Days 7 & 8 – Naval Station San Diego – Dry Side

Hi All – yesterday was a blur. It was so blurred that I cannot remember much about what happened other than we picked up a whole Buick load of folding chairs, then went to dinner at the Black Angus in Chula Vista, near where we used to live, a long time ago, then came back to our room where I watched the remainder of the Oregon vs. Washington State game.

Gee … guess writing all that triggered a memory or two …

The chairs, 75 of them, were for the hospitality rooms for the reunion. It’s too many, but didn’t know how it would all work out. So far, everything is fine.

Dinner at Black Angus was very good, but it took a very long time. There were 11 of us and they stuffed us into a back room where the waitresses forget to go very often. Still, the food was good, and we all had a great time visiting. We rode with Chuck and Vonnie, Vonnie drove. They have a Kia Soul which has very quick steering, quicker than Vonnie can react, so it was an exciting ride. We made it back to the room safely, however, so it’s all good. I just love charred parts of a dead cow. Tasty.

The game was fun to watch. It was 23-19, Oregon, at the end of the second quarter when we got back, so it looked like Washington State had an upset in mind, but Oregon roared back in the 2nd half to win 51-26. I verified that by asking SIRI, which Kathie thinks “sucks”, a direct quote. SIRI said “the Ducks pounded the Cougars by a score of 51-26”. That’s another direct quote. She really calls them like she sees them. So, now the Ducks are 5-0. Ah, but the Beavers are 3-0 and looking pretty good. It’s going to be an interesting season.

Today was a whirlwind of activity as people showed up to join our little gathering. Pretty much all the old people who walked through the door re ex Buckley crew members. Well, no all of them. Some of them are girl friends or wives. In all, there are about 130 people floating around the Navy Lodge.

We have two adjoining rooms that we rented for our hospitality rooms and both were packed to overflowing. The noise was absolutely tremendous, a nonstop cacophony of overlapping voices, male and female, covering all the ranges of the auditory spectrum. We may never know how any of those voices communicated a coherent thought to the dozens of listening ears, but they apparently did. I know that’s true because as I looked around the rooms, watching their lips move, and their voices add to the rising and dropping crescendo of happiness, those at whom they were speaking would nod their heads, and move their lips in return. All conversations were one-on-one. I had a few of them with a lot of people I’ve never met before. Our only connection is an old ship that is now nonexistent. Funny how that works.

For lunch we took a few people to the NEX food court. It was an excellent lunch. I’m not going to tell you what we ate, but it was really, really good.

After lunch Diane took a couple of people to the commissary to buy “stuff” for the hospitality rooms and I took a couple of people back to the lodge. When I got there one of the ladies asked me where the nearest bar was. Not knowing, I took them to the package store which took care of the issue. They got their vodka and I made two new friends.

Walking around the hospitality rooms, and the lobby area, talking with all of those people made my throat sore. And it made me tired.

Tomorrow we must arise early and all get on buses for a trip around town. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Day 6 – San Diego

Today was pretty routine. Some might say it was boring, even. But me? Boring or not, I cherish every day that I wake up on the green side of the grass. Know what I mean?

We got up late. Too late for our continental breakfast, again. We’ve been here two days and missed both time. Tomorrow, being a weekend, it will be open until 10 am, an hour later, so we might be able to make it down before it closes. I’m sure they serve delicious, very hearty fare. The most important part, however, is the coffee. Ummmmmm.

Our beautiful daughter, Jennifer, gets migraine headaches whenever she smells chocolate, of coffee. That is just so unfair. Two of the most important food groups, and she cannot partake of them. Makes me wonder what I ever did so wrong to inflict such a terrible thing on her.

I suffer from migraines, too, but love walking down the coffee aisle in any grocery store. It’s such a wonderful aroma that I fear I’ll embarrass Diane and start drooling or something. I know, she’s used to the drooling, but the smell of coffee makes it way worse. That’s about all I ever consume for breakfast … coffee. I eat bananas, too, and douse my coffee with hazlenut creamer, so it’s not just coffee. But it’s mostly coffee.

