Ah, the fourth of July. Nothing says ‘summer’ like the smell of fireworks and a warm breeze. As a single Dad, I only get the kids every-other 4th so I was looking forward to making this one productive with a flurry of events.
The extended weekend started off pretty rough, as my daughter decided to go stay with the in-laws and miss out on the festivities. I was disappointed, but determined to make the most of it. This was further complicated by a last-minute emergency at work, causing me to work until 9:30 PM the night before. Having rectified the situation, I was able to enjoy my 4-day weekend in uninterrupted peace.
Thursday, I was scheduled to receive my son ‘after breakfast.’ I was surprised to find out this meant 11:30 AM. However, there was a parade in Wallowa (where we exchange children) at 11, so we missed that. We had lunch at the Little Bear drive-in, and headed down to Lostine in anticipation of the annual flea market. After perusing the streets, I left with some new tools (bench grinder, file, camp shovel, & hatchet handle) and my son procured a cool neck-wrap and rubber band powered ping-pong ball shooter!
It was at this point that we realized that we neglected to exchange the suitcase of clothes provisioned for the weekend. OOPS! It was already a 2-hour drive away at his mom’s house, so we decided to “figure something out.” This involved a second-hand store, and a trip to the local sporting goods shop.
The original plan was to stake our claim at Wallowa Lake with a friend, BBQ, and make a day of it. However, things weren’t falling into place like we had hoped, so the BBQ probably wouldn’t make it. I threw together a couple PB&J’s to go with my chips & drinks, mowed part of the lawn, and continued up to our public paradise.
We got to the lake about 3:30-4pm and setup on the north beach for a swim, spreading out to accommodate extra arrivals. At the time, I got the only spot in the parking lot, grateful to be facing out towards the exit. It was hot, so we went for a dip on the frigid waters of the lake. The previous week had seen record temperatures and provided lots of extra water to play in. Unfortunately, getting ‘used to it’ comprised of waiting for each extremity to go numb
Before long my son was turning purple and got the shivers, so he opted for the sun. I took a tour, stretching my swimming technique before joining him. I was glad for our short foray into the water, as a cool breeze kicked up later, sending everyone searching for their jackets.
There was a trailer selling bratwursts & memorabilia. Had I known in advance, I wouldn’t have bothered with the PB&J sandwiches. Alternately, we showed our support, buying a “Shake the Lake” T-shirt, and a bandanna.
The kids milled about for the next 4 hours or so, playing on boulders, eating, looking at books, etc. When told they were bored, we referred the kids to their imaginations, which clearly needed exercise…
As dusk approached, the kids played with sparklers as others satisfied their pyromaniac urges with less-than-legal, but oh so entertaining activities. One group next to us set off quite a few, forcing our semi-circle of chairs to warp its shape as we got smoked out. As it had been 6 years or so, I took it all in & savored it. The lake reflecting the mountain, the cool breeze; I especially like the pre-show population of boats, creating a sea of twinkling running lights in the dark. (I hope to make Moody Blue one of them some day.)
The main show was great, and the effect was better than I remembered. You see, many fireworks shows have big explosions against the night sky. Most are over a great body of water. However, Wallowa Lake is the only place I have found, where the lake (sandwiched between mountains and a glacial moraine) funnels the concussive power into its audience. With each burst of luminous pyrotechnics comes a delayed thump in your heart, and a thunder-clap echoing through the mountains.
As the show was winding down, we headed for the truck, and watched the finale from there. We were the 3rd vehicle out of the lot that night, and made it home long before the steady stream of visitors that impeded my friends’ journey by an hour. With only one way in & out, the traffic is the only drawback for an otherwise wonderful event.
The rest of the weekend was filled with chores, 2 BBQ’s, & a pool party, for a weekend to remember.