Even after we got back to the Capitol Hilton, we were in for a long wait, as our bus driver could not find a way through the parade roadblocks to the side of the city where we were waiting. The Congressional Black Caucus was having an inaugural ball at the hotel where we were waiting, and I caught a brief glimpse of the old-school rapper Doug E. Fresh in the lobby. Our bus finally arrived about 9 PM, and we got back to the hotel in Maryland with just a brief window of time to get to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner.
Getting back to the area of Washington where our buses were going to pick us up at 5 PM proved to be easier said than done. The waits to get on trains at Metro stations were about an hour, and eventually the Metro was shut down altogether for some reason. We were forced to walk out of the Inauguration area instead, but when we attempted to head back north to get to the Capitol Hilton Hotel, we kept running into barricades that kept us walking ever further west toward the Potomac River. We finally were able to make it through the National Mall area when we got to 18th Street (we had started at 3rd!), and the bright side of it was that we got decent pictures of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Unfortunately, tight security kept us from being able to watch the parade, and frankly after the long walk, we weren’t up to it anyway.
Ultimately, we had to ride the Metro to get to the appropriate entrance to the Inaugural events, but once we were on the National Mall, there was a sort of awesome feeling to seeing the Capitol building in person and all the crowds of people. We were quite a ways back, but there were TV monitors and speakers around, and we were easily able to hear the selections by the US Marine Band (they played at least one piece by Arkansas composer W. Francis McBeth). There was also a prayer by Medgar Evers’ widow Myrlie Evers, and of course the main speech by President Barack Obama. As the basic ceremony came to an end, our group decided to leave out of the mall area so as to be ahead of the crowds, or at least so we thought.
The morning of the Inauguration was bright but rather cold, and we had to walk a considerable distance to find where we were supposed to enter the event based on the tickets we had. But everyone was in good spirits, and there was a general upbeat mood in the air. At one barricade, we briefly saw President Obama emerge from the National Cathedral after a morning prayer service.