Travel Log: Hiatus Interruptus

Route 66 - Pink Elephant Antique Mall

(Norfolk, Virginia; July 16, 20187) – The original plan entailed a blog entry about my Grand Tour hiatus starting back in mid-May. I took a couple of weeks to watch my daughter, attend a family reunion back home in Niceville, and then planned spend a few weeks writing and just hanging with my folks before heading to Virginia for a friend’s retirement this past Friday. During the hiatus I had planned to draft a column every week talking about adventures I haven’t covered yet.

That plan did not come to fruition.

Early in June I did the usual smart thing computer users do—I automatically downloaded and installed a “routine” Windows 10 update. That update crashed my computer.

Hard.

I had to go to the Geek Squad at Best Buy in Destin. They took my computer in and told it’d take over a week for them to fix it because they were inundated by Windows systems crashed by the update. Now, do not mistake me, I am not bashing Windows 10 or Microsoft. I’ve been using Microsoft systems for over 20 years, and generally have been satisfied. Heck, I was one of the rare fans of Windows Vista!

So that crash crashed my plans. By the time I had my laptop back, I was in the middle of reunions and hanging out with my daughter and meeting a young cousin for the first time right after he joined the Navy. I’ve also completed writing my second murder mystery novel and am prepping it for submission to a publisher. The first one is still being considered; I haven’t sold anything yet. But I’m writing. I also began writing the third book in the series.

180523-014 Family reunion
Our family reunion May 23.  I’m standing in the very back left next to my daughter (she’s 12 and it’s now “cool” to look miserable during photographs).  Four generations are gathered here.

I’ve spent a great deal of time with my parents. We’ve always been close, but living with them in Niceville for nearly six weeks has been a wonderful visit. My folks are in their 70s and very spry, lively, and (I discovered to my delight) both big fans of Battlebots!

 

If you’ve kept up with my Instagram and Flickr, I’ve done some exploring with Albus the Crab around my part of Florida. Found out we had two small Civil War battles centered on the East Pass near what would become Destin, one of which forced the Confederates back to Boggy Bayou on the north side of Choctawhatchee Bay. Boggy Bayou is the bayou my hometown of Niceville is built on.

Friday (July 13) I was the master of ceremonies for my friend Jerry Foltz’s retirement ceremony. I was back in uniform, and that means I had to shave my beard. Jerry had his ceremony on the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64), now a museum ship permanently berthed in Norfolk. Being back on a naval ship—any ship—in uniform was a great experience. Being the master of ceremonies for a man who went from being my leading chief petty officer and mentor to my partner and later friend…that was priceless. I preceded Jerry into retirement by ten months; watching him this weekend as we hung out I can see how much he’s changing now that the race is run and won. He’s relaxed, and is more “him” than he’s ever been.

That’s exactly how everyone described me when I retired last year!

But, it’s time for the Grand Tour to kick off again! Tomorrow I’m checking out of the Navy Lodge here in Norfolk and going north. New England is my next target. Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont will be visited over the next few days. Rhode Island is especially important—my great-great-grandfather and his family entered the U.S. from Canada and settled in Woonsocket, Rhode Island in the late 19th century. My great-grandfather would end up traveling from Rhode Island to settle and establish the family in Hawaii early in the 20th century.

After New England…well, then things get serious. I’m ranging out too far for me to travel for a few weeks, then return home to Florida. Once I leave New England I’m going west, and will not be home until at least October. The entire western half of the continent awaits.

Of course, in October I’ll be back in Norfolk…for yet another friend’s retirement! I’ll just be a guest to that one, and if I don’t time things out right, I’ll still have a few states out west to see when I have to drive east again. Still, this is the kind of thing shipmates do for each other.

So, please sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and prepare to see the remaining 28 states of our Union as Albus the Traveling Crab and I prepare to head to the great frontiers of the American west! By the end of August, God willing, I’ll be reporting to you from the vast expanse of Alaska!

MCC Jerry Foltz Retirement Ceremony
Chief Petty Officer Jerry Foltz, United States Navy, and I at the USS Wisconsin (BB 64) shortly before his retirement ceremony July 13.  The “Wisky” is permanently berthed in Norfolk as a museum.  I had to shave my beard as I was back in uniform.  The ceremony ran from 10:30 to 11:30; at 11:31 I officially began growing my beard back!

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Nathanael Miller’s Photojournalism Archives:

Instagram: @sparks1524

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sparks_photography/

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