Anchors Aweigh!

Trip Start Jun 09, 2009
Trip End Jun 23, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Saturday, June 20, 2009

Our little Naval employee, Stephanie McPeek called us in the morning to inform us that they had an unscheduled muster at 8am and would last until around 10. Most apologetic, I told her that I of all people completely understood and we would see her at 11.  So our morning was most relaxing and restful, allowing us to lounge in the 8th floor room of our downtown Norfolk hotel catching up on such wonderful shows (said with sarcasm) as Regis and Kelly, and the local Newschannel 10 "Norfolk's Newsleader" five minute cut-ins.  With a broadcasting and journalism background, I get humored watching the local news. 

We opted out of the breakfast, having been spoiled by other hotels that provided breakfast at no charge.  I was not about to pay the prices they were asking for such Naval breakfast platters named “The Admiral” or “The Boatswain’s Mate” or “The Keel.”  Although “The Quarterdeck” looked good cause it had spinach in its omelet, but not for 12 dollars.  Ahhhh, welcome to home to the world’s largest Naval base…Norfolk.

After a much needed washing of the truck, and vacuuming from the week of road trip snack crumbs which made their way to the floormates, we navigated a couple of tunnels and a few long bridges north to Newport News.  Gina the GPS guided us nicely to Stephanie’s apartment, which consequently made me very jealous because Navy housing has improved greatly since I was in.  Then again, I was in so long ago I was part of the original crew of the Merrimac.  She looked great as ever having just passed her 21st birthday.  A big hug and a short tour of her surrounding quarters moved the clock forward to us driving back over the Chesapeake to Navy Base Norfolk. 

Base gates guarded by MP’s saluting the officer cars and waving through the enlisted brought back so many memories of my seven years in uniform.  We stopped and got a visitor’s pass, and did not miss the red tape paperwork the military uses.  We had to fill out a 48DD 728A form along with ID and vehicle registration, and gave two drops of blood with two separate DNA samples before we were able to get on.  Once we did…groups of sailors in grey Navy shirts and blue shorts jogged together in front of the barracks, while crosswalks were crowded with recruits in fresh white uniforms, briskly saluting officers in brown uniforms adorned with ribbons and brass.  The short 25 mph speed limit reminded me of the discipline and protocol used in base areas.  While I wanted to take pictures to share my experience with the Dispatch’s readers, MPs don’t look fairly on a big, black truck with tinted windows pulling over and taking pictures with a big camera and a 300mm lens.

We drove by all the moored warships, Destroyers, Frigates,  Amphibious Assault ships, submarines, and of course…the carriers.  Four in all based there.  Again, no pics on the docks.  A big Nikon pointed at the bow of a warship with a 25 pound canon, doesn’t look good for OPSEC…or as we used to call Operation Security.  Dispatch time 1300 now as we head to the base exchange for some Navy t-shirts and other souvenirs.  We hung out there until about 1430 and then headed a few miles east to Virginia Beach.  Anchors Aweigh my old friend Norfolk!

Stephanie’s first time to Va Beach provided some additional excitement for me, able to show her some areas she could frequent on her own time.  It can be intimidating venturing out as a young lady in such a large community.  Brilliant sunshine and scores of Friday travelers made the beach a great environment.  We had lunch on the ocean front watching beach cruising bicycle riders, walkers, runners, and other colorful characters.  It was nice to kick back and catch up, and visit, and unwind.  Mind you…we have been on the go non-stop since we left, so this refuge was well welcomed.  Enjoy some of the few shots I took today as the Dispatch photographic department was on hiatus.

Evening fell quickly as we crossed the causeway back into Newport.  Deep amber tones reflected off of the water, silhouetting docking cranes and warship masses in the distance.  It has been a wonderful relaxing day.  Brian and I left lil Steph at her home and said our sad goodbyes.  For those close to her back in Houston…she is well.  She is loving the Navy.  She lives in gorgeous and very safe base apartments, and is on the fast track to some early promotion in a few months if she keeps doing as well as she is doing.  She grumbled a bit with some aspects of the job, but like myself…I know she loves the heck out of it.  She left a teenage girl last year and today I visited a young woman. 

Brian and I grabbed a quick bite near Old Dominion University before heading back to the hotel.  Early rise in the morning….early, early!  Need to get the outer banks of North Carolina by sunrise for some shots and then to the Kitty Hawk National Monument.  From there it’s a looooong push to St. Augustine, Florida.  Pretty historical I hear…its only the first European settlement on American soil.  Mid 1500s I think.

Again, light on the pictures today…but rich on memories for me and my past.  Good to see my Navy is still doing great.  Good night from Norfolk….or as the Virginians say in their accent…..”Nah-fahk.”  I’ll catch up with you later 600 miles to the south.  Until then, Dispatch out.        
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