Thursday, April 2, 2015

Better Days?

Photo provided by my buddy Pinch and is used with his kind permission. (Yes, I asked!)
Saw this photo on Facebook and a relay (somewhere in my brain housing group) closed, opening a path to memory, which triggered the following utterance.

"Ah, Virginia Beach. Those were better days..."

Which immediately made me stop short on my perambulation down the passageways of my place of employment, causing the chap behind me to pull up short and nearly spill his hot, caffeinated beverage. (Serves him right for tailgating!)


What made me stop short is the thought that those days I was remembering were absolutely excellent days, but certainly not "better days." Which brings me to the subject of today's mindless scribblings post.

With that being said...*

It had to have been the summer of 2007, eight long years ago. The Naviguessor was out of the Navy and way out yonder Californee way. The Nuke was on active duty in that very same Navy (and had been for two years) and was (IIRC) assigned to the USS McFAUL (DDG-74), home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. The WSO, while she was on active duty in the same Navy we mentioned above, wasn't quite a WSO yet as she was down Pensacola way learning her trade. She wouldn't get her Wings of Gold for another year. (Yes, there's a story there which I must needs be tell. Some day. Just not today.)

So as is our wont, The Missus Herself and Your Humble Scribe had hopped a fast jet (okay, it was an airliner) for the Norfolk area for to visit our eldest daughter whilst her ship was spending some time in port. Not something that destroyers do a lot, or so I'm led to believe by those who know these things. (One could ask Skip, for he was a destroyerman back in the day.)

It was a lovely day so The Nuke took us down to the boardwalk in Virginia Beach (a town I have always loved, though there are a few of my Dear Readers who look askance at any mention of that area of the fair state of Virginia).

It must have been late spring or early summer as the weather was extraordinarily mild and wondrous with just enough of a breeze coming off the Atlantic to keep the less hardy at home. In other words, a might cool. Though awfully nice for those used to much harsher climes.

Now for my part, I was content to sit by the beach and do my semi-Otis Redding thing...

I wasn't on a dock, it wasn't a bay and it wasn't the Pacific. Nor was my home in Georgia. Other than that, ships and tide, rolling in, rolling out, you get my drift [eye roll] yes? And it is a classic song from a great singer.

But The Nuke wasn't having any of that old person sedentary crap. No sirree, you betcha. She was determined to have some fun. Because ya know...

(Why yes, Captain Lou Albano is in that video And yes, I liked the man. May he rest in peace.)

She decided, in pursuit of this "fun" thing, that we would rent one of these...

Virginia Boardwalk Entertainment (Photo by Semibreve42, in the Public Domain)

Your Humble Scribe took the right seat, as The Nuke decided that she should, by right of superior rank, have command and actually steer the thing from the left seat. Though there are two steering wheels, only one actually works. The left one, which functions, is obscured in the photo above by a poorly placed backpack. The non-functioning right wheel is clear as day in front of the fellow in the red shirt. That right wheel will spin around and around and actually accomplish next to nothing. (I count the ability to spin freely as something of an accomplishment. Such as it is...)

The Missus Herself occupied the rear seat, said seat which I had eyed with lust, thinking to be driven up and down the boardwalk like some latter day rajah. But alas, The Nuke saw my move in advance, told me that I was not getting a "free" ride but that I should plant my not insubstantial derrière in the front where I could assist with the peddling duties. There being two sets of peddles in the front, both sets of which functioned. Unlike the steering wheels.

I don't recall if there were peddles in the back seat, not that The Missus Herself was expected to contribute to the propulsion of this conveyance. Not with such a fine figure of a man (as myself) and a fit young lady of the United States Navy available to provide motive force.

Yes, she got to sit in the back and take in the sights like some latter day rani whilst I myself labored like a galley slave and got all sweaty in the front seat, dontcha know?

I did, however, have a modicum of revenge upon my better half upon arriving at the first sharp turn on our journey. At that point I began to madly spin the wheel and shout...

Yup, just like that.

Now The Missus Herself did not know that my wheel did nothing. So when I commenced to spinning it and shouting (in my madcap hilarious way) she thought we were about to go into a ditch, collide with some immovable object or otherwise come to grief and great bodily harm.

The Nuke panicked a bit at first until she realized what was going on.

"Dad, knock it off."

"You're an idiot."

(That last bit said in stereo, as I recall.)

