Inauguration 2009 - The Story Part 1 (Sunday and Monday)
The idea of going to the Inauguration started innocently enough when Adele said, “I’m thinking of going to the Inauguration.” I’m always one for a trip and figured, why not. There were plenty of starts and stops and wondering if this was really going to happen, but we secured a car (a better car…the Echo would not have worked out too well). We waited patiently for several weeks and had almost given up hope, but then…we had lodging!! Adele’s Sister’s Friend was offering up her house to two (mostly) complete strangers. We had transportation. We had a place to stay. Let the festivities begin!!
Sunday, January 18th
The trip started on Sunday morning as I left the house at 5am to pick up Adele at her place. Once Adele was securely in the car, we were off. We didn’t bother with a map, because I had the GPS and Adele knew where we were going. Thank goodness Adele knew where we were going, because the main function of the GPS would be the navigation. Sadly, the GPS crapped out about 30 seconds into the trip and would only work as a map. Nicely done Sony NAV-U. You’re now dead to me. The bright side…now I can go pricing Garmins!! And I think Garmins can do navigation in foreign lands. Hmmm...I have my passport renewed...
For the most part, the trip to DC was pretty uneventful. Sure, it was spitting snow/rain the whole time. And there was the time I didn't believe in the "Add Wiper Fluid" light. Adele and I found out quickly that we worked pretty well together. She’s a big fan of the city driving. Me…not so much. We both had the same theories about road tripping – get on the road and don’t get off except for gas and bathroom (and Wiper Fluid purchasing) breaks. The cooler was stocked and the road was open. DC was in our future!!
We ended up having an excellent place to stay. Manassas was far enough outside of DC that we could get there easily, but that it wasn’t as crowded as it could have been. Adele’s sister also made the trip to DC from Raleigh and had made us an excellent dinner of Spaghetti and Meatballs and Sausage. Yum!! After a 12 hour drive, dinner was definitely needed. I didn’t know we would have a post-dinner movie, but I saw my first James Bond movie (Casino Royale) in a most excellent home theatre. Sure, it would have made more sense to go to bed early since I was highly tired, but who can sleep with a home theatre experience?? Oh yeah, Adele. But it would be no big deal. We just needed to wake up at 5a so we could leave the house by 6a for a day in DC and Oprah. What could possibly go wrong??
Monday, January 19th
That would be both of us waking up an hour late. Darn cell phone alarms. Although, it really wasn’t an issue with the cell phones, but the users. An alarm won’t work if the setting is on “Silent” or “PM vs AM.” Whoops. I sure hope we can find parking.
Yeah, MLK Day turned out to be the best day to go sightseeing, because we made it into the city in record time and found rock star parking at the Kennedy Center. We changed from our “Oprah Clothes” into jeans and comfy shoes and set out to see the monuments.
One of the first things on the agenda was Starbucks. Adele found a few ones in the area and we were pretty close to Pennsylvania Avenue. Once we picked up our Chais, we started walking to the White House. We were at the Blair House and saw a small crowd. As we were pulling out our cameras for a “here’s where the Obama’s are staying” picture, the Secret Service and Police started yelling, “Everyone, get 10 feet from the curb.” It took a few seconds to realize what was happening and we saw the motorcade leave the Blair House. Holy Crap, Obama was in the car. He drove right by us!! We can’t believe we actually had an Obama sighting!!
Our giddiness about seeing Obama kept going as we walked right up to the gate of the West Wing of the White House. And the crowd?? None. There were a handful of people who were taking pictures, but nothing like you would expect. This was excellent!!
More sightseeing was occurring as we took in the WWII Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. We saw the Lincoln Memorial (not Lincoln though…the Memorial was pretty roped off from the concert the night before. Sad…we thought we’d have an Illinoisapalooza with Obama and Lincoln) and the Washington Monument. By this time, we needed to head back to the Kennedy Center so we could worship at the alter of Oprah.
After a quick change in the car, we got in our first line to get in to see the show. There were plenty of camera crews around and the girls in the group behind us were interviewed by Entertainment Tonight. After about 15 or 20 minutes, we made it inside and got in the Security line and waited. And waited. We thought Security would be the last time to wait, but that was not meant to be. After Security, we went through a line that would rival Disney World as we snaked around to get to our seats.
This is where it became “interesting.” We were directed to one of the upper levels (aka “Nosebleeds”). No biggie. At least we’ll get a seat. Kind of. We were sent to one side of the balcony where we were told there weren’t any seats in the area. So we were directed to the other side of the balcony. We made it inside this time, but there were no seats there either. After a few tense minutes, we were ushered to the “Filler” seats which were…right behind the crane camera operator and were completely obstructed by both the camera and the big platform the camera was sitting on. But we had seats. And if we stood, we could see everything. Honestly, it wasn’t a big problem. Cause, we were at Oprah!!
Oprah’s show was part interview (Ashton and Demi in the first two segments and Joe and Jill Biden in the next segment. Yes, this was where Jill spilled the beans about Joe being offered either VP or Secretary of State. It was an excellent moment). There was a bit with Anderson Cooper (would have been better if he was there as I might have had a "Jonas Brothers" kind of scream). Usher and some MTV Chick did a satellite interview about volunteering. Then will.i.am, Faith Hill, Seal and Mary J. Blige all came out to sing an “America Song.” It was really well done and made for an excellent show.
We made it back really easily to the car, then changed (again) into our jeans and shoes. We both were interested in going to the Inauguration Store, which was somewhere in DC (I’m guessing it was pretty downtown, but Adele was driving at this point and I was along for the ride). Sadly, the lack of tourists from the morning was not the case in the afternoon. It was crazy to get to the store and we couldn’t find parking. And just as we were looking for somewhere to park, they closed the streets. We ended up hitting the road back to Manassas. Bedtime was earlier than it was the night before and alarms were triple checked. There was no room for error on Inauguration Day and wakeup time was early. 230a. Whew…