Friday, July 5, 2019

July 4th - Seward Style

Deep in the dusty caverns of my mind, so many of the old
volumes of memory have been lost to time and circumstance.

Perhaps due to living a life full of experiences, the need to make room in the
library for the newer volumes means the older less read ones get stored in
the basement in hard to find corners.

Whatever the reason - one memory that has always remained in the forefront has
been the 4th of July celebrations in the town that I grew up in New Jersey.

The summer air would hang heavy with the smell of fresh cut grass, as
the annual morning parade passed by the WWI and WWII memorials at Memorial Park,
which was just up the tree-lined street from my house.

After the parade everyone would go down to the firehouse for free hot dogs.

The kids would wash them down with cold root from the keg, while the adults would
do the same with beer drawn from kegs placed in barrels filled with ice.

We kids would climb all over the firetrucks, endlessly ringing the bells and sounding the sirens,
and yet the grownups rarely told us to give it a rest.

When they did...   we would stop for barely a moment before beginning again anew.

Walking home we would pass by the Texaco station where the uniformed attendant
would pump gas into your tank, wash your windows and ask "would you like me to check the oil?"

Inside the station would be a rack of free road maps of NJ and the adjoining states.
We might stop in and grab a map or two off of the rack then stop in the cool shade of
an old Maple tree and look at the map and dream of traveling to those far off places.

I've been long removed from that time and place but the memory is as strong now as if it
was yesterday.  And yesterday I got just a small taste of that past from the 4th of July
celebrations here in Seward Alaska.

The celebrations started promptly at 1 minute past midnight July 4th with a fireworks
show down along the waterfront.

Since we are parked here - we had front row seats.

Independence Day Fireworks on Seward, Ak Waterfront

You can see that its not all that dark here at midnight.
While the sun has just set - it never gets very far below the horizon.

The air has been very hazy for days now due to a wildfire burning about
30 miles west of here.

Smoke from wildfires

At 0600 the Silversea Silver Muse arrives under a smoky orange hued sky

Silversea Silver Muse arrives Seward, Ak
We had the PartyBus dressed in its 4th of July bunting.

Behind the bus stands Mt Marathon which will be the focus of attention today
as three races  (Kids, Women, and Men) race from downtown, up to the top, and back
down to the finish line.
   A vertical gain of almost 3,000'

Mt Marathon behind the PartyBus
The foot race is a climb and descent of Mt Marathon. 
It is 1 1/2 miles up and 1 1/2 miles down, and includes forests, ravines, cliffs, 
scree fields, waterfalls, and a spectacular view.

On part of the course the runners travel thru an ice cold stream.

The womans race began at 11am. 

The photo below was taken on my TV during the woman's race up thru the trees.

Below you see one of the leaders approaching the top.
In the background along the water is where we are located.

Hannah Lafleur  of Seward, Alaska finished first with a time of 53:24
Seriously folks...  it would take me 53 hours not minutes!

The kids race was cancelled due to the unhealthy smoke in the air from the fires.

Sandwiched between the Woman's and Mens race is the parade.

Start of Seward, Ak Independence Day Parade

Orca in Parade
Petro Marine - Alaska's Largest Independent Petroleum company had about 6
antique vehiles including large trucks, pickup trucks, and automobiles.

Antique Ford Flatbed

Antique Chevy Pickup

Antique Delivery Van

Antique Chevy Station Wagon

There were also private entries including this monster truck.

Monster Truck in Seward, Ak Parade

The National Park and National Forest Service are huge participants in the local
economy and are an important part of the local community.

Chugach National Forest "Keep Bears Wild" Float

Kenai Fjords National Park Rangers
And just like perhaps every parade in the USA - The local Fire Dept.

The tail of the Parade departs up 5th ave where it will disperse in a few blocks

Walking back to the bus along the waterfront we spot some hardy folks
"beaching it - Alaska Style"

The water temp of the Bering Sea is about 48° and the air temps
are at historic levels.   Anchorage has set an all time record of 91° on the 4th
easily beating it's prior record temp of 85°

Think of this.
The average summertime high temperature in anchorage is 75°
It has never - ever been hotter than 85°
And now it has hit 91 and that is expected to continue for several more days.
The myth of global warming continues to set new record high temperatures year after year.

At the beach in Seward, Alaska
Back at the bus we had time for a quick sandwich and it was time for the mens race.
the photo below shows the tiny dots of spectators and racers grinding their way to the top.
The average speed to the top is about 2 mph and down about 12 mph.

Coming down - the racers take the trail that arcs out to the right, then
cross over at the mid point to the left.
Below you can see the dust trail kicked up by the racers as they slide down on the 
slippery loose rock.

We hustled back the mile to the finish line just in time to see Max King from Bend, Oregon
cross the finish line with a time of 43:39

In the finish area the racers get sprayed down with cool water and then give
interviews to the TV cameras.

Second - just under 2 minutes behind was Eric Strabel from Anchorage.

Finishers cool down and congratulate each other.

About 5 pm back at the bus, this mornings arrival, the Silver Muse, departed and
just like that the day was finished.

Silver Muse departs Seward, Ak
No - we did not have hot dogs and root beer at the fire house.
Nor did we stop at the gas station and grab some free maps.
We did not sit under the Maple tree and dream of far off places.
But the place had that small town feel that just for a few hours was enough
to bring me back to that place and time that I will fondly remember till I breathe my last.

And instead of dreaming about those far off places - we have been living that dream so
I shan't look back and wish for the past - but rather continue to look forward and hope.

And of course this morning - a new arrival was cloaked in fog at the dock when I awoke.
A new day had begun.

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Sea in Seward, Ak 

🇺🇸  Happy 243rd Birthday America!  🇺🇸