30 May, 2011

Memorial Day Memories

Happy Memorial Day to all my American friends and followers!

When I was a kid, Memorial Day was something I looked forward to all year. This day marked the opening of our summer home in Anchor Point, Alaska.

Now, before you get all excited - our "summer home" was a 24' travel trailer on a camping lot just north of Homer on the Sterling Highway. We had a garden that the moose loved to snack on, and little pomeranians that we had to watch extra close so the Eagles wouldn't carry them away for dinner. True story.

All through the 6 months of winter and spring, waiting for "breakup" made me antzy for summer. I longed for the midnight sun, the late-night/early morning campfires, the Bald Eagles soaring above the river that our campsite overlooked, and the fresh fish we caught almost daily.

(a photo straight from my scrapbook of my mom and me around 1992, on our summer lot)

Yes indeed. Those were the days. 

We would hoist the American Flag as soon as we got into camp, and hang our collection of (15+) wind socks on the line to blow in the breeze, announcing our arrival.

My mom and I would spend months at a time there, often staying from Memorial Day in May, when the park opened, clear until Labor Day in September, when the park closed. Dad would always drive us to the campsite and stay for a week or two, depending on work - then he'd go back to Anchorage to work for a few weeks before he came back again. 
Mom taught me the ways of camp-cooking in dutch ovens, and in foil over the fire coals. It was there that she taught me to crochet, and where we watched the Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Sons of Katie Elder while crafting indoors, away from the afternoon sun. 
Outside, this is where I learned to garden, to build sand castles as tall as myself, and how to drive a 4-wheeler. I learned all about the different types of plants that grew in the area, and which ones were poisonous. We played board games and went on long walks in the woods together. I learned to really ride a bicycle. 
On the weeks that dad was able to come stay with us, I learned to fish!

(Yes. The epitome of style in 1995, here... Whatever works. I didn't get sunburned.)

He'd take me to the Russian River (which I thought was really called the "Rushin' River" because it flowed so fast), where he taught me the art of tying a fly and which weight of a sinker I would need for the current. 
This was one of my favorite places. The water is an amazing aqua color and the banks were always lined with fishermen and women, at times shoulder to shoulder when the salmon were running. 

At camp, I learned to gut, clean, and fillet a fish. I learned about the anatomy of fish, and we often explored the stomachs of the deep sea fish (Halibut) that we caught. We found stones, small crabs and fish, other fishers' hooks, and once we even found a small pocket knife! 

I was deeply saddened when we sold our lot, after moving to Utah. I still get a little misty when I think of all the fun memories we had all those years ago. Every time Memorial Day comes around, my thoughts automatically drift to our little lot in Anchor Point, learning, and of course, my mom and dad. 

Did/do you celebrate Memorial Day? What are your favorite Memorial Day memories?


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