Once again, as is the seeming custom for the past three years, Jenn and I trekked out to Clatskanie to do the fireworks show with Greg.

This time, I got some photos of the trip, so folks who aren’t native Oregonians, or even folks who are, who somehow always tell me about how “beautiful the drive is” around these parts… I got photos to show you it’s not all that.

First, we packed up the car with all nature of interesting things:

The car, packed with tools and

We updated the list from last year, removing a few things we didn’t end up needing and adding a few we decided we did:

  • Two (2) shovels - One scoop, one spade
  • Two (2) pairs leather gloves (one for each of us)
  • Two (2) folding camp chairs
  • One (1) folding camp table
  • One (1) cooler filled with:
    • Six (6) bottles water, two (2) frozen
    • Six (6) bottles Gatorade (fruit punch flavor)
  • Two (2) moist wash cloths in plastic bags
  • One (1) army surplus canvas jacket (for Travis to wear during show; Jenn to borrow fire uniform)
  • One (1) pair knee pads (for Travis to wear during show; Jenn doesn’t own any)
  • One (1) digital camera
  • Two (2) books (for reading during off-times)
  • One (1) iPod
  • Two (2) cell phones with car chargers for each
  • One (1) bottle Excedrin Migraine
  • One (1) box pseudoephedrine
  • One (1) box DayQuil
  • One (1) bottle SPF 45 sport sunscreen
  • One (1) can of spray mosquito repellant
  • Two (2) pairs sunglasses (one each for Travis and Jenn, respectively)
  • One (1) beach umbrella
  • Two (2) hats (one each for Travis and Jenn, respectively)
  • One (1) pocketknife
  • One (1) metal rake
  • One (1) container Wet Wipes moist towelettes
  • Assorted boxes dry food (crackers, granola bars, etc.)

To that list next year, we need to add one (1) box Imodium (don’t ask) and we will probably have to substitute some pseudoephedrine analog since Oregon has screwed all cold and allergy sufferers with their new anti-meth laws and now pseudoephedrine, the only working decongestant, requires a prescription. Thanks, Oregon, that’s really solving the issue. But I digress.

We packed up shop and set out for Clatskanie.

Jenn driving us to

The next two photos show what the trip looks like. Again, this is for those folks who keep insisting the drive is “so beautiful” or whatever. The whole trip is one of these two ways:

Rolling brown grass

Either you get “beautiful” rolling brown grass fields, or you get the “excitement” of seeing trees trees trees trees trees for miles on end. Let me tell you, you grow up in Oregon, the drive’s not so awesome. Been there, done that.

Once you get to the small town of Clatskanie, you are welcomed with a sign:

Welcome to Clatskanie Heritage Days - July

The sign - “Welcome to Clatskanie Heritage Days” - is interesting because it’s only one day, to my knowledge. Just the Fourth. Not “days,” but “day.” Heh.

Okay, so you get into Clatskanie and you have to wait to go down to the fireworks site because people are lining the streets to watch the parade go down the only major street in town. The town’s effectively shut down because you can’t get to an entire side of it, due to the parade.

People line the street to watch the

So Jenn and I end up eating at Subway. When the lunch rush shows up to Subway, you know the parade is over and you can get down to the fireworks site.

The wastewater treatment plant is through town and down a gravel road.

The road to

In that picture, you can kind of see the yellow fireworks truck in the field on the right. If you can’t make it out, that’s okay - here’s what it looks like when you get there:

The truck, first thing in the

The dirt is the trench we get to fill with mortar tubes. The black pile is a few of the tubes - the rest are in the truck.

And, of course, for those curious, here’s the wastewater treatment plant proper (this was taken later, when the truck had been moved away from the trench):

Wastewater treatment plant -

So the big part of the day is putting mortar tubes into the trench that the city dug out with a backhoe for us. Here are the mortars getting set up at various stages of progression:

Burying the
mortars... A side view of the

Once you get the mortars buried, you load the shells into them. Here’s the whole thing, set up and ready to go:

Shells loaded, ready to

The ones at the end have aluminum foil over them to ensure they don’t go off inadvertently during the show due to debris accidentally lighting them. In the middle of the show, if one goes off early, folks won’t generally notice. If the finale goes off early, you’ll notice.

Greg actually kept a decent running blog of the loading process and has some good pictures, if you’re interested. Definitely worth checking out. I think he’ll later be putting up a time lapse video of the setup. I’m stoked to see that. Anyway…

The rest of the day is spent “camping,” sort of hanging out waiting for the show to start. Here’s the group of us in front of the trench. You can see how big the trench really is in this one. It’s gotta be a good couple of hundred feet.

