Thoughts on “Time”

time

Today I’ve been pondering different names for my new business. The product I am selling is an opportunity for owners of vacation rental properties to get back some of their precious time by allowing me to handle the time-consuming tasks of managing listings and reservations for their property.

I’m a “Vacation Rental Reservation Management” expert, pro, guru, specialist, etc.

So I’ve been thinking about time.

I found some great quotes about time on the Internet:

This one is my favorite!
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

“Time is what we want most,but what we use worst.”
― William Penn

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
― Charles Buxton

“Free time isn’t free. Free time is the most expensive time you have, because nobody pays for it but you.”
― Jarod Kintz, I Should Have Renamed This

“Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

“Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend.”
― Diogenes Laertius

“Lost time is never found again”
― Benjamin Franklin

“Time is more precious than gold, more precious than diamonds, more precious than oil or any valuable treasures. It is time that we do not have enough of; it is time that causes the war within our hearts, and so we must spend it wisely.”
― Cecelia Ahern, The Gift

“It’s such a shame to waste time. We always think we have so much of it.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
― Carl Sandburg

“How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.”
― David Norris

What I find so interesting in thinking about time is the tenses:  Past, Present & Future

Is the past really past if you can only think about it in the present? How much of your present are you willing to spend on the past?

Is the future really future if it only exists in your thoughts at this moment? How much of your present are you willing to spend on the future?

Is “now” the only time that we can really do anything about? If it is, are you doing exactly the right thing with your present?

I think a better description of time would be: Memories, Now & Dreams.

(Photo credit: dujs.dartmouth.edu) 

Advertisements

2013 in Pictures

Last year at the end of each month before I deleted photos from my cell phone I created monthly collages with my favorite photos.  Some months I barely had any photos, while others I had so many that I had to make two collages for those months.  Now that 2013 is over I thought I’d create a post with all of the collages (for posterity’s sake, you know!)

Jan 2013  Feb 2013 Mar 2013


Apr 2013

May 2013June 2013a
June 2013bIMG_1069 IMG_1062IMG_1071IMG_1052 IMG_1054November 2013 IMG_3091IMG_3090

Scrapbook – “Bebe Sweetie Girl”

Bebe scrapbook

(Click photo to view larger image)

I think I’m in love…..with digital scrapbooking!!

I have been an avid scrapbooker in the past, using actual scrapbooks, paper and embellishments.  The first scrapbook I ever made was for my oldest child, our daughter Shannon when she was a senior in high school.  It was a tradition in our church to honor graduating high school seniors with a reception and each graduate had a whole table that they could decorate and display all of their honors, trophies, ribbons, and photos, including scrapbooks.  In just a few months time I managed to create a scrapbook for Shannon which ranged from birth till high school graduation.  I was hooked!

The next scrapbook I made was for my little sister, who was expecting her first baby.  I had seen a scrapbook that someone had made for her baby daughter when she was born and fell in love with it.  It was so darling!  (Coincidentally, it used the same colors as the layout that is pictured on this page: yellow, watermelon, and green.)  I ended up signing up to become a “Close to My Heart” consultant just to get the company discount on all of the materials that I needed to copy that scrapbook page for page.

I continued to be a consultant for Close to My Heart for many years and accumulated a pretty impressive stockpile of rubber stamps, stamping ink, card stock, decorative paper, and every kind of embellishment you can imagine!  One year for my birthday my husband built a work station for me which I put in my office and I loved it!  It was built out of three sets of cabinets with a large melamine work surface on top.  I spent many happy hours sitting at that craft table scrapbooking and making homemade cards.

But when we moved to the BBH (see my post about our Intentional Community at the Big Big House) we sold the craft table and all of my scrapbooking supplies got packed up and put into storage.  I haven’t created one homemade card or scrapbook page since!

This afternoon I sat in the rec room and while everyone else watched the Denver Broncos win over the New England Patriots (yay Broncos!) I played with Close to My Heart’s digital scrapbook program called “Studio J“.  The results are the two digital pages pictured on this post.  Isn’t it cute??

