Cedric Comes Home

It’s really, really wet at our house, and it’s cold. Seems like all this rain should be snow. It won’t be long before that becomes reality, I’m sure.

I know I’ve already addressed my concern regarding all the sexual misconduct going on in the but since I get daily reminders about those who have offended someone, in some way, I’m compelled to just offer up my apologies for all the times I may have inappropriately bumped in to someone during the course of my life.

Now, about all those congressmen and senators who have been using a publicly funded cash account, hush money I’ve heard, to pay off those who may have been assaulted.

Before I take that any further, I’ve just gotta say that I honestly believe that the majority of our elected officials in Washington DC are good guys and it’s the minority we’re hearing about now. This Hush Money Account, however, has me concerned because it’s apparently something they all know about. If that’s indeed true, then I deem them all guilty for allowing that to happen even if they didn’t use it to pay someone off. It’s truly a sad state of affairs and, frankly, I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about it every day. Seems like the media could find something uplifting to report once in a while.

I demand that our 535 lawmakers split the pot and pay us back for the $17M they unlawfully borrowed from out taxes. Divided equally, that works out to about $31,775.700934579439252 each. I’m willing to round that up to $32,000 each just because. Turns out that more than half of those 535 people are millionaires so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Once the legal system gets a handle on who used the fund and how much they used to pay off those with whom they practiced  sexual misconduct, those folks should pay back what gave away in addition to the previously mentioned $32K fee. It’s only fair.

Additionally, those who used the fund should be levied taxes on the money they gave away because they did so as if the money was theirs. That would be unearned income, like a bonus, which is taxed at around 48%.

Then there are those who received the pay offs. What about them? Personally, I think that taking the money makes them complicit and should also pay taxes on the portion of that $17M that was given away. Yes, I understand that they are the alleged victims but I suspect that’s not true for all of them. I bet some of them knew about that fund, also, and knew how to use it. That, of course, is just a guess and strictly my opinion. I haven’t heard anything about that on the news so it must be true that the victims are all just that. Victims. Still, taking a pay off for something stupid done to them by an ignorant, arrogant, elected official is, in a way, condoning the acts committed. That’s just another opinion.

Maybe someone from the IRS will jump in here somewhere and give me a hand. Until that happens, I’m moving on to something more interesting, and closer to home.

Our Grandson Cedric returned to his home port yesterday after completing his first deployment. He’s stationed aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), the oldest nuclear powered super carrier still afloat. The Nimitz was one of the three carriers that took a cruise up the coast of North Korea toward the end of their deployment. What fun that must have been, right?

They are home safely now and Cedric’s Mom, Jennifer, and I drove up to watch the ship enter port and parallel park at their assigned pier in Kitsap Naval Base Bremerton, WA. Jennifer and I left St. Helens at 0800 and arrived about 1100. Parking turned out to not be much of a problem for some reason and we were able to get a spot only about a block away from all the festivities. Easy peasy. Then we walked to the pier and claimed a spot in the middle of the quay wall between the piers where the Nimitz would moor. We got there at noon after a leisurely lunch at the conveniently located Wendy’s on the base.

We joined about a zillion other folks where came to welcome the ship home. This was new for me because I was always the guy on the ship coming in to port. It was an extremely slow and interesting evolution. Parking an aircraft carrier isn’t a minor task. It’s all done in slow motion.

Jennifer was über excited to see Cedric again after the six-month deployment and we were there to take him home for a few days. He brought one of his shipmates home, too, and he’s currently palling around with her and his St. Helens friends. Yes, I said ‘her’. He brought a girl home. Shocking. It’s OK, though, because it was pre-approved by Jennifer. She’s a great young lady. When we met I told her my name was Jerrie but she could call me Senior Chief. She took it well but neither Cedric nor Jennifer saw the humor and severely chastised me while Elisabeth laughed.

It took a while to get off the base because of all the traffic so we parked in Wendy’s lot, had something to eat to tide us over for the trip home, and waited for Elisabeth to show up. We finally exited the gate around 1600 and arrived home at about 1930. In all, it was almost a 12 hour day for Jennifer and me. I used to be able to deal with stuff like that a lot better. Considering that I didn’t drive either direction you’d think I had it pretty easy, right? Well, being the Navigator is important business and doesn’t allow one to sleep on the job.

I’ll close with a bunch of photos I took of the day. Enjoy.

 

 

Veteran’s Day & Diane

Once again it’s 11/11 and time to thank a Vet.

