It was a beautiful fall day – the first official day of fall, in fact – and while there seemed to be no one on the roads or the sidewalks downtown in DC, there were random clusterings of people milling about. Oh, and large crowds near the Vatican embassy, the White House and at designated Pope events.
Whether you are religious or not, like the Catholic Church or not, agree with his views or not, there is little doubt that Pope Francis is a historic figure. There have been many Popes, but this one seems like he will stand out. At a time when politics in this country is laughably like a bad reality show, the Pope is a breath of fresh air.
There’s definitely some Pope-mania in DC.
Some few are lucky enough to have an official ticket to an event … while the rest of us follow online or through our friends’ sightings or hope to catch a glimpse. A few friends who live in Upper Northwest made their way down to the Vatican embassy,hoping to see the Pope as he arrived or timing their wait to when he might be leaving for an event.
And that’s how G and I ended up standing on the corner of Florida Ave and Massachusetts Ave Wednesday morning with our coffees.The Vatican embassy is on Mass, and much of it was closed off. So the Pope must be traveling on Mass Ave, right? So a well-timed dog walk or mill about with morning coffee might result in a sighting? That would be pretty cool.
We knew that the Pope was scheduled for a 9:15 meeting at the White House, but the question was how he would get there. And when he would leave. G had seen police cars gathering nearby this morning and thought maybe the Pope was already on the move. We saw Secret Service and other police gather and begin to block off the side roads …. Then a motorcade came down, but … no Fiat.
A look at Twitter said that the media motorcades were starting to move.
Would the Pope come down Mass Ave to the White House? It certainly seemed the most direct route. Time was ticking, and he would need to leave soon. Then again, if we heard he had arrived at the White House already, we would know we had missed him.
So we waited.
Actually, G suggested we walk up a bit toward Sheridan Circle. Then we decided to cross to the other side of the street, which turned out to be key because the Pope sits in the back of the car, on the right hand side.
At this point, more people were gathering along Massachusetts Avenue, mostly people who live nearby and some people who work in the embassies. Helicopters buzzed overhead, and bikers whizzed by heading to work downtown. Everyone seemed to be excited, anticipating. We enjoyed the sun and breeze and kept checking #PopeInDC for updates.
The doors are opening! It’s not him.
Any minute now.
They are closing Mass Ave to Northbound traffic.
Then the word went out on Twitter that the Fiat was moving. (how would we possibly be able to track the Pope pre-smartphone and pre-social media?)
And here’s what we saw.