Red Light Cameras, Walnuts, Poodledoos, and OTI

A month or so ago, while Diane was driving around Beaverton, randomly, she had the misfortune of making a right turn on a yellow light that turned red before the turn was completed. This caused what I’m sure is a very expensive camera to snap a photo of both the front and rear of Diane’s pickup. The resultant photo, which we were able to view using a handy URL provided by the Beaverton Red Light Camera People (BRLCP), provided indisputable evidence that the light was indeed red before Diane’s truck completely entered the intersection. The URL also revealed that Diane was to make an appearance at the Beaverton Municipal Court on the 26th.

So, that’s what we did. We went to court. Well, Diane went to court. I just watched. The original fine was $260. Paying the fine is an admission of guilt and the ticket goes on her record. To avoid that she paid $200 to the court and agreed to take an online training course that costs $40 which she agreed to do. Doing this keeps the ticket off her record. So, we saved $20. What a deal.

Fortunately, we had other things to do in the greater Portland area so the pain of a trip to court was attenuated by the prospect of snagging a good deal on a bag of walnuts. We tried to get some before flying East last month, but they weren’t ready. They didn’t become ready until we’d been home from that trip for a couple of weeks when the grower called to say they were ready. We opted for 20 pounds of cracked walnuts. Cracked means that they weighed the nuts before cracking then shoved everything back into the bag. So, the task upon returning home, was for us to separate the shells from the edible parts. We did that yesterday, the three of us, sitting around a cloth laid on the rug in the living room. I made an epic mess while sitting Indian Style, knowing I might never regain my feet without a 911 assist. In the end, I was able to attain a vertical position on my own and managed to stand in place for only a couple of minutes before regaining the ability to move my feet in a manner that would result in forward motion without falling down. It was all good.

Once all the shells were removed from the 20 pounds we purchased (for $52) we were left with 10-12 pounds of useable walnuts. using basic math, at which I’m an expert, because I graduated from Scappoose High School, I determined that our $52 purchase resulted in walnuts that cost between $5.20 and $4.33 a pound. For comparison, Jewel reported that 4 pounds of walnuts from Costco cost $15 which works out to $3.75 per pound. On the surface it looks like Costco was the better deal but that price doesn’t take in to account the family time required to obtain the reported results. It also doesn’t take into account that between the three of us it’s possible that we consumed a pound of product which certainly skews the end results and dollar amounts which I’m not inclined to recompute because I just don’t want to do it. That, and I’ve reached my equasional limit for this weekend. The Costco purchase also doesn’t take freshness into account  which our which our walnuts certainly were. They are really good which is the reason approximately one pound went missing during the processing effort. And, we know exactly where our walnuts were raised to maturity. In Oregon.

Last Thursday I took Ozzie to his hair dresser for his monthly poodledoo. He was in dire need because the appointment had been moved out twice. He was a mess, ready for the original appointment, so moving it out a couple of more days gave him ample opportunity to just make things worse. He’s good at doing that. Matter of fact, he has no problem at all of taking his brand new $37 haircut into the lower field where he follows the big dogs around and does his best to pee on them while they’re peeing but only manages to wade through peed on grass which kind of counteracts Kaykay’s efforts with the shampoo and clippers. Kaykay is his hairdresser. She’s the only one Oz will allow to wash him. He’s very picky, but I don’t know why when he really doesn’t care if he gets a haircut or not.

Later Thursday evening Diane and I took Lydia to Wilsonville where she was being courted by Oregon Technical Institute (OTI) for her continued education when she graduates from High School next June. Ahmed, the exchange student who has been assimilated into the Walters’ clan, also went along for the ride. While they were being wined and dined, Diane and I retired to a nearby Shari’s restaurant for a snack. Then we visited the Goodwill store that was also nearby. I only lasted half of that visit before finding a need to return to Diane’s truck where I read my iPad book until Diane returned.

OTI released their guests shortly after 7:30 pm and we drove them home in about an hour with no mishap. It was a good day.

Today Diane and Jewel did a lot of running around town buying stuff while I stayed home with strict instructions to not do anything dangerous. Actually, Diane asked me if I intended to do anything dangerous. The only answer to that was “Yes” because it was true at that moment in time. After they left, I had no idea what I was going to do. But, keeping the “dangerous” aspect in mind, I simply weeded the new little garden out back that was being overrun with unwanted grass. I also perched a very nice bird house on top of a tall 4×4 post. Doing so required my use of a power tool. Battery power, but power none the less. Thankfully, I did not sustain any visible injuries in the process so my secret is safe.

Golf, Our Furnace, and Golf

So, I played another bad 9-hole round of golf today and had a great time with my former classmates, JP and Doug. I also played an enormously bad 18-hole round of golf last Saturday with a fellow named Dennis, and two former classmates, Jim and Doug and had a great time doing that, also. Although I had great fun golfing badly on those two days, I came away with new knowledge that will affect the future of golfing efforts. The main takeaway from those two days of bad golf is that my current body will not tolerate more than 9-holes of golf on any given day. Swinging a club, and looking for my balls for 18-holes, on the same day, is just too demanding for many parts of me. In order of importance, the parts that suffer most are my shoulders, and my egos.