Too bad some folks only do that once a year. Could be they only have that opportunity once a year. I know that I don’t do it every day, but I do it every time I see a vet. Most of them wear hats to advertise their military association so it’s a dead giveaway.

I’ve expanded my thanks to include all manner of public servants, in addition to military members, present and past. I think it’s only fair.

So, if you see some guy on your trip through Oregon, telling a Teacher, Nurse, Mother, Wife, Waiteperson, Cashier, Busboy, Policeman, Fireman, Garbage Man, Doctor, Phlebotomist, or Mailperson, “Thanks for your service,” it might be me.

I’ve found that teachers are especially surprised, and pleased, to get that kind of recognition from an old guy wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat. It’s very gratifying. You should try it.

Now I must share that my wife, Diane, who endured over 20 years as a Navy wife with me, is currently on a mission to get us a Papa Murphy’s pizza. She left me home, alone, in my pajamas. When I told her that I might just put on some outdoor clothes while she’s gone, she said, “Why?” For me, that’s pretty profound since she lived the military life for so long and endured the same deployments that I did.

She’s the best.

I’ll get the next pizza.

 

San Diego Zoo, NAS North Island – Day 6

Tuesday was a day at the zoo, then a trip to NAS North Island on Coronado. The San Diego Zoo was one of the “must do’s” on the girl’s list. Since Diane and I knew it would involve miles of walking, we opted out and just got tickets for our girls, letting them run willy nilly amongst the animals.

After they entered the zoo Diane and I just wandered around smartly, from shady spot to shady spot, enjoying the beauty of Balboa Park. First, however, we took a short trip on the Balboa Railroad …

I almost forgot about the most amazing event of the day that happened when we drove into the parking lot and, amazingly, found a spot literally 5 cars from the main zoo entrance. One in a million, right?

The brown pickup is us and the entrance is just a short ways to the left of where we parked. Pretty cool.

Here are some photos of the things we visited … all manner of artistic folks inhabit these spaces. Very creative people.

Then we found the Botanical Garden building. Very unique, with lots of pretty stuff inside.

We walked around outside some more and rested when the moment called.

After the girls saw everything at the zoo, we went to the beach on the beach on Naval Air Station North Island. The beach went to is next to the Navy Lodge on the base. It’s a huge beach right on the Pacific, just a little north of the Hotel Del Coronado.

When we arrived at the beach we noticed that there was a pleasure boat trapped on the beach and submerged in the sand. The top part was still attached but by the time we left the surf had torn it apart and pieces were floating all over the place. Folks closer to the boat were dragging things ashore to get them out of the way and the girls moved quite a few until it became hazardous due to the amount of debris.

Then we helped Diane get vertical …

… the swimmers rinsed off almost all of the sand …

… we drove back across the San Diego – Coronado Bridge

… past the 32nd Street Naval Base

… and back up the freeway to Marbrisa in Carlsbad.

That’s it for this day.

Thru LA to Carlsbad – Day 4

Days 4 thru 7 are so full of stuff, and I have lots of photos, that I’m going to break it up so you won’t get totally bored. That, and I have 47 photos to share that total 118 MB of data. Too much for one post. So, I’m going with Day 4 now.

That would be the day we finally arrived in Carlsbad and got checked in to our rooms. This time, instead of a three bedroom house, like we had at NAS Lemoore, we had a two bedroom condo. Well, actually, it’s a one bedroom condo with a studio adjoining. Perfect for the four of us. The girls had their own space with a bath, and we had ours. Yes, perfect.

Getting to the room from Lemoore, however, was a serious challenge because we made it a point to drive through Los Angeles so the girls could experience the traffic. They weren’t disappointed, but I’m sure they wish we’d chosen a speedier route. Yes, it was a dumb thing to do, but we only had to do it once, right? Right.

As it turned out, Diane gave up driving before we reached the infamous Grapevine over the hills into the LA area. So, I had the honor. What fun. Additionally, I wound up driving all the way to Carlsbad, a  v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w. t.r.i.p. Really. And, it took most of the day. No, it took all day. We arrived over two hours later than the original arrival time computed by our GPS lady before leaving Lemoore.

Once over the Grapevine, and into the city, the speed dropped to around 0-20 mph and that’s the way it was for the duration, all the way to Carlsbad. That’s a stretch of about 100 miles. It was brutal; 4-6 lanes (each way) of vehicles cruising along at a little over walking speed most of the time.

But, we made it. Yes we did.

Our accommodations here at Marbrisa Resort are on the ground floor. The girls’ room has a small patio that is about 10 feet from the gate into the pool area, right next to the hot tub. Perfect, right? They certainly think so. They have four pools to play in.

