I think some of us spend a fair amount of time reminiscing about the past. That's possibly because we don't necessarily like where things are going in this country- remember all my pithy political postings? Living through the last Administration was tough for a patriot who values limited government and believes that the best way to raise everyone up is to allow an economy to flourish under un-burdensome regulations. Things are hopefully getting better, but the jury is still out of course.
Or maybe we reminisce because for those so honored to serve, we really enjoyed our lives in uniform, looking back on those days fondly. Naval Aviation was a blast and life as a Lieutenant in a fleet squadron is probably the best job, in any service, anywhere. Period. Bold text. Underline. Exclamation Point. Flying in a seat with a view out the front of the airplane really can't be beat, in my no-so-humble opinion. Skimming the clouds, riding a 30 million dollar roller coaster, and getting paid quite well to do it, all the while with limited responsibilities or family duties outside of flying, is an incredible opportunity, one I'm so glad to have had, and I know I was fortunate to get.
|VS-21 JOPA, probably on a no-fly day. Yes, I once had hair.|
While it's fun to think bout being a 20-something aviator again, I'm quite happy with where I am in life, and have been very content at each stage of that life. It helps having my beautiful wife at my side, as she makes life fun and keeps me from being too serious and set in my ways. And every once in a while she surprises the heck out of me, encouraging me to do something that the straight-laced, by the book rule-following conservative wouldn't normally do.
Remember Sarge's post about his childhood toys- the ones that he and his brothers still have up at the old homestead in Vermont? They're in surprisingly good condition. I took good care of my own toys as well, keeping nearly all of them in one of my dad's old footlockers. But after I moved away and my mom's subsequent move to an apartment closer to her work, I expect she helped them find their way to someone who would appreciate playing with them. My Hot Wheels collection was undoubtedly the favorite of all my possessions. I'd set up the vinyl tracks in some elaborate fashion all over the house, usually starting with some elevated launch position on a bookshelf or the TV cabinet, for the gravity assist of course. I never played with them in the dirt, nor did I crash them together like some kids are wont to do. So I vividly remember the day I parted with them, feeling like quite the grown up, giving them to a young boy my older sister babysat. I also remember feeling almost sick when I visited him a few years later as my younger sister took on that part-time caregiver role. I saw how most of my treasures were ruined- axles bent, wheels missing, paint chipped, some with smashed roofs- all evidence of hard play that they didn't deserve. When E-Bay came around, I slowly rebuilt part of my collection, often paying far more than what I spent as a child.
Cars have always held my interest. In addition to my Hot Wheels, I had a subscription to Popular Hot-Rodding, both fueling my appreciation for muscle-cars that I still hold today. Now it's the more refined Car and Driver, which I've enjoyed since my 20's.
|1967 Mustang Convertible|
A year before I was born, my mom bought a '67 Convertible in downtown San Diego. It was Lime-Gold, had a 289 V8 putting out 271hp, with factory A/C and the optional center console. I loved that car and dreamed of the day when I'd get the chance to drive it, making no secret of the fact to my folks that I hoped it might be mine someday. In the early 80s it came under disrepair, to include a shredded ragtop, and my family wasn't able to afford the repairs. It sat under a tarp in our yard for over a year. Unfortunately, that yard was in Southern Oregon now, a much wetter climate than San Diego, and I saw my dream car slowly deteriorate. Then on March 29th, 1983, needing money for bills my parents sold it. That day is memorable because it's the day before I went to the DMV to get my learners permit.
Years later, as I began to buy my own cars, the timing of my car needs, available funds, family requirements and Mustang styling never matched up. With the '67 as my dream car, few of the other Pony bodies met my tastes and none could come close to that first model redesign- a perfect mix of styling, muscle, sport, and trim. After that, they just got too beefy for my tastes ('70-'73), too WTF? (Mustang II), too divergent from the original (Fox Body), and just not retro enough ('93-'04). Now I've grown to love any classic Mustang, but that one year has always been my favorite.
|Ugly Mustangs through the years, '73, '75, '84, '93|
|2005 Mustang Pinterest|
It was after the 2005 redesign that I saw something that matched my dreams. Unfortunately the timing still wasn't right. I had kids at home and a sporty Mustang just wasn't practical enough to justify my wants. A Minivan, a 4 door sedan, and a double cab pickup were the family vehicles for the next phase of life. There was the occasional dalliance with a pony car- a rental in Hawaii during a port visit, my father-in-law getting one on loan from the Ford Dealer in town when his F-150 was in the shop, but I had pretty much put my desires out to pasture.
It wasn't until a very late-at-night landing at an airport on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 2015 that I rekindled by dream. Every rental car was already taken and my reservation for a (government authorized) compact car could only be filled by a brand new Mustang, the last car in the lot. I came home re-energized from that 5 day trip, feeling like quite the kid again, or at least a Fleet LT, telling my wife how much I loved driving that car. She then did something very "unwifely" in my opinion, saying "You should get one!" What? Did I hear that right? She's encouraging me to do something completely impractical? She had to tell me more than once, but a little over a year later, with an almost empty nest, the stars aligned enough for me to finally get my own '67 Mustang, (50th anniversary edition)- a 2017 Ruby Red Metallic fully loaded 2.3L Ecoboost Premium Convertible. My own Hot Wheels that I can actually drive.
My only regret is that it didn't come in Lime Gold.
Ok, now what else is on my bucket list?