This year the Fourth of July fell on a Saturday and the Federal Government and some privately-owned businesses decided to observe the holiday on Friday, July 3 so people had a three-day weekend off from work. Yesterday I wrote about how I wasn’t sure how I was going to spend the Fourth of July this year because it has been raining on and off since Wednesday and the rain pour had gotten heavy at times.

Friday was one of those days when it rained heavy off and on but I didn’t mind because I decided to check out Community Forklift‘s monthly First Friday event (when the store is opened a few hours longer than usual until well into the evening and there is live music). I didn’t stay too long because I arrived towards the tail end of that event. But I caught a local rapper performing.

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There are usually sales on a few select items and they are pretty good bargains. It’s just that I didn’t need anything that was on sale at that time.

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As a hardware store specializing in used and recycled goods, one can find the most unusual recycled items that one can buy for his/her own home, such as this gigantic glass and wooden door.

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Then there was this church pew that anyone can purchase for his/her own home, business, or even another house of worship.

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On my way home I decided to stop off at Rita’s Ice Custard in College Park. Rita’s is a drive-in place that’s opened nine months out of the year. (It’s usually closed from November-February.) I hadn’t been there since last summer so I decided to treat myself to some custard. It was also less crowded than usual due to both the rain and the fact that many locals were out of town for the holiday weekend. (On a hot, sunny, and humid summer day one can see long lines extending all the way to the furtherest edge of the parking lot.)

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But then I saw this sign announcing that, due to the ongoing egg shortage, Rita’s was going to serve regular soft ice cream instead of custard. I ordered the soft ice cream and, while it tasted less creamy than the custard, it still tasted pretty good.

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I knew there was an egg shortage when I was doing my usually grocery shopping and I saw a sign announcing that egg prices would be higher due to the egg shortage. I purchased a carton of eggs recently to hard boil (for lunch) but I’m going to switch to non-egg protein alternatives once I run out until the crisis is over.

Saturday morning didn’t start promisingly because it was raining so hard that I could hear it pounding the rooftop. Eventually the rain downpour subsided but it still remained cloudy. By the afternoon I thought that it was borderline enough that I decided to take a chance and head to Laurel where I was going to meet members of my support group for people who are separated or divorced at this Independence Day festival that was being held at Granville Gude Park. The idea would be to meet on a hilltop near this stage starting at 5 p.m. where we would buy dinner from one of the food trucks that would be present, socialize, and dance to this local band that would be performing on stage. Then we would wait until sunset when we would all see the fireworks together.

I arrived a little bit early so I parked my car in Laurel Lakes Shopping Center, which is located within walking distance of the park, and I browsed around in a few stores (mainly Five Below and Michael’s Arts & Crafts). By 5 p.m. it started to rain very heavily once again. I came close to just going home but then I decided to walk over to the Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet and eat dinner there. After dinner, if it continued to rain very heavily, then I would go home.

I last ate there on my birthday back in December (and I even took a few photos of the place, which I posted here) so I knew that I was in for a real treat. I saw that they had steamed blue crabs available and one can pick up as many crabs as he/she wants. It’s been a long time since I had a steamed blue crab that I could crack open and suck out all the meat. (Mainly because steamed blue crabs are typically sold in batches of at least a dozen, which is a bit much for one person to handle at once. I used to eat steamed blue crabs more often when I was married.) The crabs were steamed plain but there was some Old Bay along with a tiny cup where people can scoop up as much of the spice as he/she wants. The crabs were also a very small size, which means that there were far less meat in each crab than in the larger sizes. But I was still happy because lately I had been pining for steamed blue crabs and I’m now satisfied for the time being.

I also ate the sushi and I had something from the Mongolian grill. Basically I stayed there an hour while I fed my face. By the time I left the restaurant I found that the rain had stopped. I decided to return to my car, pick up my portable folding chair from the back seat, and walk over to the park.

