The Wackers go to Washington

Fred Wacker has been to Washington, D. C. before and even attended the Republican National Convention that nominated Ronald Reagan but his recent trip to DC was his first to attend a presidential inauguration.

“Everybody was so excited,” Wacker said. “The best thing I got out of this trip was watching the peaceful transition of the greatest power in the world.” 

Wacker had an excellent view of the inaugural parade from the eighth floor of the office building that contains the DC offices of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. They got tickets from congressman Ryan Zinke’s office for the events.

Before that, Wacker and his wife, Gwen, had to get to Washington. They had been in Helena to a meeting of the governor and the legislature. Thursday morning they left from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, heading to Denver and finally arrived at Ronald Reagan International Airport in Washington before 3 p.m.

Then their trip slowed down a little. The Wackers took a taxi from Reagan International to their Embassy Suites Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia, near the Pentagon. The trip took more than two hours. “They were shutting the city down for security section by section,” Wacker said, giving the couple a chance to experience big city traffic jams.

They learned, however, that the Washington Metro was the way to travel and stuck to the Metro for the remainder of their trip. “The Metro stations are right in most of the buildings,” Wacker said, “or have tunnels directly from the stations to the buildings.”

While the Inaugural Parade itself was impressive, it did run rather slowly, with long gaps, according to Wacker. Still, the couple had an excellent view and were able to get photographs including those of the presidential limousine.

For the inauguration itself, the Wackers were at ground level but high tech has come to politics just as it has to sports. Huge “Jumbotron” screens were set up on the mall so even if someone didn’t have a decent view of the real thing, an enlarged electronic version was available.

While Fred had come down with a terrible cold and wasn’t feeling his best, he and Gwen still attended an Inaugural Ball at the U. S. Department of Trade building.

The ball provided what Wacker described as “heavy hors d’oeuvres” in fancy arrangements. What he said he enjoyed the most, though, were the four bands. His personal favorite — and one that was also popular with the other attendees—was a Frank Sinatra tribute band.

Fred also got a surprise phone call during the ball from Jim Lucas, another well-known Republican from Miles City and Wacker’s cousin, who wanted to congratulate him on his adventures.

The trip was a short one, with the couple returning on Saturday, but they say it’s one they will remember forever.