Mostly Florida - Winter 2015 travel blog

close quarters

operating room

pressing room

push a button

radio room

the head

the mess

top deck

what do they say?

Since we left home after Christmas I had read two (long) books. In the last two days I have read 2-1/2 (short) books and I thank my sister for having passed them on to me. What caused the change is 90% weather, 10% limited access to the internet. It has rained incessantly and has been cold. The reason we chose to camp in the national forest is to be outside and that’s no fun in a cold rain. We feel especially badly for our friend Mike, whose schedule has him leaving us tomorrow and heading home. And at home we had six inches of snow today. Spring just isn’t cooperating.

So we looked for the most interesting activity we could find that involved the least time outdoors and headed to Patriots Point just north of Charleston. The centerpiece of the park is the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier that had a sort of Forrest Gump style history. This immense ship was built in sixteen months and was a major player in the Pacific Theater during World War II. It also served in the Korean War and Viet Nam. One of its final history making tasks was to pick up the Apollo 8, the second manned flight to the moon, from its splashdown. The ship is huge and it would be easy to get lost or miss whole sections of it. Arrows painted on the floor guided us from the engine room to the living quarters of the men and top brass to the mess where we saw a recipe posted for 10,000 chocolate chip cookies. Every man onboard focused on keeping the aircraft and the men who flew them aloft and in good repair. It is mind boggling to consider bringing the food for 3,500 men and fuel and armaments necessary for making war on such a huge ship that spent months at sea. Touring the ship was like a visit to the health club - tons of walking and climbing narrow stairways.

Also docked at Patriot Point was the destroyer the USS Laffey, another world War II veteran. It was known as the ship that would not die. It survived a massive air strike of 22 Japanese bombers and suicide kamikazes. A multi media exhibit of the pounding the men in the gun battery took made us feel like we were there that fateful day. We also climbed through a submarine, marveling at the close quarters. The bunks were interspersed with the torpedo. The men must have looked forward to the day when a few were fired and they finally had room to stretch in their bunks.

For Mike's farewell dinner we stopped at the SeeWee, a low country-style restaurant in a building that used to be a grocery store. The menu featured traditional side dishes such as sweet potato casserole, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried mushrooms, fried pickles - there seems to be a pattern here. We could order the locally caught seafood broiled, which left me feeling slightly less sinful and enjoying that "just caught" taste. I'm sure they had great desserts, too, but we wanted to top off the meal with a campfire and s'mores. The rain had finally stopped and the campfire took the edge off the cold.

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