These are historic times. Two wars, the economy teetering. Regardless of who wins, this will be a historic presidential election.
In that spirit, I went downtown yesterday hoping to see Sen. Obama firsthand having seen Sen. McCain earlier in the year. We reviewed the "no" list in the newspaper: no video cameras, no signs, no umbrellas, no chairs, etc. So I thought, what the heck, I'll fire up my Nikons and take a few pictures for the blog.
We left more than two hours before the event was scheduled to start. Traffic was incredible and police were directing our line into an area where there was no parking. After flopping around, we found an empty "No parking - Tow zone" spot and parked. We hiked a half mile where the line into Metro Park, a riverfront park in downtown Jacksonville, had formed. The line itself looked to be several football fields long.
At that point, I was accosted by an officious twenty-something.
"You can't take those in there," she said, referring to my cameras.
"You can't take a camera with interchangeable lenses into the park."
"There might be explosives in them."
"Here check them."
"No, that would take too long."
I almost pulled the Iraq card on her since Mark was with me.
But I thought the better of it. After all, I looked very suspicious with my Key West golf shirt and blue jeans.
I took Mark's keys and sloughed back to his truck where I hid the cameras under his ACU's and his red Airborne beret in the back seat.
On the way back, I received a call from Mike, my oldest son. They weren't letting anyone else in...the Metro Park had reached capacity.
So Gayle, SGT Mark, Mike and I went over to the Jacksonville Ale House where, over a pitcher of beer, onion rings and some pretty decent food, we told silly stories and laughed and laughed and laughed.
When we dropped by Mike's house later in St. Nicholas, we could hear Sen. Obama's voice booming across the St. Johns River. I looked at my pocket watch. It was 4 p.m. He was an hour and half late.
An image popped into my mind: Standing in a rain soaked park, elbow-to-elbow with 12,000 people or sitting down to lunch with my family.
I think we lucked out.