For 27 years I roamed the passageways of naval ships, and various shore facilities, clutching a crusty coffee cup in my hand, filling it every time I passed a coffee pot. I only drank it black, and I drank it right up until taps, or lights out at 10pm. Sometimes later than that. It never bothered me. The more bitter, the better. It wasn’t about the taste back then, it was just a need to carry around a coffee cup and an empty coffee cup isn’t normal. That cup never got washed, either. That was a rule because it supposedly ruined the flavor. I never believed that, of course, because, as I said previously, it wasn’t about the flavor. It’s a wonder I didn’t catch something really, really bad. Maybe I did and it just hasn’t manifested, yet. Maybe I’ll wake up and have it tomorrow because it lays dormant for 25 years before it strikes.

What ruined me and Diane for coffee was the first pleasure cruise we ever took. Cruise ship coffee is really strong, and tasty. We loved it so much that we promptly tossed out the Folgers when we got home, bought a coffee grinder, and enrolled in the Gavalia coffee of the week program. For a nominal fee they send us boxes filled with little bags of whole bean coffee from various parts of the world. All of them are good. I’d be perfectly happy with just one kind, all the time, since I now use creamer, all the time, but the variety is great for Diane. All she uses is sugar. I mistakenly took a sip of hers once and about gagged, then acquired a taste for it. I drank it that way for years. Then I went to Starbucks. It was the thing to do every Thursday morning toward the end of my civilian career. Instead of plain old coffee at an exorbitant price, I decided to have a Venti White Chocolate Mocha, no whip at an even MORE exorbitant price. I was hooked. Simply sugared coffee left me wanting. I needed more. I needed something that I could roll around in my mouth and feel the creamy substance absorb into my tongue, and the inner walls of my cheeks. Just like the VWCMNW.

After sampling a lot of different creamer flavors, I settled on hazelnut. I’m so stuck on that stuff that I just can’t drink coffee without it any more. We travel with it, even. It’s an addiction, I think. Not a terribly bad on, but an addiction, just the same.

I’m sorry … I didn’t mean to turn this into a confessionalistic episode, but there you have it. It’s done and there’s no turning back. Maybe I should add a picture. Haven’t taken many, and don’t have an recent ones, so I’ll just give you one of Breezie having a cat nap and call this good.

 

Day 5 – Navy Lodge Naval Station San Diego

Greetings from sunny Southern California. With the exception of a very sore throat, from snoring non-stop for the past four days, and a wrinkled back for Diane, because she drove almost 400 miles yesterday, we’re just fine. We’re here, and didn’t let even one of of those knuckleheads on the freeway bend our car. I should say, “Diane didn’t let one of those freeway knuckleheads … etc …” She’s awesome!

Today we drove downtown to Santa Fe Station, where all the trains stop, to visit Five Star Tours so we could pay the enormous fee they wanted to provided some large buses to cart our shipmates around San Diego next week. Our new favorite GPS application, WAZE, took us right to the correct address, but it was difficult to find. The office is located inside the station, in a small room with a sign outside alerting everyone that it was the Women’s Waiting Room. Tricky.

Once inside a very nice lady, with a number of festive tattoos, was more than happy to take our money and confirm the arrangements. Now all I have to do is get the driver’s names so they can drive their buses onto the base.

After that, we returned to our room with thoughts of lunch, but it wasn’t quite lunch time, yet. So, I got on the internet to find the nearest VA facility in an effort to see if they might be able to come up with a spare CPAP power supply for me. I talked with Lucinda, at the Pulmonary Checkin office, then Mary, one of the therapists. Mary said to bring my unit and she’s fix me up. But, we had to get there before 3:30.

We made it to the VA Medical Center in La Jolla by 2:30, and I was out the door in about 15 minutes. It was pretty amazing. That facility is absolutely enormous! And, very customer oriented. I could not be happier. Now, I have a spare power supply so should never be without. What was even more amazing is that Diane found a place to park within 100 feet of the front door in their 80,000 vehicle parking lot. It’s enormous, too.

