It was SO cool. It was a whirlwind trip, but totally worth it. We left Seattle around 12:30 am on Monday. Layover In MN then on to Philly. In Philly we jumped on a regional transit train and went to the Amtrak station. We met up with my co-workers sister and we took the train from Philly to Washington DC Arriving around 3:30PM EST. There were protesters in Union station protesting for Bush to be tried for war crimes. About 15 people, one dressed as bush, the others lying dead blocking the thousands trying to leave the station. It was pretty cool to see, even if it did delay us a bit.
We stayed with a friend of my co-workers who lives just like 10 blocks from the capitol. They were amazing, he and his roommate opened their home to 5 people who were mostly strangers. Our trip definitely would not have been possible if not for our host Cliff and Amy. Monday night we took a mini tour of the mall around the capitol and part of the way down the mall to the MSNBC broadcast tent.
Tuesday was amazing. We left our hosts place at 8AM and it took us 2.5 hours to walk and find a spot on the mall to watch the event. We went along the north end of the mall, which is where the parade route was so we had to walk all the way around the White House (the streets were PACKED with people.) We finally got onto the mall and settled on a spot in the shadow of the Washington Monument. We were between the Washington Monument and the White House. The mall was mostly full in front of us and as the time passed before the events started the mall behind us filled in too.
It was electrifying to be present and bear witness with my fellow Americans to such a historic event. The excitement was palpable as Obama took his oath and became our president. The crowd was ecstatic.
After the swearing in and Obamas speech we milled around the Washington monument a while to let the crowds clear a bit. We watched from the base of the monument as the helicopter carrying George Bush took off and circled the National Mall. We made jokes that the pilot was rubbing it in his face "look at these 2 million people who are so happy to see you go George". The crowd sang him out of town to Steams hit single Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Them Goodbye (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwnqqj5Q1BU) .
After that we took a tour of the monuments. WWII, Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam. It was humbling to stand on the Lincoln memorial at the spot where MLK gave the famous I have a dream speech and think what had happened a few hours earlier on the other end of the mall. The Symbolism was fantastic.
Then we walked down the mall watching the Jumbotrons broadcast the parade. We stopped briefly by the MSNBC Broadcast complex and snapped a few photos of our favorite anchors (Rachel we love you :) LOL). All told it was an exciting day, but long and cold. We figured we walked close to 10 miles and were on our feet for 10 hours with only 5 minutes combined time sitting and resting. It was exhausting, but SO worth it.
Wednesday was reverse travel. up at 5:30am EST and walked to a packed Union station. Off to Philly, where we had a 5 hour layover. We were not sure how long getting out of DC would take so we built in extra time in Philly. We jumped on the light rail from the Amtrak station to the airport. We had a layover in MN and were home in Seattle around 7:30PM PST.
It was an exhausting trip... but I wouldn't missed it. I have never seen so many people in one place before, and it was great to see so many people with such an enormous amount of hope for the future of our country. It feels like a weight has been lifted from my (our countries?) shoulders as we forge through the first few days of the Obama administration. We can put the last 8 years, and in some ways more then 8 years, behind us and work on healing this country, and our relationships with the world.
Here are some photos of our trip... so awesome: http://flickr.com/photos/plecebo/sets/72157612855357073/