Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ah, youth

One dock. One sheet of plywood. One 200-f00t pedestrian ramp. One life-jacketed mountain bike. A flag. And 45 guys on a mission. On a 12-hour mission to reclaim all that was good and pure in their childhoods.

That pretty much sums up Reclamation of Youth Day 2010 in Bellingham. An event we were most fortunate, no, make that privileged, to witness in some small way Friday.

The Wonderfully Patient Spouse and I were just getting ready to stroll into Fairhaven for some tapas at Flats (excellent restaurant, btw) when we noticed quite the crowd gathering at the foot the pedestrian ramp leading down to the Taylor Street boardwalk along Bellingham Bay. On no particular deadline, we wandered over to see just exactly ruckus was all about.

The first thing that caught my eye was a mountain bike with, yes, a life jacket firmly duct-taped around its strut. Interesting.

Then we saw the guys -- all 20- to 30-somethings -- and got it. Got it, big time. They were jumping the bike off the dock. This we had to see.

We hurried down to the bottom of the ramp and positioned ourselves for an epic Cinerama-scale view of said launch. We were lucky enough to stand next to one particularly gregarious ROYD (Reclamation of Youth Day guy) who gave us the 4-1-1 on said event.

Ten years ago, some of his buddies were sitting around talking about what they loved most about being a kid during the summer. Apparently, somewhere during this trip down memory lane, one of the guys had a flash of true brilliance -- would it be so wrong to pack all these beloved events into one effing unbelievable epic day? Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Reclamation of Youth Day: Bellingham style*. It's golden, and thanks to a ROYD Facebook fan page, I am happy to share the lads' itinerary for the day:

6 a.m. Ride bikes to Sehome Hill arboretum for knighting ceremony

7:15 a.m. Ride down hill, stopping to form massive "flying V" formation on Holly St. Breakfast.

9 a.m. West Side beaches for tree fort, rock throwing, bomb shelter challenge

10:15 a.m. Broadway Park for wiffle ball and ultimate frisbee

Noon - Boulevard Park for bike jumping and amazing catches. [Note: This is where we picked up the action. Art form unto itself, "amazing catches" involves jumping off the dock and trying to catch frisbees in mid-air before hitting the water. This was sort like the half-time entertainment while guys were getting on the bike at the top of the ramp.]

1:30 p.m. Lunch: Little Caesar's pizza, smoothies and pop. (It's important to note the emphasis on pop. These guys were sober as judges and high on life, totally serious and committed to being kids. Probably till midnight that is. When they turn back into 20- and 30-somethings. See below.)

2:30 p.m. Whatcom Falls Park for cliff jumping, more amazing catches

4 p.m. Tommy's house for flyer's up, rope-swinging, big n' bouncing and general tomfoolery

6 p.m. Zuanich Point for BBQ, frisbee, Calvin and Hobbes volleyball, buck-buck, foot races and flag signing

8:15 p.m. Dilly Bars at local Dairy Queen

8:45 p.m. Apocalyptic dodgeball tournament at Western Washington University's tennis courts

11:45 p.m. Furious charge up the Hill of Youthful Tranquility

Midnight. Plant flag, drink from the Youthful Chalice, reading of the Declaration of Youth. Huzzahs all around.

* Apparently there is a Chilean chapter of ROYD: One of the founding fathers, so to speak, is currently teaching in Chile and organized a Reclamation of Youth Day with his students to occur somewhat simultaneously with the Bellingham event. And rumor has it, they tried to get Bermtopia chapter going awhile back but with little success. I think we'll be re-visiting that concept in the near future.

I have to say, I'm completely taken by the concept of Reclamation of Youth Day. Who among us doesn't have clear memories of the wonderfully silly things we used to do as kids? Log-rolling down the the neighbors' sloped front yard, first-bounce-or-fly, freeze tag, Red Rover, kick ball -- those are just a few of the things I remember doing endlessly throughout the summer with my neighborhood peeps. There was nothing more magical than playing outside until you couldn't see the ball in front of you. We could do that again, right? More important, we SHOULD! (Well, maybe in a more 50s-friendly version?) Hmmmmm. I will need to chew on this one.

In the meantime, huzzahs all around to the Bellingham boys. Huzzahs all around.

P.S. The WPS and I did enjoy this one FB post on the ROYD fan page that went up about 6:15 p.m. Friday. It was from Ian: "Hey everyone, I'm the one who broke six teeth when I did the bike jump for my first time ever. That's only part of the damage but that's a long story. Anyway, whoever has pictures of me, can you send them all to me or post them all on FB? I would love them all even if they aren't a good shot. . . ."

Huzzah, Ian!

P.P.S. You might also enjoy this YouTube vid if you have few minutes. Go ahead. It's summer.

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