We hopped back on I-5 South, vetoing the idea of searching for a place to eat in La Jolla and suffer the horrors of rush hour traffic, and returned to our little safe haven at Main & 28th Street. We went to the Navy Exchange food court and had a terrific meal from Panda Express. Both of us had Chinese food on our minds when we headed for the VA, so had to quench that need. It was extremely good. Then we went shopping and returned to our room by 6pm or so. I just made that last bit up because I don’t have a clue as to when we got back to the room.

I spent a couple of hours setting up the new printer I bought to replace the one sitting next to my computer at home because it’s hosed. I don’t like hosed printers.

Now it’s 1/4 of an hour until 10pm and it’s getting sleepy in here. I was allowed to watch the premier of “Last Resort” and I loved it. That’s about the most TV I’ve watched in a couple of weeks. Seems like I’m always doing something else. Guess there’s something wrong with my world since I don’t watch TV like I used to.

I’ve got photos to share, but don’t have them available on my laptop to add here. I’ll work on that tomorrow … if I have time.

Day 4 – Naval Base San Diego, California

It’s 1047 and we’re about eleventy-two miles into our final leg.

We both slept better last night, mainly because I remained more vertical than horizontal which help me not snore so much. Diane likes that part.

We both woke up before 0730 this morning, and slowly worked up to beginning this last day on the road. The to our room shut behind us at 0910, and we had everything loaded and rolling out of the parking lot by 0915. Then there was the requisite stop at the base gas station for a refill. We stopped there yesterday but non of the pumps were working, so we went to the exchange and commissary instead. This time they worked just fine and I was able to coax a tank of $4.09 a gallon gas into our tank. I think it took a little over 19 gallons. From there we went back to the Starbucks, which is part of the Exchange complex, for our morning brew. Diane’s is caramel machiatto, mine is white chocolate mocha. The biggest they have. While I was getting our drinks, Diane bought me a T-shirt. She wasn’t pleased with the ones I brought because they all have neckties printed on them.

On the way out the main gate I took pictures of the airplanes on display to share with you.

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Apprehension builds as we travel south, knowing we must enter Los Angeles early this afternoon. The only upside is it’s mid day, not during rush hour. Still, we know it’s going to be a slow, arduous, dangerous transit from the Grapevine through the city. It will be exciting, but we will make it okay.

I’ve been playing with my phone to see how siri works. Pretty soon she’ll have me trained so ask questions in the proper manner so whe won’t have to quiz me. It’s a pretty handy feature. My iPad even has it. How cool is that. And, just a bit ago, Diane had me use her phone to call her Mom, Jean, to see how things are going today. That’s a morning regular, once we get on the road … call Mom … just for fun, I tried to invoke siri on Diane’s phone, but she’s only got an iPhone 4, not a 4S like mine, so she doesn’t have siri. She does, however, have Voice Control, that pops up when you hold down the conrtrol button long enough, and I just told it to “dial Jean”. After a short pause she asked me which one, as there are a few Jean’s in the contacts list. I clarified, and she dialed Mom right up. Jean, by the way, is still doing okay, for which we’re thankful.

It’s 1309 – do you know where your children are?

We just crested the summit of Tejon Pass at the top of the Grapevine leading into LA. It’s 4144 feet high. I know that for sure because there was a sign. It was the same sign we’ve seen on the dozen or so times we’ve climbed that hill. Apparently it hasn’t sunk any.

About an hour ago, we took a small detour, allowing siri to lead us into Bakersfield for lunch at the closest iHop restaurant it could find. It was a really good choice,, getting away from the freeway for food. Cheaper, too, although it cost us a little extra time. We both had their Two x Two x Two … that’s 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, and two pancakes. Diane got her eggs and bacon cooked twice, just the way she likes it, and mine were both over easy. I put my eggs between my pancackes so the yolks wouldn’t run all over my plate. Tasty.

The road at the top of the Grapevine is terrible … lumpy bumpy holey. Caused, no doubt, by the billions of trucks that drive transit the area every 2-3 days. We’ve seen at least a million and a half. There is construction going on with signs it will be finished in 2015. So, it’s improving, and appears to be finished on the southern side, both directions. Four lanes of new asphalt allowing everyone, except us, to go 100 mph, or more.

