During, and immediately before, this year’s American Travelling Morrice tour in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, I:
- Found my first DC geocache
- Danced Stanton Harcourt for the first time (Greensleeves and The Nightingale)
- Danced in front of the White House
- Went to my first water park
- Went tubing for the first time
The 35th annual tour of the ATM was a fine thing. Not that that is unusual, but it bears saying. The big concern beforehand was of course the possibility of crippling heat and humidity but Nature was kind; only a few weeks after a 3-digit heat wave, we had relatively cool temperatures most of the week. The most difficult day was Thursday, in Baltimore, with temperatures into the mid 90s; but we kept to a low dancing-to-pub ratio and it was all good. Besides, we had an unusually large number of men on tour, so each had relatively few dances to do. There was some rain, mostly after dark and sometimes with lightning and thunder but nothing particularly inconvenient.
The best stands of the tour were the first couple of days and the last day. On Sunday (August 1) in DC, we had an interesting stand in front of the White House (with security keeping a watchful eye but not interfering) followed by a great stand at Dupont Circle with a big, appreciative, remunerative crowd. Monday’s Annapolis tour concluded at Susan Campbell Park (City Dock), a lovely site for dancing with a good audience. Saturday we were at Frederick’s First Saturday event and had lots of people watching — and paying. I twisted an ankle a bit early on, but it was better by our last stand.
Baltimore had its difficulties — the police kicked us out of Harborfront, despite Parks and Rec’s assurances that we needed no permit, but serendipitously we ran into the director of Port Discovery, a children’s museum. She invited us on the spot to head over to her air conditioned venue for an indoor performance, a video of which you can see on their Facebook page. [Update: The video was removed at our request — the Chipping Campden dancers allow us to do their dances but don’t want videos of them online.] Audiences were small in Gaithersburg on Tuesday, but the sites were nice and free smoothies were supplied by the owner of an Herbalife shop. Friday in Leesburg, VA was okay, but the last two stands were on a treacherous gravel surface.
Tom and I drove down on Friday evening (July 30), arriving shortly before midnight as the third and fourth men at camp. That allowed me to get up early Saturday and spend the day sightseeing in DC: I went to the Smithsonian American History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. The best parts of the former were the exhibit of American money, and the musical instruments exhibit which however was disappointingly small: the Smithsonian’s instrument collection numbers in the thousands, but only about 14 were on display in the very small instruments gallery, and a few others scattered through other exhibits. The Air and Space Museum is just enthralling for someone like me. I hadn’t been there (or done any other real sightseeing in DC) since I graduated from the University of Maryland in 1985.
I wanted to go into the National Archives, but so did every other tourist in Washington. I don’t know why, I don’t even know why I wanted to. But I did find a geocache in the area.
Lunch on Tuesday was at a water park in Gaithersburg. I was on the lunch crew, dealing with restrictions like no glass (so much for all the sodas in glass bottles we’d bought) or knives (cutting tomatoes and cheese had to occur in the parking lot), but post-lunch I was able to try the slides. The white slide (open and slower) and the blue slide (enclosed and faster) turned out to provide very different experiences, each with its own favorable points, but after twice down the blue and three times on the white I decided I liked the white better.
Wednesday was our day off, and twelve of us went to Harper’s Ferry to go tubing on the Potomac. What a simple pleasure that is! We did the whitewater option but, at least on that particular day, what that meant was long lazy stretches of slack water punctuated by brief swoops through rapids. We were in the water about two hours and it was excellent.
The camp (on a farm run by a friend and fan of folk dancing) was lovely, the food was the usual great stuff.
There was an article about us in the Frederick News Post. Here’s the very best sentence: “As part of their authenticity, the group even camps each night during their annual, week-long tour in the states, making their own entertainment by a campfire while they pass through various towns.”
I missed the last two ATMs, so it was a special pleasure going to this one. Next year’s will probably be in either Boston or around Waterbury, Connecticut. 2012 is unknown at this time, but 2013 may be the year we return to England.