take. I had nowhere to put them so I clutched them for dear life all the while imaging that someone was going to run up beside me and snatch them (if Elizabeth’s friend was there she would probably say a serial killer would get them!) Before heading to the National Gallery of Art, I walked over to the Capitol to take some photos of the Inaugural set up. There were thousands of people walking around. After checking things out I walked down the National Mall toward the Smithsonian and was surprised at the lack of vendors. My Mother wanted me to get some buttons and stuff for my nieces but there weren’t many to be found and the ones that were around had such tacky stuff.

Since it was already past three I didn’t have much time to spend at the museum so I did the power tour of the highlights. It has been several years since I was there, but I wasn’t at all impressed with their Collection. There wasn’t one painting that I stood in awe of. Also, I found it strange that they had artists separated into different rooms. One room was all Monet’s, another was all Cezanne and another was Van Gogh and so on. I have never encountered anything like it. It was very odd. In my travels, it is also the first art museum that allowed flash photography. I even asked a docent about it and he confirmed that it was allowed. He followed up by saying “I hope they know what they are doing!” Apparently, they don’t! Before heading out I stopped at the gift shop (always my favorite part of the museum) and bought a couple of postcards and a magnet. My ulterior motive was to actually get a bag so I could put the tickets in something protective so the “serial killers” would not get them!

I left the Gallery and headed home because I had to pick up Rob at Dulles airport at 8:25pm. I headed for the nearest Metro, which was at the Archives. I finally found a couple of vendors and bought some non-tacky buttons from my nieces and nephew. I really should have taken some photos of the stuff they were selling because when I tell you the stuff was tacky, I’m not exaggerating! The funniest thing I heard from a vendor while I was there was from a guy who had printed some calendars on him home computer, which he then laminated. I overheard him telling some woman “… these are laminated, you’ll never get fingerprints on it!” For some reason that really amused me! I got back to Elizabeth’s and hung out for a bit. Her “serial killer” friend was there, also. I kept telling Elizabeth that we needed to leave but she said that I didn’t know how things worked there and that we really needed to wait. All I knew was that Rob was supposed to land at 8:36 according to JetBlue online and it was now 8:25. I told her I was leaving and asked her if she was coming and she said no so I left without her. Thank God for the GPS!! I bought Justin a TomTom for Christmas and used it for the trip and really, that damn thing is fabulous! I must get one for myself! It really navigated me all around that city without once having to write down or print directions! I’m sold! I had no idea how to get to Dulles but the Jane (my TomTom navigating profile) took me right there! Awesome. I quickly picked up Rob and headed back to Elizabeth’s. We were both hungry so we called her and asked her if she was interested in getting a bite. We ended up going back to her condo and then walked to this little Indian place. The food was good but I found it odd that they didn’t have a couple of the most common Indian dishes. We ended up closing the place and then walked a back to her place.

Knowing that we had to get up at the God-awful early hour of 4 o’clock Rob and I headed for bed. When my alarm went off I felt as if I had just fallen asleep. I practically had! I got ready, packed a few granola bars and cookies in my purse and headed out. It was 5:15am and I was not feeling it. We headed down the interstate and got within three miles of the city and there was a police blockade on the highway. The officer asked where we were going and I said to Rosslyn and headed to the Inauguration. He said we needed to exit the interstate. That’s fine and everything, but there was no detour, no police telling us how to get where we were going… just and exit. Luckily we had GPS Jane who gave us an alternate route!! We drove the back roads to Rosslyn where Elizabeth’s office is. Our plan was to park in her garage and then Metro to the city. The TomTom took us to her office but Elizabeth failed to tell us which garage was hers! We tried calling her many times and she never answered so we ended paying $14 to park. Oh well!

The Metro was right next to the garage so we hopped on very slowly traveled into D.C. The Metro was packed with people and there was no room for personal space. There was a couple of people that I met that had purple tickets, which were one section ahead of us and I tried to talk them into trading their tickets for ours but they weren’t having it. I even told them it was my 40th birthday… They told me Happy Birthday, but still no luck! We had planned to get off at Capitol South Metro station and during the ride they would intermittently close stations due to crowding on the platforms. We were able to get off at our station and the crowd was massive. When we got to the top of the escalator I lost sight of Rob. We both went to the open area and just waited until we spotted one another… brilliant minds think alike!

