Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July Weekend

We had an amazing 4th of July weekend!!  Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays, for a lot of reasons, and this weekend I had the opportunity to celebrate it twice, for the first time ever. My feelings about American history are mixed, but my favorite time in American history has to be the American revolution.  The caliber of people alive during that time, our amazing forefathers, with their amazing flaws, they forged for us a country that, while far from perfection, exists as a completely unique state.  They were able to do something for us that has never, truly, been done before.  Revolutions happen, but none happen quite like ours did. I love the meaning and symbolism in the whole affair.

So, on Saturday Matt and I went to Melanie and Joey's for a BBQ.  We hung out, ate, and played games.  We banged out a game of Trivial Pursuit in record time playing teams and when it was just the four of us, we played about 10 hands of Spades.  When darkness started to fall, we trekked the mile to the park and got a good seat for the fireworks.  Melanie and I shared a funnel cake and when the fireworks were over we trekked the mile back to their place.  The fireworks were shorter here this year than usual, only about 10 minutes, but they did this little fireworks thing during the National Anthem that would have been awesome had it not been for the fact that it got a little out of hand and drowned out the woman singing the anthem.  I felt a little sorry for her; can you imagine getting up the nerve to sing in front of hundreds of people only then to be drowned out by explosives?  How embarrassing!  She was pretty good, too!

I forgot my camera on Saturday, so there're no pictures of our local thing.  I was really, really unhappy about having forgotten it, I'd have liked to share a bit of our small town charm with you.  I was even more unhappy when I realized that I hadn't forgotten it, it was in my purse.  In my belief that I had forgotten it, I didn't bother to actually look to see if I had forgotten it.  Then, Sunday morning when we were getting ready to leave for Phoena's, I went to put it in my bag and realized it was already in my bag.  Double, holiday, fail.  The moral of the story has to be "look before you assume."

Sunday we got up and around and headed down to Killeen.  Phoena invited us to go to the Freedomfest thing at Ft. Hood to see the Seether concert.  It was awesome getting to meet and hang out, especially since we've known one another online for several years.  They live fairly close to us (about 2 hours), but it's a really easy drive.  We got a little lost on the way there, but that's because I clearly can't follow instructions.  I fail. We ended up in Lampassas, which was a bit farther than we were supposed to go.  Either way, it worked.  It's a fairly straightforward drive from there.  I made it harder than it needed to be.  Their place is even really easy to find once you know where you're going.  Next time we'll definitely be able to find it without instructions.  This is the point where I point out that the GPS on my phone is what really saved us.  Thank you GoogleMaps App for Android!

Anyway, Phoena made us awesome food and we had a nice time chatting, then they took us to the base and showed us around a bit.  I've never been on a military base before, ever, so I was really interested to see all the buildings and housing and everything.  We went to the commissary, which was fun because I always hear about it, but up until yesterday it was a sort of fantasy place in my mind.  My father-in-laws, and grandfather-in-law, when he was alive, would go to the commissary and bring us things like toothpaste and shampoo, but I'd never been to one.  I'm probably the only person alive that can be excited by something like that.

After the tour, they found some pretty amazing parking and we went into the stadium for the festivities.  We managed to stake out a small patch of lawn and put up chairs (I need to get myself some of those chairs).  Everyone was packed in like sardenes, but it was a really fun atmosphere.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, warm with a cooler breeze thanks to the hurricane blowing some nice air our way off the gulf...

The people who crammed in behind us were rude, but we ignored them.  They were upset that we were sitting so close, even though half of their group didn't arrive until after we did.  Besides, they could have spread out when they took down the barricade and they didn't, so it was their own fault.  Ah, the barricade, it was there for the festivities, including:

The parachute jump...

They said this was his 2,301st jump and the last before his retirement.  I was very, very impressed.  I've never seen anything like it.  Matt and I were both amazed at the amount of control they have over their jumps.  It was breezy and he drifted all around, but he landed right on the orange target markers they laid out in the field.

The Color Guard...

The Airforce Flyover...

Yes, that's the back of the plane and I know that the photo is blurry, but blurry is the absolute best I could do. That plane was bookin!  It was loud and flying low, and again, I was impressed!

The 50 Gun Salute...

When they say "gun" what they mean to say is "cannon!"  I tried to catch a picture of the cannon firing, but my camera's not that fast.  They fired those cannons 50 times, one for each state.  It was really neat.  They called the state's name, slogan, and date of entry into the union, beginning with the first state to enter the union and ending with the last.  It was crazy loud and cannons have a very distinctive scent and I couldn't imagine how smoky it would have been on the field were it not breezy.

