Monday, July 25, 2011

Anchors Away!

Not exactly. Today is the start of Navy Week and the public is invited to come aboard:
USS Abraham Lincoln, aircraft carrier
USS Princeton, cruiser
USS Chafee, destroyer
USS Champion, mine sweeper

The tour starts when you board the free shuttle at Harbor Boulevard and First Street. For more information visit or

Richie's interest in today's tours stems from the fact that he did four years in the Navy. He joined with the expectation of seeing the world, but, alas, all he ever saw was training near Chicago, more in Millington, TN and finally duty at the Pawtuxet River naval base.

We have toured several aircraft carriers and they're huge with vast, echoing spaces and near-vertical ladders between decks. Pass on that!

For old times, I want to visit the mine sweeper. Back in the '70s, a group of us flew from LAX to Mazatlan, boarded John Wayne's "Wild Goose" and took it to Puerta Vallarta, where we flew home.

The Wild Goose is a converted minesweeper, refitted for civilian use. What I remember clearly is the woodburning fireplace in a corner of the living room! Also: all of the toilet seat lids had covers - needlepoint work of an eagle holding a clutch of arrows in his claw.

There are two roomy aft decks, one above the other, and we usually ate lunch and/or dinner there. One day a crewman opened one of the vast freezers that ringed the lower deck and offered us slivers of 4,000 year old Arctic ice. I was the only one that would take a piece and, while I worried about being felled by some exotic, incurable disease, I had to say "It just tasted like ice."

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