My wife and I never travel on Memorial Day weekend for three reasons. The first being that we would be heading into a mass of auto missiles heading south. Not cool. The best way to avoid an incoming barrage is not to charge into it in the first place.
The second reason is that is way too entertaining to stay put and watch the acts as the circus comes to town.
The third reason comes later.
We thought that it would be a remarkable and busy few days. The weather forecast looked pleasant enough to encourage a tsunami of tourists and angling-deprived fanatics to head our way in search of beachcombing, halibut, chinooks and a possible open seat at The Salty Dawg watering hole. Plus, some of the nearby fishing streams and rivers were clearing up enough that they no longer resembled high volume discharges from an espresso machine.
I had been a bit worried though because, after checking the cleaning tables for a couple of weeks, a lot of the halibut were so small that they could have been easily mugged by highly annoyed bait fish or air dried and utilized as Christmas tree ornaments.
Luckily, things changed rapidly. ‘Buts started showing up with serious heft to them and the charters’ social media pages were featuring some flats that could have fed a ravenous rugby team.
Still, with all of its activities, the Memorial Day weekend seemed a bit quieter this year.
I don’t know why. The Homer Spit’s camp grounds were nearly maxed out and parking spots near the ramps and the souvenir shops were rarer than common sense at a beer pong fest.
Oh, there were the usual tales of jackasses gone wild such as the obnoxious Neanderthals looking for a pre-dawn rumble at Fishing Hole’s campground. Said chaos was allegedly spearheaded by a woman shrieking 100 proof profanities at levels threatening bystanders with inner ear damage and exposure to awe-inspiring stupidity. Rumor has it that she’ll be making a special Facebook appearance soon and her choir director will probably not be amused.
On the west beach, a mutant relative to a Dire wolf was happily tethered to a very large spare tire and rim that he considered his private pull toy. He was quite content playing with it until an unleashed mutt with its brains in its butt, jumped him. Bad move. The ill-mannered intruder ended up with a remarkably modified tail while its inattentive master took a header down an embankment trying to break things up. The Dire clone calmly returned to gnawing on what was left of his humongous product by Goodyear. Good doggie (1) Mutt (0) Inattentive Master (Absolute Zero) Both of the latter should have been on a leash.
Not all Homerites are enamored with the holiday crowds. My crotchety bud Willie calls the seasonal descent into our hamlet, the “Northern Horde”. His depiction is a bit over the top because it includes all visitors residing beyond the Seward highway cutoff arriving via cars, motor homes, cruise ships, planes, unicycles, saddle-broke yaks or crawling on all fours. Harleys are exempt.
It doesn’t matter to him. He thinks that the lower forty-eight is a separate country and that Anchorage should be. If it were up to him, he would make them all apply for seventy-two hour, once in a lifetime, visas and then require the rest of their touring be achieved via the Discovery Channel. Other than that, he’s pretty amicable toward the big city outsiders from Kenai and Soldotna.
Turk and I have tried to reason with him but how do you get through to someone who thinks that the two Anchor River bridges should have borderline checkpoints?
We have explained numerous times that tourists mean jobs and a healthy local economy but all we get back is a stare so vacant that it has an echo.
Don’t get me wrong, Willie is a definite asset to society. He does a tremendous amount of community service. Just because it’s court ordered shouldn’t detract from the fact. Plus, he is an outstanding fisherman and has provided us inside tips on hot spots and fishing techniques for years. Some of them legal. So, we’ll put up with his wild rants. It’s better than listening to some of the news commentators nowadays.
Finally, the third reason we stay home.
Even though winds pitched sundry snits during the waning part of the holiday while occasional tantrum-imbued clouds sniveled enough rain to stifle the necessity for sun blocks, it was still a beautiful time to what we do every year.
As the morning tide receded on its journey west, we placed a red, white and blue bouquet afloat on the shifting sea to honor family members and friends who have passed on whether they were civilian or military. Nor were the men and women of the services who died in the service of their country forgotten. A quiet prayer bestowed our deepest gratitude to all of them. We will not forget.
After all, isn’t that what last weekend was really all about?
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.