I’ve never done any digital scrapbooking before.  I have played with “collage” apps that let you easily put your photos into collage, but digital scrapbooking is so much more!  It was so much fun choosing the layout, papers, colors, fonts, and “embellishments” that I used to decorate the page.  And, there was no mess to clean up!

I have a feeling there will be more digital scrapbooking in my future, so I am creating a new category here on my blog called “Scrapbook”.  Now I think I need to have a sale and get rid of all of those supplies that are packed away!

#scrapbooking  #digitalscrapbooking

Books I Read in 2013

Ever since I can remember, I have loved reading books.  I must have been born that way.  My Mom loved reading books until an automobile accident impaired her short term memory and she could no longer enjoy this past time….a tragic result of an already traumatic event.  (Now she finds audio books are easier to digest than the written word.)  My older sister is also an avid reader. But my younger sister and brother are not pleasure-readers, as far as I can remember.

My first real memories about reading for pleasure happened when I was in elementary school.  (I went to Beacon Heights Elementary school in Hyattsville, MD, by the way.)  One memory is of my teacher telling my mother that on more than one occasion she found me hiding a book inside my desk and reading it during class.  (I can’t remember which teacher or how old I was at the time, but I do remember it was almost always during math time.  Big surprise that math is not my strongest subject.)  🙂

The second memory I have of reading in elementary school was discovering the “Historical Fiction” section in the school library.  I LOVED reading those books!  I still love reading novels set in past eras or based on history.  (I also love period movies and TV shows and am an avid Downton Abbey fan!)

One of the biggest regrets of my life is not keeping a list of all of the books I have ever read.  I really, really wish I had! There should be a comprehensive list of books out there that one could use to check off all of the titles they have read.

Last year I noticed on my Facebook page an option to list all of the movies, TV shows, music & books that you like.  I don’t know how I never noticed that before!  So I started keeping track of the books that I was reading in my Facebook “Books” section.  Here’s a review of the books that I read in 2013:

 World Without End by Ken FollettWorld without end

I read the first book “Pillars of the Earth” in 2012 so was looking forward to reading this sequel.    Although the characters in the first book were generations removed from those in the second I was quickly swept up in the story and characters.  I love a good, long absorbing read!

Scarlett

 Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

This novel was written as a sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. It was entertaining, but was obviously not written by Margaret Mitchell.  But as one who likes to imagine what other peoples’ lives are like, kudos to Ms. Ripley for taking the time to put her imaginings down in writing!

Always Dakota

Dakota Home Dakota Born

 The Dakota Series by Debbie Macomber

When I find a book full of characters that I really enjoy I hate it when the book ends.  That is why I love to read series so much! Usually I don’t get to read the books in a series one after the other because we have to wait for the next one to be released.  But my sister gave me this series and I read the books one after the other!  Loved them!

Witching hour Lasher The Lives of the Mayfair Witches Series (Book 1 & 2) by Ann Rice

These are the first two books in the three book series.  (I read the third book this month, so it will fall into “Books I read in 2014”.) I accidentally found myself reading my first Anne Rice book (“Interview with a Vampire”) about a decade ago after the movie (starring Tom Cruise & Brad Pitt) was released.  I hadn’t seen the movie, but I found the book at a yard sale for twenty-five cents so bought it.  I wanted to see what all of the buzz was about.  Well! I actually shocked myself when I started reading it and found I couldn’t put it down!  I was embarrassed that I was reading a book about vampires (that was before they were popular and romantic) so I put a book cover on it so no one would be able to see what I was reading. I was drawn into the story by Anne Rice’s dark and descriptive narrative.  After reading that book, every time I found one of her books at a yard sale, I bought it.  (I get almost ALL of my reading material at yard sales…rarely paying more than $1 for a book. I scored big time at a yard sale last summer in that the owner had just about every title ever written by Anne Rice, and I bought her whole collection.)  Expect to see more Anne Rice titles in my “Books I read in 2014” post next year!

