M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, July 09, 2004  

Go Fourth and Multiply

Aaaaand another memorable July Fourth experience gets added to the archive.

Trash and Bitter and I went down to my parents' new house in Prescott, Wisconsin for dinner, and then we went out onto the Mississippi River in their boat. There were still hours of daylight left, so we cruised into Hastings, then turned around and headed up the St. Croix for a spell. I thought the plan was to view fireworks while afloat, which would have been a first for me, but Mom and Dad had been out past dark a couple of nights before and were still kind of desiccated after being sucked dry by the mosquitoes. So that wasn't going to happen.

Instead, Dad docked the boat at the marina just before dark and zipped the cabin into a cocoon of bug screens just in time to repel the invasion. We figured we'd be able to see the Hastings fireworks over the trees to the south of King's Cove.

After a few minutes of muted booms and some indistinct flashes above the southern treeline, it was apparent that we'd figured wrong. Trash and Bitter and I bid my parents thank-you and farewell and dashed off in search of a better vantage point.

Here's the thing about Hastings. It's not really that big a city, so you think it'd be easy to get in the car and zero in on the place where stuff is getting blowed up overhead. But that fails to take into account the fact that Hastings is a border town. The border being that of Wisconsin, where fireworks are legal. You can look across the river from Hastings and see fireworks stands, okay? You can fold a Benjamin into a paper airplane and sail it across the Mississippi, and some accommodating cheesehead will pack a shopping bag full of goodies that go bang, duct-tape it to a rocket, and fire it right into your hands. And then you have stuff that you can launch into the air which will explode into a spectacular conflagration while simultaneously confusing the poor suckers from out of town who are looking for the real thing. We were struck by the low signal-to-noise ratio in terms of Hastings' aerial explosions. Struck upside the head repeatedly, in fact.

"They're going off up there."


"Wait, they're behind us now."


"Turn right here."

"Turning. How far this way?"

"Oh, they're behind us again."

Of course, we didn't realize what was really going on until the real thing was over, and after I had accidentally committed us to driving the wrong way over the Highway 61 bridge. We eventually found ourselves on a road overlooking the river from the south bank. The elevation was such that we could see the top half of whatever they were blowing up over Harriet Island in downtown St. Paul, twenty-two miles away. We didn't get the chest-pounding thud, but there was a low rumble. One of those white-flash daisy-cutters went off, and I counted the seconds until the bang arrived. I'm currently in the neighborhood of seventy-eight thousand.

After that ended, we didn't linger long, because the mutated super-mosquitoes that had attacked my parents on the boat on Friday night had relocated to the area around the streetlight I had wisely parked beneath. We headed home.

"They're still going!"


"Over there!"


"Why are we driving?"

"So we can get to a place where we can see better."

"Oh, for God's sake."

"Never mind, they're over again."

We were heading home again when the airspace immediately over our car burst into crimson flame. Our faces lit up scarlet, as if we were suddenly in the Bradys' darkroom. I pulled over at once.

Sadly, it was just some people in their backyard. I think maybe they thought we'd pulled over to yell at them for attacking our vehicle with a low-level airburst. That's probably what I would think if someone happened to drive right under my miniature reenactment of London during the Blitz. But we waved them on. "Don't stop on our account," we said.

They didn't. They stopped because they were out.

Disappointing, but not the worst experience a group of people have ever had in Hastings. The Dillinger Gang, for instance.

Today's best search phrase: "Echinacea doppleganger." Are people still Googlewhacking? I thought that was over.

posted by M. Giant 4:34 PM 0 comments


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