Tag Archives: Ships

Random Musings of the Day

Today is 17 July, 2017.

I had a great birthday yesterday. My mom came up to Omaha, and she, Giulia, and I roamed around open houses. We all love house shopping, but I’ll admit I’m ready to find one and get a move on.

In 1453, the Battle of Castillon concluded, thereby ending the Hundred Years War, which of course lasted longer than 100 years (116 to be exact).

It’s hard to overstate how momentous that time was for all of Europe, especially since it includes the Black Death and the Fall of Constantinople (on 29 May).

One my personal favorite thoughts of the Hundred Years War is the time when I was walking through Monmouth Castle, which is where Henry V is born. I doubt I’m the first visitor to walk around the remains, which are not all that extensive, and recite the St. Crispin’s Day Speech loud enough to hear it echo off the stone.

I will also say I did *not* chip off a piece of the castle wall to bring a piece home. Nope, didn’t chip off a chunk.

However, I am geeky enough that if I ever go to Istanbul I’m likely to sing Istanbul, Not Constantinople as I walk through Hagia Sophia and the Imperial Palace area. And if I make too much noise, well, it’ll be nobody’s business but the Turks.

Back to yesterday. I really enjoy going through the Wikipedia daily pages where they list interesting events, birthdays, death days, and such things for each day.

Is it hubris to wonder if some day the 16 July entry will have my birthday on it? Probably, but I still do it.

There are some fun and interesting things that happened on 16 July, besides me entering this world. Joe DiMaggio hit safely in his 56th game in 1941. What’s really fun from my perspective is that streak started on 15 May, 1941. My mom was born on, you guessed it, 15 May, 1941. How cool is that?

On my first birthday, 16 July 1969, the Apollo 11 mission lifted off from Cape Kennedy. It landed on the moon on 20 July. My dad’s father, also named Robert Howell (but called Bob), was born on 20 July. How cool is that?

In 1862, David Farragut is promoted to rear admiral, becoming the first ever admiral in the US Navy. Of course, he’s famous in part for the “Damn the torpedoes” quote, which he uttered in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Currently, the USS Alabama, BB-60, is moored in Mobile Bay. When I was about six or so, my grandfather (the aforementioned Bob), took me to see it around my birthday. I have loved warships ever since. How cool is that?

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I find it fun that Jimmy Johnson, former coach of the Cowboys, was born on 16 July in 1943. I loved watching him pound opponents game after game with Emmitt Smith, who is one of my favorite players ever. Obviously, he was great for the Cowboys, but he was born on 15 May, 1969, which was both a great and terrible date. On the one hand, he and mom shared a birthday. On the other, he was the first athlete who I consciously noted was younger than me.

But Emmitt was not my favorite running back of the time. That would be Barry Sanders, who was born on 16 July 1968 in Wichita, KS. I watched him play in high school because, shockingly enough, we were in the same class, though I went to East and he went to North. Still, how cool is that?

I suppose I should write instead of simply letting my mind wander, so I’ll just stop here. Have a great day.


Some Answers

Well, now I know some answers to what is beyond the next hill.

I’ve seen the old Panama Canal and the building of the new locks to make a new and larger Panama Canal. I wonder if these will be big enough for the Ford-class carriers.

Speaking of carriers, I have seen the USS Midway and I want to see more. It’s too much for one trip. The museum includes not just the ship but bunches of aircraft. Though I suck at selfies, I’ll be posting a pick of me in front of an F4U-4 Corsair. Prettiest bird evah.

So much coolness, but perhaps the coolest thing of this particular trip was the retirement ceremony of a Navy Lt. Commander with 27 years in the service. His ceremony just happened to be during my visit on the bow of the ship. Really cool.

Another carrier note, CVN-76 Ronald Reagan was undergoing refit across the bay. I think some of my favorite pics are the Midway with the Reagan in back.

As a side note, this is an amazing museum simply because of the quality of museum. A free audio tour is included. Tons of information in charts. Flight simulators big and small. Stuff for kids to do. Recreations of rooms. Best of all , docents with Navy service, many who served on the Midway or flew the aircraft are there to chat with you. Really well done, and only $20.

Some more comments about the cruise itself. I found out that I need to make sure the next time I do a cruise I need to make sure it suits my needs. This cruise was aimed at wine drinkers and the suit and tie crowd. So not me.

Other cruises have more food options, more beer options, a lower dress code, and more bar options that suit me. Naive of me, no doubt, but I never thought about such things before. So for all of you thinking of a cruise sometime, look around for what you want, especially if you have kids.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself. Some nights out on the top deck in the wind with the sea and stars were amazing. Seeing the sun rise over Cartagena from the foredeck was brilliant, even if I did have to get up at 4:30am to do it.  Seeing the Maltese flag fly in the breeze. Yeah, I’m that geeky.

A wren got into the cafeteria and would not leave. Finally a group of people armed with napkins managed to capture it and put in on the back deck. It sat on a landing of stairs glaring at us for taking it away from its meal. I, of course, named it Pavel.

Seeing pelicans strike, by the way, was fascinating. And a bit terrifying.

The only excursion we took was the train from Colon to Panama and bus ride back. The train goes along the canal, and was built to transport freight the 50 miles of the isthmus prior to the canal. The train itself is beautiful and the ride was amazing. Take this excursion if you ever get the chance.

I also went ashore at several other places, but only really care about visiting Cabo. I have now drank tequila in the Red Rocker’s honor at the Cabo Wabo. I hate tequila but it had to be done.

Now I’m in Long Beach staying the night at the Queen Mary, the old cruise ship. It’s now a hotel/bar/restaurant/tourist attraction. Stay here if you can. It’s beautiful. Art deco for the win!

And on that note, I’m going to crawl into bed. Tomorrow’s a big day, the USS Iowa and the Getty Museum.