Obama Inauguration

Trip Start Jan 20, 2009
Trip End Jan 21, 2009

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday January 19, 2009
We drove to Washington DC, checked into our hotel, and then headed to the Subway to pick up our tickets. My dad and I went to the Barbara Lee reception (Barbara Lee is the Congressional Representative for the East Bay Area of California, and the only one to vote against the war just after Sept 11). My mom and cousin went to go pick up the tickets and met us afterward. My dad and I waited in line to enter the building, and then waited in another line to get into the reception. Obviously, her party was pretty popular. Inside I saw my old high school P.E. teacher and counselor! I was surprised they remembered me actually.. Anyway, the party was too crowded and we didn't know anyone else there, so we left. We met my mom and cousin, then headed on the subway to meet a friend with more tickets and my parent's friend's son (with ball tickets).

We were able to meet them both at the same subway stop, chatted a little, etc. Too bad neither of these two single guys are my age - I need someone in between! Ah well. We headed back to the hotel for drinks with my parent's friends, then off to bed!

Tuesday January 20, 2009 - Inauguration Day!
I tossed and turned, excited for the day, and finally got up at 5am. The plan was to get up at 5:30 and leave the hotel by 6am, but my mom called me at 5:20 and said that everyone was ready to go. So, I rushed to finish getting ready, and left for the lobby. We ended up getting on the shuttle at the originally planned time of 6am, so it worked out. We got to the metro station and because we were one of the first stops on the line, the train was fairly empty when we boarded. But in the next two stops, it filled to capacity. We had to tell people not to board because the doors wouldn't shut. As we got closer to the city, the train kept stopping midway through the tunnel because there were other trains at the station. The train in front of us had a sick passenger that delayed ours for 20 minutes! They told us that we would have to reverse the train, go all the way back out, and come back on a different line. But instead, we waited another 10 minutes and then were able to move forward. What should've been a 20 minute ride took an hour and a half!! They told us that the main metro station by the gates was closed because of traffic, but when we pulled into the station, they opened the doors and said it had just opened, and for all of us to get out! We raced through the empty station with no line and weren't even charged to get through the ticket turnstiles!

When we got up to the street level, we followed signs to our gate, then realized that we were passing our line. We followed the line down 2 blocks, around the corner and down another block, then snaked all around to the point of indecipherable. We joined the end of the line and waited for the gates to open at 8am. When they did, our single-file line became a mob. With no enforcement of the line, we were unsure what was happening. Then, we saw a bunch of people rush across the building's plaza to cut across the block. We looked at the people around us and paused for a moment - do we stay here and possibly not make it inside the gate before 11:30, or do we go for it with the rest of these people? We ran. 1/2 a block away from the gate, we turned into a mob, crunched with people, more than a block wide. We moved 1 step per minute, crushed against the people next to us.

We finally got to security and I was pretty surprised how lenient they were. We only had to hold our ticket up (they did not inspect them), and when we got to the metal detectors, we unbuttoned our jackets, took things out of our pockets, and walked through. There were no X-Ray machines, just a guy looking at cameras and wallets, etc. And the metal detector beeped at me (I later learned that hand warmers set off the detectors). I got scared and walked back through, like I would do at an airport, but the guard told me I was fine, so beeping through, again, I walked out. Was it because I was blonde?! How's that for racial profiling. My dad held up the line forgetting about his cellphone and I was embarrassed. We got in just before 10am, I think, and walked to our section. We tried to find a place for short people to see, but it was a little hard with so many tall people standing in front of us! We backed up a bit and got a better view.

