Wow, we just got back from a little weekend trip into Wyoming and we had the BEST time! I think this is going to be a long-standing tradition for our family.
For those of you who don't live in the Western states, the fireworks laws vary considerably from state to state. Here in Utah, we are only allowed the "safe and sane" variety, while right across the border in Wyoming, it's pretty much an "anything goes" situation.
A lot of people just slip across the border (about an hour's drive or so), buy their fireworks and then haul them back to Utah. There are two problems with this - one is that there are Highway Patrol troopers waiting right on the highway to nab people bringing back fireworks. Also, when you set them off you can be caught and fined for that. So to me, it makes a lot more sense to just buy them and set them off in Wyoming where it is perfectly legal.
Now Evanston is the first town you come to across the border and it's a cute little town with about 3 main streets, a whole street full of bars and hokey little restaurants, and a delightful little rodeo. They also have a big 4th of July bash at the local park, complete with bouncy things for the kids, bingo and a dutch oven cookoff in the evening. Just the sort of small town stuff we really enjoy.
Plus there are the fireworks! Not only do you get to DO all the fancy fireworks, but you get to SEE everyone else's and it results in about the best fireworks show we've ever seen. Just as soon as it gets dark, there are the most fabulous fireworks going off in every direction and it goes on until nearly midnight. If you get in just the right spot, you can see the professional and the amateur fireworks all around you. I do love a good fireworks show, so I was in heaven.
Then we went to find a place to set off our own fireworks. We found a parking lot outside a baseball field that had the most amazing scene. There had to have been 50 families all crowded into this parking lot and they were setting off every type of fireworks you ever imagined. It was CRAZY and beyond CRAZY.
I'll bet that there were $20,000 worth of fireworks being set off in that one park alone. I'm not kidding you. It was dangerous as hell and we ended up with a couple of minor injuries to show for it. Blake caught a spark on his forehead and got a tiny burn, I had a bottle rocket flick by my ear and had a firecracker smack me on the back of the leg, but nothing major. Tony and Matt got multiple flicks from firecrackers, but fortunately, they both had long pants on so they were OK.
The guys next to us were a couple of big Hawaiian guys and they kept giving us fireworks - roman candles, strings of firecrackers, bottle rockets, M80's, just all sorts of stuff. Blake and Matt thought they had died and gone to heaven. In our neighborhood, the 4th is generally pretty quiet and dull. Each family goes out and does their little fireworks thing - about $30-$40 worth of fountains and ground bloom flowers, maybe a few sparklers for the kids, and that's about it. This wasn't even close. The Hawaiian guys were doing bottle rockets right out of their hands, and there was an eight year old kid on the other side of us setting off a fusillade of bottle rockets and roman candles every few minutes.
The sights and the sounds were just dazzling. But it was like being in a war zone. You had to be constantly on the lookout because a firework might go astray and end up coming right at you from any direction. We saw one group lay down a 30 foot roll of linked firecrackers that went on for about 10 minutes. Makes you want to buy stock in a fireworks factory!
Besides all the fireworks, we had a wonderful time. We stayed in a nice little motel on the main drag. It was about a block away from the Bear River Parkway, so we went over there for a little mini-hike every day and saw all sorts of wildlife - lots of squirrels and cottontails, a couple of elk, a snake (that scared Blake to death even though it was a little garter snake), half a dozen bison, and some very pretty birds. It was very nice and peaceful.
Now the boys want to move to Evanston. They are fascinated by the thought of life in a small town - so are we. Salt Lake actually IS a small town to us. Tony and I both grew up in Orange County, so we can't even imagine living in a sleepy little small town like Evanston. I'd do it too, if I could figure out how we'd earn a living there. But for now, I think we'll just have to content ourselves with brief annual visits.