Before you get all technical on me, I’m aware that my ego isn’t technical a part of my anatomy. I’m also aware that most people do not have more than one ego. So, the only part of that really hurts is my shoulder – the right one, to be more specific. My ego just gets a bit bruised from doing badly, but the company I keep makes up for that. By doing 18 holes, like Jimbo does on a regular basis, both my should and ego suffer more. By only golfing for nine holes, the damage is halved and far less painful and I heal in half the time.

Sorry. That went way farther than I intended it to go, but think I made my point that I will probably not be signing up for rounds of 18 in the future. Nine is the limit, I’m afraid.

Yesterday Ryan, from Columbia NW Heating, in Scappoose, paid us a visit to give our furnace a once over before the snow starts flying. I’m sharing this simply because I want all those other husbands out there to know how important it is to listen to their respective wives and to pay really good attention when they add tasks to your personal calendar, like “Jerrie Cleans.”

The first time that showed up on my calendar I admit I was a bit concerned about what I was supposed to clean because as stated, it’s very ambiguous, leaving too much room for interpretation which in turn provides too many chances for doing a terrible thing, like cleaning the wrong thing, in this instance. So, ignoring my male instinct to continue forward without asking directions, I asked for clarification.

“It means that’s the day you are supposed to clean the furnace filters,” I was told.

“Oh,” I replied. “But it only says ‘Jerrie Cleans’ on my calendar.”

“Really?” she said. “You really didn’t click on it to see the entire entry?”

“No,” I replied. “I thought it might be a test to see if I would ask for help, so I did. Did I pass?”

“No,” she said, “you didn’t pass,” then turned to her computer and got busy on the keyboard. Presently I heard a ding and a notice that the calendar had been changed. All those entries for the 25th of each month now read “Jerrie – Filters.”

Problem solved. Since then I’ve been faithfully cleaning the furnace filters on the 25th of every month, whether they need it or not. Actually, they always need come cleaning because of the animals that run in and out of our home all the time. In the summer I use my air compressor to blow out all the dust most of the time, but other times I use my power washer. When I do that, I use the compressor to dry them off. There are a couple of pieces of the filter that look kinda like a honeycomb which takes an incredibly long time to dry so I only use the power washer on them on really hot days so I can leave them in the sun to dry.

The main purpose for sharing all this filter cleaning task is to report that Ryan, the furnace technician, told both Diane and I, right out loud so we could hear him clearly, that our filters were the cleanest of any furnace he’s ever serviced. I asked him to repeat it  to ensure Diane heard him because I thought that was pretty significant but she heard it the first time. The cleanest filters in Ryan’s service territory. Wow! Diane went right to the calendar on the refrigerator and put a gold star on it. It was awesome because I don’t get many gold stars, just mainly silver and red ones. The last time I got a gold one was when I remembered to take the garbage out every Monday evening for an entire month without being told.

Thankfully, since the furnace was essentially overhauled yesterday, I didn’t have to clean them today.  Now I can relax for another month.

To end, I will share a few photos I’ve taken over the past few days …

This is Dennis. When I first saw him it was about this angle and my heart skipped a bit because with just a glance he looked a lot like my older brother, Lyle, God Rest His Soul. Kinda spooky.


This is for Jewel because she likes weird fungi. This is a rare R2D2 fungus that only grows on the Wildwood golf course.


The remainder of the Saturday foursome … Me, Jim, and Doug.


This is what the sky showed us before I left to golf this morning. Looks like aliens are looking for something.


I’ve been meaning to clean out my golf bag for a while because it was getting kind of heavy. That, and I was looking for a bag of tall tees that I used to have. I didn’t find the tees, but I found all of these balls.


Here’s Doug who was so excited about all those leaves that he got out a bag so he could take some home since he doesn’t have many of his own. Actually, that’s a towel and he’s preparing to pick up his ball and wipe the mud off of it. He’s got many acres of trees that drop leaves like this so he doesn’t need to import any. It’s really pretty on the course this time of year, but finding a ball amongst all those leaves is a real challenge. We generally find them.


Just a look at trees on the course. We like this time of year because it’s easier to hit a ball through trees that don’t have leaves.













I suspect that’s enough trees for now.

Happy Birthday Jennie Lynn

Yes, this little bundle of joy from 1975 turned 41 today. I’m comfortable sharing that for two reasons … 1) She’s not currently standing near me, and 2) She really isn’t hung up on age. Although the real birthday wasn’t until today, we celebrate it on the 22nd because she was born on Guam, on the 23rd, when it was really the 22nd here. It’s not complicated, just confusing. Guam is actually 17 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. I looked.


Honoring tradition she received a small stack of scratch off tickets. Also honoring tradition, but I don’t know how, she didn’t win anything on any of them. But, she had fun scratching them off and I let her keep the quarter I loaned her to do the scratching.


The cake preparers. They were given this task as a team because neither of them have two fully functional hands and arms. Together they got the job done quite nicely.



This is the gift Jennie got from her brother, Jeff. The bandage on Gilligan’s head is the result of a bike crash, just before they were to come to the house for the party. Tough kid.


Jennie made everyone play the game with her, even Mom. Diane was in such hysterics I’m surprised that she didn’t inhale a bunch of whipped cream. It was contagious.




Gilligan and Baylee watched the action from a distance with mixed emotions.


