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Saturday, May 07, 2011

USS Midway

We have two of them this month.  Two San Diego overnights with each other.  We've been trying for several months to get them.  But with our quite average flight attendant seniority here in Portland, we have failed until now -- and I can't wait until we bring in more senior crew to Portland.  For crying out loud, we'll be even worse off than we are now.  But this month, we held two.  The trips are one flight down in the morning, all day in San Diego, spend the night, and then one single flight home the following morning.  I've had plenty of SAN layovers but hubby has not.  I've been anxious to explore the city with him. 

So yesterday we landed (after an inflight medical emergency....ugh....), changed our clothes as quickly as we could and headed out.  We ventured down to San Diego's picture-perfect waterfront.  Past the world's oldest active sailing ship the Star of India and down to the USS Midway.  I knew we wanted to go but I had no idea how amazing our afternoon would be.  I also had no idea how my little bouts with claustrophobia would be tested.  We spent our entire time watching our heads and feet.  The ship is filled with 60 self-guided audio points of interest.  Plus, the flight deck filled with 27 restored aircraft.  And then there's a separate tour of The Island -- the little piece of the ship that sticks up above the flight deck and houses the chart room, the ship's Bridge, and the aircraft navigation areas.  WAY up above the ship and water down below.  We checked out the ship's brig -- for those bad boy sailors.  The mess halls, the officers quarters, the sick bay complete with operating rooms and dental facilities, the laundry rooms, the bomb elevators, and the chapel.  I swear, I'll bet there was a serious need for the chaplain on the ship.  With the teeny-tiny quarters and no place to escape or relax.  I couldn't imagine being under the deck of this monster for more than a very short time.  I mean, seriously, this isn't a cruise ship.  In fact, life under the flight deck was the safest place to be.  You didn't have any reason to come above deck unless you were part of the flight team.  The flight deck is dangerous -- you cuold be chopped into pieces by a propeller, blown overboard by jet blast or a wind gust, burned in a fire, or hit by an aircraft trying to land or depart.  The ship was the largest in the world when it was built in 1942.  968 feet long. 

And I thought of my dad.  And my father in law.  Both Navy men.  I recounted the many, many stories that they've both told me throughout the years.  I remember the story from my father in law about a Japanese kamikaze pilot flying straight into the deck of his ship in the Pacific Ocean.  And I remember my own father telling about the food on ship, bunks so close that he couldn't even turn over without his shoulders hitting the bunk above him, about holding on to pipes while he showered to avoid being thrown around.  And I remember him returning home from his Naval Reserve duties -- and unpacking his sea bag full of dirty clothes and always a treat of some sort for us kiddies.  Today, I have one of his original pea coats -- one that he wore while on duty as a Signalman Second Class on some ship, somewhere.  I stared and looked and thought yesterday.  I saw the uniforms on display and remember him proudly wearing the blues and whites.  And the hats.  And the polished shoes.  He loved his Navy time.  He was proud.  He was friendly.  He did the job he was supposed to. 

So, that was our first San Diego trip together.  Oh, one more cool surprise -- we did get to see the #74, the USS John C. Stennis departing the port too.  She is one of the Navy's newer models of aircraft carriers.   And we also got to enjoy dinner at one of Little Italy's best -- Filippi's Italian Food.  And today we're sporting little sunburns on our pale faces and necks.  What a day.  I think we're going to the San Diego Zoo or Sea World next time. 


Sean said...

What a nice memory and experience.

Cubby said...

San Diego is a wonderful town. How can anyone not love it? I'm so envious, and can't wait to get back there someday.

Ur-spo said...

That does sound splendid; And the Midway ! Awesome!

Blair said...

It was a wonderful time. Long overdue and you were the perfect tour guide. I look forward to our next San Diego adventure!

The Midway was incredible and I have continued to reflect on the times our fathers spent at sea. I am amazed at the quarters they lived in and the long days in rough seas with no daylight. No thank you! They were stronger men than I will ever be, that's for sure!

BosGuy said...

Sounds like a fantastic day. I love San Diego. Its such a beautiful city.