But also awesome.
A road trip to the Napa Valley had been in the works but, in the end, we didn’t end up going. This left me with a Saturday with no plans … something rather unusual in my world. Friends already had plans to attend the Portland Highland Games so I tagged along.
The Highland Games — a celebration of all things Scottish — were extremely entertaining. We saw gigantic men throwing heavy weights over crossbeams above their heads, launching javelin type poles with big balls on the end into the air, hurling heavy rocks (one weighed 96 pounds!), and playing shinty, a Scottish hockey-type game. We also saw extremely agile and graceful Scottish dancers. One of the Scottish dancers was a little boy (maybe 7 years old?) in a kilt and a tam o’shanter. He danced very well and then stayed, with his mom, to watch the rest of the performers. When another, teenaged, boy took the stage the younger boy turned excitedly to his mom and whisphered: “Another boy who dances!”
I saw very talented fiddlers who played traditional Irish and Scottish songs (including a 5-year-old girl who played like a pro in front of the huge crowd!), border collies being put through their paces and many many bangers (although not any mash.) It was fun seeing so many Americans (actual Scottish people being rather light on the ground at the event) getting so excited about their cultural heritage. Even though I maintain (along with most Europeans, for the record) that we Americans have a somewhat ludicrous relationship with our families’ distant countries of origins, it still pleased me to see people who were so invested in a collective identity. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing the obviously non-Scottish black and Asian people joining in the festivities with just as much gusto as the red-haired, brogue-having Scots. One of the events at the Games is the Kilted Mile in which participants run a mile while wearing a kilt. An Asian guy ran the mile in a bright yellow tank top, yellow running shoes and a traditional tartan kilt and super retro sunglasses. It was awesome. Spirits ran very high among the crowd and it was fun to see. Hopefully you all will soon get to see some of what I saw; pictures are hopefully forthcoming.
Karaoke was also on the dock for my Saturday but that also got canceled (I’m sensing an unfortunate theme here…). I decided instead to head up to Fort Vancouver for an 1860’s style baseball game being played on the Parade Grounds of the former fort. Despite the miserable traffic due to bridge construction it was a really pleasant way to spend the afternoon/early evening.
The crowd was large, probably about 150-200 people, and peppered with Fort volunteers dressed in clothes from the period. The baseball players wore shoes typical of the era which made the slip and slide on the grass and didn’t wear gloves, leading to more misses and fumbles than is usual in modern baseball. A jolly brass band played before the game and a cannon shot marked the start of play. All in all, it was a very entertaining event and very wholesome. The kids around watching loved it. I can’t help but think that if it was aired on TV it might be more popular than modern day baseball!
So, what with the thwarted road trip, a mini-trip to Caledonia and a voyage back in time today was a little out of the ordinary and extremely enjoyable. The Highland Games return next summer for the 59th time and another game of 1860’s baseball will be played on August 19th. I highly recommend both. ‘
P.S. Sorry about the bad lighting in the photos — it was really sunny out there!