It was a good party and everyone had fun. To end, here’s a short trip down memory lane for our little Jennie Lynn.

NOV-1978cropped-jennie.jpg OCT-1980-1

… and Jennifer, just to ensure you never forget …


After the party Diane broke out the box of costumes we’ve accumulated over the years and tried on a few pieces.


So did I.


I stayed home from church today because I was coughing and my nose was running. That made me a perfect candidate to monitor the pot roast lunch I’d been helping Diane assemble this morning. Earlier, Jewel went out to do more deconstructing on the grape vines. Knowing she was out there, I turned the dogs loose. Panzee and Ozzie stuck around, but Ziva took a hike into the woods, or someplace where things go to die, and found the most putrid thing available to roll in. It was so nasty that I explained to her, in great deal, that I’d much rather she rolled in deer poop. I’m not sure she was listening because she spent the entire time I was washing her trying to get away from me.



After washing her I dried her off really well so she could come in the house because I know she was cold. The bath was given in the yard with the hose and the water is like ice and made her shiver. Made me shiver, too.

Diane and her Mom, Jean, finally arrived and Diane immediately targeted Ziva for another bath because the residue had been removed, but the horrible odor remained. Nasty. So, back to the yard we went for another bath. I think the second one turned out OK. I’m sure Ziva hopes so.

I’ll leave you with that image, even though the intent of this post is to congratulate Jennifer on another good year and blessings for many, many more. We all love you to pieces.


Getting Back In The Routine

Considering what’s been going on for the last month or so, my tendency here is to start over and title this post Day 1 – … But that won’t work because it really isn’t Day 1. It’s more like Day 26,797, if you want to get right down to it. And right now, I feel every one of them. That’s because the dogs are back to dictating when I get up, not me. So, I’m tired and not thinking clearly.

That’s OK. Dogs gotta do what dogs gotta do and the dogs gotta wake me up so they can properly relieve themselves then get fed.

Today I attended an American Legion e-board meeting at 1100. Someone dubbed it the e-board meeting but it’s really an Executive Board Meeting. Calling it an e-board meeting makes it sound like something you’d do on the internet. Nope. Not the case. This is a meeting of all American Legion Post 42 officers of which I, surprisingly, am one. I’m the Sgt. At Arms.

I ate a BLT during the meeting so wasn’t able to pay much attention to what was going on so can’t really share any details with you. I’m sure you won’t have any problem with that.

It wasn’t a great BLT. I only ordered it because Doug got one and it looked pretty good. I should have ordered biscuits and gravy like Bill had. That actually looked better. But Doug’s choice swayed my thinking process.

Yesterday Diane and I took Jennie & Daniel’s foreign exchange student, Ahmed, who is from Pakistan, to a meeting of other mid-eastern students, so they could watch the presidential debates last night. After viewing a portion of the first debate, Diane and I excused ourselves and went to the Home Town Buffet for some dead chicken and shrimp. We wondered what the kids take away from the debate would be since Donald and Hillary just sling insults at one another, but heard last nights affair wasn’t as bad.

At Home Town Buffet we enjoyed a nice quiet meal, then just sat there for an extra hour snacking until it was time to pick up Ahmed.

On the way home we talked with Ahmed about the evening and what he thought. I wish I would remember what he told us, but that just isn’t coming through. One aspect of his personal interaction with St. Helens students had a more powerful impact, telling us how uninformed our local youth are regarding Ahmed and his part of the world. He said they stereotyped him with the wrong group by asking if he actually rode a camel to school. He found this funny because the person who asked him was sincere. Then, they were surprised that he had his own smart phone, like people from “that part of the world” are aware enough to have, much less use one.

That’s not the general consensus, of course, but having someone ask such questions and make those observations kinda makes you wonder just how aware students, in general, are about the mid-East.

There’s really nothing else to say so I’m going to bed.


Day 29 – The Trip Home and Senior Night Soccer

The evening before we left, Ruth called to wish us a safe trip home. We missed the call because neither of us had our phone sound off. When Diane discovered this she called Ruth back and they had a nice talk during which I heard Diane say, more than once, “Oh, no!” This got me interested so I listened a little harder and determined that something bad had happened, but it wasn’t a health issue. What happened was, while Ruth was working with Ovide, preparing tons of food for a Lions International event, someone broke into her house and stole all her jewelry. Nothing big was removed, just small stuff that could easily be carried. They also emptied all of her dresser drawers onto the floor. She discovered the break-in when she returned home from her exhausting day at 2200. The police were summoned and now she must fight her insurance company for just compensation.

We got up at 0415 to sweep the room for personal belongings, get checked out, and get to the rental place before 0600. We beat the 0600 deadline fo turning the car in by 15 minutes but that wasn’t really difficult because the Norfolk Airport was only 6 miles away.

After the car was checked in, and unloaded, Diane asked the Dollar Rental Car Guy is there was a shuttle to the terminal. He looked at her and said, “It’s a 2-minute walk”, and pointed to a path, “right through there.” Indeed, we could actually see the terminal from where we stood, but hurking all those suitcases in the dark just didn’t appeal. Still, we shouldered the bags with handles, and got the suitcases ready for that 2-minute walk.