Under the Dome Under the Dome by Stephen King

Because I like to read the book before seeing the movie I snatched this book up at a yard sale a few weeks before the television series aired last summer.  Someone asked me what I thought about it and I replied “Well, it IS Stephen King, after all”….meaning it was creepy and suspenseful and surprising.  The TV series took the grossest (is that a word?) aspects out of the book and changed the plot, but that is to be expected.  While the book is far more creepier than the TV series, I liked it better. I hope the TV series airs again this summer and completes the story!

Big Stone Gap Milk Glass Moon Home to Big Stone Gap

 The Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani

Another series given to me by my sister and read the books one after the other…..Loved it! Would definitely recommend……

Irish Girls Across Town

Irish Girls About Town by Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes & Cathy Kelly

I picked this book up at a yard sale because Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors.  I’ve read every single one of her books! This book was really three stories, each written by one of these Irish women authors.  It was a fun way to discover new authors and I enjoyed reading each story.

Kisses from Katie

 Kisses from Katie by Katie J. Davis

If I had to choose one book from all of the ones that I read last year to recommend, this one would be it! Maybe it is because I have had the experience of going to the Congo in Africa in 2008 on a mission trip with a group from my church and lost my heart over & over again to some of the orphans that we worked with. This story about a teenaged girl who forsakes her privileged & comfortable life in the United States to dedicate her life to the poor & orphaned children in Uganda tugged at my heart and convicted my soul.

A week in winter A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

I bought this hard-back book for my daughter’s birthday and when she was done reading it she loaned it to me, because we are both fans of Maeve Binchy’s work.  I was dismayed to learn that she passed away in the summer of 2012 just after finishing this book so there will be no more new titles from this talented and treasured author.  I like how Ms. Binchy’s characters sometimes make appearances in several of her novels….you feel like you are visiting with an old friend each time that happens.  This was a wonderful read!

Gone Girl Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I checked the eBook version of this book out of the library when a friend told me she heard about it & wanted to read it.  I’ve never read any books by Gillian Flynn before so this was my first.  I felt detached the whole time I was reading it….I never really connected to the characters.  I know they are making a movie of this story starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.  Maybe this will be the time I actually like the movie more than the book.

Mad About the Boy  Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding

I bought the eBook version of this book when it was released so my daughter & I could read it together. I read it in a couple of weeks, but she is still reading it!  (She doesn’t have as much time to read as I do since I am retired and she is trying to get her Personal Chef Business off the ground.) I enjoyed the story, even though I was not happy at the beginning to hear what had happened in Bridget Jones’ life since the the “Edge of Reason”. (Not going to spoil it for anyone who has not read this latest installment in the Bridget Jones story.)

Shades of Blue  Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury

This was a novel about abortion; a hard but realistic view of how a decision to abort the unexpected pregnancy in these teens’ lives was like a pebble thrown in the water and how the ripples of that decision affected the rest of their lives.  Karen Kingsbury is a talented and compassionate author.  I love her books!

Hunger Games

Catching Fire

Mocking Jay

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

This was the second YA (Young Adult) fiction series that I found myself enjoying.  (The first was the Twilight Series.  Surprise!) Just like I enjoy reading historical novels, I found I liked this imaginative series of what a future society might be like and the heroism of the young characters.  (I enjoyed the first two movies, too…can’t wait for the third!)

Thanksgiving Prayer

The Thanksgiving Prayer by Debbie Macomber

I usually love Debbie Macomber’s books but this one was too much like a Harlequin story for my taste.  Will she, won’t she? Does he, doesn’t he?  In the end, they did.

Nineteen Minutes

 Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

This is a fictional story about a high school shooting resulting in 10 dead victims.  The shooter was bullied all of his life and finally couldn’t take it any more.  I found it interesting because Jodi Picoult explored how the crime affected the parents of the young man who was the shooter as well as how it affected the surviving students and their families.  Tragically, it was while I was reading this book that a real-life school shooting occurred right here in my town at Arapahoe High School .

