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Being in Washington DC the week before the inauguration doesn't seem to be much different than being in Washington DC any other time. There do seem to be a few more police escorted caravans of limos and vans, and conversations overheard seem to be about what a mess it's going to be next week, but this week is just another week in DC.
I got in Monday night, being delayed only an hour because of snow in Minneapolis. What the heck were they thinking putting such a huge airport, and a hub for so many airlines, in a place that's always snowing? I gotta admit, the deicing was remarkably quick, and when we got clearance to take off, we were in the air almost immediately, but it still doesn't make sense to regularly transfer people through the blizzard...
My big fear was that they would lose my luggage in the delay. Knowing it was a full flight out of Portland, I took my coat off and put it in my garment bag before checking it. Gloves, scarf, coat... They say don't check anything you can't afford to be without, and while I did keep my briefcase, with my laptop and documents for Tuesday and could have done meetings, it would have been damn cold getting there.
One of the things I like about DC is that I don't need a car when I'm here. It's funny how I always feel trapped in places like LA or Orlando even if I do have a car -- you go from one place to another, struggling with traffic and directions in an unfamiliar city, never really seeing anything in between.
But DC is a walkable town. You have to be confident when walking through some parts of town -- I'm staying in the "U Street Corridor" which is kind of a tendril of low-class cool stretching east of the Dupont Circle neighborhood. As with most tendrils, it gets a thinner the further you get from the source, until it fades out entirely at the Metro station around 10th Street.
I've never had much trouble beyond some fairly polite panhandling (I accidentally found that if you give them a confused look and they just assume you don't speak English). Naturally the Metro gets you around further than walking, but even so, it's not that bad to walk from U Street to K Street.
After meetings yesterday we went to a free concert at the Kennedy Center. They apparently do them every night, with a really wide range of music. Last night was the L&O from Paris ("not Texas" as the singer informed us). They were described as "a hot new band from Paris whose sound ranges from soft and romantic to energetic swing that shows their Gypsy influences." Amazingly good, and hard for me to stay seated -- how audiences sit so still with great dance music is a mystery to me.
You gotta listen to these guys, and through the miracle of the Internet, you can watch the performance I saw last night by visiting the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage Broadcast Archive.
I have meetings on the Hill tomorrow, and some work today, but I expect to get down to the museums sometime on this trip. Regardless, there's always something to do in this town.