Just then a really nice Dollar Rental Car Lady, from Georgia, came to get the car and said, “You can’t walk to the terminal in the dark. You never know what can happen. Get in the car and I’ll take you to there.” So, we put all the luggage back in the car and she drove us to the American terminal. It was an unexpected act of kindness, but we wished she had appears about 10 minutes earlier, when all the luggage was still in the car.

At the terminal, I requested an upgrade to First Class, and was prepared to pay whatever it cost. But, since we used air miles for the original seat, it couldn’t be upgraded. But. the second leg from Chicago home was already First Class so the apparently qualified us to get First Class treatment for our luggage. We were able to check all four bags for free, even the overweight one.

The Norfolk to Chicago leg was on a much smaller passenger plane than we’ve encountered during our travels. There were only six First Class seats (three of them remained empty for the flight), and the coach seating was two seats on either side of the center aisle. Cozy. The big plus was that there was far more leg room on this little guy than we had on the big one from Chicago to Bradley on the way over. Interesting. It was comfortable so we were just fine. Plus, it was only a two-hour trip.

In Chicago we spent about half of our 1-hour layover in the USO lounge, and the other half walking the 2 miles from Gate G-7 to Gate K-5. The Rotunda, where the USO is, was on the way so it was convenient. I ate a bagel and Diane had a banana while waiting.


We arrived at K-5 just in time to sit down for about 30 seconds before they called the First Class folks to board. So we did. We had seats 3B and 3C which turned out to be the front row on the right side of the plane. We had all the room we needed to stretch out and enjoy the flight. The food sucked and the service was good, but the food sucked. Did I mention that the food sucked? Everything except the shrimp. The shrimp didn’t suck. Fortunately, I got to eat all of those.

Regarding the food … when the flight attendant got to our row, in the front, she explained that, since we were flying West, she had to start serving from the back of First Class so she was all out of the Roasted Chicken Salad. All she had left was the Cheese Ravioli’s in White Sauce. Diane explained that she was lactose intolerant and could  not eat the raviolis and would just have to go hungry. The flight attendant said, “maybe I have a solution,” then left for the flight deck. She returned with the First Officer’s salad and gave it to Diane telling her that she owed the First Officer a big thank you. Really? The reason for the shortage, we learned, was because First Class passengers can pre-order their meals on-line. Nifty for those who know. It worked out, however, and we were both fed. The ravioli’s sucked, but I ate them anyway. I may have mentioned that already. Part of the problem with the ravioli’s is that I just don’t like them to begin with and they were just worse because there was no meat inside of them. Just cheese. The wrong kind of cheese. I know, I should just be grateful that I had something to eat, and I truly was. So, perhaps, the food really didn’t suck. Maybe I just didn’t care for it. The shrimp made up for whatever was wrong with the rest of it that I didn’t like.

Once we were airborne out of Chicago Diane and I plugged our little Apple ear buds into the plane’s system and watched “Central Intelligence”. It was a funny movie and we both laughed right out loud a few times. I suspect we woke up the guy across the aisle from us more than once but he didn’t complain. After the movie we both read for a bit then napped, and when we looked out the little window and saw this, we knew we must be close.


When the plane finally made it to the terminal, and we stepped inside, we were happy campers. When we discovered where the terminal was located with respect to the baggage claim area, we weren’t happy campers. But, we trudged on. I thought we’d be in pretty good shape because it appeared that we were just down the road from where the Alaska planes come and go, and that was essentially true. But we weren’t “just down the road.” We were “waaay down the road.” Matter of fact, I’m sure that the walk from the very tippy end of the American terminal to the baggage area accounted for about 2 miles of the 3.5 miles we walked in airports this day. Really.

I’m basing this claim on the fact that we travelled down three (3), count them, three moving walk-ways that are separated by about 50 yards and are each about 100 yards long. Then, once we made it down to the baggage claim area we had to walk all the way to carousel 9, there are 10 of them. The escalators from the gates drops folks off between 2 and 3. As we continued, and finished this epic trip I couldn’t help but think that we were being subjected to some form of punishment that those who ride American Airlines airplanes are subjected to on a routine basis. In Portland, Alaska Airlines is just a short hop and a skip from where they land to where they drop the luggage, on carousel 2 and/or 3.

There is a plus side to the baggage area, I must admit. Once the carousel started turning, in the wrong (clockwise) direction, of all the bags that came out of the little shute in the wall, our four were in the first 10 bags. Amazing! That’s never happened to us before. We’ve always had to wait until everyone else got theirs before ours showed up. We chalked this up to the bright orange PRIORITY labels the lady in Norfolk attached to the baggage claim tags on all four bags. That was huge.

Once we got the bags, we trundled our way outside to await our lovely daughter, Jennifer. She had snagged Diane’s truck the previous day in preparation for picking us up. When we hit the ground we texted her, letting her know that we would be at the American terminal, not Alaska – they are at opposite ends, as I mentioned. At that time she was on her sixth trip around past the arrival terminals. By the time she parked in front of us she was just completing her tenth circuit of the airport. It was good because the truck is bigger than she’s used to so it gave her lots of time to get used to driving it in heavy traffic. This guy must have been in a hurry to go fishing with whoever he was picking up. Interesting.


