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We'll bring you first-hand accounts of local Seattle-area residents and their journey to D.C. and generally all things inauguration. If you're going to the inauguration and would like to contribute, contact us here.

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January 20, 2009 2:01 PM

Overview: the good, bad, ugly and popular

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert


Last night my partner's father suggested that we stay at home on the couch and enjoy the swearing-in from the warm comforts of our pajamas. As tempting as it sounded, we knew we couldn't, so we woke up at 4:30am, left the condo by 5am and were on the lawn by 6am. We'd remain there, in the freezing cold, until after the ceremony.

markert_bundled

A short overview of the day:

The good: We have a new president who gave an amazing speech! The jumbotrons were functional and the speakers were loud and clear, and police were visible and helpful with directions if approached.

The bad: Pedestrian bottlenecking, pedestrian street closures, and Metro station closures. It took us 2.5 hours to wind our way to a functional Metro stop!

The ugly: Desperate times called for desperate measures. As the hours went on people became more and more creative trying to keep warm.

The popular: The crowd responded the loudest to Ted Kennedy, the Clintons, Oprah, and (of course) Obama.

The comparison: I said I was looking forward to hearing both Bishop Robinson and Reverend Warren speak, and I have to say I enjoyed both. I think that Robinson had the potential to appeal to a wider audience since his prayer was more inclusive and neutral, but Warren's message was very inspiring.

The unexpected: I found $20 on the Metro platform.

I'm still frozen and I'm still saddened by some of the bottlenecks-gone-wrong, but overall, I'd jump back out there and do it all over again. What a great experience; areas in the crowd turned into close-knit groups where we all shared stories, food and warmth. For six hours we were a part of history, and a part of a micro-community.

Next up -- the Human Rights Campaign's "Out for Equality" Ball, which starts at 7pm. Congratulations, America and congratulations, President Obama!
markert_crowd4

markert_crowd3

markert_crowd

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January 20, 2009 10:12 AM

Traffic jam

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Police are doing a terrible job with directing flow. Unmonitored bottlenecks through gates and road closures - tons of pushing and confusion.

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January 20, 2009 9:37 AM

President Obama

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Congratulations, President Obama.

markert

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January 20, 2009 9:10 AM

Obama begins speech

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert


Laughing hugging crying and even the obligatory beach ball!

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January 20, 2009 8:49 AM

Too cold to clap?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert
I keep trying to clap, but between my two sets of gloves and hand warmers I'll be darned if I'm producing any noise.

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January 19, 2009 5:37 PM

Manifest Hope

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Today we opted to hang out in Georgetown instead of around the National Mall. In our travels we happened upon the Manifest Hope: DC Gallery so we stepped inside. In a word? Phenomenal. It's a two-story display of nothing but Obama-inspired art, along with a DJ and professional photographers snapping shots of patrons next to a giant painting.

We tried to go back and see it a second time a little later in the day but by that time the line had stretched around the block.


markert_dcgallery

Continue reading this post ...


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January 19, 2009 7:31 AM

The Bishop that didn't exist

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Let the controversy (potentially) begin! I've been so caught up with being here amongst the masses that I'd been neglecting my typical headline-reading duty. This morning I learned that HBO decided not to air the prayer that Bishop Robinson delivered prior to yesterday's concert. If anyone is interested in reading it, transcripts are available online, but good luck finding them from a major news source; according to media it's as if the man didn't even exist yesterday.

Many viewed Obama's decision to include Robinson as a way to balance out some of Rev. Warren's more popular messages; but if no one heard or experienced Robinson, what sort of balance does that offer? It will be interesting to see what, if anything, develops with this.

*Editor's note: Here is a post from DCist, which also includes the transcription.*

Speaking of things that don't exist, let's talk about the influx of bodies. Here's a photo from Saturday - have fun comparing it to any photos of the Mall you'll see from here on out.

