I guess, since the end of the year has snuck up and all things have passed once more, I can make a review of events that I found worth remembering.
I reported to my first ship in about 10 years, USS Bonhomme Richard. Strangely, I reported to my second ship in about 10 years about a month after that when we swapped out for USS Essex. This is a rare occurrence, the relief of one ship with another. Simply put, the Essex had been about 10 years without an overhaul and Bonny Dick had just completed one so the Navy sent us out to Sasebo, Japan to deliver the one and take back the other. So I’m on the Essex now, working with about 35 other people in my specialty to help rehabilitate a ship that’s been ridden hard and needs some TLC to get her back in shape. The trip, taking the first half of the year up, included Hawaii, Guam, South Korea and Japan. Lots of water and lots of work.
During this long trip around the Pacific (involving much more than a simple out-and-back from here to there) I had a seriously challenging time readjusting to the sailor life, but by God’s grace I think I made it. The ship swap ultimately took us about 6 months, including a trip on the famous RIMPAC exercise – a HUGE undertaking involving dozens of ships from a lot of different countries in the Pacific. I got the wonderful blessing of spending several days with my Dad, who had a bit of work to take care of in Honolulu at the same time we were in Pearl Harbor for some R&R. I also got to see an old friend, Keith, who was moving off the Islands and headed home to the States (I even helped him pack a little).
We went on an awesome vacation this year, including Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park and Disneyland. All three locations were just plain awesome and I’d love to do them all again. The only thing is that each place needed several days, rather than the short breeze-through we took (about 2 days each).
Vegas was cool, even if we didn’t drop a dime on gambling. The astounding amount of food probably sticks out the most. We stayed at the Stratosphere and enjoyed a huge breakfast banquet at the Paris Hotel with my Mom and Dad, saw several of the awesome casinos. Anika and I even took in the (almost) obligatory dance show, which was actually pretty good (had an aerial acrobat we’ve seen perform before in Cuba, believe it or not).
Joshua Tree was absolutely beautiful (and doubly precious since I love the desert). We hit this trip right after some serious monsoons, so everything was alive and blooming. I got stuck in the head by a Joshua Tree, proving the authenticity of the whole event. My girls and I went climbing all over and even discovered a super secret cowboy hideout. We camped overnight at Big Rocks with a real campfire and card games. It was great.
Disney, of course, was grand as it should be for a family of 6. Our girls had a phenomenal time, and I enjoyed it immensely, both because of our girls and because I haven’t been there since I was a kid myself. One thing we discovered is that it is well worth it to go first class. We got the awesome Disney Paradise Pier Hotel and ponied up the extra for concierge service. Wow, what a deal. The room was primo, overlooking California Adventure and loaded with treats for kids and other awesomeness. If you can swing it, it’s best done with the whole shebang.
Other things of note, but not accompanied by pretty pictures include the following.
A whole year of wonderful fellowship with folks from our church, both at the almost weekly Menly Meet-ups and our Circle of Eight couples dinners. I’ve enjoyed them both and look forward to more of the same good times and people again in 2013.
Also, The rediscovery of Lego. We’ve seriously turned back to our childhood here with Lego being the big diversion. I love playing with the stuff and my girls are all over it too. We scored a lot of new sets this year and have all been pretty creative. Got to take Joscelin to Lego Land on a quick day-off, too, which was a blast.
I read like a maniac this year, chasing down dozens of books from all over the spectrum. A lot of the stuff I tore through was catching up on old reads I missed or hadn’t got round to. I read some old friends and took on some weird new stuff. I must refer you to my recently updated Literary Sampler for more on that stuff. It would take another huge post to list the authors. Let’ just say I put a couple dozen new authors on my “done reading” shelf and well over fifty books.
The girls and I started a new tradition that should stick over time. Anika needs a day free from distraction so she can continue work on her bachelor’s, so we decided to take off to Balboa Park on most Saturdays. We explore the many (cost-free) venues, mix it up with street performers and the artists at Spanish Village. It’s a great time.
Sadly, our favorite restaurant, the Old Faithful we went to for any significant event, Chevy’s Tex Mex, closed up and left San Diego. We’re trying to find a replacement, but it isn’t looking too good right now.
We all went to Les Miserables at the San Diego Civic Theater and then Anika and I saw the film just last week for our Joint anniversary with my Mom and Dad. For me, that’s a double-first. I’ve never seen Les Miserables at all, making this year quite awesome. Next is the book. Gotta read it.
That about ties up the really big stuff of my year. There was plenty more, but I just wanted to make it out of the year with at least one last decent post. This one will have to do. I hope my blogginess will recover in the new year so LAH doesn’t continue the ghost town thing.