Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July in Kelso Washington

Yesterday was the 4th of July, my first here in Washington State.  Well my first in 46 years, I was born in this state. The weather on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, were very hot and muggy, kind of above the norm for this part of the country. I was expecting to be sitting out by our pool all day with all that heat but the day started out kind of cool.  It was a quick weather change.

Last week the Cute Girlfriend had bought a pool for the Grandkids, although I think it was more for her so she could sit in the water....grin.  It is one of those plastic pools with the blow up ring around the top.  The set up in instructions says it needs to sit on flat ground.  The lot we live on slopes down to a river, so level ground is not an option here. There is sort of a berm to the south of the house where the land looks like it is level. Key word is "LOOKS".  I set up the pool in the "level" area and started to fill it. I knew I was in trouble when all the water started pooling all on one side. I dumped out the water and stuck a shovel in the ground to see if I could level it...NOT.  We had a friend come over with his tiller and loosen the soil up some. I raked it all flat the day after and set up the pool and started to fill.  Again there was still a slope.  I had even mounded up the soil, let's call it grass, on the down hill side. The water started pushing the edge down hill up over the mound I had made.  OK put on my engineering hat.  Cute Girlfriend and I went to Home Cheapo and bought some sand and a rebar stake.

I had a straight 2X4 at the house and a torpedo level. I drilled a hole in the 2X4, through the 4 inch side so the stake would go through it and I could spin it in a circle with the level on the board to level the ground. I put the hole in the 2X4 at the 6' mark to make a 12' circle with little tail past the stake in hope to keep the whole area flat. I took to leveling and filling. As I went around something would change and when I would start to get back to the starting point something would be out of wack.  I cut off the tail end of the 2X4 near the stake thinking it was riding up near the stake throwing off my level. I re-level the circle again and had all sides level. I even pulled sand from the middle to make the base kind of cup a little.

Set up pool start refill. The water filled the bottom of the pool evenly but as it got to the top it was still leaning down hill. At that point it was just going to be good enough. At least it was shallow enough so the youngest grandchild could keep her head above water.  I'm not claiming a success on this one but I'm not calling it a fail. The kids all spent the hot days playing in it. My water bill is going to be huge with all that dumping of water to get it level.  Oh well the kids had fun.

Ok so we have the back yard mostly set up for the 4th. Fireworks are legal hear in this part of the state, understandable so, it is so wet here nothing can catch fire. As is normal for this time of year, the week before the 4th the fireworks stands pop up. You can even buy those mortars here in this state and fire off your own sky ward fireworks. This is counter to where I use to live, Southern California, where the sun shinning through a piece of broken glass can make the whole place go up in smoke.

On the 1st the fireworks started to go off. On the 2nd they were even lighting them off during the day, On the 3rd the neighbor hood to the south west of us, he whispers, trailer park, had them going until late in the night.
Cute Girlfriend had got some deals on fireworks on that "Groupon" site and she came home the other day with these boxes, and the usual party pack of fountains and sparklers.

Poor Cute Girlfriend had to work on the 4th, so I kissed her as she went out the door in the morning and set up the house a little and put out the Flag.
You can see the pool back on the left. That Flag is a real one with stitched stars and everything. I believe it is one of those flags you can get that has flown over the US Capitol. I got it from my Grandad.

I set up a launch pad on the dock back by the river. Here is our dock.
We live in a town called Kelso, named after Kelso Scotland, it is on the Cowlitz river, which the river in our back yard drains to. On the west side of the Cowlitz is West Kelso and the City of Longview Washington.  They are kind of the twin cities here in Washington State, well besides Walla Walla, oh man is that an old joke. Longview has a big festival around Lake Sacajawea, a nice park and walking path encircles the lake.
That is where they light off their fireworks from and they have bands and food booths put up by local Churches, Rotary, Swim Team and the like, plus the usual swap meet type booth.

After the Cute Girlfriend got home we loaded up the truck with grandkids and headed down to the lake to see what was going on. They had bands there and all the fun foods like Fried Twinkies, Garlic Fries, Fried Oreos. We got the kids faces painted.  Girlfriend found a nice summer dress with a tag on it that said "FREE" on it, of course the guy at the booth said it was $45. We had a little fun with that one. We saw a guy with a Nimbus 2000 on a table I spotted Harry Potter's Broom first...grin. One of the grand daughters saw some other Harry Potter stuff there and she got a wand, fancy stick with a jewel rock stuck on it, and some potions, one smelled good the the other NOT.

There was this one smiling young man with a booth that had all these color photos he had taken. He was 17 and had a very large portfolio of photos that he had taken. He was very good. Everyone seemed to come by and tell them of some of the pictures they had taken and he kind of just smiled and just semi-engaged in the conversation. I noticed when I started talking about the pictures I had taken in North Dakota he just smiled big and was only 1/4 there with  I asked him more questions about how he got his shots and if he enhanced them and he told me how he took the picture and what filters, that got him a little more talkative. He was definitely the artist type, the good with his photos type, people skills need polishing type. He was young though and had a passion for his work. Cute Girlfriend and I liked the picture he had of an abandoned farm house with the stary Milky Way behind it. It was a long exposure shot with a flash light in the upstairs of the house for effect. We bought it. He talked of his work like it was and addiction so, as I handed him some cash for the picture I told him we were helping fund his habit. The picture of a picture does not do it justice.

A big plus what the story that went with the photo. He said this house was rumored to be haunted. He wanted the light effect in the upstairs of the house so he went up there to put a flashlight in a room. He said as he was going up the stairs he spooked some owl and it scared the crap out of him. He just threw the light in the room and ran out of the house.  I loved that

So we got some Fried Twinkies and Oreos, and my favorite the Garlic Fries and headed back home to start the grill and get ready to light off our fireworks. After dinner we sat a little and watch TV and played on computers.

At dusk I went out and wet down the grass around the dock and also wet the dock down, I had put 4 concrete pavers down to protect the dock and give the fireworks a good base to go off on.  Cute Girlfriend had got some of those "punk stick" lighters, but they were nowhere to be found, darn ghost moving stuff again.

I get everything ready and have a nice butane lighter to get things started. Every time I tried to light a firework it was like something was blowing out the damn lighter.  A slight breeze was blowing and no matter how I blocked it somehow it blew out, darn ghost again!

My good lighter with the flame out on the end of a tube to keep your hands singe free stopped working. none of the other good lighters we had could be found. Ghost?  We dug up some more lighters that were just as problematic, but with some fancy hand positions we got all the fountains lit off.  Cute Girlfriend had got these firework boxes, something I had never seen before, that said "Attitude Adjustment", great a Hank Williams Jr.  I thought they were just more fountains. Being from California you never get something that shoots into the air.

So I put this box on the launch pad. I'm a little dubious, because it has a fuse taped to the outside of it and say "LIGHT HERE" on it.  I still think this is a fountain when I light it and have the hose ready figuring it will burn down the dock as the fountain lights the paper around it.  I'm walking away from it with my back turned until I get away from it. A small boom happens, I spin and follow the sparks up. POW! We have a real fireworks show in a box. It even has a little grand finale. Very cool. Buying more of those next year!

Kind of funny to watch all the personal aerial fireworks displays going off all around you. Rarely saw that in California, very illegal to do it.  Cute Girlfriend said when she lived in Vancouver Wa. she never remembered this much fireworks going off around her house.

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