Before getting into the day’s activities I need to report that we didn’t sleep as good as we thought we would on our room’s softer mattresses. I guess there’s something about really hard beds, like Ruth has, that grows on you. We’ll see if we still feel that way after tonight’s adventure in sleeping.
This morning we were up early so we could spruce ourselves up for a fun bus ride to visit the USS New Jersey BB-62 in Camden, NJ. Turns out that Camden is a 2+ hour bus ride away from Beach Haven. Who knew? Diane and I finagled a front row seat by telling everyone that I’d probably puke if I had to sit anywhere else. That did the trick and we had the front row for both directions. Getting there first, however, played a significant part in getting those seats.
After sitting for over two hours on the bus we were all ready to get out and walk around and that’s what we did on BB-62. It was interesting, but not the first battleship we’ve been aboard the USS Alabama BB-60, and the USS Missouri BB-61. Most significant of those two was BB-61 which we visited many times while we were in Hawaii during our last tour of active duty 1986-1989. The Missouri was an active duty ship, having been recommissioned a few years before, and one of our old shipmates from Naval Communications Station (NAVCOMSTA) Okinawa, 1968-1970, was stationed aboard. It was very humbling to make those visits because the Missouri tied up across the harbor from the USS Arizona memorial. at that time and I took many photos of the Arizona from the Missouri’s surrender deck. A lot of history involved in that view – a photo of the devastation that pulled us into WWII taken from the spot where peace was secured to end the war. There’s a plaque on the surrender deck commemorating that event and it has a plexiglas bubble that covers it when the ship went to sea. The Missouri is now, of course, secured directly behind the Arizona on Battleship Row at Ford Island and is a floating museum.
A bit of trivia about BB-62 is that when I was stationed at Naval TeleCommunication Center (NTCC) Long Beach, CA Diane and I watched the USS New Jersey being pulled into port for overhaul in preparation for being re-commissioned. My boss, a female LCDR, was married to another LCDR who happened to drive a Fleet Tug boat, the one that was selected to tow the Jersey from Bremerton, WA to the Long Beach ship yard for the refit. A bit of history.
Sorry about going down that road, but it just jumped in my head and I had to get it out of there before it started rattling around.
As we arrived in Camden, near the road to the USS New Jersey, we were treated to a stunning view of the Philadelphia skyline. First time we’ve ever seen it. Apparently it’s a first for Barb, too, because she didn’t recognize it.
The New Jersey was interesting because we were taken in a small group of 14 with a dedicated Docent who knows the ship. We spent two hours following her up and down a lot of ladders. It was tiring and hard on old knees. I was tempted to slide down the handles of some ladders, on my hands, but refrained after briefly considering the consequences and the ensuing ambulance ride that was sure to follow. In the past, sliding down those ladders on ships was second nature. It was a quick way to get around. And, I was much, much younger. And I bounced when I fell down. The bounce is gone. I’ll save the words and just show some pictures.
Gathering under the forward 16″ gun mount to honor DD-808 shipmates who have passed the bar since last we gathered. We only have this reunion every other year and we’re all of advanced age so losing shipmates is not uncommon or unexpected. It’s good to remember them.
When leaving the New Jersey’s quarterdeck Larry Hennessy, the Docent Supervisor, was standing there looking very spiffy in his khakis. I shook his hand and we looked each other in the eye and we kinda stopped for a moment, then he said, “I know you!” I sensed a bit of familiarity myself and responded, “You look familiar, too!” Then we got to talking about which ships we’d been on and figured out that there’s no way we knew each other because he was an East Coast Sailor, and I was a West Coast Sailor. But, we decided that we each had a new friend and parted happy. It was a good visit.
By this time Diane and I were way past ready to eat something. Thankfully there was a handy candy machine in the gift shop area next to the Jersey and I got us a package of Peanut M&Ms. That got us through the bus ride to the aquarium which was our next stop. Our new friend Larry, from the quarterdeck, knowing a few of us were seeking tolerable sustenance, drew us a map to a place called Victor’s Pub. It was within walking distance of the Adventure Aquarium so Bruce, Mary, Ed, Diane, and I walked. We had a terrific meal. It was actually too terrific because none of us could eat all of what we ordered. Here’s mine …
After we finished eating, we trundled back to the aquarium and made a pass through the attractions, after going to the bathroom, of course. I always have to go to the bathroom whenever I get around water.
Here’s Mr. Hippopotamus. Big guy.
I found it interesting that Highway 30, the same one that runs through our town of St. Helens, goes all the way from Astoria, Oregon to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Tomorrow I will have seen both ends of that road. On our end of that highway we call it The Old Oregon Trail, the one followed by Lewis & Clark.
Through our entire visit to the USS New Jersey, the weather was absolutely perfect. Sunny and warm, but not hot. When we exited the aquarium clouds were moving in and the air had taken a decidedly cooler feel. As we drove, the clouds increased to the point that this is what we encountered from our room view upon reaching the hotel. Still pretty, but way more dramatic.
Tomorrow we don’t board the bus until 0915 so we can sleep in a little longer. Maybe. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Sleep tight, wherever you are.
Oh. I heard from Tiffany today and we had a nice text chat. At the conclusion I offered to adopt her, but she declined. Even so, I think we’re still friends.