Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ice Skating in the Sculpture Garden

You know those "Love is..." cartoons that used to run in the newspaper? The ones with the little naked kids? I hope you do or that you click the link, or else this post will sound creepy... Anyway, the point is that if they were to ever make one of these cartoons about me (for everybody's benefit, I would hope it would be clothed), it would say, "Love is... ice skating."

I do not like to ice skate. It is one of those things that I'm really, really terrible at. I feel completely uncoordinated and out of control. On the other hand, watching J skate is a thing of beauty. While I'm flailing around in an anxiety-riddled panic, she gracefully glides across the ice without a care in the world. It is quite a contrast.

But just because I don't like to ice skate doesn't mean I can't appreciate a unique and memorable experience that involves ice skating. Consider that last two times I've laced up a pair of skates; the top of Vail mountain as the sun set over the Rockies and in Central Park in New York. While going to the local ice rink would certainly be last on my list, there are always exceptions, and as you might have guessed by now, it is something I'll do for J.

So with an open mind (read: open to the idea of falling on my butt), I volunteered to subject myself to ridicule at the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden Ice Rink.

I guess it goes without saying that the rink is located in the shadow of the picturesque National Archives Building on the National Mall, and in the middle of a beautiful garden setting with world-class sculpture sprinkled throughout. Less obvious is the above-average cafe which is worth checking out for a hot beverage or a meal.

We chose to go on a brilliantly sunny and warm weekend, which apparently was not a unique idea. When we arrived, the line was quite long and we considered (at least, I did) throwing in the towel. But 45 minutes later, we were laced up and waiting our turn.

Basically it works like this. There are two lines, one for skates and one for tickets. You pay for your ticket ($7), skate rental ($3), and locker ($0.50 with $5 deposit), and then you get into the skate line. Tickets are sold for 2 hour blocks of time that start and end on the hour. We would recommend getting there 30 minutes before the hour on crowded days.

So the ice skating was as awkward and uncomfortable as expected. Fortunately, also as expected, the experience was very cool (insert ice pun here) and I'm glad I did it once. If nothing else, J was giddy and loved every minute of it. Love is...

J Says

Despite what B says, he is not a terrible ice skater! He didn't fall and he looked much more graceful than he lets on. However, I know how much stress skating causes him, so I'm really appreciative of the fact that he will put on a smile and ice skate with me every few years.

As B said, the setting for the ice rink is beautiful and this beauty attracts crowds. Though they limit the number of skaters per session, it can still get pretty crowded on the ice. Navigating the people falling and little kids sliding across the ice on their backs can be quite tricky. Just don't go on a weekend expecting a serene skating experience.

Also, what's with the wanna-be Brian Boitanos and Michelle Kwans who occupy the center of the rink and demonstrate their mediocre skating prowess? There was one guy who awkwardly glided/spun around the center of the rink for several hours trying to demonstrate his skating superiority. There was something both hilarious and sad about watching a grown man try to show off his skills in the middle of a crowded rink. If he was a real ice skater and needed practice time, I don't imagine he would be practicing in the middle of 8 million falling children and their falling parents. Also, he probably should have been wearing figure skates instead of hockey skates if he wanted to throw some double axels.

Despite the crowds (and the semi-creepy people in the middle of the rink), this ice rink is worth a visit. It is beautiful and a fun activity to do with friends or that special someone. In fact, two of our friends had their first date there, and they're married now!

No comments: