Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sights and Scenes from the day before.

We headed into the city around 1:00 thinking that left us plenty of time to get to Amy's office, get the tickets and get the lay of the land. Here we are boarding the train in Alexandria.

Their train stop was one stop from Reagan International Airport. Anyone questions the convenience, comfort, or civility of commuting by train is just crazy. There is something so downright gentile about riding in a train that bus riding just doesn't get you. There's an informal quality about bus riding. Since you're all riding while facing the same way, why not act up, yell things out, talk loudly, and dare people to turn around andstop you. On a train or subway or, in the dreams of many St. Paulites, light rail, people face different directions, holding each other's comfort in their hands, points of focus are scattered instead of with pin point focus on the back of an anonymous bus driver's head.

We got off at the Union Station Metro stop, where street vendors were lined up, like a welcoming tunnel, hawking tchotckes of every kind. Later in the evening, after the sun went down, we would fall prey to someone selling stocking caps 2 for $15 outside of a hotel. It was cold. Everyone was doing it!

As Scott led us through the famous capitol buildings in pursuit of Amy's office, the mood in the air was jovial and anticipatory. Everyone on the street was here for the big event. It was obvious even the day before. Every one's camera was out, vendors were hawking their wares (or the ware's of someone in China), people were buzzing about, getting the lay of the land the day before for the event that would define a generation. It was fun and Joe and I quickly were swept up in the anticipation of it all.

Below is a picture of us approaching the YELLOW gate. Little did we know that in a few hours, these gates would be choked with people desperate for a closer look, a better angle, a piece of history. It's a little taste of what the scene was like before the chaos of the following morning.

See? People walking freely, actually crossing streets. So innocent were we!

I began the post by stating that we thought leaving Scott and Jen's at 1:00 would leave us plenty of time to ride the train, get to the Hart Senate office, find Amy's office and pick up the tickets before 4:00 PM. As we passed the various offices of congress; the Rayburn building, the Drysden, we began to see the error of our ways. It seemed that EVERY member of Congress was holding an 'open house' for constituents attending the inauguration and the lines were wrapped around buildings. This was the beginning of standing in line and we weren't dressed as appropriately as we should have been. We dutifully walked to the back of the line, which seemed like it was in the next county. Everyone started working their phones and blackberries trying to get a hold of someone on the inside. Do we really have to wait in this line for 3 hours? We started to recognize other people from Minnesota in line. People were pulling suitcases behind them as if just getting off the plane. They got right in line with the rest of us and the small talk began. Where you from? Oh, really? Couldn't miss this.
Pretty soon a police officer came around the corner, "Who wants to be my new best friend?" Being the non-joiners that we are, we didn't raise our hands, but some willing ladies about 20 people in front of us did. "Follow me!" he said and he cut the very very long line in half, brought us to another door around the corner, and explained that we were entering in another building. Once inside, we'd need to go through a tunnel and we'd be in the Hart Senate office. Yay! Our wait turned into a half an hour. We went through security and in we went. Thank God Scott once worked on the Hill (for the late Bruce Vento). He led us through the maze of the tunnels and before we knew it, we were standing on the 3rd floor of the Hart Senate office.

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