D.C. In Pictures

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I have to confess that I only took 3 pictures on the actual day of the inauguration and haven't even transferred them to my computer yet. Being in a huge crowd made it hard to maneuver to get my big camera out of my bag, which when combined with feeling sick, wanting to keep my hands in my pockets next to my hand warmers, and the autofocus suddenly stop working on my lens, made me just decide to leave the picture taking up to Jess. I know, surprising huh. But that gives you an indication of how unwell I really was feeling. I will post some of her pictures for you once she has them on her Flickr account.

The following pictures are of our marathon sightseeing trek the day before the Inauguration. The night pictures were all taken without a tripod and I am amazed at how well I was able to keep still enough to get semi-ok shots without a ton of blurriness. I did perfect a brace of sorts using the brim of my hat, but I didn't realize until afterwards that it gave all my pictures a slight tilt to the right. I am normally very good about visually eyeballing straight lines, but the hat just threw me off so I had to correct the tilt when I was processing the pictures. It took a lot longer to go through the batch when I had to correct so many tilts! Click on any of the pictures for more.

Washington Monument
I have no idea why all of these ended up in black & white, but they did. I processed in batches and somehow ended up converting them all at separate times without realizing it.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Reflecting Pool
The pool was completely iced over and the barricade had been pushed from the side of it into the water. Part of it was on top of the ice and the other part had frozen underneath. The dude in the first picture was an absolute oddball who just stood there while we were taking pictures. I figured he looked enough like some uniformed important person to keep him in the shot.

Reflecting Pool

Reflecting Pool

Jess standing on the ice after a young punk decided to try it out and deemed it safe
Standing on Ice

Lincoln Memorial
Seeing this was by far the best part of the trip, except for the inauguration of course. As some of you know, when I pray God often gives me pictures or visions for me to pass on to the person I am praying for. Generally I don't get that many for myself, but a few years ago I was going through a really rough spot in life. During one particular prayer, God showed me a vision of myself running up to the Lincoln Memorial and being swept up into Lincoln's arms and just being held. God was saying that he was so much bigger than my problems and would be my shelter. He was showing me that he wants to hold me close if I would let him. That was a huge moment for me and to this day, I can still physically feel that hug from Lincoln/God. So to see the memorial in real life and be able to find the quiet with God in that place even when surrounded by hundreds of people was amazing. I will not soon forget that experience.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

View of the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial
You can see them dismantling the stage from the concert there in Obama's honor.

National Mall View

The Capitol
The first 3 pictures are from the backside, the final one from the front

Capitol Building

Capitol Building

Capitol Building

Final set up for the Inauguration
Capitol Building

Oh, and here's a view of my favorite thing about the trip...
Port A Potties
(I hope you realize I was being sarcastic there)

Inauguration Day Play-By-Play

As promised, I have written out how our Inauguration Day went. This is a bit on the long side, so I broke it down into a Before, During, and After section. The after section was really the most eventful of the day. I am working on editing some photos for you and will post hopefully later today.

P.S. The Tacoma News Tribune wrote about our experience here, here, and here. Thanks for the heads up Jason :)

We had planned to get on the Metro right when it started running at 4am but could not face the thought of getting up that early, so we got on around 6am instead. Surprisingly, the cars weren’t all that full when we started out, but that could definitely be attributed to the fact that we were almost at the end of the line. By the time we got about 6 stops down the line the cars were packed.

The metro was so filled with people that the stop we wanted to get off at was temporarily closed so we had to get off at the following one. That station wasn’t much better in terms of sheer numbers of people, so a metro worker started chanting “keep it moving” over the loudspeaker. She kept repeating it and eventually the crowd took it up as a call and answer. Everyone was laughing and in great spirits. Unfortunately we then had to backtrack a ways to get to the Mall. We joined the throngs of people heading in that direction and felt completely lost with no idea of which access points were going to be open and which would be closed. Luckily, they had a ton of volunteers who were more than helpful and helped pass along information about which streets to take and which areas were still open. We finally arrived at a gate a little after 9am.