Somewhere during that grueling day, we stopped for lunch at a Panda Express where I pigged out on a bunch of shrimp which resulted in this …

The dreaded Gout. It hurt, and I limped a lot, but it didn’t stop me from keeping up with the crowd. When we had a chance, we went to the commissary at Camp Pendleton and got the most horrible cherry juice in the world which Diane made me drink to help resolve the gout problem. I managed to gag down a glass but that was it. Nasty stuff, and I kinda used to like cherry juice. Next time I get gout I will just live with it until it’s gone.

Today is Wednesday. I’ll fill you in on Monday and Tuesday next. I’ll leave you with a photo of “my girls” waiting for a table at an eating establishment somewhere on the West Coast, South of Los Angeles. Might be the Green Dragon in Carlsbad.

Here’s what we ate …

That’s it.

RIP Chief Master Sgt. Duncan Hannigan

This is a tough one for me because Duncan was not just another career military guy that we lost far too soon. He was married to Julie Walker, Diane’s cousin, therefore, my cousin. He was Family.

My personal interaction with Duncan was strictly social when we had the rare opportunity to visit with him, Julie, and Jake. Oh, we talked about military “stuff” because that’s what military folks do. We were curious about each other’s military ‘adventures’ because we represented both ends of the current spectrum from Viet Nam, through the Gulf Wars, to the present. That’s a lot of ground to cover and we didn’t have nearly enough time to share it all. There should have been years ahead of us to get that done. But, alas, cancer squashed that opportunity.

Chief Duncan was a stellar Guy. Someone I would have cheerfully served with had circumstances been different for us. That’s my personal perception of Duncan, but virtually every article and comment I can find about him reveals that it was a universal feeling for anyone who interacted with him.

He was supposed to retire late last year but his illness delayed that to the point where his retirement party, and memorial were celebrated at the same time. I think Duncan probably smiled down on everyone at that solemn event, appreciating the irony of the dual purpose.

I lament that we didn’t have more time to visit and learn about each other, and I was honored to know him.

From a Flawless Plan to an Adventure

The plan was:

  • Jennie to take Cedric to Sandy for double-header – Lydia was to pitch both games – and Diane and I would meet them there.
  • After the games, take Cedric back to his ship, USS Nimitz CVN-68, in Bremerton, WA.
  • Diane would drive Jennie’s car home while we headed north to Bremerton.

Simple plan, right? Well, it morphed quickly into the Adventure when Diane returned home from her dermatologist in the morning with lots of burned, crispy spots on her neck and doctor’s orders to remain out of the sun for 4 days. Considering the way the sun shines around here, that could take a couple of weeks. When I returned from golfing, which I did while Diane was at the dermatologist, she said she wouldn’t be going to the games which changed the entire plan for driving Cedric back to his ship.

The new plan was for me to drive Jennie and Cedric to the game, then just head north after the games. Simple, right? Well, to get ready, I had about an hour to mow the front yard, shower, and pick up Lydia and Cedric for the 1.25 hour trip to Sandy. Traffic was horrendous and it took 2 hours so we missed the first inning. It was OK because Lydia wasn’t pitching. Brooklyn was! Shock. She was supposed to have been off doing her Columbia County Rodeo Queen responsibilities. So, the six seniors got to play two more games together. Lydia pitched the first 3 innings of the second game then moved to first base.

Left to right: Brooklyn (pitcher), Kayla (3rd base), Bailey (left field), Ceiarra (1st Base), Mercedes (catcher), Lydia (any position needed)

Towards the end of the game Cedric gave us a huge sigh, hung his head, and reported that he had forgotten his keys at home. That required another change to the plans. Instead of going directly north via the freeways, we had to detour back through St. Helens. This increased the 3 hour trip to 4 hours. He had also forgotten one of his hats. OK, it happens, so we just dealt with it and went on about the business of watching the rest of the game.

Before leaving, Cedric had time to say good-bye to Lydia who was going home on the bus with the team. She got very emotional knowing she wouldn’t see him until next February, at the earliest. She cried, something she rarely does. For that reason, and others related to female hormones, some of her team mates started crying too. It wasn’t long before many of them were crying in support of Lydia’s sadness, and Cedric was getting hugs from many of the girls who don’t even know him, wishing him luck. It was a Kodak moment the coaches couldn’t ignore so they gathered the team for a picture of them crying and laughing. Cedric was very touched by it all, as were we.

Then something happened off to my left that caused a reaction that soothed the crowd.