It’ 1330 and LA is 50 miles away. We’re almost to the final downhill side because trucks are pulling into the brake check area. Every time we come this direction I tell Diane the story of my trip down this hill in my 1964 el Camino in 1966. I was just cruising along, keeping up with traffic, when I crested the hill. Going around the first corner I look ahead to see brake lights about 1/4 mile ahead, so touched the brakes and not a lot happened. So I pushed harder, and felt a bit of slowing, but not enough. I started down shifting my 4-speed to help slow down, but the vehicles ahead were gaining on me with frightening speed. Finally, I just shifted to neutral and locked up all the wheels, pushing on the brake as hard as I could. I put flat spots on all four of those tires before the car came to a stop about 5 feet from the car in front of me. It was a miracle that the car slid straight for about 300 feet, never leaving my lane. The end result was that it appeared I did exactly what I had planned to do all along … scare the crap out of everyone around me without causing any damage. Pretty amazing.

******* M U C H ***** L A T E R *******

We made it to the Navy Lodge in San Diego shortly before 5pm, and, Diane drove the entire way. I offered to help, numerous times, but she always declined stating she was just fine. Now it’s a quarter to 10pm, we’ve eaten supper, and are learning how to hunt down killers from a TV program. It’s one we watch a lot, but for the life of me I cannot remember the name. Not really surprising. I just asked Diane and learned it’s “Criminal Minds”. Duh! That’s just added proof that I can’t get along in this world without Diane.

Day 3 – Naval Air Station Lemoore, California

Our stop at Beale AFB was very pleasant. Diane got to watch Dancing With The Stars, and I got to watch most of the Seattle vs. Green Bay football game. The latter was interesting because of the final play of the game that decided the winner. It was really Green Bay, but the officials awarded the game to Seattle for some odd reason. I’m guessing at least one official will be begging for work soon.

We got all packed up and headed for the main gate around 0930. On the way we stopped by Burger King for a breakfast sandwich. Diane had one cup of coffee in the room, but i didn’t because I was waiting for something better … that didn’t happen until we got to Sacramento. I was trying to get SIRI, on my phone, to tell me where the nearest Starbucks was but she kept aiming me at locations 15 miles behind us. I called her names but that didn’t do any good. Thins were better once we got our coffee, from a Safeway Starbucks.

Before getting that far I called Kathie R. to see if she might have a moment to meet us as we motored through Sacramento – she works in an office about 20 feet from the I-5 freeway so it wouldn’t have been a lot of trouble. But, nooo, she begged off saying she was getting a haircut somewhere 50 miles from where we were. So, instead, we had a nice conversation until her barber took the phone away from her. Perhaps we’ll get to see her on the way home … unless she decides to get another one of her hairs cut.

Things went well on the freeway as we headed south, then traffic came to a complete stop about 3 miles from Merced. A ramp ahead was closed for construction of some sort, and the two lanes of 65 mph traffic was being forced to zipper down to one lane. As soon as we did that, the speed went back to 65 like magic, and all the cars and trucks disappeared.

Before getting to the point, however, Diane had me retrieve the remainder of her foot long Subway sandwich and the little carrots so we could snack. After eating 3 inches of the sandwich she reluctantly gave it to me to finish. It was actually pretty good.

Now we’re only about 65 miles from Lemoore. Arrival time is a little shy of 4pm.

Travelling through the San Fernando Valley is pretty boring. I realize that it’s a major food producing area, but you’d think they could spruce it up a little … like paint the median grass green, or just set it on fire and make it black. Brown, all the time, makes me sleepy. Thankfully, it doesn’t affect Diane that way, or I’d be forced to drive. So far today I’ve escaped the hot seat.

Construction, construction, construction … they’re laying down so much cement and blacktop that it’s a wonder California doesn’t just snap off at the Nevada border and fall into the ocean. Maybe if someone took a shovel and made a dotted line along that line there would be no need for an earthquake … nah, that just wouldn’t be right.