As you can tell from my post on the actual day of the inauguration, I was feeling the joy and excitement in the air when we were finally on the Mall. The air was absolutely electric with the energy from the crowd. We stationed ourselves near a jumbotron so that we would have a good view of what was happening and settled in to just stand there. And stand there. And stand there. They were playing things on the screen for us to watch, but it wasn’t quite enough to distract us from the cold. I was bundled up pretty well and felt warm everywhere exc ept my feet. I forgot to put on extra socks and when you are just standing on the frozen ground, the cold seeps through the bottom of your shoes. I ended up handing out some of my extra toe warmers because one of my neighbors was only wearing tennis shoes with mesh on top and her feet were not going to fare well in that weather.

The crowed absolutely erupted when we got the picture of Obama arriving. All thoughts of cold and discomfort went out the window and the mood in the air increased tenfold. It took forever for all the important people to be announced and make their entrances, which was annoying when all you really want to do is get to the main event. I was disappointed with the crowd however, when Bush was announced and they all started booing. Twice! I am no fan of W’s, as I’m sure you know by now, but he is still a person and deserves to be treated with respect just like anyone else. I thought it was very poor taste for the crowd to boo. However, I did hear that up closer to the Capitol they didn’t hear anything, so I think it just had to be a couple of the sections closer to where I was standing.

Obama’s speech was great. Wonderful. Pointed. Inspiring. All things good. The crowd again erupted over and over and waved the flags that we were given. Jess couldn’t see the jumbotron due to the rather tall people in front of us, so she held her camera up over their heads and watched it all happen on the camera screen. People started trickling out once the speech was done but we stayed until the ending benediction. And then the fun part started…

I can safely say that I have never ever in my life experienced anything like the crowd leaving the inauguration. There was poor planning and management of the crowd by officials and it definitely showed. For a mass of people this size, there needed to be wide open spaces for everyone to move. Unfortunately, to get to the street we were needing to walk on, everyone had to funnel through one little opening wide enough for one person at a time. This created a mob of people so packed in that I’m sure you could have lifted your feet off the ground and you would have stayed in place. It was absolutely crazy. I was following Jess and had to hold on to the hood of her jacket to keep from getting separated. Since I’m bigger than her, I would occasionally physically guide and turn her from behind to get out of particularly tight spots. It took us a half hour to cross from one side of a street to the other. There is no crowd that will trump that for me. Ever.

After that, we decided that it would be wise to take a break before going on and trying to get home. We sat on a curb with some other people and watched the masses pass us by. From that point we decided to look for a building to wait out the huge crowds packing the subways. A security guard told us about a shopping mall, L’Enfant Plaza and we headed in that general area. Massive street closures allowed the sea of people to take over the streets, going in all different directions. Like I said in an earlier post, it was surreal to be with thousands and thousands of people flowing over the streets. It felt like some catastrophic event had happened and we were all wandering aimlessly not knowing what to do. We finally ducked in there to get warm and wait and found it packed with a ton of other people trying to get to the metro station connected to the building. Jess and I found a hallway with only about 50 people and sat to wait.

After a while, we thought the crowds had died down considerably and went to get in line for the metro, which was snaked inside the mall. We waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. After an hour, we had only gone the length of 4 stores and it was getting hotter by the minute. Picture a small mall hallway packed from side to side with bodies. The low ceiling was trapping in the heat, and the closer you got to the entrance of the metro, the hotter it became. Everyone was shedding layers and people were fainting. No joke. During that hour, we heard several people pass out. I am in the process of developing a cold and at the inauguration wasn’t feeling all that well. After being in those conditions in the line for that long, I developed a fever, started to feel really shaky and told Jess that we had to leave. We were by a side door and were able to escape that way.

From there, we walked to another station an hour away that would allow us to hop right on the correct metro line without having to go through any transfers at crowded stations. We were anticipating some sort of a line at the new station but were beyond thankful to find no line and no waiting for a train. It was completely empty of people. I can’t even begin to describe the absolute relief to be out of that crowded station line. If I hadn’t left, I most certainly would have either fainted or thrown up. We finally made it home a little after 6pm, after trying since 1pm. Finally getting out of D.C. rates up there in probably the top 10 feelings of relief in my life.

All in all, it was a great experience that I would definitely have done all over again. It was amazing to be part of a big historical even instead of just hearing or seeing it happen. A great trip with a great hope for the future of our country. Obama for your mama!