Jennifer did a terrific job and got us home safe and sound. Well, almost home. Diane wanted to stop at Means Nursery so she could get some roses for Lydia, Ceiarra, and Nina (a Denmark exchange student). They are the only seniors on the team and tonight was Senior Night.



Our Lydia …


Lydia, Nina, and Ceiarra …


Our arrival home was heralded by the happy barks of our three dogs, and cold weather. After enjoying mid-70 weather for the past month it feels like it’s about 12 degrees here. The cat couldn’t care less that we were home and just walked away. After all the excitement, and all of them had been properly scratched and petted, Jewel returned from her trip to DMV where she had registered her “new” vehicle. She did a great job of keeping the animals healthy and the flowers fed with her broken wrist. Thankfully, she had help from The Walters clan when needed. Like for opening cans, tearing tops off of packages, using scissors, etc. She resorted to eating food that didn’t need to be cut up so she could feed herself.

Back to soccer, sadly, our girls lost 2-0. Our girls weren’t playing together very well and allowed the Hillsboro strikers too much freedom. Both goals got past Lydia, who played the first half of the game. The first one was kicked from about the 25-yard line and players were blocking the ball from Lyd’s view. The ball sayed low and by the time she saw it there wasn’t much she could do, but she made a heroic dive worthy of a game highlite. Previous to that, she blocked many close shots on goal from strikers who got by the St. Helens defense. It was amazing to watch. She took at least three hard kicked balls directly into her body and caught them. She also blocked many others away from the goal to her team mates. Additionally, the Hillsboro team missed many kicks wide of the goal so it was just a matter of time before they scored. It was one of those games that could easily have been 12-0, but our Keepers held strong. Another plus at the soccer game was seeing Daniel, Jeran, and Dan’s Mom, Linda, and friends Jacqui and Georgie. Georgie is a recent SHHS graduate, friend of Lydia’s, and a total Girl Soccer Stud.


When the game was over both Diane and I were exhausted, both from watching the game, and because we had been up since 0100 local time – about 18 hours which is far too long for old people.

So, to bed we went, and we didn’t wake up until 0800 …

… Eastern time.

Guess we’re back on the dog’s schedule just that quick.


Day 28 – NAB Little Creek

It was a good night in our new home at the Navy Lodge – we each had our own bed room. Mine has two little beds and Diane’s has one big bed. I’m the one who chose my bedroom, by the way. I’m good with the little bed. Oddly, we both woke up early in our own bedrooms. I wonder if that means anything. But, Diane woke up with a stuffy nose this morning which makes me believe that I provide some sort of antibiotic aspect to Diane’s sleeping time. This is the first time she’s been congested on this trip so that has to be true.

Yeah. That’s the ticket! I’m good medicine for her.

She’s good medicine for me, too, but I don’t get congested when we sleep in different rooms. I’m immune to everything. I’m pretty sure that’s true because, much to Diane’s dismay, I eat stuff I’ve dropped on the floor. Any floor. Really. And I’m a beacon of health in all aspects. Except when I’m forced to limp.

This morning Diane made coffee in our little two cup coffee pot. They make those things, the two cup pot, in an effort to control how much coffee people ingest. Well, there are ways to foil that effort. We just make extra pots full. When the little pads of coffee are gone, she improvises by tearing the tops off those little Keurig cups and dumps them in a paper towel because we don’t have filters. It works.



The thing about coffee is that no matter how bad a cup of coffee is it can always be resurrected with some half & half and a bunch of sugar. That isn’t good for me, of course, the sugar, because of my medical condition. But I have cut down from six cubes of sugar to four, and from six cups of coffee to three.

In addition to coffee, Diane made us a wonderful breakfast of oatmeal that’s been stored in little pouches for six or seven years, but it still tasted great. That’s because I poured a bunch of brown sugar on it. You got the pourable part, right? Something new for me. Normally brown sugar, in my world, can be packed very tightly, but Diane bought this little container of pourable brown sugar. The little granules look like tiny little BB’s and, since they don’t stick together, I figure that two tablespoons of pourable sugar equals about half a teaspoon of packable normal brown sugar. I didn’t test that, of course, because I’m neither a cook nor a scientist with a math degree. By not having imperial evidence to the contrary, I went with the assumption that my theory was correct and poured about 4 tablespoons worth on my oatmeal. My taste buds deemed the assumption to be spot on. It was wonderful.


Today is a day of rest. So, we’re resting right now. It’s 1030 and Diane is still in her jammies. I’m semi-dressed because I was forced to walk down to the breakfast area at 0700 to get Diane a sweet roll and to resupply our dwindled stock of little creamers for my coffee. Since our suite of rooms is absolutely as far away from the lobby as possible, it wasn’t a short walk. Half way there I started to chafe and wished I’d worn my underwear. I was in a hurry, however, so didn’t bother. I’ll pay for that later.

We left our room only once today so we could get gas for the rental car. While out we took a trip to the business end of the base and saw a couple of old LSD’s tied to the pier and that brought back some memories.


The ship in the back is the USS Gunston Hall LSD-44, and the one closer, to the right, is the USS Carter Hall LSD-50. They’ve been around for a while and aren’t quite as sleek-looking as their newer sister ships.

