My favorite holiday came and went with little pomp and circumstance. For the past twenty years my family has celebrated with fireworks over the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, and last summer was our first Fourth atop the foredeck of Restless. But this July broke a two-decade-old tradition as my first away from home.
Mike and Kelly told me about the crazy Mount Marathon race in Seward, Forest Fair in Girdwood, and midnight fireworks in nearby Whittier. I was psyched for the fireworks and even rounded up a fun crew to accompany me when one of the girls remembered Whittier’s underground tunnel. Its last entry is 11:15, which means we would have been stranded in what Frommer’s describes as one of “the oddest towns in America” until the first tunnel back at 5:30 in the morning. Va bene. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for calling me from Boston so I could at least hear fireworks in the background!
But my Fourth was enjoyable nevertheless. Campers, canoes, trucks, and kayaks flooded the Seward Highway on their way south to the Kenai Peninsula for the weekend. We’ve been experiencing a record heat wave, and Alaskans say this is the best summer weather they’ve ever seen. I was happy to have a surprise visitor from South Africa, Steven Seiler, stay with me in the apartment. He’s living with my landlady in Anchorage and working as an outdoor guide at a local summer camp. On Saturday morning we cheered for the endearing small-town parade that basically consisted of Girdwood’s few families, dogs, and children; and perused the Arctic voodoo dolls, qiviut mittens, and birch and elk antler baskets at the Forest Fair booths. Mike warned me that any food I purchased from a vendor would contain marijuana at the very least… so I packed my own lunch. Steven was a little sad I missed the belly dancing while working at AWCC, but I met up with him in the Beer Garden for folk music later that evening. I made friends with a Swiss girl with whom I was absolutely thrilled to speak Italian, as well as a guy who just moved here from Nantasket Beach, about 12 miles from home. He doesn’t miss it, but I do!