Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday Part I

I was up before the dawn. Hours before the dawn. I was drafted as a last minute sub for a volunteer captain who had left the job. So here I was, the alarm going off at 2:45, out the door at 3:15 a.m. , baby. It was cold, very cold. My husband was a warm lump, still huddled under the comforter. He had to be at his assignment at a late-ish 5:30 a.m.

I was slightly nervous at trudging the deserted streets of Washington, DC alone at that time of night. Not to worry. Only a block away on Maryland Avenue were five soldiers in camouflage, their faces covered by olive scarves. Good morning! I said cheerily, teeth not even chattering. Did I say it was cold? It was. Good morning came the muffled replies. Are you cold? I asked. We're freezing! was the reply.

So off I was on my trek down Constitution Ave. The PIC text warned us the north side would be closed because of the parade, and I debated veering south. But then Constitution seemed open so I plunged down Capitol Hill.

At the confluence of Constitution and Pennsylvania, I ran into my first hurdle. Uh oh.  I found myself having to drift down Penn Ave. Was I going to have to keep on it until the White House? That would put many blocks and probably 20 minutes off schedule. And I was already running late. My pace was definitely too slow.

There was a group of either secret service in civvies, or parade planners in the middle of street. I asked if I could cut across Pennsylvania since I was heading to the Lincoln Memorial. They glanced at each other, looked at the barren road. One asked if I was crossing the street and hanging a right. Yes, I said. OK. So I scooted one of the barricades open and scurried through.

The stream of people heading to find their spots in the darkness on the Mall started grow. A few more fences and hurdles later, I was climbing the hill toward the Washington Monument as more and more people were heading in the other direction. Because of the dark and the empty streets, it felt almost post-apocalyptic. 

Finally, along the ice covered Reflecting Pool I met my fellow captains. 

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