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It’s now 1845 (6:45pm for you non-military minded folks) and we just got bck from the commissary on NAS Lemoore where we purchased a couple nutritious Stouffer lasagne meals. Diane has them simmering in the underpowered microwave as I type. Don’t get me wrong … the room is nice. Nicer than last night.

We arrived about 1500 (3pm), an hour earlier than I previously said we’d get here. That’s because Diane saw an open field and decided to check out the all wheel drive on her Buick. Turned out the field skirted the runway at Lemoore and, for some obscure reason, the fence was down and no one was around. So, instead of having to drive all the way around the base, like we did at Beale, we just drove across it. The AWD works great, BTW.

That’s a lie, of course. There’s no way security would have let us fly across the end of the runway like that. We drove around like we were supposed to. I just had the timing an hour off earlier.

Now we’re going to eat so I’m quitting.

Day 2 – Beale AFB, California

We slept extraordinarily well last night, even though I failed (I failed) to pack the cord for my CPAP machine which caused concern for both of us. Me, because snoring gives me a sore throat, and Diane because she was fearful she’d have to keep kick-starting me all night long. Neither happened, so maybe it’s OK for me to start breathing fresh air at night once again.

It was interesting that our motel room was 111. Eleven is a number that shows up in our lives repeatedly, so we see it as a good omen.

At the motel, we ate a bit of breakfast, filled our coffee cups in the lobby, and took off. We crested the Siskyou Summit at 9:44 am, and crossed the border into California at 9:48. It’s now 9:54 and we’re coasting in to the border control station at Hornbrook so we can tell the guards that we are not trying to sneak non-California fruits into their state. That’s important to them.

Whew! We made it past the crossing guard station … she was a hottie in shorts.

At the moment, we’re grinding along behind an RV who, in turn, is grinding along behind a semi-truck because the lanes are restricted. They’re working on 2 miles of the downhill side and we’re going uphill. Dang.

During this pause, some of the quaint little place names we’ve passed ate flitting through my little head. One, in particular, reminds me of an old trucker song we used to hear all the time. It’s Wolf Creek Pass which is a little north of Grants Pass. Another favorite is Jump Off Joe Creek, near the bitty town of Wolf Creek, is a name that causes me to envision all kinds of goings on to cause a group of concerned people to christen the place with such a descriptor. Do you think his name was really Joe? Do you think he really jumped, or was he pushed? Or, was this a place where Sam was actually on Joe and the snap of a nearby twig startled them, causing Sam to nervously jump and Joe compounded the visual effect by pushing Sam up and away. Bill, an innocent bystander, the twig breaker, having followed Joe and Sam to this secluded location because of concerns he had for the sanctity of heterosexual activity, witnessed the event and, since not a lot happened in that area of the woods, rushed willy-nilly to the nearest saloon to report that he had just seen Sam Jump Off Joe down by the Creek. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

It’s now 10:12 am and we’re cruising by exit 753 which is next to Mt. Shasta. The mountain is virtually naked … just a few spots of snow and ice are scattered sparsely around it’s tippy top.

I’m still think about Sam and Joe, and wonder if they were forced to flee Wolf Creek for warmer climes near San Francisco where they struck on the idea of starting a commune where they could spread the joy they found with each other to those seeking satisfaction in a similar manner. My search of the internet hasn’t revealed any concrete evidence to support this theory, but I think I’ve seen vague references about an obscure little rod and gun club that was opened in 1898 near the corner of Haight & Ashbury.

This, of course, is unfounded discourse,
making me wonder why
someone of my gender would
seek solace in another guy.

OK. That was a lame attempt at a bit of poetry and a disclaimer that what I’m sharing is pure figments. Still, there’s evidence throughout history that this kind of activity has been going on for pretty much ever. I’ve always thought it was one of God’s way to keep the population in check. One might wonder what the world would be like today if everyone had remained staunchly heterosexual throughout history. Just think about all that extra begetting that would have been going on. I suspect there’s a formula somewhere that could compute the difference in population density between the two different lifestyles.

Any guesses?

It’s 10:55 and we’re almost to Shasta Lake. First stop of this leg is Redding for gas and Gas (lunch).

Now I must pause and navigate before I get into trouble. Again.

