Night of the 4th of July in Manzanita, Oregon

BOMBS WERE EXPLODING as smoke engulfed all around us as we entranced ourselves walking into the sandy beach on this night of the 4th of July. But more on that later…

That morning the town of Manzanita was festive and joyous with the parade and mass of thousands who had gathered here to holiday in this town of population 598. As the parade was near conclusion I thought it sounded nice to escape the crowds lining the street for a moment and popped into the San Dune pub for a snack of their delicious sweet potatoe fries.

After ordering the back patio which had previously been inhabited by a only a few individuals began to be overwhelmed with the post-parade crowd. I was asked by a man from Seattle if they might join my table, and shortly thereafter asked by another group, so now our table was filled with about 9 people.

After learning that I was a traveler I was swiftly invited to come to the latter-group’s beach house that night for salmon and festivities. I asked what I might bring and was instructed that all I need offer as my contribution would be “stories. Just bring stories.”

I arrived to the scene of the house overlooking the beach and was by Gunner, a tanish-colored labrador, and one of the guests asked if I would take a dog along with me on my travels. I declined to answer.

I met the other guests, they asked me questions, I learned about their lives and we swapped stories from life and traveling. The enormous salmon that was prepared was laid in extravagance and splednor with pastas and salads and drink. It was delicious and I ate it all with delight.

As the glow of the sun began to fade, the fireworks came out. People lined the beach with firepits and morter shells being blasted into the air with spectacular flowering lights lining the western end of this Great Land in celebration of a nation founded upon the idea of liberty and freedom. One of our friends had gone with his son down to the beach to shoot some fireworks. He had been drinking a bit so the host and I thought we’d go check on him.

As we walked through the beachy-brush toward where the small dunes fade into flat sand we saw a flash and heard a boom barely above the ground. “I hope that wasn’t him but I would bet a million dollars it is.” The host said about the gent’ we were going to check on.

“Get ready for the warzone,” he said to me.

Although I have never been in a war, this may be the closest I have ever been to having a limited understanding of what it may be like. I imagined the troops who landed on the sandy coast of Normandy on D-Day. Smoke was everywhere with the smell of gunpowder festering within the air. There was an “official” show by the town of Manzanita but it was difficult to tell what was “official” and what was the doing of all of us who lined the coast.

“Here, take this and put it in the shooter and light it.” Someone handed me a morter to place in the loader and light the fuse. Light the fuse I did and watched as it shot up into the night sky and exploded which much more than a description, because watching a firework explode in the sky into colors is much different than having been the one who lit the fuse. The burst of light in the sky was a reflection of me, a reflection of this experience I was having.

And the journey goes on…


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