and here's our sailor!
(and you all are going to kill me... i don't have the software that downsizes my pictures in one shot on my computer at home right now, so i will have to take them to work tomorrow. don't hurt me. i promise to have pix up tomorrow night.)
well... i must say, this was an opportunity of a lifetime and boy am i grateful. thank you titus, for inviting me. it was SO amazing...
steve & i fly down to jacksonville from norfolk, check into airport hotel, can barely sleep from excitement. (or maybe that was just me)
REAL day 1
we take our hotel's shuttle back to the airport at 6am where we expect to be the first ones there... oh no. not even close. we finally get on the school busses that take us over to the base where we wait on the docks for the Teddy Roosevelt to arrive... the boat comes in, we wait oh so patiently for titus to come find us... we get big hugs, then get in line to get on the boat... titus took us to his office first. steve's berth was just downstairs in the same room as titus', mine was clear across the boat, so we just left my stuff there. i insisted we go up on the flight deck to watch as we left... after we left mayport, we decided it was time to eat. i thought the fare looked decent enough... it smelled alright... i came to LOATH that smell. everything, EVERYTHING smelled exactly the same, whether it was pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, turkey, gravy, chicken, jello, lobster, eggs, pancakes... the smell never changed. but it was still super cool. we wandered around the boat, i'd gotten a pretty full tour last summer, but steve hadn't... and i didn't see it with all the aircraft aboard, which was super cool. i kept hoping i'd run into a wing, or a nose, or maybe an engine... get a good cut on my forehead and be able to tell everyone that it was my aircraft carrier injury.... "what's that you say? oh... you've noticed that scar on my forehead... yeah, that happened when i was deployed on the TR, it was an FA 18 hornet... i wasn't paying attention up on the flight deck." i thought about purposely running into something, but it felt too contrived (that's for you matt!)
so anyway... we had lunch, then dinner... we wandered through the ship, hung out with ty (the best part). it was awesome.
my day started WAY too early as i had some trouble learning to sleep in a very tight tight space, and i didn't go to bed until way late, so all the girls were sleeping and i kept my bags in my rack with me so that i didn't disturb anyone trying to find a spot for it in the dark. so WAY too early, ty's phone alarm went off... and i laid there noodling how to get out of said rack with some amount of dignity and no injuries (a falling out of bed scar, unlike an FA18 scar, is NOT cool). took me about 10 minutes and a few aborted attempts to figure it out, but i got it. the girls were all busy getting ready for duty, i wandered off to get a shower. after i was ready, ty came to pick me up... there was no way i was going to try to find my way over to him by myself. we walk out into the hangar bay and the big doors were open... nothing but the sound of the ocean... and boy were we hauling! i never thought the ship would move that fast.
so, we went & got steve, who'd been up for hours by now, went and got breakfast... i was excited to smell coffee... i got better stuff later back at ty's office. well, after breakfast, it turned out that the navy found out i was there and had arranged an air show in my honor. i was like, oh really, it's not necessary... but then i told them to go ahead as the other 1380+ "tigers" might enjoy it too. the COOLEST thing ever... we got to see, hear and FEEL a sonic boom. it was a double concussion that left me jumping up and down giggling like an idiot. i stopped after an hour or so. (okay, i stopped yesterday... don't judge me!)
we also got to see them shooting jets off the ship... it was really cool. we had to get off the flight deck so they could "catch" the planes... i was amazed though... if i can figure out how to put video on, and if you can really tell on that video, you will see how that deck was pitching up and down... easily 20 feet. ty had something to do when we came down, but steve and i sat and watched all the planes land on the ship's closed circuit television channel. it was amazing... you could see the crosshairs (they need to be in the middle to land correctly) going up and down and not one of those planes was ever more than just slightly off center.
i don't remember exactly what we did that afternoon... more wandering around the ship, more looking at the ocean whizzing by. we also watched ty's collegue's nephew play A LOT of video games.
that night at dinner steve almost died at the hands of navy steak. me, being the caring concerned helpful sister that i am, realized he might be about to puke, so i got up and moved out of the hot zone. didn't realize he was actually choking. oops. he recovered after a bit and all was well in the mess hall. we did a little more touring of the ship after dinner... this time way up in the bow, and on the higher decks. i was feeling a bit woozy because you can really feel the ship moving way up there. i was so happy to be back in the hangar bay after that. poor steve was all bummed out because he hadn't noticed me turning green and missed out on the chance to give me a hard time.
that night the powers that be decided to show a movie called... hold onto your hats... "Tiger Cruise." i think it was a disney flick... why people wanted to sit and watch a movie about exactly what they were doing was beyond me.
oh...this was cool - after years and years of working for the federal government, i'd forgotten that some of Uncle Sam's folks DO actually work. the hangar bays are ENORMOUS... when we went into ty's office after lunch, they were all empty. when we walked back out a few hours later, they were full (and i mean full) of giant carboard boxes that people had been packing up to be offloaded when we got to norfolk... they were still busting their butts late into the night... it was hard to find a place to walk because the bays were so densely packed with these boxes on pallets... then, get this... in the morning... gone. like at 7am gone. i was just amazed.
that night i managed to find a spot for my bag outside of my rack, so i slept like a baby, and i managed to get in and out of the rack without much trouble. i felt like a pro!
after breakfast everyone was all about getting off the boat. i packed up my stuff and titus very generously carried my billion pound bag (AGAIN) back to his office. the girl famous for packing light threw EVERYTHING into her bag because she was too excited to think straight in the days (okay, weeks) leading up to the cruise. SO - we went up on deck to watch ourselves coming into the chesapeake bay, and also to see the sailors manning the rails. it was VERY impressive, which you will see tomorrow (sorry). we got to the pier and waited for our turn to get off the boat.
all in all, quite an amazing experience... thanks again Ty...