I tried looking for my cohorts by following the directions that were posted on Meetup.com but I walked all over the grounds (which so totally saturated by that point that it was like walking through a mud pit at times) and I didn’t find anyone whom I recognized. After walking around for a while, I decided to check the Meetup.com website on my smartphone and I found that the organizer had canceled the event at the last minute. I felt discouraged because there were at least two other fireworks shows closer to my home and I only went to Laurel because I wanted to meet the people whom I’ve known from my support group meetings. I briefly toyed with leaving and going to one of the other firework shows closer to my home but I decided to set up my folding chair and stay put. My attitude was that I had made an effort to get there that I might as well stay there as long as it wasn’t raining. If there was another heavy rainstorm like earlier, I definitely would’ve packed up my folding chair and leave.

So I decided to amuse myself by taking a few photos of the fairgrounds and you can easily see some ominous looking grey clouds in the background.

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At one point I decided to go to the bathroom then go to one of the food vendors and order myself some lemonade before the sun went down and the fireworks would begin. As I made my way over to one of the vendors selling lemonade, I found a few people I recognize from my support group. Apparently, despite the cancellation of the official meetup, some members decided to go to the event anyway. I was happy that I found some people so I wouldn’t be alone. I promptly grabbed my folding chair and moved it to where the others were sitting. The next photo shows the view from where my chair was ultimately located.

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And here’s a lovely sunset.

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After I moved my chair, I went over to this tiki-themed truck that sold lemonade and other kinds of fruit drinks. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the funky kitschy decor.

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I ordered my lemonade and it was only after I ordered that I got some sticker shock. I expected to pay at least $3 but then the cashier told me that it cost $6. I paid it since I was kind of thirsty. The next photo shows what I got for $6.

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The fireworks show started around quarter after 9. There were live bands that performed covers of various pop, rock, and country songs all afternoon until just before the fireworks started. Then the music switched to prerecorded patriotic songs while the fireworks shot off in the air. I felt the show was really well done and I managed to capture all kinds of cool shots of various fireworks in a variety of colors and sizes.

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When the fireworks ended everyone in my group parted and I walked back over to where my car was parked. Normally getting in and out of Laurel Lakes Shopping Center is no big deal. But it took me at least 45 minutes before I was able to even get out of the parking lot. The next photo shows how bad it got.

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And the situation was made really bad by these impatient drivers who were willing to risk fender benders so they could get out of the parking lot ASAP. There were a couple of vehicles behind me who were honking their horns and motioning with their hands for me to move my car. Except I couldn’t move because a Holiday Inn van was blocking the exit of one of the lanes that led to the main driving route that would eventually lead to exiting the parking lot entirely. But these vehicles kept on frantically honking and waving their hands outside. Finally this SUV in the next photo decided to drive illegally in the left lane (it was supposed to be one lane) and drive right up to the Holiday Inn van. The van moved slightly ahead then stopped because of the other cars ahead of it. But that didn’t deter that SUV from being aggressive enough to be right next to that van, as the next photo shows.

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But that wasn’t all, the van drove ahead but was followed closely by another SUV and the SUV in the left lane was inching up very close to that other vehicle as well.

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I somehow managed to pull into an empty parking spot, turn off the motor, and just sat there while I did some web surfing with my smartphone for several minutes. Eventually I saw that the traffic was starting to thin so I started the engine again and I just kept on driving through empty parking spots until I found a lane that I was able to get into and I ultimately made my way on to Route 1.

I didn’t return home until around 11:15 p.m. feeling totally unnerved. I went straight to bed. I woke up the next morning and I went to church, which was doing a special service on anti-racism efforts in the Unitarian Universalist denomination featuring guest speakers from both congregation members and people from other UU churches. There was a special lunch that was served afterwards and I even got to take home some extra leftovers for me to eat for future meals (which also stretches my food budget a bit further). On the way home I decided to stop off at Behnke’s Nursery because it was having a Fourth of July weekend plant sale. I managed to purchase a lavender plant for my front yard for $5. Sweet! I also took a few photos of some of the patriotic and/or nature layout that I saw a few hours ago.

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It didn’t rain today and the temperature went no higher than 80 degrees but, boy, was it humid! I saw a weather forecast saying that it was going to rain more tomorrow. Oh well. At least I had a mostly low key, stress-free holiday weekend.

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