21 January 2009

Federal City in Lockdown

[18 Jan 2009]

While the changing of the guard may seem grand from afar, it is like being in a tortuous lockdown for ordinary residents of the Federal City. All of the Inaugural activities would involve street closures, security checkpoints and predictions of massive crowds.

Originally, I had planned to be Beyond the Beltways to miss the fun and frustration but that plan fell through. In the alternative, I had planned to stay hunkered down at my place in Capitol North. Alas, duty for my church called, so I was obliged to traipse to Georgetown for my normal Sunday night worship.

The Sunday before Inauguration was the kick off to the festivities with a huge afternoon concert. As luck would have it, my commute to church fell just as the concert was ending. It was prudent for me to change my route to avoid the crowds and closures. Even with my knowledge of backroads, a trip that would normally take 12 minutes took 50 minutes. It was not just the concert crowds the proved to be the challenge. Once I got to Georgetown, I had to circumnavigate around street closures and heavy police presence because grandiose on "Q" street (perhaps the Secretary of State designate) was having a party at her house and used the narrow streets for parking.

The return ride was no better. Traffic jams on Sunday night, street closures and police activity made the return trip virtually the same slow 45 minutes. It did not even let up 'round Midnight, when my wife returned home. Once she crossed New York Avenue, she entered the zone and a two block journey took 10 minutes.

I do appreciate the need for security during this transition time in war. But such security makes it difficult to live in an ordinary manner.

Even though I can literally see the Capitol from my back yard, the hassles of getting around a Federal City in lockdown convinces me that the best place to see the presidential changing of the guard is from the comfort of my abode.

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