Going forward in 2014 I think I will review each book as I finish reading it.  (That way it won’t take me hours to compose my “Books I Read in 2014” post as this one did!)

What was your favorite read last year?

An Exhaustive (or exhausting?) Resumé

On the first Saturday of each month we get together with friends for breakfast at Merle’s Restaurant in Littleton.  (Thanks Jan & Vini for starting this tradition!) We usually sit with all of the gals on one end of the table & all of the guys on the other.  I like this arrangement because while I love all of them I really want to talk to my girlfriends and it’s just so much easier than talking over and around the guys.

Sitting at the girl’s end of the table last Saturday were Jan and Jan and Lynn and myself.  (I actually have three girlfriends named Jan and one named Janice, but one Jan couldn’t make it and Janice lives in IL.)  We were talking about all of the different jobs we have had in our lives.  Some of us have had a lot of different jobs and some had jobs that were actually careers.

Lynn did a lot of babysitting while in high school and cleaned houses and worked in the bakery while in college.  (She did all of this without a car…she rode her bike everywhere she went in her small hometown near Sacramento, CA.) She studied nursing in college and worked as an RN ever since graduating from college until she finally quit to help her husband grow their business VRBO.com (which was a good move, since they were able to sell it in 2006 and retire!)

Jan G worked in various roles beginning with helping in her father’s business while in High School and through college & early married years.  She also worked at two Nazarene colleges when living in Oklahoma and later Kansas.  She worked for her church and then began work with the Aurora Public School district before “retiring” from the school district after 25 years to take her current job at VRBO.com/Homeaway.com that allows her to work from home.

In high school Jan R developed film & printed photos for her friends.  After high school she worked for the Federal government with the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, and FAA as a secretary. She left the federal government to work for the company that they bought the word processing equipment from and assisted sales with equipment demos & training for customers. She then moved to Dallas as a Customer Support trainer and developed training courses. After that she worked for a while as a technical writer in the telecommunications industry. While doing this job she also worked part-time for VRBO.com editing photos in 2003, and then in 2006 she began working full time for VRBO.com/Homeaway.com.

I was the one who brought up the topic of conversation because I had been musing about all of the past jobs I have held in my life.  (Now that I am retired, I have time for that kind of musing!)  🙂

The Early Years

My first job was working as a waitress at Shoney’s Big Boy restaurant in College Park, MD after graduating from high school.

450px-Bob's_big_boy_statue_burbank_2013

This being my very first job, I took it very seriously, even going to the extreme of practicing the correct ordering sequence in my dreams. I loved the hot fudge cake that was one of this restaurant’s signature desserts.  (The hot fudge was thick and gooey!) This job lasted through the summer after my senior year in high school until I left home to attend Liberty Baptist College (which eventually became Liberty University) in Lynchburg, VA.

While in college I worked in the Dining Services area helping in the kitchen and dining hall.

The Altoona, PA years:

After marriage and while my children were young my priority was in being a stay-at-home mom so any job that I took was one that could be worked while my hubby was home with the kids or my neighbor could help with babysitting.  Those years are a blur, but I remember my first job was as a waitress at the Sheraton hotel restaurant  working the breakfast/lunch shift.  I don’t even remember how many years I worked there, but some of the things I remember while working there are:

