Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 10--The Great Pacific Northwest Adventure

Day 10--Saturday, July 4th--The Great Pacific Northwest Adventure

We originally planned to go to Portland's Blues Festival and see their big fireworks display at 10pm, with friends from Dugan's preschool days. But the weather was extremely hot, and the guys had to get up at 5am for their flight back home on Sunday, so we scaled back our ambitious plans and celebrated a low key 4th instead.

Sorry to our old school friend, Baxter, and his family. We would have loved to hang out and catch up. Hope to see ya next time, either out there or on the Chicago end of the magic, underground worm hole, between various cool cities. (He's our gymnastics friend from toddler days and our Montessori preschool and skate park buddy from half the kids' life times ago. Funny how 4 years isn't much when you're over 40, but it's interminably ancient history when you're 8.)

We also missed running into kids Gaia and Apollo, former Chicago Hip Family Friends of ours, who's family moved from Chicago to study micro brewing in Germany. We lost track of them, but they resurfaced living close to my sister in Hillsboro and frequenting the little park where she walks her dogs (pictured at the end of this post)! She just mentioned them by chance, never dreaming we'd actually KNOW them. They just moved again within the city, less than a month ago, so we couldn't track 'em down and didn't bump into them. We would have loved to catch up with them, too. (More worm hole theory.)

So, instead of seeking out relocated Chicagoans, we checked out small town 4th of July at it's best. The Hillsboro parade route goes right in front of my sister, Maia's, home. And people get crazy about staking out spots at the crack of dawn. The first year she lived there, she awoke early to find a family had set up a tent in her front yard, obscuring her view, and was busily frying bacon!

This year, John was proactive and put chairs out and roped off the front yard the night before. As the parade began, we hustled to erect a shade tent, which got a lotta thumbs up from marchers, drooling over our patch of cool shade. Small town parades have such a different vibe than the big city variety.

The kids caught bulging bags full of candy and enjoyed blowing bubbles at the passing floats.

We saw a unicorn, palm trees made from evergreen boughs for Robin Hood's forest (?), and various patriotic incarnations of Uncle Sam, including one with a big fake piece of cotton taped over his very real, Uncle Sam style white goatee. The gymnasts, dance troupes, marching bands, vacation bible schools, church barbecue promoters, politicians, vintage car enthusiasts, war veterans and civil servants were out en mass.

To some, patriotism means waving tiny American flags made in China or building a squadron of fighter jets from balloons. To others, it is the American right to drive Hummers and giant Hot Wheels toys for rich kids. To some, Patriotism is Homeland Security footing the bill for overkill riot gear vehicles, so the local, small town Sheriff can serve and protect in style.

To others, patriotism is pride in your job, keeping the streets free of garbage, or having the freedom to clear cut large swaths of old growth forests.

To some, it is the right to openly and peacefully protest, whether you're left wing, right wing or a wing nut. To others, it's having a president again who clearly believes in the separation of church and state, that our founding fathers declared necessary for good government.

To us, it is embracing America's diversity, and unique, far ranging mesh of lifestyles and religions, and realizing we have something to learn from everyone.

After the parade, we had a shade tent raising, and 4 of us picked it up and walked it to my sister's back yard. We celebrated with a small barbecue with family and friends, fresh berries from the farmer's market, and Tillamook chocolate ice cream.

The kids created a wacky play with costumes and a creative cast of characters. There was Knee Man, the mystic master who sent the kids on quests. The Moss Grouch, The Shoe of Unhappiness, The Purple Wave of Happiness and Unhappiness, The Unicorn and The Cat and The Masked Creature.

That evening, we donned glow bracelets and necklaces and walked to the local park to play with a balsa wood airplane that the kids caught at the parade. Then they took a last bunch of turns on the teeter totters and merry go round, both "dangerous" park gear, that no longer exist in any of the Chicago play lots I know of.

This may be the only time in their childhoods that they can spin around on a merry go round and watch fireworks fill the night sky.

They also loved the geodesic dome, based on the famous designs by Chicagoan, Buckminster Fuller. I don't think they've been declared dangerous, but I can't think of a Chicago play lot with one of these fun and functional pieces, either. Bucky's the one who described our planet as "Spaceship Earth", a contained system where we need to have clean and uncontaminated air, food and water to survive. He was a smart man with revolutionary designs, way ahead of his time.

The DIY firecrackers and fireworks were fewer and farther between than the urban barrage we're used to. But, we took a night walk and found a good curb perch where we saw quite a few. We sang and laughed while the kids butchered old Queen lyrics..........."Recommend an octopus? Insatiable in appetite." And laughed some more. We drank mugs of red wine and enjoyed the pyrotechnics and scent of burning powder. At one point the smoke trails from some larger blooms trailed across the nearly full moon, and star spangled sky. And it was beautiful.

Patriotic Stories Edition of I ♥ Faces