PEASANTS spent July 4 at the Flaming Gorge reservoir, a few hours drive outside my hometown, Rock Springs, Wyo., in the company of some childhood friends and their cohorts. They were small-town punks who still play in bands but have mostly traded skateboards for beer guts and after-school detention for jobs and families. A conglomerate of children roamed the desert shores where we camped, throwing rocks at gulls and beating the hell out of lizards. A rattlesnake struck at one of them and a father chopped its head off with a shovel. Like most everything else in camp, the snake was thrown into the fire—sadly, before I could harvest its rattle.

We threw firecrackers with waterproof fuses into the lake and confused a fish so much it bit a guy’s fishing hook. He threw the fish back, though, and instead ate a 92-oz. steak. I tried to rescue a raft blowing out to sea but the water was so cold it stole my breath. We hunted for fossils but found little. We shot off artillery shells and lit some fountains called Exploding Bin Laden Noggins, which disappointingly didn’t really explode. It rained all night after we went to bed and our tent flap kept flying up in the wind, but we had drank enough beer and peppermint schnapps that it didn’t really bother us.

Happy birthday, America. You’re the best.