A six-mile pileup on the Dulles Greenway. Six miles. A half-mile backup isn't unexpected, but six miles is unprecedented. All the way back to the Shreve Mill Road exit. Unbelievable.
But that's what confronted me as I made my way home at about four o'clock to pick up Freddie from the schoolbus and drive him in to Leesburg to catch the Obama rally at Ida Lee Park. Wonder Woman and Betty, coming from another direction, were going to meet us there.
This plan, in retrospect, was a trifle naive. Cellphone calls between the two parties were punctuated by swearing, impatience, and expressions of disbelief at the incredibly snarled traffic. Ida Lee is in Leesburg's northern outskirts, and for most Washingtonians is accessible via only three main roads, two of them built decades ago and desperately overcrowded even on normal days. Yesterday, the entire system broke down completely. Leesburg and evirons was a parking lot.
The one thought keeping us relatively calm was that there would be opening speakers who would drone on for an hour before Obama spoke. So it was that, an hour after the rally's scheduled start, three out-of-breath attendees (Wonder Woman decided -- wisely, as it turns out -- not to brave the crowds) hustled from our parking spot on Old Waterford Road, across the back fields of Ida Lee. We could hear cheering off in the distance. Then, unexpectedly, we started to notice a trickle of people coming toward us. Ah, we thought, Mark Warner probably bored 'em so bad they decided to get home for dinner...
Nope. The trickle became a flood. We'd missed it. Ganged agley, as the poet said.
One small positive moment in an otherwise deeply disappointing evening: The police cordoned off a stretch of road behind the stage as we were crossing it, and down the road we could see police cars and motorcycles, lights flashing. We waited for a few minutes, and sure enough, the motorcade rolled majestically by. By stroke of sheer luck, we were on the right side of the road to catch the briefest glimpse of that indelible face, smiling and waving at us.
Almost made the whole thing worth it.
Update: The failing light made any photos I took pretty sucky, but better photos are here.