Sunday, July 6, 2014

Reflections on a Fourth of July

I've been through a number of celebrations of Independence Day, some memorable and some must be forgettable as I cannot recall them now.

Waiting for the fireworks in Aberdeen, WA.
This year, as it has for several decades, the holiday falls close to my son's birthday, and I wanted to do something special with him.

Lady Washington, a full-scale reproduction
of the original 18th century sailing ship.
I arranged for us to be on Lady Washington, an authentic, full-scale reproduction of the original 18th century tall ship, for a display of fireworks in the harbor. (At the link you can see a video about the building of this vessel, and more details about her.)

The vessel is 112-feet in length overall, US Coast Guard inspected and certified, and is operated by Grey's Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, a not-for-profit organization in Aberdeen, Washington

A bit of trivia about the ship: she was the only real ship to be used in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean," and her tiller was replaced with a ship's wheel for the movie and then she was refitted with the tiller used today.

The weather was cooperative to the degree that we could have fireworks, but the constantly threatening clouds and nighttime mist made it difficult to get good, clear and sharp photographs.

Still we had a lively time, watching the crew raise and lower the sails, along with a short sail up the Wishkah and Chehalis rivers.

Watching the crew manage the lines for raising and lowering
the sails was fascinating.

Out on the bowsprit as the summer sun
drops down to the horizon.

One of the crew members recalled another year when he was in Boston Harbor and experienced the synchronized and colorful display along with the music of the 1812 Overture played by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

I've been there, too, and it is the sine qua non of fireworks events, in my opinion. We were watching it just in the harbor, again on a boat, with a radio playing the Pops concert. Sometimes I wonder if I just dreamed the highlights of my past...
And the rocket's red glare....

Aberdeen was once a logging and fishing center at the southern end of the Olympics, but it seems to be a city struggling to re-define itself these days. It is less than two hours away from the state's capitol in Olympia, has beaches nearby, and easy access to the Pacific Ocean for fishing or sailing events.

But the buildings are grey with soot or dust or are so dilapidated as to create a feeling of abandonment, the quality of the restaurants leaves much to be desired and the population seems to need some kind of shot in the arm to take pride in their dwellings.
The bombs bursting in air... 
I left the city gratefully after two attempts to dine out; one place rebuffed us and the other was an expensive disappointment in dining. When the best food you can find in a city like this is at a Jack-in-the-Box drive-through, that is a sad statement of conditions.

This was supposed to have been an exemplary celebration, and it was frustrating that so much was beyond my control to make it so. Still, we took what was good from it, and counted the trip as being one of the better ones shared. Happy birthday, America, and Happy Birthday to my son.

He looks like a member of the crew...

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