July 17, 2010

Fourth of July

I've been back from my trip to the US for a week now and I'm still very much processing the trip, both in terms of unpacking and going through stuff, as well as mentally. It was a very full 3 weeks, including seeing my friends and family and usual places around Portland, but also meeting new people and going to new places, and then there was the massive 8 day road trip I took in the middle of it all. It was all incredible and a bit mind-boggling, in a good way. Anyway, I want to try to post photos sooner rather than later, so I'm trying to break them down into groups to slowly get online. It may mean things end up a bit out of chronologic order, but that's ok.

So the first set of photos I've posted is what I took on the 4th of July, which had a lot of parts to it. In the early afternoon, my friend Brandon and I went over to Vancouver (Washington) for my first experience of buying fireworks that are illegal in Oregon (Oregon doesn't allow anything that goes airborne). Brandon's done this for years and knew which place was the best. We ended up at this massive tent filled high with fireworks.

Crossing the river to Vancouver for fireworks

Of course it was extra busy since it was the 4th, but the whole experience was a bit overwhelming for me, a whole reverse culture shock. First off, the moment you turn off the freeway, there are teens posted along the street and at intersections holding signs trying to entice you to whatever firework stand they are advertising. Each one says they're the best or the cheapest. Some stands are next to each other, so there are signs saying "Turn right for the best fireworks!" trying to lead you away from the place you were perhaps meaning to go to. The tent we went to offered extras like free soda and ice pops, as well as bouncy castles for kids. The parking was all precisely coordinated between a bunch of teens with walkie-talkies who would point you to the nearest empty space. It was like a fair, just for buying things that blow up, on a planet run by teenagers. My mind was reeling before we'd even entered the tent.

After purchasing a rather reasonable, small pile of fireworks, we headed back south on I-5 with the illegal goods and went to a park in NE Portland to play kickball. Well, actually the version being played that day was called sloshball: you always had to have a drink in your hand while playing, slightly handicapping your ability to kick, pitch, and definitely catch, not to mention the effects the alcohol was having on your abilities. One guy took it to an extreme and duct-taped 2 forties to each hand for the entire afternoon. He was very eager to catch the ball, which I was sure was going to lead to the bottles smashing together and raining glass everywhere (though we left while they were still playing, so who knows, maybe that did happen). I sort of got pulled into joining, though I managed to not embarrass myself too badly during my 3-4 times at... bat? Kick? I just avoided the ball when in the outfield, which wasn't too difficult when the entire team (about 20 of us) went out to field at the same time, so I just grabbed a vague area of the outfield and let the more experienced and enthusiastic people deal with going for the ball. It was a pretty fun afternoon, a silly, Portland kind of time. Close calls regarding an out/safe were decided by doing rock, paper, scissors. One guy brought his energetic dog who chased him when he ran the bases and once ran off with first base.

When we left the park, I grabbed a couple of photos of another group that was roasting a whole pig on a spit. It smelled pretty yummy.

Spit-roastin' a pig

We left the crazy kickball people for some slightly crazier (or drunker) people at a BBQ at a house in Sellwood. I kinda didn't really know anyone there, only the hostess vaguely, but it was interesting and they made us feel at home. One of the hostess's daughters was quite outgoing and showed us her pet rats and played a digeridoo. We ate and hung out until it got dark, then started setting off fireworks on the street. Various people in the neighborhood had larger fireworks and people would kind of cringe at the occasional loud booms going off, but it was all really tame compared to New Year's Eve in Holland. I was a bit jaded and thinking "please... you call these fireworks? And the booms? Try living in what feels like a warzone for days at the end of every year..." At least I had less fear for my safety.

A drink at the very cool Roadside Attraction closed out a memorable holiday. Though I kind of had to remind myself a couple of times what the occasion was, but enh, it was nice to just have some fun times.