Perfection. That's the best way to describe Independence Day 2014 at LeConte Lodge. Of the four Independence Days since I've been on the LeConte crew, we caught by far the prettiest day of the lot yesterday for our July 4 festivities.
Once the clouds finally broke it was bluebird pretty all afternoon and night with great visibility down into the valley. Our high was 62 with a chilly overnight low of 38. The Fourth of July I spent in Alaska was warmer, but no prettier. We recorded no precipitation Friday. We've not registered any rain for four consecutive days. Last summer, during all of July we only had five days without rain. It's already been a prettier summer than 2013.
We continued a LeConte crew Independence Day tradition last night. We almost always eat our supper at 5 p.m. before we prepare to serve our guests at 6 p.m. However, the Fourth of July is different. When weather allows on July 4, the crew enjoys a cookout and eats out on the dining room deck after our supper chores are concluded. Nicholette pieced together a wonderful cookout (with an assist to Brad on the grill).
It was almost as if sunset knew it was competing with the upcoming fireworks. The cool temperatures cleared the air and spread a canvas of visibility clear across to the Cumberland Mountains, a rarity in the hazy heat of summer. Sunset proved spectacular.
Then humans and gunpowder got in on the act. The entire Tennessee Valley flashed with the colorful pops. I played "Stars and Stripes Forever" on my iPod. From the choreographed professional displays hosted by cities to families sitting in backyards and shooting off their best fireworks--LeConte offered the perfect place to take it all in. We use terms like sensory overload too often, but after sunset the arsenal of fireworks painting the sky over Tennessee reminded me of multicolored fireflies. I imagine the only folks who didn't like the aerial display were emergency room doctors and night birds.
I thought about the fortune spent on fireworks by cities around the area. I also envisioned one of the single, brilliant flashes and thought that some middle school boy had bought the very best single firework he could with lawn-mowing money and had saved it for last (just as I used to do growing up).
Looking through binoculars, I turned my vision skyward to admire the moon in the crisp, mountain air. I could see craters toward the shadows of the half moon. I thought about the 12 people who had walked on the moon during the Apollo program, some leaving flags--all of them American.
All in all, we had some fine guests and a great July 4, probably my favorite night on LeConte this year. I hope you all had a safe and happy Independence Day, too. Happy trails.
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