Abide Culture Day Trip Chronicles: Paul Bunyan

Labor Day. End of Summer. September. The annual Paul Bunyan Days in St. Maries.

Drive. Park. Walk. Our destination lies before us through a maze surrounded by chain-link. A display of posters boast the yearly event along side other festivals—flyers taped against glass for the world to see—in a closed-for-the-evening shop. A carnival pops up in between broken asphalt and a sparsely grassed high school football field; families call dibs on sections of dirt, weeds, and grass with blankets and camp chairs. We find our own plot for the evening. Sellers amongst rides sell wares. Port-a-potties edge the field as lines form; anxious attendees waiting for their turn for sweet relief.

A setting orange sun casts long shadows and meets jagged horizon; helicopter's propellers rotate taking passengers on rides that equal $50 per person. Carnies beckon onlookers to gamble monies away to win that must-have stuffed animal. Metal rides—unsavory as the operators—thrill riders.

Cards flung in a pile of numbers, skips, draw twos, and draw fours. A woman with a lit cigarette held betwixt nicotine stained fingers comes over to us and gives us some ride tickets to "sweeten the pot" for us. We thank her and continue the onslaught of Uno violence against each other in a barrage of colored cards; the pile grows deep. Night quickly comes as an illuminated cross in the distance, high on the mountain opposite us, shines bright for all to see. Field lights glow as static emits while insects circle heating bulbs. A lone shell sails upward and draws attention while smoke trails and a sudden explosion resonates across the field. Empty blankets become occupied. Lights shut off for a dark night's canvas as our National Anthem is sung: hundreds of voices become one as the song rises; Ursa Major shines down. A special tribute for the 13 brave souls lost in Afghanistan.

Mortars propelled upwards and explode in a colorful chemical compound concoction. An impressive finale. An evening etched by pyrotechnics.

Our way back home with a quick stop off the side of the road to view a massive Milky Way that stretches the sky.

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