Well another black-powder-based holiday has come and gone. This year, I was ambivalent about fireworks for some reason; apparently years of buying them and going to professional displays has had its effect. I’m getting the where I feel I’ve seen and done it all and now I’d rather sit inside where it’s cooler.

But the kids had other ideas.

This year, several differences appeared: we’re not taking a vacation since Mel’s next surgery is in a couple of weeks, Evan is old enough now to buy his own fireworks and set them off, Erin is not so afraid of them any more, and my employer gave us an extra day this year making it a four-day weekend. So we headed off to Fort Smith to stay with Mel’s mom for a couple of days. She enjoys those visits and in addition, she has a large piece of rural property that is tailor-made for shooting off fireworks.

It’s actually a curious above-ground mineral deposit with several huge mounds of shale sitting right on top of the ground. These hills of soft rock make excellent launching pads since they can’t burn. We stopped at a local fireworks stand and stocked up. Then we headed to the shale deposit, climbed up to the top of one of the hills and let them fly.

The last few years, we’ve taken our vacation on the July 4 weekend since we can take advantage of a day off that I’d be getting anyway.  As a result, we’ve seen fireworks displays in many different places (Colorado Springs, San Antonio, Bridgewater, MA, Wright-Patterson AFB, etc) but haven’t actually gotten to shoot any of our own.  So this year was remarkably different in that both kids are several years older than the last time we shot fireworks and they both are fully independent in this regard.  Therefore, I got to watch more; they both did most of their own shooting.  I guess it’s some sort of milestone that should make me get all misty-eyed and reminiscent but I was too busy swatting mosquitoes.

We also took a quick road-trip down to Magazine Mountain State Park which has opened a grand and glorious hotel.  It’s quite fancy and expensive by State Park standards.  Most Arkansas state parks don’t feature sit-down restaurants or $150 per night accomodations but there it is.  I can’t get used to the maitre’d at the restaurant wearing a park ranger uniform.  Complete with walkie-talkie, flashlight, and nametag.  Very strange.

It was a fun trip though – I forgot my camera and so we’ll just have to go back and do the whole thing over again.  My two prior trips up there were in the winter and spring and the weather up there can be pretty nasty.  Not surprisingly, this time it was glorious (and 12 degrees cooler than down in the river valley.

The actual fourth was spent at home where we had the family over to grill burgers.  Paige went to a fireworks stand and invested some of her cash and so provided us with entertainment.  It paled in comparison to the people down the street who had apparently invested several hundred dollars (spread out between the large number of people who they had invited over perhaps) in them and so their display went on for quite some time.  I watched most of it from down the street.  With that much black powder smoke swirling around in the still summer air, the mosquitoes were not a problem.

So, the holiday weekend was once more a success.  Not all that spectacular perhaps but fun enough for us.