  • The day that Prince Charles wed Diana.  I was happy that I was working in the patio that day because there was a TV at the bar and we could watch the wedding when we were not busy.
  •  The time that I waited on Conway Twitty and his band.  I was the last early-shift waitstaff on duty so was working on the patio until the first cocktail waitress came on duty and I could leave.  I had taken the orders for the large party, delivered their food & drinks and had already given them their bill when I left for the day. The next day I was shocked to discover that there was no tip waiting for me! It’s possible that the cocktail waitress who was working when that party left pocketed my tip….so I’ll give Conway Twitty the benefit of the doubt.  (Just sayin’……)
  • The de-li-cious home fries they served at breakfast.  I think they used the leftover baked potatoes from dinner the night before and cut them up into cubes, then fried them on the griddle with big chunks of red & green peppers and onions.  Yum! I’ve measured every home fries I’ve eaten since then against these, and haven’t found any that taste as good as I remember the home fries served at the Sheraton.
  • The sad day when my co-worker Connie received news that her college-aged son was found dead in Columbia, South America.  She didn’t even know he had gone there! The death was drug-related, and she was devastated.
  • My co-worker Mark from whom I got one of the recipes that my family has enjoyed ever since – Ravioli Casserole (This recipe is stored on Google Drive, so if you can’t see it and want it contact me and I’ll email it to you!)

Other jobs in Altoona that I’ve held included:

  • Working at “So-Fro Fabrics” in Logan Valley Mall (Altoona, PA) which was fun.  I was doing a lot of sewing at the time so probably spent more money than I made!
  • Working as a bank teller for Mellon Bank.  I loved this job!  (This was when our children were old enough to be in school for the whole day.)  Ours was a small branch with only four or five tellers and one (woman) manager.  Our customers were great!  I remember one day when I was working the drive-through window a customer came through and had a box of kittens on the backseat of his car.  When I asked him about it he said he was on the way to drop them off at the pound.  I convinced him to bring the box of kittens into the lobby and Carol & I each ended up taking a kitten!  Ours was black & white and we named him “Cubby” (because our youngest was in Cubbies in Awanas that year.  We already had a white cat named “Sparky”.  If you’ve ever been involved with Awanas, you know what I mean….Cubby lived to be 20 years old!!)

The Winchester, VA Years

In 1988 we moved from Altoona, PA to Winchester, VA.  Shannon was in fourth grade and Brooks was in first grade.  For the first six months I worked at another Mellon Bank branch as a teller, but I was not happy doing so because it meant I had to leave the house before Shannon & Brooks went to school and they returned home before I did.  Even though their school was just one block away, we were new to the area and I didn’t have neighbors or friends to help supervise the kids.  So after six months we decided to see if we could find something else that would fit our family better.

That is when we interviewed for a position at Hunting Ridge Retreat, a 360 acre retreat center outside of Winchester owned by the First Baptist Church of Winchester.  They were looking for a new “hostess” who would be responsible for planning & preparing all of the meals for the groups that rented the retreat center (mostly church youth groups) and also to prepare a Wednesday evening meal at the church itself for the members who wanted to eat there before the Wednesday evening programs.  This hostess was also responsible for cleaning all of the facilities at the Retreat after each group left & preparing them for the next group to arrive.

I think I got the job mainly because they were impressed with Redgie and his food service knowledge and experience.  I was the actual employee, but running the retreat was a family affair!  As part of my compensation, we got to live on the retreat grounds in the little house at no cost to us.  Those were idyllic years, and I think they would be a good subject for another post, so I’ll save those details for later.  We stayed at Hunting Ridge Retreat for 4.5 years until Redgie was transferred to Dallas, TX with his employer.

The Dallas, TX Years

The only job(s) I held while we lived in Dallas for 2.5 years was housecleaning for about 4 families.  ‘Nuff said!

The Denver, CO Years

We moved to Denver, CO in June of 1996 and live in Parker, CO currently.  While living in CO these are the jobs that I’ve held:

  • I threw newspapers for the Denver Post for about 6 weeks.  I couldn’t take it longer than that.  I had to be at the warehouse between 2:30 – 3:00 a.m. and I just couldn’t get to bed early enough the nights before to get enough rest.  Additionally, there were NO days off unless I arranged for someone to take over my route.  It wore me out.  But I did enjoy the peacefulness of driving through the town when no one else was about (except other newspaper delivery people) and the quiet and the beautiful stars in the night sky.  (There are some strange talk radio shows on at that time of night, though….)