Day 5: Homeward bound

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

5:40am. We are on our way back to the Richmond airport. This trip has been nothing but early risings and even though I love my mornings, I do not want to see the wrong side of 4am again anytime soon.

However, it feels great to be hat free for the first time in 3 days. And out of my hiking boots. I adore both, but when they are worn for days on end the head gets a bit itchy and the feet need a break.

And as much as I love walking, it feels great to know that I'm not going to have to track down a people-free metro station or find a bathroom with dubious hygienic standards.

Do I talk about bathrooms a lot?

2:01pm. We are in the Cincinnati airport for a 5 hour layover. I am using my time wisely and am typing up a detailed summary of our inauguration day. I am too lazy to go to a different terminal to get wireless internet, so I will post it either tonight when I get home or tomorrow.

Hopefully I will be able to fit a nap in here too. I so need one!

7:21pm. On the bus from the airport heading home. Woot for public transportation!

8:57pm. Home. At last.

Day 4: Inauguration!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

9:11am. We are here! It is impossible to describe the mood and feeling here. Everyone chanting in the subways. Singing together in the crowd. It is incredible!

Jess is eating leftover kabob right now and it is grossing me out.

No guarantees about being able to post anymore due to spotty cell reception.

In case people are looking for us, we are close to the Washington Monument facing the capitol.

This is flippin sweet!

2:16pm. I feel like I'm in a disaster movie. Getting out of the National Mall was INSANE! We were in the biggest crush of people and took a half hour to go 30 feet.

Most streets are closed and are literally filled wall to wall with people. It is absolutely surreal to be walking on 4 lane road in a group of thousands of people and pass under an overpass with more people going a different way.

Jess and I ducked into a building to wait for a few hours. We are currently sitting in a hallway with about 50 other people with the same idea.

This is CRAZY! If I didn't know better I would think that some catastrophic event just occurred.

But, it is still fun. The stories we can now tell...

7:17pm. We finally made it back to Aunt Nancy's place. After moving maybe 300 yards in an hour while waiting in line at a particular station, we decided to hoof it an hour away to a different station. It was completely clear. Praise the Lord.

8:20pm. I would like to add that I am super glad that I can now drink water without wondering where I'm going to use the bathroom. There were a ton of port-a-potties at the mall but the cleanliness definitely left something to be desired. Let's just say it was a good thing we brought our own toilet paper with us. Oh yes, we did.

I will post stories in more detail once we are back home and I can use my laptop instead of my phone to type.

10:41pm. Went to bed an hour ago because we have to get up early for our flight but I can't get to sleep because I keep thinking about how great the day was.

Day 3: DC prefunk

Monday, January 19, 2009

6:30am. I should so be asleep right now but am mysteriously wide awake. Just looked at the weather and it is supposed to snow. Joy! (that is said with sarcasm)

11:03am. I think I lied when I said that I wouldn't have internet access anymore. Jess needed to work on an assignment that's due for school tomorrow and we thought now would be the best time to get that finished. So I am currently sitting in Panera (free wi-fi baby!) and catching up on everything. I'm working on editing a few pictures to throw your way before she gets done, but no guarantees. While I'm doing that, you can check out how famous we are. The News Tribune featured us: http://www.thenewstribune.com/1099/story/599432.html Booyah!

1:15pm. I have updated yesterday's entry to include pictures. Just letting you know because I know I have some readers who use RSS feeds and might have already looked at the post.

1:16pm. It's fricken snowing here! Seriously, what is up with this?!?!

10:49pm. We are back after a marathon evening of seeing DC at night. We got some great pictures but are more than ready for bed. More to come tomorrow...

Day 2: Williamsburg

Sunday, January 18, 2009

9:52am. Watching trashy TV while waiting for Jess to pack. This is the life.

12:15pm. Jess and I are waiting for the shuttle into Williamsburg. She and I have different approaches to vacations... She has to plan and get everything in that she can while I just go and do whatever. She is currently pouring over the map plotting our course. This could be a long day...

3:37pm. I am currently drinking what has to be the best mocha I have ever had. Not really but after being outside for hours it is amazing. Jess is on some tour of some building but I decided to forgo that for the joy of coffee.

4:13pm. By the way Happy Birthday Joel! You're an old man now.

