We started out expecting a fairly average day in the capital of the nation. That was not to be. Who knew that when you hold a rally with 215,000 people (as estimated by aerial photographers [Citation: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20021284-503544.html]) most of whom were traveling into the city from outside of it, it puts a strain on the transportation systems?
The roads were fairly empty once we got past mile 62 on I-66. According to WMATA, they set a Saturday record of 825,437 trips. That’s compared to 350,000 on an average Saturday. [Citation: http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=4717]
We left Broadway just after 7:30am. Kelly and I and our friend KBru took our car and headed North, making a brief stop at McDonalds in Newmarket for breakfast before getting on I-81. We were right on schedule for the Vienna/Fairfax Metro exit at about 9:15am when we reached the queue. It stretched back about 2 miles, and after sitting in it for 20 minutes we decided to try our luck at one of the next exits. This turned out to be one of the three best decisions we made that day. It proves that prior basic knowledge of the system works in favor of those trying to use it in ways they never have before.
We got to the West Falls Church exit at about 9:45 (literally just a couple of miles down the road). We found a parking space in record time, and proceeded to the station. It was at this point that we went back to waiting, and shortly afterward I started taking photos on my ‘new’ cell phone, received the day before. (It’s a certified pre-owned, and it replaces the Nokia that I washed a few months ago. It also has a camera!)
10:12am: West Falls Church bridge over I-66 East. The bridge is crowded by the line to the ticket machines. The road underneath is practically empty. The view back two miles on the same road is VERY crowded.
10:13am: We got bored and did what we usually do – take photos of ourselves.
10:25am: We’re getting close to the ticket machines. This lady we saw a couple of times, she looked like a white lady, and was wearing a big sombrero that said something like “I-legal, fear me!” on it.
10:29am: This is the set of lines for the ticket machines. KBru has started knitting in line. Kelly is off to the side as per the request of WMATA. She rejoined us not long after this.
10:45am: We made it on to the platform.
It was shortly after this point we made the second of our best three decisions of the day. Every train coming into the station (the third on the line) was crowded. One or two people were getting on. After about three trains we decided to try doing the non-obvious. We got on a train going the other way. This spawned our catchphrase for the day – “Backwards is the new forwards.” Someone on one of the trains had yelled out the door that they had boarded a train headed away from the city and stayed on it. After all, once they reach Vienna they just go straight back in to DC, and the trains were pretty empty going that way. When we got to Vienna we found (as we expected) that the trains were full leaving there.
The journey into the city was fairly uneventful. Almost every stop had someone with a hilarious costume or sign (a couple of Waldo characters, at least one person wearing a grape costume, I even saw a TARDIS cutout. The one sign I remember said something along the lines of “Three words that will solve the economy: Gay Bridal Registry”).
12:27pm: The museum of American History (if I’m reading it correctly). Those of you who know the Smithsonian will know that at this point we are practically there. This guy also has a really cool improvised drum kit, and he plays really well. Unfortunately I didn’t get a video at all.
Here is just a stream of photos I took while on the mall. I don’t remember enough details to caption each one. There are a few doubles of things, mostly cool signs I saw. We took a photo of KBru outside the Canadian Embassy, and there are photos of the several thousand people who just walked up one of the streets (I forget which, it was headed towards Chinatown).
I run out of photos about now because my camera battery died, but we walked through Chinatown looking for a place to eat, but they were all really busy. We walked up to Union Station – not a bad idea but not great. We ended up eating standing up, having been sitting on the floor in an alcove and being asked to stand as we were considered a safety hazard. Being reasonable and understanding people, we complied – there was nothing we could do to change the minds of the people enforcing the rules, they appeared to think the rule in particular was stupid anyway. We took the metro from Union Station back to Metro Center, where we made the third and final “best decision” of the day, taking the Metro towards Maryland a few stops and then heading back through the crowded city.
The trip from there was uneventful – I remember a little girl who was obviously tired who I talked to briefly about “coming out from the ground” – she had said it and then thought it was a silly thing to say, I told her it wasn’t. We disagreed politely.
A brief stop was made outside of DC (I always forget what it’s called, but there’s a Sheetz and a McDonalds right beside each other, and we almost always stop there on the way out of DC either for food or gas or both..). We were all in need of a bathroom break and some snacks for the ride home, which brought as back to Broadway at around 9pm. An enjoyably sane day in the city of Washington DC.