[[NOTE: I’m editing the post on 2/6/14 because I suddenly realized out of the blue that I had forgotten to include a job that I held while living in Denver! I can’t remember how long I did this job, or exactly when, or even the name of the company that employed me!  Growing old with fading memories is the pits….]]

  • For some un-remembered period of time I worked for a retailing company as (what I called myself) the “Candy-girl”.  My job entailed driving around to five or six “King-Soopers” grocery stores around the area and maintaining the bulk-foods sections in those stores…..you know, all of the plastic bins are that hold stuff like trail mix and loose candy? I had to take inventory, order product, clean the bins and fill them up each time I visited the stores.  I went to each store once a week.  (Yes, once a week is how often those bins were cleaned.)  I liked the flexibility of the schedule, and I especially liked the one long drive up into the mountains to the store in a small town called Bergen Park….the view of the Rocky Mountains was breathtaking! But after some time (probably about a year) I decided it was too much wear & tear on my vehicle so I ended my career as the “Candy-girl”.
  • Worked for GapKids in the Park Meadows mall for about 4 years, mostly working one to two nights per week and on Saturday.
  • Worked for HomePlace for about one year until they went out of business.  (I probably spent more money at the store than I took home….it was a store like Bed, Bath & Beyond.)
  • I then worked at home for a company called “Alpine Access” which is a Customer Service Outsource Call Center.  I was assigned to the “My Twin” account and I took calls from customers who wanted to order these custom-made dolls that resembled their children.  I also worked for the Vermont Teddy Bear account for a few weeks before Valentine’s Day…..that was fun!  And I got a free Vermont Teddy bear as a bonus! My most vivid memory of this job was the day that I was supposed to have my initial interview (by phone) was the morning of September 11, 2001.  Our interview was canceled because of the terrible, tragic events of that day.
  • On March 25, 2002 I began the best job I ever had…..working for VRBO.com.  I learned so much about the vacation rental industry and developed my skills in communication and management throughout my tenure but I loved this job because of the culture and people with whom I worked (and the fact that we got to work from home!)  I “bless the day” (inside joke) that Dave & Lynn hired me, and it truly has been a blessing in so many ways.  In 2006 they sold the company to Homeaway, Inc, who then became our employer and I continued with the company until I retired as the U.S. Manager of Email Support in July 2013.Now I’m retired, but we’ll see how long that lasts! After 6 months of blissful leisure time, I think I’m ready to be more productive again!  I’ve already decided to start my own “Listing/Reservation Management” service, putting into practice all of my experience with managing vacation rental properties that I’ve learned over the years of working at VRBO.com.

    We’ll see what the next adventure has in store!

A Military Mom’s Diary – Tiger Cruise!

Tiger Cruise [ty-ger krooze] noun – The Navy’s name for a very special guest cruise program. A Naval ship is permitted to embark relatives and friends of crew members (Tigers), eight years of age or older, for a Tiger Cruise. The cruise provides an opportunity for family and friends to see and participate in our daily shipboard routine.

Yes! I got to participate in a Tiger Cruise! This was an adventure that not many people get to enjoy and I was so excited to have this experience!  (I didn’t know that a Tiger Cruise was on my bucket list,  but I guess it was!  Check!)

As mentioned here on my blog previously, my eldest son is a Navy helicopter pilot who is assigned to the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike group.  In April of last year he deployed to the Middle East.  He was only supposed to be gone for six months…..that is until the situation in Syria happened.  The Nimitz carrier group was on its way home when they were rerouted to the Red Sea in early September as a show of force for the U.S.  This situation delayed their homecoming by months.

But finally on December 3, 2013 the USS Nimitz pulled into Pearl Harbor.  My husband & I had flown to Honolulu the day before and I happened to be in our hotel room when waaaaay out on the horizon we were able to see the Nimitz as it passed (click on the photo for a better view):

IMG_1982

We were soooo excited because we knew that soon we would be reunited with our son, Brooks!