Before we go to bed for a few hours sleep – we’re getting up at 0415 – I’ll make another trip out side, maybe two trips, to load our big suitcases into the rental car so we won’t have to deal with them in the morning.  The remainder of the day we just lounged around reading, and watching a movie (“Along Came A Spider”). Also, Diane did the laundry so we won’t be carting dirty clothes home.

In 12 hours we’ll be at the airport waiting for our flight home. That means it’s time to stop and start eating the remainder of our food. Should have it gone by midnight.

The weather news is that it’s 70-75 during the day here in Virginia and at home it raining in the valleys and snowing buckets on the mountains. Gonna be fun getting home. The good news weather-wise is that the only thing the wind did at home is knock over a few potted plants on the porch.

See you tomorrow.

Day 26 – Virginia Beach & Day 27 – Little Creek Naval Amphib Base

Days 26 & 27 are a hodgepodge in my head so I’m just going to lay it out as I remember stuff. Just understand that what you read probably isn’t in the order it occurred. I suspect that’s probably not an issue so I have no idea why I felt it was necessary to clarify. Just ignore this part.

We got up late again this morning, around 0830, just in time to watch the USS George H. Bush sail away to sea – it was a very majestic site.


Then, while standing at the rail of our porch “Pink People” started running by, going north, on the boardwalk. Their numbers grew quickly to thousands, really, as we watched. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until Diane explained that it was The Race For The Cure. It was quite a stupendous sight. I think pretty much every woman and little girl who went by was wearing a pink tutu. I’m sure there were some guys wearing pink tutu’s, too, can’t say so with confidence. There were too many pretty girls for me to consider looking at the guys.


After the runners and walkers dwindled to none, Diane and I took a trip all the way to the north end of Virginia Beach, then followed the road around to the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. I visited the area a little when I was here in 1966, but don’t remember anything about it. Just know I was there. While roving around the base we came across a Navy Lodge and decided to see if they had a room we could rent. The logic for that was that we are leaving very early Tuesday morning and NAB Little Creek is essentially at the north border of the Norfolk airport so it’s a quick trip instead of the 45 minutes it took us from Virginia Beach. My concern was about getting the car back to the rental place for turn in on time to avoid additional charges. It was horrendously expensive in the first place so I don’t want to give them any opportunity to tack on more, ya know?

The Navy Lodge had a room for us but the gal at the counter said all they had available was a suite. That was OK with me, so I booked it. A suite to me is a bedroom with a living and kitchen area. Turns out the suite we got, cheaper than our tiny VB room, is really a 2 bedroom condo that sleeps 6. Too bad the family isn’t here.

We returned to Virginia Beach via the I-264 freeway, instead of back streets, to see if it was any quicker getting to Little Creek. It actually didn’t matter because we would only make the trip one time, but it was an exercise “just to see…” What we saw on our east-bound trip was that the west-bound lanes were a parking lot on this Saturday afternoon. That immediately made the case for going north up the beach and around the corner.

At 1600 yesterday we Cleveland crew members held our annual meeting to hear how much money was in the kitty, how much was spent, and to decide where we’re going next year. During the course of the meeting someone asked why mailings cost $1,000 when pretty much everyone has email. It was a good question and the answer because evident when it was revealed that there are at least three lists of people being used by three different people for three different reasons. That’s a sure-fire way to get data screwed up. So, one our members raised his hand and suggested that we form a committee to combine all this data into one useable source of information. What an inspiration! It should have been done years and years ago. Then, since I’m a real sucker for committee’s and data bases, I raised my hand and offered to help. What an incredibly stupid thing to do. Volunteer. It’s going to be a momentous task and being retired takes up most of my time. I’ll give it my best effort but can’t make any promises.

Another aspect of the meeting was to decide where we will hold our reunion next year. The rule, decided long ago, was that we go East Coast, West Coast, Middle. Since we’re on the East Coast, West Coast is next. The first suggestion for the West Coast was Santa Fe, New Mexico.

OK. I couldn’t let that slide, so I raised my hand and pointed out to Jack that New Mexico does not have a coast. It’s two states removed from the coast. Jack, however, was convinced that Santa Fe qualified for West Coast because it was West of the Rockies. I couldn’t sway his thought process at all and I think he quit listening to me when I asked if the USS New Mexico was moored in Santa Fe. Some others, who perceived the concept of “coast”, suggested, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Portland.

“But wait,” you might say. “Portland isn’t on the coast, either.” Well, that’s true, but it’s close enough because it was the runaway favorite choice. So, we’re going all the way to Portland next year. Go figure. The problem with that, of course, is that I’ll probably get sucked in to helping organize it.

After the meeting we all hung out until it was time for the banquet. A few of us wanted to hang out in the banquet room while they set up but we were summarily kicked out after I knocked a glass over and it broke. I didn’t see the problem. It was just one glass.

The dinner was good but not exceptional and I’ll just leave it at that.


Then we had our raffle which generates a lot of money for the reunion organization. Raffle items are donated by those who attend. Diane and I bought 7 tickets for $20 and won three times. First time ever. We got me a new hat, and two window stickers.

Then we went to bed because it was late and I was scheduled to get up early, like 0430, to take Gary & Cindy to their Amtrak pick up point on Virginia Beach. Since Amtrak doesn’t run trains on the peninsula, the pick up point was actually a bus stop. We got there in plenty of time, like 0450, then Gary checked his ticket and learned the pickup time was 0610. So, we went back to the hotel where he figured it would be good to print out the ticket. That because a frustrating evolution that was eventually resolved by the hotel clerk getting involved. Then, at 0550 I took them back to the bus stop and bid them farewell.

