On the USS Abraham Lincoln, 1997
Back when I was a Navy contractor installing HP/UX systems on aircraft carriers, I made several trips out to San Diego where my longtime friend Brad lived. Ive known Brad since I was five-years-old. He has always been one of the most singularly-minded people I know. When we were children he was fascinated with aircraft. He spent his time building aircraft models, had airplane sheets on his bed and wore airplane pajamas to sleep. As we got older he attended Space Camp, graduated Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as an Aeronautical Engineer, got his pilot's license and pilots UAV's for a living. If ever there was a textbook example of living your dream, he's accomplished it.
USS Abraham Lincoln, Underway
One of my favorite carriers was the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) which I first stumbled upon during an install in Bremerton, Washington. The crew of this carrier was top-notch and I always enjoyed visiting with them whenever I saw them. It was an awesome experience and a great surprise when I saw them arrive, and berth at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado Island - while I was standing on the flight deck of the USS Kitty Hawk (CVN 63). They moved the carrier so close to the one I was standing on, I felt I could've simply stepped across one to the other.
Kitty Hawk & Abraham Lincoln, NAS North Island, Coronado Island
While the ship was still in port, Brad took me up in his Mooney for a leisure flight around San Diego, and at my urging, gained clearance to 'buzz' the carriers at 800-feet. As I was telling this story the next morning in CIC, one of the petty officers asked me, "Were you in a little white & blue plane?" She'd been on the deck and had seen us fly by. How very cool. Most of these are screen-caps from a 8mm video camera using a pre-millennium parallel port capture device pulled from my old Geocities page.
Brad and I adjacent his Mooney, 1997
In 1982 I was in 7th-grade with celtmanx and our school took our class to Dinosaur Valley in Glen Rose, Texas for a week of environmental science study. One of the activities was walking along the river bed looking for dinosaur prints. This weekend I got to see Brad for the first time in nearly a decade (7-years, maybe, as he was wont to say) at his father's house who, incidentally, retired to...Glen Rose, Texas! So I loaded up my boy and made the two-hour drive to let my boy discover the joys of Dinosaur Valley as I did some 26-years-ago, while using that opportunity to catch up with Brad.
We did a lot of hiking up and down (and at times, across) the river, scaling narrow footpaths a hundred feet above the river, and generally just teaching my son where and where not to step along the way. Its hard finding something that my boy enjoys doing, so I was thrilled when he told me how much fun he was having hiking in the park. Wants to know when we're going hiking again. Brad and I had the entire day to catch-up and tell stories (often reminding each other of past activities each of us had forgotten). Unfortunately, Glen Rose and the surrounding area had reached the high for Texas that day at 105-degrees.
Dinosaur World was an overpriced, underwhelming mile walking path with full-sized replicas of dinosaurs and an paltry un-air conditioned 'museum' which was hotter than than being outside (I did snap a picture of a trilobite for melancthe while there) - but seeing the joy on my son's face coupled with the fact that he read every informational plaque looking for which dinosaurs were carnivores made it all worth it. That and Brad and I got our picture together again for the first time since the snap on the carrier.
Glen Rose, 2008
Getting to Glen Rose from Anna I took the most direct route: 75, I-35E, 67. This was the first time I've actually driven down Highway 67 and I hated it. Some seventy miles on a two-lane road with speeds restricted to 60mph. Before I even got there I'd decided on a quicker route back, 144, 377, I-20, I-35W, I-30, Loop-12, I-35E, 635, 75 which shaved 45-minutes off my drive. This route also allowed my son and I to dine with celtmanx and his wife (who were without children that evening) at the Mexican Inn as we drove through the town they moved, putting us home at 2300.
Opportunities like this don't come around very often, and it was a fantastic day.