Monday, Jan. 19, 2009 | 11:13 a.m.
A light snow was falling from the gray Washington sky when I set out this morning. It was about 8:30 a.m. and the street was quiet. A calm had finally fallen over the neighborhood, though I knew it wouldn’t last for long.
The neighborhood I’m staying in had been an epicenter of activity the night before, as hundreds of people celebrated Barack Obama’s upcoming inauguration at nearby bars and restaurants.
The sounds of the busy street outside my window -- honking horns, passing cars and boisterous groups of people -- kept me company Sunday night as I worked at my computer.
They were still partying down the street when I went to bed. It was well after 4 a.m. when I finally turned in.
While last call is usually at 2 a.m. in the nation’s capital, D.C. bars are staying open late this week, many until 5 a.m.
The neighborhood was markedly different this morning. It was calm and peaceful. The streets, sidewalks and buildings almost seemed to enjoy the rest.
Like the partiers that filled its bars and restaurants the night before, the city needed its rest. Tomorrow was going to be a big day.
I stepped out onto the relatively silent street and walked the half dozen blocks to the Metrorail station, where I hopped a red line train to Union Station.
When I resurfaced a few minutes later, the proud sights of Capitol Hill greeted me.
I stood back for a minute to take it all in. Then a big tour bus pulled up and dozens of giddy high school band students spilled out the front door and onto the sidewalk, instruments in hand.
The musicians were all wearing matching T-shirts, and despite their bright eyes and big smiles, they all looked pretty cold as they stood in the 30-degree morning air.
I began walking south toward the Capitol building and followed Delaware Avenue until I reached the marble steps of the Russell building.
After passing through security I made my way into the lower level and to Room 119, where one of Nevada Sen. John Ensign’s staffers was busy at work.
Like thousands of people across the country, I had requested tickets for Tuesday’s inauguration through my local representatives. I first tried Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid but was told I was too late; all of his tickets had been given to other constituents.
Lucky for me, however, Sen. Ensign’s office was able to fulfill my request.
Inside my ticket package was a formal invitation to the event; a handsome map of what would be where on Inauguration Day, a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and a list of instructions and prohibited items.
It told me that gates would open at 8 a.m. tomorrow, three-and-a-half hours before the ceremony will begin.
Since I have a purple ticket, which is good for standing-room only, I will have to enter via the designated purple ticketholder entrance on the north side of the National Mall.
“Be prepared to be on (your) feet for several hours,” it stated, noting no food or drinks will be available.
No strollers, signs, posters, alcohol or “other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event” it said. Cameras are OK but both camera bags and tripods are prohibited.
The welcome kit also included a weather warning.
“Inauguration day is typically cold – normally 37 degrees F at noon – and occasionally wet,” it cautioned. “In the event of rain, umbrellas will not be permitted.”
I tightened my scarf and dove my hands into my mitts – and crossed my fingers for warm weather.
Here’s to the president-elect – and an unseasonably warm Inauguration Day.