Cindy was mortified but she didn’t need to be. I was glad to help them get to their appointed destination. Even if it was only, like 6 blocks away from the hotel. We had a good time waiting for the time to pass so it was all good. Diane was a little concerned when I didn’t return right away, but that was resolved, too.

After returning from my marathon delivery, I went back to bed and read my book for a bit before falling asleep again. Diane woke me up about nine so we could gather our belongings, check out, and head for the Navy Lodge. Which we did. At 1100.

We stopped by 24th street in VB on the way out so we could visit a set of monuments we noticed during our travels. It was all a tribute to Naval Aviation. Very interesting.


This photo is an excellent example of diplomatic tools available to us.


It had such an impact on us that Diane bought me the t-shirt. I love it.


While visiting it, we took some extra steps to the boardwalk and dipped our feet in the sand, just to say we did it.


Since it was still early, we skipped the Navy Lodge on the way by the base because check in time isn’t until 1500. No guarantee the room would be ready. Instead, we drove to the airport so we’d know where the rental car return was located. Thankfully, it’s just before the departure gates so getting the car returned and to the gate at the proper time isn’t going to be a problem.

On the way back we stopped at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, because we like botanical gardens, and to kill a little more time to allow Navy Lodge to ensure our room was ready. It was a nice, pleasant stop for us. Very enjoyable. We got to ride a tram around the 600+ acres of flowers and trees while a nice young lady explained everything to us. No walking involved. Doesn’t get much better than that.



This is the only flower I took a photo of because we didn’t know what it is and there was no little sign sticking out of the ground near it to tell us. So, what is it?


This is a photo of one of many, many water-color paintings in the main facility at the garden. I was totally amazed at the realize this artist obtained with water colors. Totally changed my perception of what can be done with this medium.


So, now we will be lounging around in our condo for the remainder of the evening the begin the process of devouring all of the food we’ve accumulated over the past three weeks. That’s going to be a daunting task because we have a lot of it. We’re not going to be hungry for the trip home.

Day 25 – Norfolk Naval Station & Naps

This morning started off with an alarm clock going off, not something we normally do on vacation. But, we had a bus to catch at 0830 so sleeping in until 9-10 wasn’t going to work. The bus was for a tour of Naval Station Norfolk.

The significant aspect of this trip for our group of former USS Cleveland (LPD-7) crew members is that 50 years ago this month those of us who were in the 1st crew were on the base to board the ship and take it to her home port in San Diego, via the Panama Canal.  So many changes have been made to the base over those 50 years that none of us could definitively say, “I remember that!” Nope, it was all new, and very, very different. It’s truly a new Navy.

The tour bus we rode is apparently a frequent visitor to the Naval Station because our tour guide, a Petty Officer 3rd Class, said he did tours with our bus driver about every other day.

Jack, the president of the Cleveland Reunion Association, has been to all of the reunions as you can see by the length of his name tag. Each row has the name of the reunion location for each year. There have been 19 of them. Diane and I have only been to about 5 of them, counting this one.


Our bus tour of the naval station took us by most of the piers but we weren’t allowed to take photos up close. Instead, the bus pulled over a safe distance away from the piers and people were allowed to stand in the open door to take pictures back at the USS George Bush. Can’t see much, but there it is.


Before leaving the vicinity of the Naval Station we stopped by the NEX food court for lunch. Diane, Marsha, and I ate Panda Express. I’ve been craving Chinese food for a while and that just hit the spot for all of us. I ate far more than I should have.

After leaving the naval station the tour bus took us to downtown Norfolk and dropped us at Nauticus where we could tour the USS Wisconsin BB-64. They wanted lots of money to visit the ship so Diane and I chose to skip a trip aboard since we had recently visited the USS New Jersey BB-62. And, in past years we’ve been fortunate to visit the USS Alabama BB-60, and USS Missouri BB-63. That’s enough battleships for us. In our experience, once you’ve seen one battleship, you’ve seen them all. Still, there’s something special about going aboard one of those behemoths and walking those teak decks. This time, however, we chose to save the knees for another day.


Another aspect of Nauticus is a Navy Museum which is free and we found it to be very interesting. Upon entry we were greeted by a gentleman in an authentic civil war naval uniform. He introduced himself as a LCDR whose name I can’t remember but his delivery was current tense as if were there. He was a wealth of knowledge regarding those times and it was a delight to talk with him. It was a new experience for us in a museum and we liked it.

The displays included this torpedo which was interesting just by itself.


Making it more interesting was the placard sitting by it.


This is Gary and Dan who were also aboard the USS Cleveland. I suppose you could tell that by the hats they’re wearing. Dan and I were part of the commissioning crew in 1966 and Gary was aboard some time after that. Notice that I lined this up so you could see the mermaid between them. An intentional photo bomb.


This one adds Cindy to the mix. She’s Gary’s significant other and one of our favorite people.


