July 4th Fireworks

For the first time in years, the Fuller posse made the trip north to Bismarck, ND for the July 4th holiday weekend. We left immediately after one of Grace’s Five-a-Side soccer games, grabbed dinner on the road and finally stopped for the night in Gillette, WY at about midnight.  The only remarkable part of that portion of our journey (which is typically as unremarkable as one can imagine) was a spectacular lightning show as we drove through a downpour heading north on WY-59.  I wish I had been able to take a picture: with every flash, the horizon lit up edge-to-edge.  Really amazing and something you’ll only see on the Great Plains.  But I digress…

We finished our drive on Friday morning and rolled into my parent’s place on the northeast edge of the city.  After a tour of my dad’s new detached garage / shop, Grace and I did a hot lap of town in dad’s Mazda Miata.  Past Simle Junior HS, by the old homestead on Bitteroot Ave, past Rita Murphey ES and then a cool cruise down Main St.  Top down, Y-93 blaring on the stereo.  Looking cool.  Reminded me of the endless laps with my high school buddy Brad (RIP 2006).  But I digress…

Grace shopping for stuff the blows up
Grace shopping for stuff that blows up

Amazingly, I was spotted on the drive around town.  By the time I got back to my dad’s, there was a message from Facebook on my BlackBerry from someone that had seen me driving by Simle.  Small town.

After dinner, we ran over to the fireworks tent down the road and stocked up on explosives.  Fireworks are legal in unincorporated parts of North Dakota, so we grabbed a few things to shoot off in the yard.  I discovered later my younger brother Kyle had procured enough stuff to hold off the ND National Guard and my meager stockpile was sort of an afterthought.

We goofed around on Saturday, hit the big parade across the river in Mandan, ND, then prepped for the fireworks.  We started with my little stuff, then Kyle got out the serious artillery.  At one point, some sort of 21-shots-in-a-box type thing fell over in our direction during it’s launch cycle.  Kyle and I hit the deck while Roman candles fired over our heads.  Oops.  Grace and Erin thought it was hilarious, while the grown-ups scowled at me and Kyle.

Sunday we wandered over to the Dakota Zoo.  It had probably been 20 years since my last visit and it had grown to include a big cat area complete with Siberian Tigers and a Snow Leopard.  They’ve also got some monkeys, moose and a couple different wolf species along with the usual crowd of species indigenous to the Dakotas.  I’d actually recommend it if you find yourself in Bismarck with a few hours to kill.  Not bad.

We saved the big attraction, Ft Abraham Lincoln State Park, for Monday.  Toured the Custer home, explored the reconstructed enlisted barracks, wandered the Slant Village and rode the trolley back to town. Good times, good times.

Tuesday was the long drive home and first hand evidence of ARRA stimulus at work.  At every turn, we hit another blacktop crew grinding down the road or applying new asphalt.  I think about the only beneficiaries of ARRA thus far are the handful of companies that reseal highways, something that keeps them busy every summer anyway.  But I digress…

Another fine Independence Day weekend.

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Dave Fuller

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