US Shutdown: Americans And Tourists See Impact
The partial US government shutdown has left many federal workers uncertain of their financial future, with many facing unpaid furloughs or delays in pay cheques.
Park ranger and father-to-be Darquez Smith says he already lives cheque to cheque while putting himself through college and now worries how he will fare if the shutdown lasts a long time.
"I've got a lot on my plate right now - tuition, my daughter, bills," said Mr Smith, a 23-year-old ranger at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Ohio.
"I'm just confused and waiting just like everyone else."
The impact of the shutdown was mixed - immediate and far-reaching for some, annoying but minimal for others.
In Colorado, where flooding killed eight people earlier this month, emergency funds to help rebuild homes and businesses continued to flow, but federal worker furloughs were expected to slow it down.
National Guard soldiers rebuilding washed-out roads are expected to be paid on time - along with the rest of the country's active-duty personnel - under a bill passed hours before the shutdown.
Existing Social Security and Medicare benefits, veterans' services and mail delivery were also unaffected.
Other agencies were harder hit.
Nearly 3,000 Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors were furloughed along with most of the National Transportation Safety Board's employees, including investigators who respond to air crashes, train collisions and other accidents.
In all, about 800,000 federal employees were sent home - a number greater than the combined US workforces of Target, General Motors, Exxon and Google.
Almost all of Nasa shut down, except for Mission Control in Houston, and national parks closed along with the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.
Even the zoo's popular panda cam went dark, shut off for the first time since a cub was born there on August 23.
"After next week if we're not working, I'm going to have to find a job," said Robert Turner, a building mechanic at the Smithsonian's American History museum.
Marc Cevasco, who works in the Department of Veterans Affairs, said as he waited for a bus on Tuesday that the uncertainty of how long the shutdown would last made him uneasy.
"Even if it's just shut down for a week that's a quarter of your pay this month. That means a lot to a lot of people," he said.
Joe Wentz, a retired federal employee who was visiting San Francisco with his wife, bought tickets to visit Alcatraz on Thursday - if it is open.
Mr Wentz said he was frustrated that some politicians were using the budget to push changes in the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.
"We've been disgusted a long time that they're not working together," he said.
The shutdown was strangely captivating to Marlena Knight, an Australian native visiting Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
She was confounded that the impasse focused on the nation's health care system - an indispensable service in her home country.
"We can't imagine not having a national health system," she said. "I just can't believe that this country can shut down over something like a national health system.
"Totally bizarre, as an Australian, but fascinating."
It turns out an institution as massive as the federal government takes some time to grind to a total halt.
Many federal workers were being permitted to come to change voicemail messages or fill out time cards.
But after that, they were under strict orders to do no work, even check their email.
With no telling how long the standoff will last, even programmes not immediately affected could run out of cash.