Last look at tips for the inauguration

Tomorrow is the last day before the new president is sworn in. You are among the 2 million people (at least) heading into our nation’s capital for this event. A new president will take office, and unless you’re invited to one of the evening’s inaugural balls, you’ll need someplace to go.

Don’t worry; the Wall Street Journal has been thinking of you. The newspaper’s reporters have compiled a list of attractions.

National Portrait Gallery: In particular, take a look at the “Mask of Lincoln” exhibit.

Corcoran Gallery of Art: Catch a glimpse of Richard Avedon’s shot of a skeptical Barack Obama.

Torpedo Factory: No longer a munitions center, the former U.S. Naval Torpedo Station is now inhabited by artists.

Kennedy Center: Aretha Franklin will be on the stage on Monday.

And, there are more, so many more. Believe it or not, there is more in Washington, D.C. than the inauguration!

[Many thanks to the fine folks at the Journal for pulling this list together]

Obama’s first flight on Air Force One

Barack Obama’s family digs and office space aren’t all that will change on Tuesday with his inauguration. The two customized Air Force One Boeing 747s designed to safely transport the U.S. president are part of the presidencial goodie-bag package. Marine Force One, the helicopter, will also be at Obama’s service.

Back in November 2007, Justin wrote the post Take a Tour inside Air Force One to give a closer look on what goes on inside this flying powerhouse that most of us will never see.

For an even closer look than that, check out National Geographic Channel’s “On Board Air Force One” to air on January 25. Along with presenting behind the scenes details, like how yummy airplane food is if you’re the president, and where the president takes a snooze, the show will give also show footage of Obama’s first flight on Air Force One and Bush’s last.

After the show on Air Force One, stick around as National Geographic highlights Marine Force One. In the meantime, the National Geographic Channel’s Website has a page devoted to all things Air Force One. You can download an Air Force One paper airplane replica, take a virtual tour and find out more about what it takes to operate such an aircraft.

If one is president of the United States, I imagine that the view out the plane window has a bit more weight to it than what the rest of us see. Or maybe not. Whoever is president may also says things like, “Look at that cloud. It looks kind of like a dinosaur–” or wonder where all those people in cars are going as they zip along highways looking like ants. Perhaps, he (and in the future, she) marvels at odd details like the number of back yard swimming pools there are in desert cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix, and look at the Grand Canyon in stunned awe.

For a quick peek inside Air Force One, check out these.


Get close (enough) to the inauguration

You want to witness the dawning of the age of “hope” and “change” first-hand. You want to be their in person when President-Elect Barack Obama drops the second half of his current title. But, there’s a problem. You’re not alone. In fact, as many as two million people are expected to attend the inauguration, and hotel rooms are disappearing as far away as Pennsylvania, according to the latest from the Wall Street Journal. Airlines are adding flights. To make sure your trip to Washington goes smoothly, however, you’ll need to do more than grab a room and arrange travel to our nation’s capital. Heed the WSJ‘s tips, and you’ll start this new era without a hitch.

Whether you get a great spot close to the Capitol for the ceremony or a street-side view along the parade route, bring a sandwich – and nothing else. Umbrellas and strollers, it seems, are particularly prohibited. Metal detectors will be in abundance, and I suspect that patience will be in short supply. So, be prepared for some degree of inconvenience. I’m not talking the mild irritation of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (to draw an example from my neighborhood). This is serious, much-worse-than-holiday-flying aggravation.

A lot of people are excited to attend the inauguration and related events. After the jump, you’ll find a video that shows the level of excitement involved, as well as a few tips on finding a hotel room (yes, it is possible).

Your chances of finding a reasonable hotel rate are pretty slim. Hotwire, everyone’s favorite anonymous deal website, is tapped out. The hotels have no excess inventory to move. But, you can find some action on You may have to be a bit flexible, especially in regards to how far you’ll have to stay from the festivities. And, it won’t be cheap. The closest hotel with rooms open is the Doubletree Hotel Bethesda, with rooms fetching more than $900 a night.

Maybe it would be easier to visit his old hometown instead …

[Thanks, Wall Street Journal, for the story and Fox News for the video]

When supply and demand becomes gouge and pilfer

January 20th will be a pretty big day for any business in the Washington DC area. It probably doesn’t matter whether you are selling doughnuts or special inauguration plates, people will be heading to DC in the millions ready to buy whatever it is you are selling.

With that many people, it is only logical that many of them will plan to stay the night, so naturally that drives the price of accommodations up a little. However, it appears that most hotels in the area have taken “a little” to a whole new level, way beyond what they usually do for special events.

Take for example the Crown Plaza Hamilton, a fairly basic 3 1/2 star hotel in the downtown area. This hotel normally charges between $85 and $100 for a standard room. Care to guess what they want for a night in a standard room during the inauguration?

That’s right, $1000 bucks. And not just anyone can get that rate, you’ll need to reserve at least 3 nights to get that “special rate”.

In their defense, they are by far not the only ones cashing in on this event, even suburban 1 star hotels are charging a staggering $699 a night (compared to their usual $59 rate).

Where to pee in D.C.: a guide for Inauguration Day

You’ve been there. You’re in the middle of a day of site-seeing and you have to go. As in, RIGHT NOW! Unfortunately, you’re hard pressed to find a public restroom. With the crowds expected to gather in Washington, D.C. for Inauguration Day, finding a toilet when nature calls could be a problem.

Thinking ahead, Jennifer Lynn has come up with an insiders guide for where to pee in D.C. Her down-loadable brochure is called “Where To Pee in DC: The Insider’s Guide on Where to Go” and is for sale on E-Bay.

Jaunted did a write up of this useful gem and highlighted a few of Lynn’s suggestions.

For example, head to the east wing of the National Gallery of Art. The advantage of Lynn’s method, I think, is not only will you find relief, you’ll find culture as well. Although, you might be in a hurry when you pass by some of the artwork on your way to the john, take time to browse on your way out.

Here’s the link to the down-loadable book. It costs $2.50. If you are going to D.C. for the Inauguration, this might be the best money you’ve spent. According to the statistics, there is one toilet for every 6,849 people.