Today was a very important day in Ottawa - President Obama met with Prime Minister Harper today. That's one of the cool things about being in the nation's capital - you get a lot of very important things happening right in your own back yard. Today's meeting will set the pace for Canada-U.S. relations for the next few years (hopefully the Beavertails helped too).
And everyone in Ottawa was extremely excited to catch a mere glimpse of Mr. Obama's motorcade, let alone the man himself. There was even some entrepreneurial "spirit" around where one man carried a lifesize cardboard cut-out of Mr. Obama and sold pictures of you with it!
With this event, the first of its kind for the new president, came security. Lots of it. I'm sure that Ottawa's never seen the likes of it before. Secret service agents were here for 4 weeks scoping out the city and "risk areas" in preparation (here's more interesting numbers). Roughly a third of the downtown core surrounding Parliament Hill was closed off all day. Sewer and manhole covers were welded shut along the entire route between Parliament and the airport. Extra police were brought in from Montreal and Toronto. Frankly, it was quite amazing to see. On my run today, I saw 4 busloads of police and special forces unload for lunch...and load up with other officers to return to patrol. It was weird running alongside them....
But what really, really sucked was that none of the bus service that goes through downtown was successfully diverted or allowed into the cordoned-off areas. Actually, what was really the worst was that none of us bus riders knew that would happen. When I got to my bus stop, there were at least 300 people there waiting. After 20min, I gave up and started walking.
I passed at least 200 people at each bus stop I passed as I headed west out of downtown. I tried to head south to catch some of the other busses that have different routes, but the entire core was stuck in gridlock. So I called my wife and kept walking, waiting to hear back from her when my daughter's skating lessons were done.
Here's my route. Thankfully the weather was warmer, and the sidewalks were clear. And I was thankful that, at the last minute this morning before heading out the door, I switched to my heavier coat "just in case" something went wrong with the busses. One hour later, I happily (and tiredly - if that's a word) met up with my wife and daughter.
Chuckie V posted an entry on the value of walking. I sort of brushed it off when I first read it, then later agreed with him. Now I've got living proof of his talk. I'm damned sore - right where I left off from kickboxing last night. Let's just say I'll be doing a fair bit of stretching before bed tonight.
But you know what? Sure, it was unplanned. Sure, it sucked to walk home after a hard day at work. And sure, I was pissed at the situation. But honestly it was a good, solid aerobic effort for one full hour. And it was one full hour more than I had planned to do today.