We live in a city. This means that wherever we go, there’s people. And noise. And traffic. The peculiar sights and sounds for us, are those peculiar to D.C. At the present moment these come in the form of cranes, and in the form of long-drawn out beeps from construction vehicles constantly backing up. While we love living here (the spring and summer months are, for the most part, pleasant), there are holidays like Memorial Day. Holidays like these can be…well, raff-magnets.
While I’ve yet to feel the desire, as a veteran, to go out and buy a Harley, tattoo my limbs with Marine Corps insignia, or buy a leather cut-off vest to proudly display patchwork reminding me of the good old days, I get the appeal. With nothing but speculation to go off of, I can say with absolute certainty that motorcycle enthusiasts exemplify a certain brand of American military veteran. Having suffered through the temporary absence of freedom — whether through the voluntary forfeiture of it, or through compulsion — motorcyclists who are military veterans find the open road to be quite a nostalgic reminder of the freedom they once gave up.
I experience epiphanies like these all the time. For me, they don’t necessarily happen on the open road. They come at what are rather unexpected moments like when I decide to wake up and not shave my face. Or when I decide I’m going to be in sweatpants all day. Sometimes I’ll be in the shower and take comfort in knowing the water is hot — and I can be in the shower for as long as I want. It is in these moments I feel absolutely liberated. So I get the appeal of events like Rolling Thunder. These events remind us of the freedom others give up—and serve as reminders for those who gave up those freedoms to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Over the past week, I took notice of the preparations occurring all over town. All sorts of fences and barriers have been erected around the capital, cutting off my normal bike routes (by which, of course, I mean bicycle) to and from my usual hang outs. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been blocked off—traffic is instead annoyingly funneled onto sidewalks. Capitol Hill has had a larger than normal crowd of out-of-towners riding electric scooters and segways in the middle of the road. While the city prepared for honoring those who fought and died for our freedoms, I couldn’t help but feel like mine were being impinged upon. It was suffocating, and I needed a way to escape.
And so, that’s what we did, we left town. Thankfully, our inability to recuperate from the jet-lag we suffered through from our last overseas trip, had us up early at 4 AM. This meant we were able to finish all our morning chores, to include reading the entire newspaper front to back by 8 AM. We decided to make the hour or so drive out of town to our favorite winery in northern Virginia.
Doukenie Winery is a quaint little place located smack dab in the middle of D.C. wine country (a.k.a. Loudoun County, Virginia), replete with amazing views of rolling hills and green pastures. They open their doors at 10 AM and stay open until 6 PM. Their property is located on top of a small stocked pond that local visitors catch and release fish in. There are picnic tables, and comfortable lawn chairs stationed all around the pond that are perfect for relaxing, and for sipping on wine.
On summer afternoons local artists play concerts on their lawn, and food vendors from town sell everything from oysters to lobster rolls, and other specialty foods.
Not only is all their wine local, but it’s also fantastic (seriously, try any one of their offerings and you’ll be amazed). For those of you who live in the area, I highly recommend their Heritage Club, which offers great discounts to some of their popular wine labels — and access to great perks like complementary glasses of wine during each visit to the property. Come early enough (at around 10 AM like we did), and you’ll have the entire place to yourself, a perfect getaway from all the Memorial Day weekend raff. Or if you’re just looking to leave the city for a day, look no more.