Tag: Navy

This is a just a quick note to update those who are interested in our trip progress.  If you are checking in for my usual brand of writing-related mental meanderings, I apologize.  Things have been busy.  Unfortunately, at this particular juncture, busy equals no time for writing–either the fiction or the blog variety.

But this is not to say that life isn’t going well.  We–Furnacegirl, Muffin, and I, plus pooch extraordinaire Stormy–are safely in Norfolk, awaiting our departure to Sicily by plane on Tuesday.  We are staying with a friend who owns a very nice condo on the beach, so the surroundings are warm and congenial and–except for the stack of stuff we still need to do–we have absolutely no complaints.

However, I do feel obligated to report that our drive up from Lafayette was not completely without incident.  There we were, having just crossed the I-10 bridge into Mississippi, when what should appear from the confines of the engine compartment?  A cheery white cloud of steam and coolant–accompanied by an angry red gauges light and a spike on the temp gauge.

I know what you might be saying to yourself: this guy didn’t properly preflight his vehicle.  Or it’s an old car and the radiator gave up the ghost.  Or he didn’t check his hoses and one blew.  Obviously, it could have been a dozen things.

Nevertheless, if you had been driving down that particular stretch of Interstate 10 on that glorious, semi-sunny Sunday morning, you would have seen a man with eyes bulging, virtually doubled over with dissatisfaction, the only indication that he wasn’t having a conniption being the targeted way he waved his fist at the sky and snarled in some mix of English and Profanity, cursing the Automotive Gods and generally making a fool of himself.

That man, I bet you have now gathered, was me.  :)

You see, all the obvious conclusions above about the poor repair of the vehicle and/or the poor attention paid to it by its owner are false.  In fact, wishing to avoid such roadside strandings in the course of a fifteen-hundred-mile journey, I had done quite a bit of work on the vehicle.  New radiator.  New hoses.  New water pump.  New thermostat.  New tires.  The list goes on.  The phenomenon which I was observing should not, in fact, be happening.  Perhaps it was some strange tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum that was turning the normally reliable laws of physics on their ears.

The obvious cascade of events followed from my little tirade.  Phone calls flew.  The fam huddled in the shade and tried unsuccessfully to hide from the profound Mississippi humidity.  A tow truck arrived.  A tow truck departed.

We rode along to the local Pep Boys–the only shop open on Sunday–where the manager, a woman named Dani to whom we shall always be indebted, took pity on us and had one of her techs look at the jeep immediately.  Nearly two-hundred dollars later, we were back on the road.

The culprit?  The radiator cap.  Yep.  I couldn’t believe it either.  The shop who put in the new radiator decided it would be funny or prudent or downright insidious to replace the ten-year-old radiator cap on our brand new radiator.

We enjoyed a very nice afternoon, reading year-old Sports Illustrateds and Car and Driver magazines in the Pep Boys in Slidell, Louisiana courtesy of a failed five-dollar piece of rubber and metal, and some Corpus Christi mechanic’s lack of judgment.

Back on the road, we sang the hotel song (sung to a melody reminiscent of the guttural stylings of Herman from the Munsters)–

Where’s the hotel?
Where’s the hotel?
(words and music by Muffin copyright 2010)

–and enjoyed the lazy light as it painted the trees and freeway flashing by in phosphorescent oranges and yellows.  The failed radiator cap was a little hiccup, perhaps, but as we are coming to understand, tiny mishaps like this are par for the course when moving halfway round the world, and best handled with a healthy dose of patience and a splash of humor for good measure.

As my dear friend Shakespeare once said:  All’s well that ends well.  Do you have any travel tales to tell, either good or bad?

Ground school today.  I learned at least one thing.  If I want to fly this:

And I don’t want this:

I have to study this:

I have six days to learn it all.

I’m not complaining, mind you.  I find this stuff fun, but I won’t be ’round the blogosphere too much this next week.  I hope you understand.  😀

Have a groovy time, friends, and I’ll see you in a few days!

First, Nashville needs help.  Go check out Do The Write Thing For Nashville, a site where goodies for writers are being auctioned off to raise funds for the hard hit area.  Southern Princess, Courtney Barr has more details about the devastation down there.  It doesn’t look pretty, so let’s all pitch in and do what we can.

Also,  go check out Tricia at Talespinning’s contest.  It’s a good one!

And I’m just back from surviving the helo dunker.  My skin is still tingling!  It was so much fun, I just had to post of up this video to give you a taste of what it was like.  Enjoy!

Have a great Thursday.

One of my best friends in the Navy retired today, after over twenty years in service.  I flew in from Texas to attend the ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard, on the Anocostia River in Washington, D.C. 

I have been proud to know the retiring gentleman for more than fourteen years, and during that time he has served this country in ways that many of us–even me–can hardly begin to understand.  I think many of you watch TV shows that portray the Navy, or read about the Navy in news articles or books, but there is much that is not visible to the average citizen.  I thought I might give you one small glimpse of how it really is. 

The Navy has a long tradition, and it shows in events like retirement ceremonies, today’s being no exception.  During the retirement, it is traditional for the official party, including the retiree, to be piped aboard–meaning a Boatswain blows his pipe, and sideboys all in full dress uniform salute as each dignitary comes aboard; there is the tradition of the shadowbox; there are others, but the one that always gets me–and got me again today–is the last item in the ceremony: the reading of “The Watch.”

I’ll leave you to read it for yourself on this fine fine Friday evening, as I raise a glass to my friend, and wish him “Fair Winds and Following Seas!”  We’re gonna miss you, man.

The Watch

For twenty years
This sailor has stood the watch.

While some of us were in our bunks at night
This sailor stood the watch.

While some of us were in school learning our trade
This shipmate stood the watch.

Yes…even before some of us were born into this world,
This shipmate stood the watch.

In those years when the storm clouds of war were seen brewing on the horizon of history,
This shipmate stood the watch.

Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there,
Needing his guidance and help–
Needing that hand to hold during those hard times
But still he stood the watch.

He stood the watch for twenty years,
He stood the watch so that we, our families and
Our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety,
Each and every night,
Knowing that a sailor stood the watch.

Today we are here to say,
“Shipmate, the watch stands relieved,
Relieved by those you have trained, guided, and lead.

“Shipmate, you stand relieved…we have the watch…”

Boatswain, standby to pipe the side…Shipmate going ashore.