Note: Times are still approximate.
12:55 PM: I went to the Air and Space Museum to warm up and got tickets to see the Blackholes and Cosmic Collisions shows in the Albert Einstein Planetarium at 1PM and 1:30 PM. The shows were good though pretty dumbed down, but I expect that it is because they meant it more for kids on field trips. I was so comfortable in that theater.
2:00 PM: I went to use the bathroom at the museum before making my way back to Reston, but the lines were extraordinarily long. The museum itself looked like a bus station. People were sprawled everywhere and kept coming in. I couldn't even tell where I could exit. It didn't seem like anyone was leaving the building.
2:15 PM: I eventually found an exit and tried my luck getting into L'Enfant Plaza, but I got a little lost. Things looked a lot nicer at 4:45 AM, when it was quiet and empty. There were ambulances and fire trucks trying to get through the crowds of tired, cranky, and selfish people.
2:30 PM: I arrived at the end of the line to get into L'Enfant and being that there were two lines leading to the entrance, I estimated that it would take a few frustrating hours before I could get inside. Plus, there was already a report about someone falling onto the train tracks, probably because of the crowds, so I decided to try my luck elsewhere. I called Jon for help.
Between 2:30 PM and 3:30 PM I walked to Federal Center, which looked like a long wait too, then Capitol South, another long wait, then to Eastern Market, which was closed down for some dumb reason, and when I was about to give up all hope and wait on whatever line that was required of me at Potomac Avenue, I saw the line-less entrance of Potomac Avenue.
On the Metro map, it doesn't look that far. (View walking from the center large dot to the right along the Orange line.)
But it was 2.6 miles according to Google Maps, and I was nearing the end of my ability to stand up straight. I couldn't even seem to stop by any restaurants or coffee shops to sit down either because they were packed.
On the way there there were kids selling Inauguration hot chocolate and Inauguration hot dogs ($2 grilled) along with the guys selling T-shirts, tote bags, and the like. I wish my camera had been working.
Also they shut down this huge highway (I think it was 395), and all these pedestrians were walking on it including me. It seemed like one of those apocalypse movies. It felt a lot like the 2003 Blackout where you're not sure what to do, but you know you want to get home safely.
The good thing about walking all the way out there was that I was able to get a seat because it was in the opposite direction of where I needed to be. About two stations in, it became standing room only again.
3:30 to 5:00 PM: So it took me about an hour and a half to get back to West Falls Church or about 17 stops. I took notes on how congested the station looked from the inside versus my impression of when I passed it on the outside and how many people got on the train. People were a lot less aggressive to get on the train going home.
Another half hour or so later the bus arrived in Reston Town Center. For whatever reason, it was FREE! I was never happier to be back in Reston--well maybe that time we were stuck in Deleware for 3 hours, but still.
Here's my collection of Inauguration memorabilia: red hat, badge, knitted hat, hand warmer, flag, and Metro map.
The badge is pretty cool, and apparently it helped some people get into places they normally wouldn't have been able to be in.
After all that, I could just say how happy I was that the Inauguration was two Tuesdays ago and not last week's Tuesday. Reston finally got hit with a snowstorm this winter.
It's more or less melted now, but if the Inauguration occurred on a snow day, I have no clue what I would have done.
Overall, I'm happy I participated as a volunteer, if only to not have to experience watching this momentous occasion alone. (Sad but true.) Josh was a good person to watch it with--as well as the other millions of people around me.