Camping by the

Camping there isn’t too exciting, hence why you bring a book or whatever. I spent some time harassing a nearby llama (talking to it, walking around calling to it, etc.), which was kind of fun.

The llama really wanted nothing to do with

10:00p was showtime, and the show went well (as usual). I lit several and also stood back to supervise some and make sure all the people who wanted to light shells got to, helping Greg swap people in and out.

Cleanup was a pain (also as usual) and my back and neck are sore today from pulling the mortar tubes out of the trench. We ended up getting home about 1:00a, exhausted, dirty, ready for shower and bed.

I’ll definitely be doing it again, but I’m hoping Greg gets off his lazy ass and gets his commercial driver’s license so we can do a different show. The Clatskanie show is fun (and hard work), but it’d be neat to see something different next year.

I had this huge - I mean huge - post about this awesome party Jenn and I went to for our friend Tracy where we all dressed up and solved a murder mystery. I talked about all of my issues getting clothing (it was a formal affair) and things I liked and disliked about the whole thing (net result - I thought it was cool, but folks needed to stay more in character)… but I have these Goddamn “browser buttons” on my keyboard and I bumped one and entirely lost the post. All of it. So I’m not retyping the thing since I don’t have time. Just imagine that you read a reasonably entertaining description of a murder mystery party. Tracy, accept my apologies for a less-than-thorough write-up.

I am currently in the process of disabling those fuckers.

So Saturday night was the party, and it was cool. Jenn looked great, I looked great, and it was hella fun. Even though it was hot like nothing describable. Death heat.

Sunday morning I woke up at 5:45a with this ridiculous tweak in my neck. Some Vicodin and a few Advil only took the edge off. It was horrible. All day long I was totally useless (not that that’s different than most other Sundays) and was tired and headachey. Today I can at least get around, but it does still hurt. Hopefully it’ll be gone by the weekend. I think it was triggered by the rototilling.

xbox comments edit

I dig the concept of themes and gamer pictures for Xbox 360. They have a lot of cool ones on the Xbox Live Marketplace, too. The problem is, when you’re scrolling around through the Xbox 360 interface, you don’t actually get a good preview of what’s in the theme pack or what the pictures in the gamerpic pack look like.

The Xbox Live Marketplace site actually does have previews, though, both for themes and gamerpics. You can actually see what you’re buying before you buy it. And I think that’s important, especially if there aren’t any refunds. When are they going to work that into the 360 interface?

home comments edit

Sunday morning Jenn and I went out and worked in the back yard. There’s sort of a drainage issue along the north fence in our back yard, so we needed to widen the flower beds, till up the ground, and plant something in there that can stand living in a bog. To that end, we needed to rent a rototiller, which we got from Home Depot.

I’ve never rototilled anything. I’ve seen it done, and the guy at the store explained how the tiller works, but I’ve never actually personally done it.

Holy shit.

I mean, holy shit.

I’m a desk jockey. Seriously, I sit on my ass all day and the most strenuous it gets is me reaching from the keyboard to my coffee or getting up to walk to the car to go get lunch.

That rototiller damn near killed me. It reminded me a lot of running a garden-oriented jackhammer crossed with holding back an entire dog sled team single-handedly. All we had to do was an 18 foot by four foot section, and it was all I could do to get that done. I am a huge, huge pussy.

It’s worse today. Yesterday I thought I was feeling pretty bad. Today I feel horrible. Everything on me aches. I can barely turn my head. Reaching for my coffee hurts, so I’m just sort of looking at it longingly, hoping to develop telekinetic powers that will get the coffee from my cup into my mouth. I have bruises on my legs, but I’m not sure how I got them. I don’t remember hitting my shins with anything, but the bruises are there and they weren’t there pre-tiller. (What the hell were my shins doing anywhere near that thing? Are the bruises unrelated?) I can’t grip anything, either, because the insides of my arms hurt so bad when I close my hands. Stretching the elastic of my boxers to get them over my fat ass posed a serious threat this morning. I nearly had to call in due to inability to put on pants.

Anyway, I’m dying today, but the flower bed has been widened and tilled, so it’s ready for some plants to go in. Jenn picked some up from the nursery and will be putting those in tonight. Something grassy looking, but I was too tired to ask. Whatever it is, it’d better love water.