Thursday, July 1

eastward bound!

in a few short hours i will leave work, finish packing the truck, gather up puppy lucy and be on my way to iowa with scott and my sister for the 4th of july holiday.

photo credit to my sister. she took this one in 2007 while we were in line waiting for the parade to start. that's the williams elevator, and in iowa you can look out across the fields and can usually identify three or four towns by their concrete elevator landmarks, and you can tell which town it is by the shape of the elevator.

before i moved to wyoming, for 23 years straight i spent my 4th of july in williams, iowa, taking in and participating in the parade, the fair in the city park, the afternoon's festivities and the evening's fireworks just east of town. i've missed the last two, and am very much looking forward to being there again this year. since we've mostly grown up, it's rare that all of the aunts, uncles and cousins are together at once, but just about everyone will be there this year. my dad has three brothers and a sister, and when we all get together it's about 30 people to visit with.

the day always begins bright and early, and most always sunny, and we all gather together in williams for the parade, whether we're in it or observing. i've been in more parades than i've watched, that's for sure. when i still lived there my sister and i always rode our horses through, either with the county saddle club or with the parade entries run by various family members. i've also driven the carriage through with jazz to advertise my mom's catering business.

if we're in the parade, that means lining up by the elevator and waiting for the parade to start at 10. there are many, many parade entries, mostly local groups including churches, 4-H, businesses and the like, as well as the dozens of antique tractors that are fired up for the occasion, the community fire trucks and the combines from area equipment dealers. all the young kids in the parade get a dollar from the williams lions club, and these days it's hit or miss whether i get one. :-)

after the parade everyone heads to the williams city park, which takes up a city block right in the center of town. there are mini carnival rides, with a mini ferris wheel, a balloon jump, a train ride and the like. there are foot races and a cake walk. for the cakewalk all the hemkens generally line up and monopolize one whole turn so we're guaranteed a cake. our favorite has always been the pop bottle ring toss, where pop bottles are arranged in a grid on a pallet, and everyone stands behind a 2x4 railing and is given a handful of rubber canning jar rings. you try your aim while tossing them at the pop bottles, and whichever ones you catch are yours to take. it was great when glass bottles were still in existence, and we cousins would traipse back across the street to my grandma's with multiple cases. these days they use plastic, which isn't as good, but we all still do it anyway.

then it's lunch time at my grandma's, and ever since my brother bought the house neighboring hers we tend to hang out in his lawn in the shade of his fruit trees. it's the perfect location, right across from the park, and cousins and friends come and go for several hours into the afternoon.

then in the evening it's time for the bbq before the fireworks. it varies as to whether it's held at my parents' place four miles northeast of town, or at an old family farm bordering the east edge of williams. this year we'll have it at the family farm, known as the ruby farm after my grandma's maiden name and my great grandpa ruby. i'm excited to see the new machine shed they're putting up this year. we'll grill and probably start a fire and make s'mores, and when we were young we'd take canning jars and catch dozens of fireflies while we waited for the fireworks to start. the fireworks are conveniently set off right across the road from our farm, so while everyone else lines the gravel road and crowds into the williams baseball diamond, we stretch out on the farm's lawn on blankets, in lawn chairs and maybe in some of the antique convertibles belonging to my late grandpa's collection. this year we'll also use my dad's new large-scale stainless steel grill he recently bought for my mom's catering events. i'm looking forward to checking that out, too.

apart from the 4th of july festivities, while we're in iowa we'll also attend the wedding of a high school friend, which my mom is also catering, make a trip to ames, visit over a large dinner with the family and perhaps help my dad bale some hay. i'll also bring back the 1984 turbo diesel mercedes my dad found for me, so i'm excited to see it and get to drive it. it's been hot here in wyoming and in iowa, so i told him to take it in and get the air conditioner charged up!

sorry for the wordy post. i try to avoid them, and focus instead on photos, but i don't have too many july 4 photos on hand, and i'm excited for the trip, and if i could i'd start driving right now!

last night as i was getting things ready to go, link was no help at all. he was too busy chillin.

he was still there when i went outside to change the sprinklers.

this last week i finally had to break down and start watering, for fear the whole thing would burn up and i'd be the eyesore of the neighborhood. it's been very hot and dry lately. last night i soaked it pretty good in the spots that looked a little dry, and that'll have to do until i get back from vacation.

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