Anyway, so we learned that you can only take so many of the Capitol, standing in the same spot... By the time the ceremony started, my feet were aching and my back was stiff from the cold. We couldn't see much of the jumbo screens, but I could tell when the motorcade, Obama or his family was on, because the crowd went nuts! They started annoucing the past presidents. Carter got cheers, Clinton got tremendous applause, and (they muted this on TV) G.W. Bush got booed, loudly. I saw people shake their shoes, and even one guy toss his shoe into the crowd! It was pretty awful. The guy next to me started singing, "Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goooodbyye..." By the 2nd line everyone around us was singing, and by the 2nd verse, the entire crowd was singing. We petered out, but heard echoes of it going all the way down the National Mall! Anyway, we could hear Biden's oath very clearly, but when it came time for Barack, I was so disappointed that I could barely hear anything. We didn't even know when it was over, but we cheered anyway. I watched it later to see his stumble. The 21-Gun salute scared everyone around and it took a few booms before we realized they were not fireworks. His speech was great, and then as soon as it was over, we started heading for the exit. I knew that we needed to get to the front of the subway line. But, they didn't open the gates back up until after the ceremony was totally over. I sang the National Anthem with the other 1.8 million people. When we finally did get out, we headed for the subway further away. We saw Bush's helicopter go overhead. There was a line wrapped around the block for it, unmoving. So, despite our bodies, we trudged on to the next metro station another several blocks. But this would preempt the rail-line and ensure us a spot. It worked and we got right on a train and sat into the seat. We napped until our stop on the other side of town and got back to our hotel just as the Inaugural Luncheon was ending.

We got ready for the balls while watching the parade on TV and wondered when Barack and Michelle were going to have time to change! We took a taxi to the ball, but here are some photos in the hotel lobby.

On the way, our taxi stopped at a light (I think this was my favorite part of the trip, because it was the least expected!), and suddenly tons of police motorcycles drive by. "Do you think this is the motorcade?" I joked.. And sure enough, then Obama's strech Cadillac drove by! I cheered and screamed in the taxi and my mom reminded me that no one could hear me, but I didn't care! The taxi wasn't able to get near the Convention Center, so we had them drop us off and walked in. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the building, so we had to walk around the block, in freezing cold and my shoes were already hurting!

More blah security to get in, and then inside the Western Ball, which was HUGE.

We walked around, got some drinks, and then headed toward the stage, because space was filling up fast. Obama must be coming by soon, we thought! Here's a photo of me, my dad, my mom, and Rachel.

We waited, and waited, and waited. Things constantly gave us hope, increase of Secret Service, movement of flags on stage, change of lighting, etc. Finally the band came out and then our main concert - Marc Anthony! After being on me feet for 20 hours already, I was crashing fast. I even sat down because I was so bored with the Latin singer. His wife, J. Lo, came out and sang a duet with him, then the music stopped. And we waited some more... We kept hearing from people around us that Obama had just left such and such a ball, so we kept hoping he was on his way.

Finally, Joe Biden and Jill Biden came out. Joe made a lackluster speech about the crowd earlier in the day, and then they did their dance.

We waited another 20-30 minutes, and FINALLY, around midnight, Obama came out with Michelle. I was so happy to see her in white. It seemed very appropriate since the whole thing felt like America's wedding. I fought on my tip-toes for camera time. Here's a couple shots of their inaugural dance:

Getting home was the hard part. We stuck around and used up our drink tickets, then headed to the coat check, leaving as our ball was ending, at 1am. We went out to the street (at this point I could barely walk), and tried to hail a taxi. Every taxi was full and no one stopped for us. Those that did stop found out we were going out past city limits and refused to take our business. We walked to a Hotel and stood with others in the lobby. Everyone seemed to be having the same problem. We tried to decide what to do, but by this time the wind was picking up and it was bitter cold outside! At 1:30am, we decided to try to walk to the metro (5 blocks away) and catch a subway, and make 2 transfers all before they stopped running at 2am. It seemed impossible and I was getting scared. Just as we started walking in the direction of the metro, a van pulled up and my cousin hailed him, promised him money to take us to our hotel. Other couples piled in, whose stops were on the way. He charged everyone a pretty nice sum and made off pretty big from all of us, but we were all just happy not to be stranded!

Wednesday January 21, 2009
We woke up, ate breakfast and packed up. I emptied my purse from the ball and quickly realized that I had lost my camera's memory stick with all of the ceremony photos. (This is why all of the photos from the ceremony were taken with my camera, and why I have much more from the Ball)! I was pretty angry, but knew it was gone for good. We drove back to Philadelphia, met my aunt for lunch near the airport and caught a long flight back to California. End.

Final Note
I think Jan 20th was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Just to endure the amount of standing and cold, etc. Was it worth it? Hell yes. Would I ever do it again? Probably not in this lifetime. So, I'm glad that I did it for My President, My BO.
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