IMG_1992

We got to spend a day and a half enjoying Waikiki and Pearl Harbor with Brooks.  We were privileged to be included in a special Anniversary tour of Pearl Harbor along with some men who were survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Some of these men have never returned to Pearl Harbor until this year.  I am sure their minds were traveling 72 years in the past and reliving that awful day as we stood on the memorial floor with the wreckage of the USS Arizona just below the water’s surface.  Part of our visit included a “Floral Tribute” ceremony, when we were invited to scatter rose petals on the water in honor of anyone we wished.  Brooks, his father and I dropped petals and said prayers for two of Brooks’ fellow helicopter pilots who were lost in an accident on September 22, 2013.  (View my video tribute to those heroes in this post .)

IMG_2075

IMG_2096

IMG_2092

We boarded the Nimitz aircraft carrier on December 5, 2013 and pulled out of Pearl Harbor the next morning.  It was so moving to see the respect that all of the military personnel showed as we passed by the USS Arizona Memorial…..manning the rails and holding solemn salutes until the carrier passed the memorial site.

Life on board an aircraft carrier…..what can I say?  Of course it was a lot different for us “Tigers” than for the men & women deployed on board.  Most of the time when we tell people about the Tiger Cruise they ask two questions:

1.  “What were the sleeping arrangements like?”

2.  “Was the food any good?”

Because our “sponsor” (our son Brooks) was an officer, we got to enjoy the accommodations and priveledges enjoyed by the officers.  Tigers whose sponsors were enlisted men or women enjoyed the same accommodations and priveledges of the enlisted ranks.

Our sleeping quarters were more comfortable than I anticipated.  I was quartered in a four-bunk stateroom.  My three roommates were women who were also Tigers.  My husband was quartered in a two-bunk stateroom, and his roommate was an officer with the Wolfpack (my son’s squadron.)  I wish I had taken photos of the room….I can’t believe I didn’t!  But it was divided into two parts:  one room had lockers and desks for two people, and the other room housed the four bunks, lockers and desks for two people and a small sink and mirror.  The mattresses were actually pretty comfortable (but I can say that since I only had to sleep on it for 7 nights….sleeping on them for months might have created a different opinion.)  Once I learned to make sure that my earplugs, water bottle, tissues, cell phone charger, book and lip balm were all within reach once I had climbed up into my top bunk, I was set!!  🙂

The difficult part was learning our way around!  It is like a maze inside of the carrier, with many decks, ladders and hatches up & down and sections.  Luckily they put “No Tigers Allowed” signs on parts of the ship where we were not supposed to go, so that helped us as we were navigating around the ship.  For the first few days the only places I knew how to get to were my room, the closest women’s “head” (bathroom), the “Wolfpack Ready Room” (which is where the pilots are briefed before a mission & de-briefed after a mission and where they generally hang out in-between), and the Ward rooms (dining rooms for the officers.)

The food was pretty good! (Brooks said it was better during Tiger Cruise than it had been all during the deployment, so I guess I’m grateful for that!) In the Ward rooms they had a nice salad bar, a buffet line which usually held a variety of entrees, meats, and side dishes such as vegetable & starches (usually potatoes or rice or mac & cheese). There was also a buffet line in the kitchen where you could get items from the grill or fryer.  The Ward room had a beverage area which offered coffee, hot water for tea, soda and milk.  One item I missed was bread….there was not very much to be had.  But a few less carbs never hurt anyone, right?

