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Published: April 9th 2013
After reluctantly leaving the Oregon coast we headed through Eugene and turned North to Ft. Lewis, Washington where I did Basic back in the Fall of 1971. While the post has changed dramatically the vibe is still the same. Uniformed men and women joined together to train physically and mentally for whatever the world throws at them. The military today is far more professional than the one I was a member of back in the Vietnam era. It is a joy to watch these young people at work. Karen and I were lucky enough to find a spot to stay on post at the Mt. Ranier Inn. After a solid night's sleep we worked out at the Ft. Lewis gym. Even at 0600 hrs the place was jumping. It is the largest indoor physical training facility either Karen or myself have ever seen. In the old days PT was the bread and butter of basic training. After Boot you were pretty much left to your own devices. Today, however, training continues throughout your hitch. Troops now are physically superior to anything I saw back in the day. Working out with these kids was a hoot.
We drove into Seattle; Home
They're both fairly pleasant with a couple of glasses of Cabernet in them.
of Birkenstock shod, tree hugging, clove cigarette smoking vegetarians who can't drive for squat. As usual the traffic was abysmal and the weather sucked. We wove our way to Marysville and put in at Liz and Greg's beautiful place on the water. Greg and Liz have done a beautiful job with their home. Gorgeous views of the Bay through expansive windows. Their guest suite is the bast setup I've ever seen for company. We could not have asked for better accomodations or hosts.
Greg's girls were there. They both start school in Eastern Washington in 4 months time. The kids are bright and athletic. Both are formidable athletes and look it. Their fast pitch softball team is number one in their league. It was a trip to see them come trucking home half-covered in mud after a big game on one of the area's sloppy excuses for a baseball diamond. You go girls. They spend all of their time together. I think that the furthest apart they ever find themselves physically is during a ball game when one is planted behind home plate playing catcher and the other is in center field suffering separation anxiety.
Greg must own
Greg and his daughters
Good Dad. Better kids. The way it should be.
every tool known to man and what he doesn't have he would probably fabricate himself. This guy could probably drive 16-penny nails with a matchstick. This was the first opportunity I've gotten to know Greg. We spent a lot of time talking about everything under the sun. He's been a farm hand, a fisherman, a logger,a Medic, a firefighter and a contractor. He's a standup guy with a ton of character and integrity. He can share my foxhole any day. He and Liz are fortunate to have found each other. It's a mutual admiration society in their home. Sort of turns my stomach!
Liz is still hard at it. In the evening after a full day's work flying over domestic strife in lazy circles she's always ready to rock and roll in the kitchen. I know that she and Karen enjoyed their quality time together. At least as much as I enjoyed the results of their labors. On one particularly ambitious outing they went to Taylor's Seafood to score some mussels and Dungenous crab. Taylor's was featured on an episode of America's Top Chef. I don't know why that's important but they insisted that it was.
of our kids spread out, or soon to be spread out, all over America's four corners and beyond we had plenty to discuss after meals. Downstairs we'd watch the horizon fade with the setting sun as the lights along the Navy's super base in Everett came on. Sea birds followed the horizon westward towards the snow-capped mountains and home. Pelicans, gulls, ducks, geese and the largest American Bald Eagles that I've ever seen.
On my last day there, Greg introduced me to a friend of his. A man by the name of Burt. A WWII Marine who fought at Saipan and Tinian. I was very surprised to learn that he had also been part of the Marine occupation force that had been sent into Nagasaki just a few weeks after the atomic bomb drop. Historically, little is known about this particular assignment. The 2nd was sent in to assist in the demobilisation of two divisions of Japanese troops sent back to Japan from Manchuria. His recollections of his duties in Nagasaki were riveting to say the least. I can't thank Greg enough for the intro. My Dad was a Vet of the Pacific campaign and I wish that I
had had the opportunity to question my Father about his war days more thoroughly than I did in the end. The stay in Seattle turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.
We're in Omaha right now having outrun a storm named 'Walda' after last night's stop in Gillette, Wyoming to here. (Why are all storms named now? Whatever happened to simplicity like 'The winter of '88 or 'The year we had to blow dry the car door locks'?) This morning we woke up to find that our tough as nails Camry was covered in a glaze of ice. We drove westward through South Dakota at a hard pace, passing through fog and wind and just managing to stay ahead of the storm. At the Iowa border we turned south until the temperature hit a balmy 71 degrees F. Hence Omaha. We're staying at Offut AFB enjoying a wonderful military inn with all of the trimmings. As we pulled into the base we watched one of the Air Force Ones pull out of its hangar and take off. Did not expect to see that. Get out of town! As Tom would say.
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