With all this emotion going on Coach Little told Jennie to just take Lydia home with us, which we did. She slept with her head in Cedric’s lap most of the way. During the trip it Lydia said she’d like to go to Bremerton with us because she’d never been on a navy base and would like to see Cedric’s ship. School on Friday was the only issue but Jennie resolved that quickly and the deal was done. Lydia was going with us.

We got to St. Helens around 2030, Lydia got a go bag while Cedric passed out more hugs with his brothers, Jeran …

… and Ahmed …

… and away we went. It was dark, nothing to see, and Jennie drove from home to Bremerton. We got on base no problem, and dropped Cedric at his ship’s liberty gate. Lots of lights but not a photo-op.

Then we went in search of the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites (NGIS). It took an hour to find it and required the help of a person on the phone guiding us while she used a map of the base. While looking for parking I noticed signs indicating the spots we’re reserved for NGIS which looked suspiciously like NCIS so I didn’t park in them. Finally, I looked closer and noticed it was for the hotel and gratefully parked.

When checking in I bantered with the desk clerk, Randy, and learned he was born on Guam. Jennie piped up, “I was too. In Agana!” she said. What a small world even though Jennie was born there about 20 years before Randy.

Room had one bed and a recliner. Lydia, to be kind, said she wanted the recliner but I declined her the recliner and reclined in it quite comfortably the entire nite while the two girls, one of whom forget her Jammies, rested nicely on the queen bed. Even though Lydia slept in the clothes she wore for the trip, she intentionally didn’t bring Jammies, so I guess it was Jennie’s Jammies that didn’t make the trip. It was OK. By the time we got the lights out, it was about 0100 and we were all dog-tired.

Got up about 1000, left the room, then went to the NEX for some trinkets to commemorate the journey. Then I drove them all over the base to get a good view of the USS Nimitz in the daylight so the girls could see it. Last night it was too dark to see it clearly.

Then we went to breakfast at Denny’s which was almost all the way north in Silverdale. We all ate quite well. Lydia had a bacon burger with avocado which I had doubts that she could wrap her mouth around …

… but she did …

Jennie had this, but didn’t want the sausage links …

… so I got them with my Denver omelette …

After breakfast, Jennie drove us south toward home, the long way through Shelton, because we didn’t want the freeway stress. About 50 miles from the finish, she cried Uncle and I took over to the end. She drove the lion’s share of the trip and didn’t scare me even once. I was proud of her. After I started driving it began raining harder, and harder causing me to run the wipers at full speed much of the time.

I got them home a little after 1500, waited for Lydia to get her softball gear, then took her back to school for practice. The team has one more game on Friday then they can put their softball gear away. Lydia will pitch the entire game Friday because Brooklyn is definitely done for the season.

I arrived home to an empty house because Diane is at the court house again, working with the election committee. Well, the house wasn’t really empty because the dogs were here, and they were very happy to see me. They’re always happy to see anyone, even if they’ve only been gone a couple of minutes.

Oh, and the hat Cedric forgot at home? He forgot it in the truck when he got his stuff to go to the ship. Lydia found it.

I was feeling pretty good until I put this all down on paper and now I’m tired again. If it was a little later, I’d go to bed but it’s only 1730, so I’m going just have a nap.

Oops! Diane just buzzed into the garage in the roadster so maybe a nap isn’t an option. I may have to go out and kill something for her to eat.

A Fun Surprise

Yesterday evening we had a little fun at the house when Jennifer, our daughter, called asking if she could come up and print something. She does that once in a while and knows she doesn’t have to ask but she always does. What a gal. When I heard the car arrive I went to the door in an effort to keep the dogs from making a huge amount of noise but it was a waste of time. Any time they see someone heading for the front door they think it’s a signal to cut loose. So, they do. And it’s annoying. But I seriously suspect that anyone attempting to enter the house without permission would be a little intimidated.

With barking in progress I let them out to greet Jennifer but turns out she wasn’t alone. At first all I noticed was more than one person exiting the limping Envoy but it wasn’t until they made it to the door that I realized that with Jennifer, Lydia, Ahmed, and Solo (their dog), was Cedric. Apparently he planned this surprise with his Dad, Daniel, a week ago after his ship returned to Bremerton. He has a friend who has family in Portland and makes the trip on a regular basis when the ship is in port and she offered Cedric a ride to St. Helens which is on the way. How nice. He freaked his Mom out when he just showed up and walked into the house around 5 pm yesterday.

Then they came to us to share the surprise.

What a fun way to end the day.

Note: For those who don’t know, Cedric is a Navy cook stationed aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), the Navy’s oldest nuclear aircraft carrier.