Empty Mall on Sat. Jan. 17

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January 18, 2009 3:24 PM

What a difference a day makes

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

inaugblog_markert_clinton.jpg

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Today was drastically different. Not only was it about 20 degree warmer, but the city was no longer a ghost town. Yesterday we were able to walk freely around the Mall, and only a handful of people were milling about the field near the Washington Monument which was certainly not the case this afternoon.

inaugblog_markert_washmem.jpgEven though we were anxious to get to the Lincoln Memorial for today's kick-off concert, we decided to take a detour and grab some food at The Palm. We had eaten dinner there the previous night and the wait staff was so friendly and accommodating that we thought it'd be a great way to start the day today. Unfortunately when we arrived we learned it was rented out for a private party, so we walked out. As we were rounding the corner a motorcade pulled up in front of the restaurant, so of course we walked back to take a look. Who came out of the vehicle? Former president, Bill Clinton.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 18, 2009 12:44 PM

Huge crowds

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

I can't believe how many people are here. Yesterday only 50 or so were by the Monument, and now god only knows how many are here! Obama to speak soon.

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January 18, 2009 10:58 AM

Clinton

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

We just ran into former president Clinton. Photos to follow; we are now making our way to the Lincoln Memorial for the concert.

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January 17, 2009 1:34 PM

History in the Making

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

As we were driving back from the airport last night a funny feeling came over me. Bear with me as I offer up a poor analogy.

I'm an embarrassingly huge fan of 90s grunge, but I wasn't living in Seattle when it hit. Sometimes I get a little humbled when I pause to remember I walk the same streets as, say, Kurt and Courtney. I can't help but think, "This is it. This is where it all happened."

The same feeling hit me last night: this, D.C., is where it all happens. I can feel it now. I'm walking amongst history. And I'm about to see history.

We spent the morning and afternoon walking around D.C. It's surprisingly empty, so we were able to stroll around the Mall in the ridiculously cold weather. The Capitol steps are set up for the swearing-in, workers are busy placing barricades and painting streetlights along Pennsylvania Avenue, and tents are being erected near the Washington Monument.

Jan. 16 - Inauguration prep

Jan. 16 - Preparations in D.C.


The most exciting part of the day was when John Mellencamp and U2 did their sound checks at the Lincoln Memorial. The second most exciting part of the day was when our Little Hotties Hand Warmers kicked in, our fingers would have fallen off without them. I'm tempted to duct tape several to my face for Tuesday, it's really really cold.

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January 16, 2009 12:02 PM

Getting here

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

Today was a travel day. When we got to Sea-Tac we somehow managed to get through security and to our gate in about 20 minutes. Right off the bat I couldn't help but start playing the, "Who's going to the inauguration" game, sizing up fellow travelers. It turned out it didn't take a super-sleuth to spot them; many were wearing Obama lapel pins or stickers, one woman had even created her own Obama beanie.

Despite sitting through two full flights, everyone seemed happy and accommodating, as if we all knew we shared a common ground and a common mission. Around 7:30pm local time we arrived safe and sound in Baltimore. As we landed the pilot was kind enough to tell us it was all of 9 degrees outside. Nine. And, just in case you didn't catch that the first two times I'm going to repeat it once more for good measure: nine. But, considering we had just come from 3 degree Detroit, things were already looking up!

Continue reading this post ...


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January 15, 2009 10:50 AM

The Clone Wars

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

I just experienced the first, and hopefully only, travel speed bump of our trip. Our flight leaves early tomorrow morning, so I went online today to check us in. That's when I noticed that I was traveling twice (sitting nine rows apart from myself, even!) while my partner wasn't traveling at all.

So I called the airline. The airline had me call the travel agent. I called the travel agent. The travel agent called the airline. The airline called me. The airline called the travel agent. We all called each other. A few stress-related melted organs, a $150 ticket re-issuing fee, and nearly an hour later the problem was resolved and I printed off correct boarding passes. Whew! (PS: I'll be re-visiting the $150 fee with my travel agent later, but for now I'm celebrating getting the issue worked out.)

Tomorrow had the potential to pose another travel speed bump since we had planned on taking the bus to the airport at an ungodly hour, but a friend has swooped in to save the day. I was going to do the polite thing and decline her offer, but she wrote, "You're going on the American version of a Mecca trip -- driving is the least I can do, and I know Barack would want me to." So how can I refuse that? Thanks in advance for the ride, S.K.!

Tonight I'm getting a haircut and then packing my bag. Tomorrow is D.C. or bust!

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January 14, 2009 9:56 AM

Two nights to go

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert


Planning this trip has made me realize how infrequently I hear the word no.

Maybe I'm lucky. Maybe I don't take enough chances. Maybe people around me are extraordinarily accommodating. Maybe (my parents would be so proud if this were the root cause) politeness and gratitude work to my favor. Maybe I'm spoiled. Maybe I will good things to happen. I'm not sure what the reason is, but no is typically not a part of my routine -- until now.