After the starting festivities, we had funnel cakes and I got a few good pics of Matt (finally!)...

That is the best and most recent pic I have of him.  God, he's good looking!!  *drools & swoons* I love him!! Okay, enough mushy stuff... Matt and Phoena's husband stood in line for those funnel cakes for an hour!  They were well worth the time invested, they tasted amazing!

After the intermission and funnel cakes and pictures of Matt, Seether played.  Let me just tell you, Seether is an amazing band and they are equally amazing live.  Some bands sound great on recorded tracks but sound like shit live.  Watch footage of live Black Eyed Peas if you don't believe me. Seether sounds exactly like they should live.  I was absolutely blown away and so was Matt.  Absolutely blown away!!  Oh, and let me add that Shaun Morgan, their lead vocal/guitar/songwriter is as sexy live as he is online (I caught a peek over the heads of the mobs of fans, lol)... then again, I'm a big fan of the sort of grunge-esque look.  Not on many men, but on him, hells yes.

It was easier to take pictures of the JumboTron...

The Seether concert went about an hour and 15 minutes or so.  There was an encore, where they did one more song.  Apparently, that's there MO. Overall, the concert was amazing!!  I would definitely pay to see this group, but the fact that I didn't have to made it that much more awesome.

When the concert was over, we were treated the most amazing fireworks I have ever seen.  I suppose we shouldn't have expected less from the largest military base in the country (the world?).  It was nothing short of breathtaking.

I snapped a few shots...

I have a nice point-and-shoot camera, it's 10.1 megapix, but it's no more capable of capturing things like cannon-shots or fireworks than any other point-and-shoot.  The first shot was taken in auto mode and it's the best one I caught.  The red fireworks in the second shot were shot on a night-time setting, but my hand's shake and with the long shutter time, it came out blurry.  The third shot of the gold fireworks is one of my favorites, even though it's shaky.  I took it with the fireworks setting on my camera and like the night setting, fireworks has a long shutter time so my shaky hands couldn't hold it still enough.  They would have come out better with a tripod, but I don't have one and even if I did, I'd not have lugged it down there.

The fireworks lasted 30 minutes and were, like I said, nothing short of spectacular.

After the fireworks we packed it back to their car and headed out. This drunk guy a few spots down from us backed out, nearly backing over the cars behind him, and turned against traffic.  Cars were swerving out of his way, but in so doing made a path out of the parking lot going against traffic, so we followed and were out of there in record time.  There was a lot of traffic.

When we got back to Phoena's we headed out.  She loaned me her copy of Twilight, so now I can get brave and read it. Ha!!  They also loaned us the first season of 'Oz' and she, *ehem* loaned me *cough* some music.  On the way home, we were going through Evant (shitty little town) when a group of teenagers were throwing fireworks out onto the road at cars.  Where do teens get the money to waste on blowing up other people's stuff?  I was so pissed, I nearly called the cops and reported it.  The only reason I didn't, I wasn't immediately sure where we were, and we were in a tiny little dead-zone, so didn't have cell service.

Matt and I had a nice drive home overall, with a few very notable exceptions, like when he skid to a stop at a light in Killeen and nearly into the intersection.  He said he couldn't see the line. Sheesh!!  My greatest fear about night driving, other than the fact that neither of us see well at night, is that we'll hit an animal.  There is an unbelievable amount of roadkill by the side of the road along Texas highways, especially in the summer.  If we hit a deer, even a small one, going 65 miles per hour, we'd be fucked.  Even a small animal could cause us problems, and I really don't want to kill helpless animals if I don't have to.  So, it's a fear, but it's something I try not to worry too much about since I can't do anything about it one way or the other, really.

We got home about 1:30am and went straight to bed.  It was a very long weekend and we both feel a bit worse for the wear, but it was well worth it.  We usually spent our weekends at home, doing nothing, so to be so active over a weekend isn't something we're very use to.  It was a great weekend, though, and we both had an amazing time over all.  It's nice to see (and meet) friends. We're looking forward to getting together with Phoena and her husband again in the future, which will be easier now that we know where they live!

If you made it all the way to the end of this extremely long entry, thanks for your amazing attention (teach me your secrets)!!  I hope you had as much fun this weekend as we did!!