At the end of the tour we all retired to our rooms. Diane and I promptly fell asleep and didn’t wake up until around 6 pm. By then we felt the need to refill some of the depleted food storage units but didn’t want to go out for another meal. We were told that the flounder in the resident eatery was pretty good, but that didn’t appeal, either. So, we discovered where the nearest Food Lion was and went shopping for simple things to tide us over for the weekend for breakfast and supper needs.

Both Diane and I are tired of traveling and look forward to getting home next week. Even if it’s going to be stormy and wet. We watched the videos on the weather channel of the tornado that hit Manzanita today. Nasty. Still, we will be glad to get home.

Maybe we’re getting too old for these long trips.

Thanks for listening.

Day 24 – Virginia Beach

Here I sit on the balcony of our room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It’s another warm, clear, beautiful day in Virginia. Diane is sitting near me reading about the weather in Oregon. The news is Oregon is going to exceed the normal rainfall for October by 300%. That’s some serious rain. Many, many inches. Then, coming in behind it is some heavy wind that will, without a doubt, push over a bunch of trees because of the saturated ground around them.

We had a major breakfast at the Jumping Shrimp cafe in the hotel that later in the day caused Diane a bit of abdominal distress causing her to miss an opportunity for supper with me in the USS Cleveland conference room. I put in an appearance and visited a little while, ate 3/4 of a sandwich, and had a root beer before going back to our room to be with her. You’d think after all these years I would be able to spend some time away from her visiting with old friends and shipmates, but it doesn’t work. If Diane isn’t there with me, I don’t enjoy it. Just a sentimental old sap, I guess.

Needless to say, this was the extent of our activity for today. Nothing important to share.

We just took a few naps so we could be rested up for bedtime.

Day 23 – Virginia Beach, Virginia

It was a brutal two-hour drive from Fort Lee to Virginia Beach on freeways and roads with very light traffic. Most of the freeways on this side of the country appear to be carved our of forests so there’s not a lot to see – just stands of trees on either side of you. And the trees are really, really tall. Guess I should have taken a picture, huh? But, here we are in beautiful, sunny, warm, Virginia Beach.

We’re staying at the Four Points by Sheraton because this is where the reunion is being held. This one is better, however, because we’re not far from Naval Air Station Oceana where fighter jets are flying, making lots of noise during the day. Diane loves it, and I don’t mind at all. We feel protected.

As I was checking in our friends Jack and Nancy, from San Antonio, TX, were just on their way out to eat lunch so they waited for us to get parked so we could join them. We took a slow walk up the street to a Mexican restaurant were I ate my usual Camerones ala Diabla and let me tell you, they were over the top diablo. Very hot. Made my eyeballs sweat.

This is Nancy and Diane. Didn’t get a picture of Jack because he walks too slow.


Lunch was very good. When done, we walked slowly back to the hotel, visiting as we went. Jack had quadruple bypass surgery 10 months ago and isn’t in a mood to push things too hard which is fine with me. Slow is perfectly OK.

The temperature here, at 4:21 pm, is 71 and there are people walking the boardwalk along the beach in shorts and flip flops. There are some surfers frolicking in the waves, too. So, we have entertainment without going anywhere. We’re watching them from the 5th floor of the hotel where the temp is probably 65.

Diane enjoying the salt air and wave noise. this was good until someone, I’m not saying it was guy, lit a cigar up wind (north) from us. Ruined her zen moment.


The view straight out from our porch.


View looking south from the porch.


View looking north from the porch.


This is a 9-story facility but the top 4 floors were damaged by hurricane Matthew so we’re technically on the top floor. Our room is very small but comfy, nothing like we had at Fort Lee. That was exceptional.

While sitting on the porch, minding our own business, this ferry showed up just outside the surf line. When he first showed up he was riding very low in the water, almost to the top of the freeboard along the sides. When he let he was riding about 4-5 feet higher in the water.


It only stayed out there for about 10 minutes, then left. We thought it might be some sort of dredge, moving sand from a nearby harbor and dumping it just off the beach. The more I thought about it, however, the more convinced I blame that it’s not a dredge, but a Honduran ferry transporting visitors to the Virginia coast. I can’t confirm this, however, because we never say anyone jump over the side. But, the boat obviously got lighter, so the passengers must have exited undetected somehow and worked their way in amongst the 20-30 people walking on the boardwalk. They’re very tricky, I’m told, and after having not seen it with my own eyes, I believe it. They just sneak right in, unseen. I don’t think they even wet. It’s amazing.

Now I must reminisce a bit, all the way back to yesterday when we visit Cedric for the last time on this trip. We got him a chicken teriyaki Subway sandwich and a Mr. Pibbs for his supper. He was a little sad to see us go, and we were a little sad to be going, but it was time.

As we drove up to the barracks, which really are barracks at all, but small 2-man condos, we were presented with this interesting sight in the sky. It was very brilliant from, I think, the setting sun shining on the clouds in just the perfect way.


We joked, smiled, and laughed. It was a very good parting visit. Cedric is going to do just fine during his Navy career, no matter how long or short it may be.


When we walked away, back to the car, this sunset greeted us. It was like an omen – Red sun at night, Sailor’s delight. Heard that one?


Tomorrow the reunion starts and runs through the weekend. We’ll be here until Tuesday morning. On that day we must get up about 3 am so we can get the car returned to the airport in time to catch a 7-something flight home.

That’s going to be fun.