Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Monday, January 21, 2013


figuring out how to navigate the Inauguration today

Mike and Gena in front of the capitalToday brought back fond memories of negotiating the crowds and very cold weather at the Inauguration in 2009. I was with two sighted friends so there was less need for GPS as compared with this year when it was us two blind folks and our two dogs.

The first challenge was dealing with the Priceline web page to book a hotel.  I wanted something that was reasonably close but not too close so it would cost a fortune. We ended up about 1.5 miles away.

Then, we had to get into DC from Virginia with several of the bridges closed. I worked with the taxi driver and together we figured it out.

Then we had to decide how to get from the hotel to the Capital area where the events were taking place. All of the roads within 10 blocks were closed to cars. We could either take the Metro and get somewhat close or take a taxi to an unknown location. We chose the latter and ended up at 1st and K streets, about half a mile from where we needed to be.

I was using a combination of live GPS mode and Virtual mode to sort this all out. Not knowing the address but just the intersection, I used the cross street selection to find a destination.

huge mass of people at 1st Street and Indiana StreetOur progress came to a screeching halt about 175 feet from 1st Street and Indiana Street. There were masses of people and we were moving forward about 5 feet every 10 minutes. It was a bit dicey with our two dogs in such a packed setting but we kept ourselves next to the side barrier. I noticed a few officials and cameramen moving along the outside of that barrier. When we didn't move at all for 20 minutes, we hoisted our two dogs over the barrier and then clambered over ourselves to the cheers of those near us.
They were happy that at least someone was doing what they were all tempted to do. After that, it was smooth sailing right into the heart of the capital mall and the crowd gathered to hear the Inauguration.

President and First Lady on the big screen at the InaugurationThank goodness I was not frozen like last Inauguration when it ended. Off we went in reverse, first to find a restaurant and then back to the hotel. I did a search for nearby restaurants and went to them one by one only to find out there was an hour or more wait at all of them. We decided to eat back near the hotel, outside the crazy downtown area. I guessed right that we might find a taxi at Union Station and from there it was easy going back to our hotel. On the way, I look virtually for a restaurant near the hotel. For the heck of it, I switched to Blindsquare and found some options that way.

It was really fun to have navigated such a complicated set of circumstances using the GPS as one of our tools. Hats off to the guide dogs who did an amazing job guiding and being patient in such crowded conditions. Oh, yes, and then there was the Inauguration itself which is such a historical event to be fortunate to attend.


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