The day began at 4:00am and was quite intense! Transfers between lines were difficult or impossible due to the number of people on the train and on the platforms, even at that early hour.
3:50 am...waiting for the first train of the day.
On the train at 4:00 am
The Metro was packed and the Red line (the one we had been on) actually shut down for a while during the day while a woman was rescued after falling onto the tracks at about 9:30 (non-life threatening injuries). The Washington Post reported that 409,000 people had entered the Metro as of 9:00.
We arrived on the White House side of the mall to lines two blocks long and growing. As the lines fed into 7th Street and the parade checkpoint at that location; the crowd became "body to body". Unable to get to the Mall due to the checkpoints we decided to try for the parade route.
Moving to another checkpoint, we found a shorter line. However, people in that line too moved very close together and, much to our dismay, the gate was closed just before the Inaugural Address.
As we broke free of the area where we could not even bend down to tie a shoe or lift our arms easily to use a cellphone, it became evident that we were going to be unable to make it into the parade area any time soon.
So, we tried to move out of the wind and watched the Inauguration on the laptop that we had brought to stream video with. It was a bit surreal as we looked up and saw the snipers standing on the rooftop of one of the buildings across the street
It was a emotionally powerful day and, for the most part, the overall feeling was one of acceptance of the fact that the city was filled beyond capacity. Armed Forces personnel as well as police officers made every effort to insure that people kept moving and stayed safe. Even in the Metro, orange vested staff assisted confused sightseers to avoid stations that had been closed down
Rumors of the Metro shutting down and limited access to streets due to security measures made getting back to the hotel an adventure. We would like to specifically thank the two servicepeople who opened their bus to us to allow us to warm up after 8 hours of standing in the cold.
To give you an idea of how long it took people to get back to hotels after the Inauguration, one group needed 4 hours to navigate from the National Mall, into the Metro, and back to the hotel. A process that normally takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
It is time to relax and recover from this very busy day. We will try to answer any of the various comments we may have missed with this posting as soon as we are able.