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    Obamauguration: CaliforniaPaige's Day in Pictures

    You've read Orlando's impressions of her journey through DC on Tuesday. I was there, too, camera in hand. What follows are my impressions from the day.

    The early morning daylight greeted inauguration-goers as they glided up to incipient madness. It was strange -- though not surprising -- to see the completely empty down escalator as we all crushed together to ride the up escalator.

    Tall fences blocked off certain areas of the city -- some to protect staging locations for dignitaries, some to block access to the parade route. We had started near the eastern edge of the mall, thinking we'd simply walk west until we found the appropriate plebeian entrance; but we had failed to account for the parade route, which was entirely blocked off. So to reach the mall, we walked up and around the parade and then came in from the back. I remember being a little grumpy about it at the time, but the contagious ebullience of the crowd washed that feeling away quickly. And when we finally arrived at our viewing location, we realized that we had seen more of the city -- and more of the Inaugural action -- than most. We also realized that walking is a really good way to keep warm on a sunny, freezing day.

    Reporters: they were everywhere. TV cameras, microphones... I had never seen such a concentration. At one point, we even spotted Anderson Cooper walking toward one of those restricted areas.

    From a man holding up a "Fire Bush" sign to these people campaigning for the closure of Gitmo, to a girl holding a "Choose Peace" sign, people everywhere were taking advantage of the crowds and high-profile event to make their voices heard -- some even literally. As we passed a group in line for parade, one man was sing-chanting an Obama-ized version of "Hey, Mickey, you so fine...."

    We had eschewed coffee in the morning (for fear of porta-potty lines), but as we walked closer and closer to the mall, it became apparent that many others had not. Coffee cups of all sizes, colors, and origins began gathering on every available flat surface, as though they, too, were there to celebrate the diversity of the United States and our newly-elected charismatic leader.

    Masses of people were still streaming in from the western end of the mall when we finally arrived. It felt like the supply of people pouring in was endless. Part of me wonders if they're still filing onto the mall today.

    Our first view of a jumbotron, with Cardboard Obama watching over us all.

    People had brought campaign buttons, posters, and even yard signs. But some took the Obama spirit even further. They were dressed all in hope, from their heads.... their feet.

    This was our view. It was occasionally tricky to dance around the trees and get a good line of sight to the jumbotron, but the partially blocked view also kept our area a little less densely populated. One of our new best friends, Terrence, even had enough space to lie down on the ground and take a quick nap.

    Standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument, it was impossible to forget, for even a moment, where we were -- and therefore, why we were there.

    As the crowd began to disperse, people around us broke out into their personal expressions of jubilation. For some, it was simply an arm around their friend or partner; for others, it was more vocal and active. As Orlando wrote, our motley ensemble of new friends erupted into a group hug. This couple had been kissing moments earlier, and then spontaneously began their own flag-dance.

    The crowds were thicker and more confused leaving the mall than they had been arriving, but everyone was still pleasant and peaceful. And those of us on foot weren't the only ones leaving -- I'm pretty sure that helicopter in the background was the one taking our now-former president home to Texas.

    After walking away from the mall, decided to head back toward L'Enfant Plaza to catch the metro. It turns out we were far from the only people with that idea. When we saw the line outside the station, not even moving, we decided to keep on trudging.

    In case you haven't gotten the picture yet, there were a lot of people in DC that day.

    This woman had come down from Canada to see the ceremony. She said that she remembered listening to Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and had come to DC to "see the dream realized." At this point, we had been walking for at least four miles, but, other than a fairly slow pace, this woman hardly even seemed to notice.

    The neighborhood we had been walking through, on the southeast side of the city, was extremely poor. We passed by rows of small, cinderblock homes and had not seen a grocery store, restaurant, or even a corner store for miles. When we finally arrived near the Navy Yard metro station, we found a 7-11. We thought we'd go inside for a coffee, but the line wrapped the entire perimeter of the store.

    Fortunately, Navy Yard was the first metro stop on our side of the river, so all those people easily fit in the first train that came by.

    To avoid changing trains in the city center, we stayed on our original train until we were north of the city and then switched back to a train heading downtown. So when we met Angie from Kansas City (above), she was just getting in from the airport. She had missed the entire Inauguration ceremony, but she simply didn't care. The night before, she'd made up her mind that she just had to be in Washington, so she'd bought a ticket and stayed up all night getting ready. At 4:30am, she'd dropped her dog off at a kennel and the left for the airport.


    See below for a more complete slideshow:



    awesome. the picture diary was a great way to share the day with all of us who couldn't be there - thanks so much!! some great pics too!

    Great pics, Paige.

    Great pix, Paige. I love it that Cardboard Obama was there.

    Great Pics, thanks for posting.  I really enjoyed them. 

    Thanks for being our official photographer, Paige. I absolutely loved the way yo skipped around, looking for shots, climbing high, crouching low. And through it all, I only lost sight of you for one short, panic-inducing, moment!  

    Very nice pictures, Paige. BTW on your peas and honey about page, 'amature' should be 'amateur', though you aren't very amateurish.

    Paige, you've been a bad girl. Your css styles were screwing up the rest of the site so I had to remove them. Incredible pics though. I am now ashamed to post my own.

    Ugh.  And it was such a rookie mistake, too.  I've re-applied the styles in a way that shouldn't interefere with anything else -- let me know if you see anything else wrong.

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