At the Metro there were police officers telling people which way to go according to their ticket colors. We were in a crowd of thousands of people and had to have blind faith that they all knew where they were going. We shuffled through the streets and when the crowd swayed so did we. We were like cattle and the worst part was that we had no clue where we were going. There were no police telling us which way to go, there were no police to control crowd surges! The only police officers I saw were safe inside the barriers when they should have been where the crowds were to help all of us navigate. There was no way to see in front of you because all you saw were people. We eventually turned a corner and saw the sign for the silver gate and I felt a little relief.

We got to a point at the silver gate where an officer told us he was going to let us through and not to push and shove. This was the only time I saw anyone that offered any kind of assistance (not that it really helped us!) We then went to a point at the “gate” where we proceeded to stand for well over and hour. Every once in a while we would move up two steps or so and that’s it. There were all kinds of speculation about why we weren’t moving and why people to the right of us were walking back. Someone said that they were being turned away because they didn’t have tickets. We found this to be amusing because there is no way they could know this information… they were in the same predicament that we were in with no information! I was getting very irritated because the women in back of me kept leaning on me which made me have to lean forward and it started to wear on my back after a while. I bitched to Rob about being molested and joked that I thought I was pregnant… I finally turned around and told the lady that I couldn’t move up anymore and to stop pushing on me. It didn’t work.

After being in the crowd-to-nowhere we overheard someone say that the silver ticket gate was actually to the left. Rob and I made an executive decision to break off from this crowd and head that direction. Within 15 minutes we were inside the silver gate! We got to the security area and I had to give them my purse to search. We had to open our jackets and get frisked and then they sent us on our way! They didn’t even check tickets!! We proceeded to walk around the area to find the perfect spot to watch the festivities. We initially tried to enter the crowd from the front but thought better of it and walked to the side and went in sideways until we had a perfect view of the Capitol and of the JumboTron. It was about 9:30am.

Rob and I had both prepared for the cold… or so we thought. We were both wearing long underwear, two pair of socks… multiple layers of everything and hand warmers – but it wasn’t enough. I really do believe it was the coldest I have ever been in my life. Before the Inauguration ceremony it was hard because we had to entertain ourselves. Because we weren’t preoccupied it was hard to not think about how cold it was. I had been walking around non-stop for two days prior so my body was also aching. AND I was officially an old lady that day being 40 years old! Thankfully the JumboTron was showing pre-Inaugural action of the motorcade and the entrance of all the politicians. The crowd would erupt with cheers when they showed Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama on the screen. We were watching the celebrities arrive and I wondered where Oprah was. I knew she wouldn’t be too far behind and then they finally showed her. I kept looking for Bill and Hillary and was excited when they arrived. When the music started I knew we didn’t have too much longer to go. You could definitely feel the excitement in the crowd begin to swell.

After announcing Congressman and Senators they started on the former Presidents. We could see them walking down the hall of the Capitol on the JumboTron. When they announced President Bush I think everyone in our area, besides Rob and I, started booing. We just looked at each other. I was pretty surprised because I thought of this crowd as a little more enlightened and insightful… a crowd that was supposed to be filled with hope and an attitude for change. We all know Bush was a shitty President. I mean really, give him some respect as our President for the next 45 minutes and then we never have to worry about his ass being in office again!

Needless to say when they announced Bill and Hillary the crowd went nuts. They are rock stars. Enough said.

On a side note, why on Earth was the whole Bush clan wearing purple scarves? It IS a cult, isn’t it?!

After everyone of importance was seated we could see Obama coming down the hall. I think the crowd didn’t know whether to cheer or be quiet. All I could think about was what could possibly be going through his mind at that exact moment. What did he think when he walked out that door and saw all of us crazy people standing on the Mall in support of him? I can’t even imagine being in that position (and you all would be in trouble if I were!)

Once the ceremony started I was so into watching this historic event happen right in front of me that I barely noticed how cold it was! During the ceremony I didn’t really pay attention to Pastor Rick Warren, because he’s a complete tool. I absolutely loved hearing Yo-Yo Ma and company perform and I loved the piece they played. I thought Aretha Franklin was um, interesting… Everything else happened pretty quickly and the next thing I knew Obama was our President! When Obama said, “So help me God” and the Chief Justice said “Congratulations, Mr. President!” The crowd went nuts! Being the patriotic baby that I am I was in tears, which I had warned Rob about and just so excited! The people were hugging, crying, jumping up and down and I really wish I could have bottled that moment in time or somehow captured that emotion to keep forever. It was truly amazing.

