As mentioned briefly in my iphone based post – it was thrilling to go from the swearing in via bus to the parade. We were whisked down the parade route to the bleachers next to Obama’s viewing stands. When we went, there were still many people along the route – waving to our bus! The stands where we were actually sat on the white house lawn – so we had a tremendous view of it – and of the path that Obama subsequently took into his viewing stand. What we didn’t anticipate was how cold it’d get in the bleachers. The parade was supposed to start around 2pm, but by 4pm still hadn’t begun. A while before then, Eric had explored what our escape route might be and had learned that, if we stayed on the side where we were, we wouldn’t really get out of the parade until it was over.
In good spirits, we chose to leave around 4:15 – right as the President was coming around the corner. We were shocked to hear and then see that he had gotten out of his car. Since everyone had gone through security gates, I guess he felt pretty confident (probably the safest walk along the street to which he’ll ever have access). In addition to seeing the President, it was wild to see the throngs of people following him and screaming out to him. He looked so happy and calm and Michelle – she just looked fantastic. As they walked, I couldn’t help but think that they looked like they were still in the glow of dating.
Unfortunately, as we continued on, our departure turned out to be harder than expected and thus started – Escape from the Parade!
Have you ever watched Escape from New York in which NYC is turned into a penal colony and Kurt Russell is sent in to rescue the President because his plane crashed there? Well – my decision to not move over to the other side of the parade in time placed us into that similar level of purgatory.
The security perimeter was such that we were then trapped between the parade route and the performer staging area and also the fences set up for a security perimeter for the swearing in. Everyone entering the security area had gone through airport level security surrounded by high fences. To make a long story short – with the closures and security folks all saying different things, what should have taken 30 minutes and a mile and a half, took us 2.5 hours and around 7 miles. Toward the end, we were walking through an area that looked like a post-apocolyptic wasteland because of the trash, the menacing fences and the others walking aimlessly looking for a functional route to escape. (Man oh man did I burn through spouse credits by not listening to Eric at the get go! BUT – I still enjoyed what I saw of the parade and enjoyed the walk and bonding odyssey).