One of the things that occupied us for the first few days was to complete a “Tiger Qualification Standards” packet that was comprised of a LOT of questions about the different areas on the ship, their purposes, the people who worked there and their responsibilities.  To help us gain the knowledge we would need to answer the questions there was a series of six tours of the different areas of the ship scheduled throughout each day of the Tiger Cruise.  Brooks, Redgie & I spent a lot of time taking the tours and interviewing the people we met along the way in order to complete our TQS.  When we turned in our completed TQS we received an “official” Tiger Cruise certificate and pin.  🙂

After that experience I decided the place that I would least enjoy working was in the Fuel Pump room (where they constantly are purifying the fuel to standards needed to be used by the jets…..it was stinky down there, and dangerous) and the place where I would most like to work was for the Media department (which was responsible for all on-board movies, publications, photography, videos, social networks, etc.)

We got to tour all kinds of areas of the ship such as:

  • The Foc’sl – responsible for the huge anchoring mechanism including links of anchor chain that weigh 360 pounds each and two anchors (each weighing 30,000 TONS each!)
  • The Medical area which included a Surgery, X-Ray room, Pharmacy, etc.
  • The Hangar Bay where they store all of the aircraft that is not on the flight deck and also included a tour of the Fire Equipment and systems on board the ship
  • The Flight Control tower (“Pri-Fly”)
  • The control room responsible for driving the ship
  • The Flight Ops Center
  • The Brig (2 individual cells that house 1 person apiece and a “General Population” cell that could house up to 15 persons at a time.)
  • The Jet engine shop where they take apart, reconstruct and test the jet engines
  • Fuel Pump Room
  • Media Center
  • Viewed various “Static” displays of different aircraft and demonstrations

Some of the specific activities we participated in were:

  • On Saturday (our first full day at sea) there was an “Air Power Demo” on the flight deck.  The demonstration included all of the different kinds of jets and helicopters that are assigned to the ship.  It was a pretty amazing opportunity to see first hand all of the flight deck operations involved in launching and recovering the jets and helicopters.  Some of the helicopters demonstrated manuevers including dropping bombs into the water & we could see their explosions from where we stood! There was also a super-sonic jet demo that startled me so much I almost dropped my camera!  We had to wear earplugs because it was so loud!
  • On Sunday 12/8/13 at 7 a.m. Redgie and Brooks participated in a 5K “Fun Run” on the flight deck
  • On Tuesday 12/10/13 we watched the “Air Wing Fly Off” when all of the fixed wing planes and jets flew off the carrier to the base at North Island.  They have to be off of the carrier before it docks in San Diego because otherwise they would be stuck on the carrier since it needs to be at sea & in motion in order for the planes to fly off of it.  That is why as soon as we came within flight distance of North Island the Air Wing left.
  • On Wednesday 12/11/13 we watched all of the helicopters of HSM-75 & HSC-6 fly off the carrier to the base at North Island.

The rest of the time we spent mostly in the Wolfpack Ready room.  We watched a couple of movies – Ironically  the movie we watched on 12/7/13 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor) was the original  “Final Countdown” movie starring Kirk Douglas.  It was ironic because part of the movie is about the attack on Pearl Harbor and it was filmed on board the USS Nimitz!

The trip culminated when the Nimitz pulled into the port at North Island in San Diego on December 12, 2013.  We could see from our position along the side rails of the aircraft carrier that there was a crowd of family and friends waving signs and American flags and cheering the return of their loved ones.  I have seen scenes like this on TV lots of times but being on the other side of it, standing on deck amongst the brave men & women who had sacrificed so much in service for our country was such a moving experience for me.

I thought of those who leave home on deployment but do not get to return to hear the triumphant strains of our national anthem being played by a band on the pier as the two lost pilots of HSC-6 did, or of their families who instead of being in the crowd down below were at home missing their loved ones.  I said a prayer of gratitude for their sacrifice for our freedom and a prayer of thanks for the safe return of our son, and for the amazing experience that we were so privileged to have on this Tiger Cruise on board the USS Nimitz.

(Click on any of the photos below to view larger images)

IMG_2068 IMG_2069 IMG_2129 IMG_2457 IMG_2523 IMG_2578 IMG_2602 IMG_2607 IMG_2622 IMG_2624 IMG_2699 IMG_2705 IMG_2718 IMG_2719 IMG_2781