Around here, it can be a little different. With my girlfriend’s older children either working or across the country, we often try to dig up something interesting to do.
Sometimes, like this year, her youngest chooses to join us.
Of course, there was another challenge in store for us this year: our July Fourth was also COVID-tastic.
That said, we probably did better than in the past.
This time, we didn’t choose to ride bikes the 8.5 miles from Brunswick, Maryland to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on the hottest day of the year. Yes, I was younger, but it had still been two decades since I had been on a bike. And several years since.
Trust me, there’s nothing like looking down on tubers floating lazily down the Potomac while taking another sip from your camelback while munching on warm sandwich. The kid dodged that one.
She wasn’t so lucky the year we decided to play miniature golf and got driven off the course by torrential downpours. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t gotten stubborn and decided to wait it out. Most thunderstorms around here are gone in 30 minutes. Not this one, two hours and a depleted snack bar later, we threw in the towel.
There was the year I dragged them up to my old stomping ground for an annual tradition with some longtime friends of mine. On paper, that sounds good, except my team was meeting everyone for the first time, and the tradition was an all-day-long pingpong tournament. They were troopers, but I’m still living that one down.
This year, the kid didn’t join us until Saturday, so left to our own devices, we got the bright idea the day before to go down to the recently reopened IKEA to snag a chair before it went out of stock. Somehow, we managed to get in, despite the long wait in line on the hot tarmac due to the capacity limit. And the café was still closed, making the maze craze at the entrance like Walt Disney World without the audio-animatronic payoff.
The Swedes came through with umbrellas and complimentary water, however, and before long we made it in to get our chair and obligatory bag of meatballs. We hightailed it back to the eastern panhandle in time to try a local brewery in the late afternoon.
The live music was good, the food was delicious, but the breeze was nil and it was hot and humid (pronounced you-mid where I was raised). Perched high above that same stretch of the Potomac we viewed from our bikes a few years ago, we noted with a bit of irony we now had the beer, but those folks below us in the tubes still had the better seats. All in all, not a bike-sixteen-miles level day, but we definitely achieved top three in our rogues’ gallery of celebration attempts. You’d think one of these years, we’d just rent the dang tubes?
Our outlook improved greatly once the kid joined us Saturday. “Hamilton” was definitely in the cards (no “1776” this year).
As an added bonus, with most fireworks events canceled this year, it seems everyone decided to DIY it. It made a great view from the comfort of our socially-distanced deck.
Topped off with a daytrip down to the Bay, I think this one turned out to be a Fourth of July that we’ll remember for the right reasons, and in these strange times in which we are living, a reminder not to take the gifts of our founders for granted. A proper celebration, if you ask me.