6:12pm. This is Jessica and we are are currently heading north on i-95 to Rockville. The day has gone well in Williamsburg. It was fun to brush up on forgotten early American history...though being winter most things were closed and there were very few people.
We are both getting hungry for a good meal! No really good food has eaten yet... I am hoping this will change very soon.

10:36pm. Arrived at Aunt Nancy's place, albeit after much giggling while lifting Jess up to peer in an old man's window and waking him up. Um yeah, we had the wrong place. Sorry for terrorizing you Lawrence!

We won't have much internet access now so all updates will be from Mr. Berry. Blackberry that is. I will have to post pictures and full stories when we get back.

Oh, and by the way, you know you've been having bad food when the highlight is the Chinese food you got from the grocery store. I am seriously doubting the cooking abilities of the people around here.

1/19 Picture Update:

As many of you know, I am a detail person. Give me the big picture and I will tell you all the details that need to happen for the big picture to be complete. Thus, when I take pictures, I tend to document the details. Here are a few of our journey yesterday in Williamsburg. You can click on any of the pictures to see the full set.

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

And finally, the sick and disgusting Waffle House:

Waffle House


Day 1: Traveling to Virginia

Saturday, January 17, 2009

3:14am. Obama should make it illegal to be up this early.

4:34am. We would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsor Bekah Schmidt who kindly woke up from her dream about terrorists to take us to the airport.

5:19am. Its currently a balmy 8 degrees in Virginia! Time to break out the shorts

2:30pm. On connecting flight in atlanta. Just enough time to pee and then we had to board. Bloody hot and hungry. Thank the lord for the apples we packed.

7:40pm. Oh my, what a cultural experience we just had. After picking up our rental car and finding our hotel for the night, we went to dinner because as stated at 2:30, we were famished. We hadn't really eaten since the wee hours of the morning. Not wanting to prolong our stomach pains much longer, we headed for the nearest place-- The Waffle House. We do a drive by to look in the windows and are disheartened by the fact that there is only one pair of customers in the restaurant. Taking that as a bad sign, we drove another block but decided to turn around because while we're in the South, we might as well take advantage of it.

We walk in the doors to an overwhelming stench of cigarettes and puke. For some reason we keep walking to a table and even take a look at the menu. Jess and I keep giving each other the "this-place-smells-like-pee" type of looks and are struggling to figure out if we want to stay. Eventually the waitress comes over to us and we decide to just go for it. We're going to brave the dirty counters, rotting lettuce, and dripping waffle pans we see. Why? I don't know either.

I'm really struggling how to best write this next part because really, I don't wish to be derogatory or mean or superior to anyone. So with that disclaimer, I would like to just say that there is no better way to describe our waitress than to say that she absolutely epitomizes what many people would call the stereotypical Southern redneck. Just to give you a general idea, she looked to be about 17 and wore huge plastic earrings in the shape of a heart with peace signs in the middle. I wish to submit the following evidence for you to ponder:

1) First, in response to Jess' comment that we had never been to Virginia before and certainly never to the Waffle House, she replied proudly, completely mystified by these out of towners, "Oh REALLY? Well, we serve ALL Coke products here."

2) When Jess was served her biscuits and sausage gravy, the sausage was on the side for her to cut up and put in there herself.

3) We overheard the waitress yelling into her cell phone, "I called the jail and he wasn't there". Jess and I turned to each other with wide eyes at that point and the waitress came over to apologize for all the ruckus. I asked her if she was ok and she told us the story about how her fiancee he had disappeared for two days and wouldn't return her calls. Apparently this is something he does somewhat frequently. I told her in no uncertain terms that she needs to get out of that relationship because she deserved someone who would treat her better.

4) And I am sorry, but no matter what way you slice the bread, there was some weird hanky panky going on in her familial life. She kept calling a coworker of hers "Daddy", when he looked to be no older than 20. At one point, he pulled a picture of a baby out of his wallet and the waitress took it to show someone else what her new baby brother looked like. There is no way that this guy actually fathered this waitress at 3 years of age.

Seriously, this was definitely a night of culture for us.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There have been some big changes recently in my life, mainly having to do with work. I am done working at my old company and am moving on to a new one. I'll update you more in the future, but know that for now I'm super excited about this change! You probably won't be hearing a ton from me over the next month or so while I adjust to the new job (except for the inauguration hoopla of course) but don't worry, I'll be back.

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