Monday, September 12, 2005

RenFaire Time

Our trip to Maryland Renaissance Festival yesterday was a great success. Rita couldn't go, of course, but both boys invited friends, so I set out with a cargo of five teenagers - Michael, his friends Amanda and Josh, and David and his friend Amber.

Had I mentioned I hate travel? Well, this area has helped develop that hatred to new levels. For unknown reasons, the junction from I-95 to the Beltway and I-395 had two of the three directions blocked off. Fortunately, it was still open my direction, but the huge number of drivers wanting to go elsewhere were jamming up my exit, driving slowly as they looked longingly at the way they wanted to go. Getting home was even worse - we left a little later than planned, and found ourselves in the traffic jam that results when the Redskins' game ends - half a stadium worth of people trying to get past the bottleneck at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. It took us over an hour to go ten miles.

But we got there eventually, and it was worth it. I hung on to the kids long enough to get a couple pictures, but then each set of friends went off together, and I wandered the streets alone. That is actually not a bad way to see the Festival! It's nice to select which shows to see on your own, and to only look at the shops that really interest you, and especially to feel free to stop and watch the street theatre without worrying that your partner isn't interested.

That street theatre is one of the best parts of the Faire. Yes, some of the people you see passing are employees - such as the two women "dancing" on rings and ropes hanging from a tree branch 20 feet up. Others, I'm not sure about, like the four ladies ranging from a 6-year-old to an adult, all dressed in matching yellow outfits and mime makeup...and with Mom on 5 foot stilts. And still more were just fellow guests like myself, like the guy who has better than 50% of his chest, arms, and back covered with tattoos, or the ladies in belly-dancing garb dancing to whatever music was handy.

The scheduled acts are pretty good, too. I very much enjoyed the antics of Hack and Slash, two men who have a comedy act that includes whips, swords, and a bed of nails. Imagine, as Hack lies on the bed of nails, and Slash comments on how difficult that is...and how much MORE difficult it would be (as he lifts a concrete block from the stage) if we add the old-fashioned torture of weights on the chest (as he drops the block onto Hack - hey, isn't the chest a little bit higher up?).

The O'Danny Girls were great, too. Ribald lyrics in beautiful three-part harmony - I laughed at every verse, even the ones that made ME blush, and sang along with every chorus. They were followed by a band of two bagpipers and two drummers playing traditional Scottish and Celtic tunes...mixed with a little Stairway to Heaven!

Michael's group joined me for the Joust. I wasn't terribly impressed by that show, though. Certainly, the young squires that tried to catch the brass ring on their lances had a tough task, but I think the older squires throwing javelins at haybales could have done better. No one managed to unhorse their foe in the actual joust, nor even break a lance on their opponent, making it very difficult to tell who was winning. I suspect that the result of the whole competition was predetermined to match the story of the Faire, but I think the players went too far to make sure things ENDED right, at the cost of putting on a good show.

We spent way too much money, and I've got sore legs and blistered feet, but I definitely want to go back next year - and I'm looking forward to having Rita on my arm again for that one!

By the way, I've got pictures from our visit posted up - check my photos section if you're interested.

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