Last year for the Fourth of July, we drove down to the Redondo Beach Pier to watch the fireworks being launched over the bay. It was a good display, but the logistics of getting out there and back was a major mess. We were already uncertain about how to handle it this year, and then J fell asleep the moment we got in the car (after refusing to nap all afternoon).

So this year we decided to just find a hillside and see what we could see. We stopped at the end of a residential street, where we could see a few other people out watching. We couldn’t see the local fireworks, but if we looked inland, we could see we could see distant fireworks displays all along the horizon.

On the other side of the very narrow block, the hillside drops sharply, offering a clear view south and east, and a slightly obstructed view to the west. (It’s the same area as where I went to watch the sun rise after a lunar eclipse last December.) There were a lot more people crowded there, all watching the local display. The low-level parts were hidden behind a hill, but the higher ones were clearly visible. I put J on my shoulders so he could watch — he probably doesn’t remember seeing fireworks before. Every once in a while I’d look off in the other direction to see what was visible in some neighboring city.

Seeing so many fireworks at once in the distance made for a very different experience than seeing one display up close. Not only was it stunning, but it drives home the point that this really is something all Americans celebrate together.

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