We had mass and then filed onto the bus and got on the road. Everyone was tired because of the early hour, and the bus was pretty quiet (the leaders had declared it a "quiet time" until we got to MD). As we headed to the Garden State Parkway, the bus stopped abruptly, as the road ahead was closed. After a lot of maneuvering the bus got turned around and went back almost to the start. Half an hour later, we were still trying to find a way to get to the parkway.
Due to that, we were late getting to the rest stop in MD. This is a different rest stop than the one we usually stop at, and we were late, so I can't comment on the crowd sizes there. We got back on the road and had an uneventful trip to Washington. Well, not totally uneventful, as we prayed the rosary and sang songs and talked and ate and had a good time.
When we got to D.C. things got bad again. Traffic was a disaster, and it would take 5-10 minutes to go each block. We were invited to meet up with our bishop and the rest of the Diocese at 11:15, but 11:50 had come and gone, and the rally had started. By the time we could see the Capitol building, it was 12:15, and before we got off the bus, V.P. Pence had given his speech (which we live streamed via phone on the bus).
IMHO the best speech we heard was Mia Love's "What might have been" speech.
We jumped off the bus and hurried over to the march proper, which was about to start. We never did find our bishop and the rest of the diocese. We wound up missing the whole rally, which is a shame because it's usually a lot of fun meeting the people around you while hearing the speeches.
A few things were different during the march. Usually the march is peaceful, with everyone singing, shouting, and praying about abortion. This year there was one man who has a hug sign and a megaphone telling people that the "Roman" Pope is the antichrist and that Catholics are idolaters who are going to hell. He was harassing all the groups that were clearly associated with Catholics, and following priests around.
Another thing different was the lack of any counter demonstration. Usually, there is a group of about 5-10 women on the steps of the Supreme Court building holding "keep abortion legal" signs. There are also a few women here and there along the route with similar signs. This year I saw only one woman, mixed into the crowd at the Supreme court, holding a sign with a drawing of a coat hanger on it and the words "Never go back" and "Say no to Trump".
Lastly, I actually saw an abc news truck, and a C-SPAN camera man, and someone said they saw a CNN crew. I have never seen any news outlet cover the march other than EWTN and a few independent cameras. I don't know what kind of news they are reporting - so far I've heard CNN's reporting was completely "fake" as expected, and I see an article on an abc site that says "thousands" marched and then goes into the "women's" march which had "500,000" march - amazing how they can estimate crowd size for one march but not the other. It was interesting to see them at least have a presence.
Maybe someday they'll give less biased coverage. It's still better than the time a few years ago where a (CNN?) reporter was standing with the group of ten "pro-choice" women, and when asked by the new anchor about the numbers says "I don't know which side has more people" as literally hundreds of pro-lifers pass in front of him. The video has apparently been deleted from youtube - I'm sure the news station didn't like people posting that story.
Again, since we were on a different bus, with a different schedule, we went immediately after the march to the Metro station to go to RFK stadium to get to the bus. Usually we go to our representatives' offices to lobby, and then take the Metro all the way to MD and meet the bus there.
Apparently some people in our group got lost and were on the wrong train, all the way to the last stop. So again we got a late start, even though we were leaving earlier. We stopped for dinner, and got home around 11 (plan was to get back around 8). The whole way back the bus was cheering and singing. It was a lot of fun.
So the big question people ask is "how many people?" I can't say. Someone on the bus said the estimate was 750,000 but it didn't look to me like it was bigger than other years (the largest crowd was 650,000 four years ago). If I had to guess I would say this was one of the smaller marches I was in, but the only measure I really have to estimate is the number of people I see on the mall, because in the march you can only see a small part of the crowd. This year the mall crowd was not a reliable estimate, because we were not on the mall during the rally, and a lot of people had probably left by the time we got there.
Perhaps you can watch this and count.
You might think that the crowds should be larger because of the support of the current administration, and because the V.P. was speaking. However, nobody knew the V.P. was going to speak until Thursday, when it was probably too late to change plans, so I don't think that had any effect on crowd size. Likewise, the fact that the administration is pro-life is not a reason to come to a protest march - if anything that would result in smaller crowds.
Overall a fulfilling day, and well worth the trip, but I'm still recovering.