Monday, August 2, 2010

Be Excellent To Each Other and Party On Dudes!

When comparing this year's Sportsman's Warehouse picnic with last year's, some similarities and some differences stand out.

The main difference that stands out is the weather. It was raining almost the whole time at last year's gig. But like true Alaskans, they didn't let that dampen their spirits. We just spent a little more time hanging around the fire, that's all.

Yesterday morning started out rainy, which is no surprise, since July may go down as the wettest one on record. I shouted my curses to the skies and demanded that the clouds take a hike by the afternoon or there would be heckity darn to pay.

To my surprise, they listened. The afternoon proved to be very nice. (Well, very nice by Alaska's standards, which means mostly cloudy and in the 60s.) A bit of a muggy feeling to the air, but at least I didn't once need the rain jacket I'd brought along just in case. I also wore my new Tilly hat to ward off the occasional sprinkles which didn't happen.

The other main difference was one of my own making: Since we lived about a 15 minute walk from the hay field where the party was held this year and last, I decided to walk my two monstrous mutts with me. I thought they'd love the chance to run around the huge field, maybe some kids would play with them, maybe some other dogs would be brought along as well. I wanted to keep their good socializing with others, though they spend a lot of time at home with just us. I worried that the owners of the place would not approve, or that they would be a huge annoyance to others.

They surprised me with remarkably good behavior! Bruno has a bad habit of jumping on people (Logan's fault), but he managed to keep his paws on the ground. They didn't put paws on tables or anything else. The only thing that was mentioned as being unfavorable was Uffda's drooling problem, but most people didn't seem to care (and by the end of the evening, drool was the least dirty issue.) So they got lots of attention and even started laying down near the fire after a couple of hours of excitement. Uffda didn't want to lay down, but you could see how tired she was by the dragging of her massive feet.

There was a little fight with a bulldog named Bubba that was brought to the party, but Bubba's owner nipped that little spat in the bud lightening quick. The three dogs were the best of friends after that. (I imagine a big unfixed male like Bruno, even being friendly, was a little intimidating at first for Bubba.)

When more people arrived and started breaking out the hot dogs and hamburgers for grilling, I decided I didn't want to see how far Bruno and Uffda's good behavior would stretch; they don't get people food at home, and they spend most of their time outdoors or in their kennels, so they don't get a lot of temptation to deal with. Logan had also arrived by then, so we tied their leashes to a tree in front of the Landcruiser. They laid right down and took a nap.

The party continued as parties do, eating, drinking, kids playing in the sandbox and with the various balls rolling around. The owner even gave a couple of hayrides with his tractor and a big flatbed filled with hay. There was one spot with a steep downhill where he gunned the engine and raced down. I felt like I was on a roller coaster!

There were raffles and games for all ages. A bunch of the games were taken from the "Minute to Win It" game show, like Junk in the Trunk, where you try to shake the ping pong balls out of a tissue box strapped to your rear end in under a minute. Fun to watch, I'll tell you!

Of course, the pinnacle of the evening came when employees could put up the "dollars" they earned for the privilege to pie a manager of their choice in the face. One of the girls had mentioned wanting to pie Logan, and people had been giving her money to do it. (Guess they didn't have the guts to do it themselves, eh?) When the time came, she had racked up over 70k, and each pie was worth 2k.

Logan came prepared, as he always does. he put on his Frog Togs and wouldn't even stand behind the board with the hole for the face in it. The girl wanted to line up a bunch of people all at once with pies. The Store Manager got behind the board, Logan stood out in front. The Fishing Manager cut a hole in a garbage bag to cover as much of him as possible.

For all the good it did them. Logan ended up only getting two pies to the face. (The pies were made of vanilla and chocolate pudding.) All it took was one employee to sneak behind the board. The Store Manager started running, and the great Pudding War began. Both the Store Manager and the Fishing Manager ended up covered in goo. Then the eggs that were being used for other games started flying. The Office Manager smashed two eggs on Logan's head. The kids couldn't resist the fun the adults were having getting messy, so they joined in.

I was one of the few people who managed to remain pudding and egg free. I was almost hit by a random egg long before the pudding war. A boy was goofing around with his dad behind me, and the egg whizzed right by my face to smash on the bench i was sitting on. Scared me out of a year's growth.

The exhaustion of the pudding stores led to the flinging of water balloons, so everyone got washed off after that fight. And there were spigots all over the property for people to rinse the pudding and egg slime off. And then the fire to dry off next to.

It was after 10 PM by that time, so the clean up began. Everyone pitched in to leave the place neater than we'd found it (well, as much as we could with pudding and egg shells everywhere.) The board was broken up and the pieces tossed into the fire. Logan and I were the last to leave, so we watched the fire while it burned down to embers.

Logan had obtained permission from the owner to check out the three old cabins along the edge of the property. One was built in 1931, the others in 1915, I believe. The 1931 cabin had been added on to at some point, and there were old fashioned cooking stoves in them. Logan and I got a lot of ideas as to how we can add on to our own cabin, and put in a cook stove of our own. Logan is even more excited about his new job because he will have the time to do such projects.

By the time we were done, the fire had died down enough, so we packed up and left. We were exhausted, but it had been a lot of fun. The Fishing Manager posted on Facebook that he would never eat pudding again. Can't say I blame him.