Shutdown leaves thousands in DC area in limbo

      By JESSICA GRESKO and BRETT ZONGKERAssociated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) - The usually bustling District of Columbia is uniquely affected by the first government shutdown in 17 years, with thousands of federal employees who make up the backbone of the metro area's workforce ordered not to report to work.

      Furloughed workers facing the prospect of an uncertain time without work - and without paychecks - were offered everything from free burgers, sandwiches and cups of coffee to admission to private museums, pilates lessons and activities at community centers.

      Nationwide, about 800,000 federal employees were sent home - a number greater than the combined U.S. workforces of Target, General Motors, Exxon and Google. The effects played out in a variety of ways.

      Some agencies simply scaled back operations, while national parks were forced to give campers the boot and close their gates.

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