Can I tour the Capitol building? No.
Can I tour the White House? No.
Can I get swearing-in tickets? No.
Please? No.
Can I have a window seat? No.
Will Obama stop by the ball I'm attending? No.
Can I have coffee with Senators Cantwell and Murray? No.
Pretty please? No.

I realize I'm one among a sea of many and statistics simply aren't in my favor, but nonetheless the stack of nos is a little disappointing and strange. Despite this newfound disappointment in my life, I'm like a kid before Christmas. The anticipation and excitement -- combined with the numerous yeses I've received -- are overwhelming, so overwhelming that I've developed a horrendous case of insomnia. I haven't been able to sleep more than a few hours all week. I want it to be Friday morning already! I want to board my plane and I want to be in D.C. I can't sit still and I swear the air around me is crackling with electricity.

I am excited, folks. Very excited.

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January 13, 2009 11:42 AM

Planning and preparations

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

I've got three evenings left to prepare for the trip. Yesterday I went shopping for a few inaugural ball accessories, and today I plan on shopping for the biggest necessity of the entire trip: long johns. Even with Seattle's recent Snowpocalypse, I'm afraid I'll be unprepared for D.C.'s winter bite. I then plan on spending Wednesday and Thursday brushing up on geometry; I'm sure I'll be put to the test while trying to cram seven days' worth of items into two carry-on bags.

Details of our trip are still being played by ear. Although it's a bit of a long shot we're waiting to hear if we will have access to an abbreviated tour of the White House on Saturday. On Sunday we plan to attend the kick-off rally at the Lincoln Memorial, and on Tuesday we will head as close to the swearing-in and parade as we can get, followed by the H.R.C. ball that evening. Transportation is also still a bit up in the air since there are rumors of bridge closures and Metro re-routes. Typically I'm a sucker for itineraries and schedules but a news article I read sums the week up perfectly, it asked travelers to be sure and "pack their patience." So I'm doing just that. No matter where we end up, and no matter how we get there, this is sure to be an incredible experience.

One last thought: it's been announced that Gene Robinson will lead the prayer at the inauguration's kick-off event on Sunday. Robinson is the openly gay bishop who has sparked quite a bit of controversy within the church. On the other side of the spectrum, Tuesday's prayer will be led by Rick Warren, the controversial reverend delivering the inaugural invocation. It will be interesting to hear the two men speak; hopefully both can manage to find a message of inspiration, inclusion and cooperation.

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January 8, 2009 8:07 PM

The Five Ws of My Inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert

WHO: My partner and I will be traveling to D.C. together. Want to know a little bit more about us? Well, I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona but have been living in Seattle for about eight years, and she's a Northwest native. We are both politically-minded, love 80s and 90s pop culture nostalgia, ride Vespas and are convinced it's impossible to find a good cup of coffee outside Seattle.

WHAT: We are heading to the nation's capitol to witness Barack Obama's Inauguration. We plan to take in the sites of D.C. and attend several Inaugural events, including the Human Rights Campaign's "Out for Equality" Ball on January 20th.

WHEN: We will be in D.C. from January 16th until January 22nd. (We booked our flights in October, prior to the election's outcome. Whether it was McCain or Obama, we felt we had to attend the Inauguration.)

WHERE: My partner's father is a reporter for a major news station, and his reports take him around the world following the president; however, he lives in Arlington, VA. He graciously offered up his spare bedroom for the week, so we are two of the fortunate travelers not caught up in the financial supply & demand fiasco of finding a hotel room in, or around, D.C.

WHY: When Barack Obama was announced the winner of the election on November 4th, Capitol Hill exploded. Thousands of people took to Pike, filling the street with camaraderie and happiness. Anyone who danced on the asphalt that night is well aware of how it felt. Will the celebrations and atmosphere in D.C. feel similar? Why, let's find out!

I suppose there's one other W on everyone's mind this inauguration ... but this election was about the country's focus on change; thus I shall not write about him.

Submission by Debra J. Markert

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Recent entries

Jan 20, 09 - 02:01 PM
Overview: the good, bad, ugly and popular

Jan 20, 09 - 10:12 AM
Traffic jam

Jan 20, 09 - 09:37 AM
President Obama

Jan 20, 09 - 09:10 AM
Obama begins speech

Jan 20, 09 - 08:49 AM
Too cold to clap?

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