Other protesters arrived by plane, train, car and luxury motorcoach. We bought $28 roundtrip tickets on a Chinese owned bus company called New Century.
Hubby described their business model as "poor service at high volume" and by volume he means decibels.
For years, Greyhound's motto was "Leave the driving to us." New Century's should be "SHUT UP! GET ON BUS!"
We almost had two accidents within the first eight minutes of our departure from Philly. About an hour later, we were given the finger by a driver whom our driver had cut off in traffic. On the way home, a cabbie gave us the same gesture. Our return driver responded by giving him the double finger and yelling in broken English, "Fuck Ooh." Why he couldn't curse in Mandarin or Cantonese remains a mystery.
On both trips we chose to sit in the front seat, directly behind the driver. It turned out to be quite entertaining. Watching the driver eat under the "No Eating" sign was fascinating. Almost going through the windshield when they slammed on the brakes... not so much. The "We Are Not Response For Any Belonging" sign was priceless.
On the way home, my seat was permanently in the recline position. I was so tired, however, that reclining seemed like a good idea. When hubby pointed out that the breaks sounded like we were running over baby elephants, I collapsed in exhausted giggles every time I heard the noise.
I gave this is my long-winded way of pointing out to the New York Times that I paid my own way to the rally.
We were dropped of in DC's Chinatown at 10:50 AM (or should I say we were ordered off the bus) so we had to walk 15 blocks to the rally. For a while, we feared we were the only ones who had showed up. Then we turned the corner.
People wearing red, white and blue were everywhere. It was like stumbling upon a kick ass Fourth of July party. There were folks speaking from a stage, using a public address system, but we couldn't see them over the crowd. We tried to make our way to the steps of the Capitol Building but security was blocking the area.
We stood there in complete awe... speechless for perhaps the first time in our lives, surrounded by folks who were laughing, singing and chanting, "USA! USA!" It seemed less like a political rally and more like a stroll through the Olympic Village.
As I described the scene on Twitter from my phone, "The happiest, most fun-loving "angry mob" i've ever been part of."
We decided to walk away from the Capitol Building, towards the Washington Monument, past the Porta-Potties (again from Twitter, "Crowd waiting 4 porta-potty is bigger than most anti-war rallies") to get a better sense of the event. That's when we ran into the marchers coming up Pennsylvania Avenue.
They kept coming and coming and coming. The crowd we had been a part of was just the tip of the iceberg.
Some of the festive marchers wore costumes. We particularly liked the old lady who was waving around an extension cord with a sign that read, "Don't unplug Granny" and the group of young men who donned astroturf sandwich boards, making them all look like Fred Flintstone at a St. Patrick's Day parade.
This was not the Million Mad March. (Although clearly there were at least hundreds of thousands of people... not the 75,000 that our local ABC affiliate reported today.)
Many of the signs people carried were funny. Even comedian Ron White's "You Can't Fix Stupid" tag line was in evidence.
The press, of course, fixated on the "Obama as Hitler" images of which there were thankfully few. In fact, the only person I saw being interviewed by a TV camera crew was clearly insane.
Yes, crazy people are going to show up at large gatherings. Just like the "Free Mumia" folks are always around when the left congregates. But, as I overheard a man say while talking on his cell, "Unfortunately, the (Lyndon) LaRouchers are here... But, they have free speech too, so I guess you have to expect it."
It's no wonder folks were taking turns having their photos taken in front of the Fox News van. They know Fox is the only news outlet who would be fair and balanced in their coverage. (MSNBC said 50,000 were in attendance. I'm sure they also made a lot of Tea Bagger jokes.)
Yesterday, I also Tweeted "Anarchists tear cities apart. Tea Party protesters rally and then visit the Air & Space Museum."
The founding fathers would have been impressed by the peaceful assembly. There was no tear gas. There were no screaming protesters being dragged into paddy wagons. There were no trash cans being hurled through windows. If anything, protesters were more concerned about getting a post-rally window seat at the famed Capitol Grille.
Apparently, the so-called "angry protesters" don't need anger management classes.
Afterwards, many of us decided to spend the rest of the afternoon taking in all the wonderful sights of DC. The Washington Monument, World War II Memorial and all the museums were crawling with folks wearing "Don't Tread On Me" T-shirts.
We decided to visit the National Museum of American History since it seemed an appropriate place to be on this day. (Besides two years ago we had seen most of the other museums in a marathon sightseeing day.) While going through security, the guard told us we have have to put away the small American flag we had affixed to our backpack because they don't "allow any propaganda in the building."
Say what?! Propaganda? It's the Museum of American History. How is an American flag propaganda in a museum dedicated to America?
My husband was stunned. He laughed in the way a person laughs when they are trying not to yell. He said, "I guess I better hide my miniature copy of the Declaration of Independence, since that might also be propaganda in a museum about American history."
It was a fitting end to a historic day.
The 9/12 rally was a life altering moment for many of the Libertarians, Independents and Conservatives who showed up. After years of being vilified by the press and ostracized by liberal friends, family and co-workers we now understand that there is strength in numbers. We're not going away.
After being ordered off the bus in Philly's Chinatown, we stumbled to a Vietnamese restaurant and gorged ourselves on Pho and Ban Mi. We were exhausted. Utterly and positively exhausted. But we were also relieved. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing indeed.