Hey there … it’s 1:23 pm and we just left the Win River Casino in Redding where we had a very nice lunch. And we didn’t gamble even though we each received $5 on our Players cards so we could get the lunch special at a discount. We figure we made $18 with the free money and discounted lunch. That works.

It especially works because the gas tank lady was telling Diane it’s time to fill up so we stopped at the first station after leaving the freeway. I know, dumb thing to do, but we both thought the safe thing to do was fill up sooner than latter. As you may have guessed, we paid $4.30 a gallon instead of $4.00 had we waited a little bit.

It’s 90 degrees here. And mostly brown. Not pretty like home.

It’s 7:13pm, now. We’ve had a Subway supper and are ensconced in our Visiting Airmen barracks room on Beale AFB. We arrived about 4:00pm. It would have been about 3:30, but Diane let me drive for the last couple of hours and didn’t navigate me very well. The difference was that, instead of going around the right side of the base, to the main gate, I took a left at a sign that read Beale AFB, with a very distinct arrow pointing to the left. The Wazer program didn’t seem to object, except for a distinctive “BEEP”, so I thought everything was just fine. But, we had to drive all the way around the runway to a back gate.

Beale AFB is about the size of Vermont and is covered, mainly, with dried up fields that appear to have been cut and bailed. Very tidy. As we made our way across many miles to the correct side of the base, we watched high altitude spy planes landing. They look like gliders and are the modern day version of the U-2 Gary Powers was flying when he was shot down over Russia in 1960. At that time, the U-2 was running under CIA control. Perhaps they still are. I do not know. But, they are super quiet, and glide along slow as a bird.

Now, about our our barracks room … it’s really nice, actually, something I would expect for the Air Force. They always get the best housing while the Navy always got the best ships. That’s seems fair.

Our room is one of four access from a common area that is about the size of a large hotel room with a living room and a full kitchen. That’s where I’m currently sitting, watching the Seattle/Green Bay game, as I type. Two of the other rooms are occupied … one by a male sergeant, and the other by a female Lt. Colonel. The sleeping rooms are large, with their own TVs, with Dish Satellite. We can’t find anything wrong with the place and, it would be dumb to do so, because the room only cost us $34. Nice. There really is a benefit for spending half your life in the military.

Tomorrow I’ll keep another diary, whether or not you want me to, and finish it up from the Navy Lodge at Lemoore Naval Air Station. That’s going to cost more than tonight, I’m sure.

Day 1 – Medford, Oregon

We left St. Helens at 2:00 pm and walked into our room at the Rodeway Inn about 7:45 pm. Normally it’s a 5 hour drive with no stops and we stopped 3 times so we made really good time. Average speed was over 60 mph. It would have been much faster but Diane allowed me to drive 150 miles of the trip. She goes 69, I don’t. On the downside, for me, is that she got better gas mileage than I did because she only drove downhill. Almost all my driving was uphill, all the time. Really. All the time.

As we raced down I-5, which we’ve done many, many times over the years, we shared nostalgic memories as we passed, or stopped at the various rest areas along the way. We’ve been to all of them, from Portland to San Diego. We’re only in Medford so we’ve hit almost all of the rest areas on this interstate because there aren’t many of them in California. Their version of a rest area is a strip mall along side the freeway … not just a place to get out, stretch your legs, and take a leak … oops. Sorry. I didn’t mean to let that blurt out. But it did.

Our room at the Rodeway Inn cost a whopping $59 and we agree that it’s better than some $100 rooms in the past. The furniture is a little worn, but the rooms are clean and tidy. Perfect for an over night stop. And, we get a continental breakfast in the morning. Excellent!

For dinner we motored about 1/2 a mile away to the Burger King we passed and got Whoppers, with lemonade instead of soda. Good, huh? For dessert we each ate two rice krispy treats.

Oh yes! More good news on the medical front … brother Jack is doing excellent after his surgery. He didn’t say that, exactly, but I can tell by the tone of his texts that things are looking up for him. We’re both very happy about that. You all should be, too, but, since it’s a personal choice, it isn’t mandatory.

Now I’m tired so that’s it for now.