The "love tap" I received in the back of the head from The Missus Herself was not that painful. Though I doubt I could have passed the NFL's concussion protocol. I rubbed some dirt on it and was all better.

But we had a seriously good time that day. Seeing that photo from Pinch really brought those memories back.

"Ah, Virginia Beach. Those were better days..."

But after some reflection (and almost spilling that chap's coffee) I realized: I had no grandchildren at that time. Those kids are the joy of my existence. None of the progeny had yet to espouse** themselves so the family was much smaller then.

Yes, those days were fun. But were they better per se? No, most certainly not.

If you are lucky you will have many fun days in your life. Surrounded by friends, family and loved ones almost any day is a good day.

So as I look back, I've had a number of great times. I expect, the Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, to have many more in the years to come.

But for an instant, I was back on that boardwalk, enjoying the day with two of my favorite ladies.

It doesn't get "better" than that, but it can certainly equal that.

May all your days be happy and healthy.

A gigantic tip o' the hat to my man Pinch. That picture made my day.

Thanks Pinch. For sparking a great memory and letting me use your photo! (Really, I did ask...)



** archaic
as in "Edward had espoused the Lady Grey"


  1. "...ask Skip..."

    I'm not sure, but I think that's classified information.

    That said, there were occasions when there would be extended periods of in port time.
    But, on an undermanned tin can, that isn't necessarily always better than being underway.

    1. You mean "was classified" right?

      An undermanned can in port. Sounds like a LOT of work with no rest for the weary.

  2. Ah, Virginia Beach.

    Brings to mind sitting with the crew in a local raw bar at 2 p.m. on a late summer weekday afternoon, wearing sweaty flight suits and grins, slurping oysters and beer and having the world by the @$$.

    1. Oh yeah. I got slapped for espousing a waitress in there one time...

    2. Time to update the spray shield on the monitor.

      I think I can get the Industrial Strength version online.

  3. A friend of mine use to rent those things in Red River, NM. The whole town is not two miles long, but it is in the mountains. So my friend would rent them out for $30 an hour. After 30 minutes of pedaling that thing up and down the hills of Main St, the tourist would bring it back. They would almost pay you to take it early. My friend would then rent it out to some other unsuspecting fool. He made lots of money on those things. One time, though, my baby sister got one, gathered up several cousins and my 9 yr. old son. Someway in the fun, she ran over my son on the pavement - rolled him up in a ball with the surrey on top. Talk about your serious road rash. He still has scars.

    1. Wow. I would NOT want to ride one of those in hilly terrain!

  4. Being as how you are now irretrievably locked into being a Navy family, the next time you are there, instead of spinning your wheel, you might look out to sea and think of the fact that on those very waters, on the fifth day of September in the year 1781, a battle was fought that sealed the fate of an Empire and brought a new birth of freedom to these United States. On that day a French fleet under Le Comte de Grasse engaged, and defeated, a British fleet bringing much needed reinforcements to General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown. The battle ended all hopes for General Cornwallis and led directly to his surrender which effectively ended the Revolutionary War. Whenever I visit Virginia Beach I look out to sea and try to imagine what it must have looked like. Nearly 100 ships of the line, heavily engaged. under seas of canvas and walls of gunpowder smoke, with the fate of our nation hanging in the balance. It makes me think.

    1. Excellent reminder Dave!

      The Battle of the Capes was a critical factor in our defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

      Whenever I'm in Newport (here in Little Rhody) I can almost picture British warships at anchor there. We used to have a reproduction frigate in these waters from those days (HMS Rose) which became HMS Surprise for the movie Master and Commander and which now resides in Sandy Eggo, not far from the MIDWAY. (I wonder if she still gets underway from time to time.)

      Seeing an old warship under press of sail is awe-inspiring. I cannot begin to imagine what a large scale naval battle of the period must have been like.

      You're right, makes a fellow think!

  5. You obviously were never stationed there... :-)

    1. No, I never was. However, my daughter and son-in-law were at Oceana (carrier aviation) and my oldest son and daughter (surface warfare) were at Norfolk.

      The surface Navy and the fighter community are quite different. As you might guess.

      The aviation side of the family seemed to enjoy themselves. A lot.

      Virginia Beach and Norfolk are also (based on my experience) a lot different as well.

      But then again, it wouldn't be the first time I enjoyed a location which others weren't that fond of. Kunsan in Korea springs to mind. I loved it there. Others? Not so much.

      Weren't you a P-3 guy?


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