A Ride into Santarchy

My friend Charmaine is a cycling road warrior. I know this because she actually has studded snow tires for her commuting bike. That’s where I draw the line. I can do cold. I can do wet. I can’t do Nordic. 

I love the kid and the lawn mower.

Today’s forecast was for temperatures in the low 40s with a cold north wind. So, naturally, Charmaine sent me an email invite to go to something called Santarchy. on the national mall.  I was going to get the car fixed and go Christmas shopping.  Practical things both. I decided to opt for surreal and took off on my bike to meet her at the carousel on the mall.

DDOT’s Maine Avenue miracle.

On the way I wandered through a neighborhood near my home. I passed a house with an honest-to-god sculpture garden in its front yard. What a great idea. Put sculptures up and you’ll never have to mow the lawn again. Isn’t art wonderful?

After my cultural diversion I headed toward DC. There was a 10 mile per hour headwind the whole way but I was dressed for it and felt reasonably comfortable. Layers and layers, from my head to my toes.  Once in the city, I decided to check out the new Maine Avenue trail.  Basically, it’s an extra-wide sidewalk but it is godsend for the folks who live in far southwest DC and want to cross the great wall of Eisenhower otherwise known as I-395.  Good on you, DDOT..

I stopped at a Starbucks for a hot coffee and a blueberry scone. I like my scones dry so that the coffee has something to work with.  Alas, this scone was moist like cake. Starbucks, scones are Brit food. They aren’t supposed to taste good. They are supposed to dry your mouth out like a dessert wind. They should build character.

Early arrivals
Darth Santa
Santa Cause x 2

Onward I rode to the mall and found Charmaine with no trouble. There were a few Santas milling about.  Nothing too unusual. I started to think this was a waste of time. Six or seven Santas were not worth riding 15 miles on a cold Saturday. I donned a Santa hat that Mrs. Rootchopper had provided me so that I would not look too out of place. Then, they started to arrive. From all directions. Santas. Father Christmases. Mother Christmases. Snowmen. “Kids” in jammies. Star Wars Christmas people. People dressed as Christmas trees.  And presents. One guy was a candy cane with an enormous candy cane handle coming out of the top of his head. Naughty people. Nice people. The one thing they had in common was they were all wearing ear to ear smiles. Laughter abounded. I saw a woman take a swig from a bottle. She insisted it was ginger ale. Yeah, sure.

Snow man and Nutcracker
A wave of reinforcements coming from Metro

A tree person

Three women dressed in PJs were handing out candy.  A shy little kid in a Santa suit wore a Darth Vader.  mask.  Two young ladies from PETA came dressed in skimpy Christmas outfits.  They must have been freezing, I didn’t mind.

Candy cane. Or maybe, industrial accident. Hard to tell which.
Christmas doggies

The crowd soon commandeered the carousel. Somebody blared the fanfare for the start of a horse race on his trumpet (no lie) and the carousel started up.  The riders started chanting “HO”. Not Ho-Ho-Ho. Just HO.  Over and over. Another pack of revelers replaced them and off they went around and around.

We’re jammin’!  They looked soooo warmmmm!

Then one of the Santas ordered the crowed to walk to the holiday outdoor market near the Portrait Gallery.  Hundreds of revelers plodded off across the mall and through Penn Quarter. At one point they stopped at the Navy Memorial and started performing Christmas carols. On to the marketplace where they sang more songs, and brought cheer and chaos to the street scene.  Candy flew threw the air. 


That’s Nice on the right. Looks Naughty to me.

Your basic ambulatory Christmas Tree

Darth On the Mall?

Somebody ordered the crowd to the Rockit Bar and they crowd obeyed. They overhelmed the place! So somebody called out the name of the back up bar. (These folks plan for all contingencies!)  At this point, Charmaine and I had begun to crave hot liquids so we took off. Just before leaving I joked with a reveler who was carrying a prop cookie box. “Show me your cookies,”  It wasn’t a prop! She opened the box and gave me one. Thanks.

After a huge mug of Assam tea and some Salt Oatmeal Raisin Cookies at Teaism, we took off for the National Christmas tree. There our outing ended with a thud. The yule log which normally is a raging fire was barely going. And the tree looked like an overgrown shrub. It was asymmetrical and small, overwhelmed by the netting of Christmas lights meant for a properly tall and stout tree. Austerity in DC.  Sad to see.

So we parted ways. Thanks to Charmaine for yet another adventure in DC. My reward for being nice was a 10 mile and hour tailwind all the way home aboard my reindeer of choice, Little Nellie.  HO!

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