"Chance favors the prepared"
And being prepared means having a plan, with plenty of room for alternatives if things don't work out perfectly, and leaving enough time for things to go wrong.
First, the plan.
We're staying in Falls Church VA, so we're fairly close to the Metro's Orange Line. We're arriving late today (Sunday), and tomorrow we're going into DC on the metro to visit and to get our bearings. When we get to the station, we'll buy the Inauguration Day fare cards so we won't have to wait in long lines to purchase them Tuesday morning. We'll learn how the system works on the ride into DC, and see our destination station in Federal Trianagle.
Plus, we'll walk around and take pictures that might be impossible later because of Tuesday's crowds. While we're there, we'll look at alternate metro stations for the trip back, because as crowded as the trains will be getting INTO town, the stations near the Mall are gonna be insane trying to get OUT of town! We'll figure out which alternate stations will be within a reasonable walk in case it's too crowded to get back to the Federal Triangle station.
I'm also printing out a bunch of the inauguration maps that I collected so we'll have the best available info on street closures and pedestrian access routes. Tuesday morning I'll check TV and online reports of traffic and any delays.
Finally, we'll allow plenty of time to get into the city on Tuesday. There's no reason not to leave a 7AM or earlier to be in the parade bleachers by 1PM. Worst case, we'll spend a few hours in the cold people watching and taking pictures. We'll be dressed the same as we do for skiing, which is another activity that requires hours in the freezing cold. Fortunately, the temperature isn't expected to get much lower than 30, so it shouldn't be too bad. We're passing on the fancy clothes, and going more for the L.L. Bean/Survivorman look, with pocket hand and toe warmers, ear muffs, and warm hats.
Speaking of hats, I'm wearing my brown fedora to the inauguration. I feel that the "hat look" is well overdue to come back into style, after nearly 50 years since JFK ruined everything by not wearing a hat to his own inauguration!
(Yes, I know this is a popular myth...I'm simply using an historical fiction to embellish my writing. Sheesh, everyone's a critic!)
So that's the plan. The nice thing about a plan like this is that we can change it last minute if we need to. We'll adapt to whatever obstacles or changing conditions we encounter, and we'll look forward to a fun and memorable experience.