We arrived in Washington early Saturday morning to discover that enterprising Americans were already hard at work hawking everything from t-shirts to bumper stickers with Rally graphics plastered on them. However they were also really helpful in guiding the way, and minutes later were on the subway.
While not everyone on the train was going to the Rally, it was clear the majority were. But even this didn’t prepare us for the sheer number of people who had made the trek down to Washington DC (try and spot the people in the trees). However, being as early as it was, the need for coffee easily trumped any further exploration.
Apparently, sharing in some sort of strange North American mindset, Washington, like I find Ottawa does, closes up shop for the weekend. Even on the weekend when the world is expected! Thankfully the data package Nic had purchased for my birthday Cruise (posts to come) was still active, and we were able to use it in a variety of useful ways navigating the Capital. In this case, it was to try and find an open Starbucks. Surprisingly, even the one we located was closed. But after further consultation, we tried our luck out at a nearby hotel where people could be seen exiting the building with green labeled cups in hand.
The line we discovered seemed to go on forever, and I was beginning to doubt we’d ever get out of it, when we overheard that there was another counter at the back of the hotel where fewer people were lined up. Dashing over we discovered to our delight there was indeed a much smaller line, and after grabbing coffee, and what passed for breakfast, we left for the Mall.
Did I mention how many people there were? Hitting the Rally grounds was like hitting a sea of people, and it only got worse as the day carried on. By the time the Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert had taken the stage, the crowd was a mass of humanity. Despite the numbers however, the majority of people were in a great mood, and patiently shuffled out of the way as handfuls of people tried to navigate the press, searching like we initially did for a better vantage.
Unfortunately as the Rally got into full swing, Nic started to feel ill and we had to get out of the crowd. Fighting our way free, we walked around to the side of one of the neighboring museums, and while she tried to fight of her migraine, I watched the constant stream of people entering and exiting the Mall. Toward the end we did try and get back into the crowd, but by that point even the port-a-potties had become prime seating, and it was impossible to get any closer.
Despite not actually getting to see much of the Rally, it really was a lot of fun and certainly an experience I would repeat if given the chance. The crowd despite its magnitude was well-natured and behaved, and the people friendly and interested in engaging and hearing where you’d traveled from, and was great that so many could gather under a unified message of wanting mature civil discourse, and a move away from the fear mongering that many news agencies have fallen prey to.