Amazing how exhausting a vacation can be, especially with a lot of family that you don’t see often.<br />n<br />nWe spent the Fourth of July, 2007, playing around at Gas Works Park, then watching the fireworks in the natural amphitheater of Lake Union.<br />n<br />nIn the morning, we got to Mike’s place probably a bit early, where we found Patrick’s mom, Lynne, and her two grandboys already there. They were visiting from Colfax, about an hour south of Spokane. We hung out and chatted for a while, and eventually, Bruce and Ann, along with their two boys, Ben and Will, arrived. With them was Bryan, Jean and Rick’s boy, who just graduated from college with his nursing degree. Jean and Rick themselves showed up too, with fixins for a picnic.<br />n<br />nWe had a pretty good sized crew, and once we were all there, assembled and situated, Mike figured out the logistics for getting the crowd to Gas Works Park. Turns out, I was the shuttle driver because of the rental minivan we had. Three trips, and all were deposited safely at the park, which was only about a mile and a half away. Parking and crowds were the reason for all the logistical planning.<br />n<br />nThe park had lots of things to do for the kids; Rebecca got attached to a blow up caterpillar that you enter into on one side, run through its internal obstacle course, then get squeezed out the other end. Mama also helped her make a kite, then we went up to kite hill to try it out. Funny thing is that the kite really took off when we weren’t paying attention to it!<br />n<br />nAfter a few hours of the park, we shuttled back to Mike’s place to hang out, barbecue, and await the fireworks show.<br />n<br />nSeattle is substantially further north than San Jose, about ten degrees in latitude, so during those times of year near the solstice, the length of the daylight hours is noticeably different. In this case, it didn’t get dark until 10PM. We all got situated on the balcony, the barge was ready in the middle of the lake, music was blasting from the park, and as the sun was reluctantly sliding below the horizon, the Chinook helicopter came over the bridge with the American flag hanging down under it. Spotlights from the park lit up the flag as the chopper made its way slowly around the perimeter of the lake. Very cool, a very dramatic effect.<br />n<br />nAfter the chopper was safely out of the way, the pyrotechnics masters on the barge began their thing, and what artists they are! Their show was a non-stop conglomeration of exploding special effects, lasting a good 45 minutes, with not more than a second or two of pause. In addition to all the standard blossoms, we also saw squares and cubes, circles, heart shapes, planets with rings, ghosts that would hover around, slowly rising, and a trail of lights that appeared to be connected with string or wire. These are things I’ve never seen before, and probably won’t again unless at this show.<br />n<br />nThis was also Rebecca’s first fireworks show, and the loud booms were frightening, and she was at times hiding under her blanket, but she was ooh’ing and ahh’ing too. About half way into it, the fun filled day took its toll, and she fell asleep amid bangs, booms and rockets’ red glare.<br />n<br />nJust as the show ended, everyone was packing up and hitting the road, though it was slow going out of Fremont. Dexter was literally a parking lot and it took us nearly an hour to get back to the Camlin from Mike’s, a trip that usually takes maybe 10 minutes.<br />n<br />nHuge, HUGE thanks to Mike and Patrick for hosting all of us. It was a great time at a great venue, with a great crowd.