By the time poet Elizabeth Alexander started reading her piece many people in the crowd started heading out. I turned to Rob and said, “I guess people don’t like poetry!” We waited until the whole show was over and the band started playing. Many people in the crowd were dancing which was awesome to watch. We walked up toward the Capitol and then decided we wanted something to eat. We tried to get out of the Mall on the opposite side that we came in but there were barriers everywhere! You would walk three blocks one way and be blocked in. Then, you would turn and walk three blocks the other way and it would be blocked again. We didn’t have a map of the areas that weren’t blocked so we really felt trapped. I kept telling Rob that I felt like a rat in a cage. We actually saw one woman having a complete meltdown because she was to tired of walking aimlessly and was cold and tired. It was awful. There were no food vendors that we saw and we were so cold and tired. After walking with no luck or chance of escape we went inside the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. It was like a refugee camp in there! Hundreds of people were sitting on the floor to rest and keep warm. Rob and I found a spot under the Lockheed U-2 and planted ourselves for the next hour or so. Rob was on the floor and I was laying on the platform next to the space man. The only thing that could have been better was if we had food and if I knew how to turn off the U-2 Television infomercial, which I was beginning to memorize after hearing it so many times!

After warming up we headed out to the Mall again. We found a hot dog vendor and waited in line for a very long time while listening to some teenagers bitch. The wind was blowing and we were just frozen to the bone. When we finally got to the beginning of the line we both got one hot dog (almost $4 each!) and decided against drinks. There was no way I wanted anything with ice in it!! Rob grabbed some mustard and asked me if I wanted some. I told him that it was too cold to take my gloves off and I was going to eat my hot dog so fast that I probably wouldn’t even taste it! And… that’s exactly what happened!

We decided to make an attempt at escaping the Mall area yet again. We both knew that the Metros were going to be packed. We thought about walking to Rosslyn, which was about 2 miles away, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there and I was so tired that I didn’t want to walk unnecessarily. We decided to head to the L’enfant Plaza Metro area. There were thousands of people waiting in line for the Metro so we kept on walking. We saw a Starbucks and got in that line. I told Rob that if I got to use the restroom AND have a coffee I would probably have a private moment. The line at Starbucks had about 30 people in it and I wasn’t feeling it. We walked in one door and out the other into the L’enfant Plaza Holiday Inn lobby. I attempted to use the women’s restroom but there were way too many people in it so we went back to the lobby. Luckily we found two empty seats, which served as our home for the next couple of hours!

I took a nap in the Holiday Inn lobby and woke up around 5:30. It was getting dark outside. I was finally able to use the restroom! We decided to head back to the Metro and was able to get on without much trouble. We made it as far as the Foggy Bottom stop and there were so many people on the train that the doors wouldn’t close. The driver warned us that if the doors would not close he would evacuate the train and shut it down. He made four more attempts and that’s exactly what he did! We all had to get off the train and the platform was already filled with people waiting for the next train.

Most of the people there were waiting for the Orange line so I told Rob we should take the Blue line. We had to make our way to the front and some girl turned around and said “Please don’t push me into the train!” Damn! She foiled my plan!! That’s exactly what I wanted to do! Ugh! When the blue train came we got on and only had one more stop until freedom from the hell that was D.C.! I was never so happy to see my car in my entire life! We had no problem getting home from there, which was nice.

When we arrived at Elizabeth’s house we found that she made chicken divan, which was perfect comfort food after a very long and cold winter day! After a couple of glasses of wine and conversation we went to bed. Rob had to be at the airport at 6am!

We woke up bright and early once again and made our way to Dulles. I decided to leave after dropping Rob off so I could get home at a decent hour. At the beginning of the trip I was completely exhausted and all I wanted to do was nap. I promised myself that at the first rest area I would do just that! The first one was Maryland, but it was snowing and I didn’t want to get caught in it so I had to wait until Pennsylvania. I ended up sleeping from 10am to Noon! I’m so glad I brought a blanket and pillow! Being so tired on the way back I had no intention of doing any geocaching!! I ended up getting home around 5pm. I was never so happy to see my bed in my entire life!

On election night in November I said that if Obama defeated McCain I wanted to attend the Inauguration and that I couldn’t imagine spending my 40th birthday anywhere else in the world! Even with how tired I was, the extreme cold I experienced and the still-there body aches, I am in awe and feel so lucky to be able to say that I was there to witness history in the making. I am especially thrilled to have experienced it with Rob, who is such an amazing friend. There’s simply no way to put into words how incredible it was!

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