It’s been a big year for flooding in Flagstaff, and a rough year for the troll that lives under my bridge.

In July he was swept away.

When I returned from Maine and the Maritimes I exhumed the poor fellow

Unfortunately he had lost his ceramic beer. I gave him a substitute.

Which he promptly lost in the next flood.

Cricket got back from leading a Grand Canyon Youth trip down Grand Canyon shortly after I returned. We had a few days to repair Cataract for our upcoming trip down the Green River. Some of the youths came by to see the shop and ending up spending a couple days working on boats. Their journey to the dark side is now complete.

Since we had a few hours to spare, Cricket decided it was high time to paint her mini-motorboat, Jiminy.

We loaded the boats on the trailer with wet paint and headed north.

We spent a night with our dear friend Andy Hutchinson who operates High Desert Dories (Fretwater Boatworks’s arch-rival). Greta, his first Doryak is now complete and fresh off the Yampa River.

And triplets are birthing. Doryaks rule!

From there we went to Green River to drop the boats in preparation for our upcoming river trip, then boogied eastward. At the 100th meridian we found the World’s Largest Potato.

Then on to Newton, Iowa, to join my brother Tom and his wife Barbara at the Pyrotechnics Guild International annual convention where Tom is a seasoned veteran pyro. Among other things there is a warehouse full of consumer grade fireworks at rock bottom prices. Here is a photo of a kid in a candy shop.

Tom was our gracious guide for the week and was able to get us signed up for a couple seminars. Here we are building 3″ Italian style shells. Black powder on the inside, brilliant stars on the outside.

Packaging it up.

Wrapped in twine.

Then paper maché-ed into lovely little packages.

Fused and ready to shoot.

The entire class’s output gets shot off in a formal competition one night this week.

Tom brought materials for Cricket and I each to build a girondola–a spinning bamboo-framed collection of rockets that spins off into (hopefully) the sky.

We also got to join a seminar building 4″ round shells.

The flash powder gives you aluminum hands.

Boom boom!

Tom also set us up building rockets. Cricket is pounding black powder into the rocket casings.


The brothers Dimock transporting a large girondola.

Tom and Cricket driving the big girondola out to the shooting range.

Wiring up rockets at the rocket line. Everything is fired electronically.

Cricket loading one of Tom’s big shells.

Daytime fireworks are really cool too.

Here are a couple lame shots of the stuff we built. I think this is my 4″ shell. Due to timing crunches we had to shoot them before full darkness. They looked cooler than this image. You had to be there.

Cricket’s girondola heading for the moon. These things are so freakin cool.

I got third place in the 3″ Italian shell competition–maybe it runs in the family.

Three of the five nights there were tremendous shows.

Ice cream cones in the sky.

We did end up buying just a few little firecrackers and sparklers to take home. But only as many as would fit in the car. Okay. They weren’t firecrackers and sparklers. They were bigger.

Ears still ringing, we set off back across the country to run the Green and Colorado out onto Lake Puddle.