Variation in transportation
Recently, I experienced quite a variation in modes of transportation.
As some of you know, I had been invited as a guest on a Navy aircraft carrier for a short cruise and I really had no idea how many different kinds of transportation I would experience.
It started out on a Friday morning when I took our ’40 LaSalle (“Sally”) out for a “highway tuneup” for about an hour and checked the tires, oil, fluids, etc. The old girl then went into the garage to await the first tour of the year. I then drove my semi-antique pickup truck to my daughter’s house for her to use while moving. Then, it was driving my wife’s modern iron for servicing for her to take a trip across the state while I was gone.
Saturday morning, I went out to the garage and told “Sally” goodbye and got into my wife’s modern iron for the trip to the airport. Before I got onto the airplane, it was amazing to see how many forms of transportation I would be using before this trip was over. After all, there had already been three.
I then rode a couple of escalators to the security checkpoint where my profile apparently fit that of a cross between a terrorist and a mobster. My suitcase traveled back and forth many times through the X-ray in various positions. After I had to take off my belt and wedding ring, I thought I was going to have to ride the belt through the X-ray machine.
Instead, I was escorted to a golf cart where I was transported to an area where my carry-on bag was fully searched, unpacked and sniffed for explosives and/or drugs. It turned out that what they thought were explosives were actually my many rolls of mints that I am using for cigarettes since I quit smoking. No ride back in the golf cart; I had to walk to the escalators, take the underground shuttle train with more escalators, a moving sidewalk and finally to the airplane with only about 10 minutes to spare, even though I was at the airport two hours before flight time.
I finally loaded onto a near-new Airbus jet aircraft and settled down for a pleasant 3 1/2-hour flight to Philadelphia. Bad weather caused delays in getting into Philly and we diverted to Allentown and then into Philadelphia. After a few rebookings and other-type delays, we loaded onto a “people-mover.” This is an interesting form of transportation—a 90-passenger bus that had 120 people crammed on it. This unusual bus has its own elevator that raises or lowers it to the airplane or terminal gate.
At last, we loaded onto the aircraft to go to Norfolk, Va. However, before taking off, the flight was cancelled. This meant back to the airport and another maze of escalators, moving walkways and a shuttle van to a hotel for a couple of hours of rest before heading back to the airport on a charter shuttle bus designed for 40 people that now had 50 on board.
We are now going through the maze of escalators, walkways, trams and, of course, those beloved security gates. This time, the problem was my prescription drugs and vitamins, mainly my nitroglycerin tablets. However, I eventually got on board my jet plane to Norfolk. There, we had a baggage problem that gave me a golf cart ride to the lost baggage claim area and then a ride in modern iron with my niece to her house. Here I am not really halfway into my journey and already I have used over 11 different forms of transportation.
On Monday, other than regular modern iron, there was a short cruise on a harbor ferry in Norfolk. This was a stern-driven paddle wheeler about the same vintage as my beloved LaSalle.
Early Tuesday morning, I was driven by my niece to the naval base in Norfolk, where we loaded into over-the-road charter busses for a five-hour trip to Camp LeJuene, N.C., to get us onto the ship which was the main purpose of this trip. On the base, we were loaded onto big Marine Corps trucks and taken to a desolate, sandy beach where we disembarked and loaded onto a 120-passenger armored Hovercraft designed to land assault troops onto a beach for combat or invasion purposes. We made the 6-mile trip out to where our assault carrier, the USS Bataan, was anchored. It only took about 8 minutes to get there and that was really fast. We drove right into the well deck of the ship.
The ship had several forms of transportation on board that we got to ride on, including fire trucks, work equipment, transports, etc., but for the most part, it was walking, climbing ladders, (stairs to you landlubbers). Until you have been aboard one of these ships, you can’t imagine the size of those things.
I was amazed at all the “specialty” shops on board this carrier. There were machine shops of any kind imaginable, engine repair and rebuild shops, a special section for hydraulic repairs, a tire shop…even a tool repair shop to calibrate and check out hand tools. It had just about any kind of aircraft or automotive repair shop as well as paint and body shops. There was a lab for testing and analyzing oil, fuel and exhaust. All of this was going to waste because there was not a LaSalle or Cadillac on board to take advantage of all this space and equipment which was being used for aircraft, Marine Corps vehicles, amphibious craft and on-board vehicles and equipment.
We made the overnight trip out to sea and back to Norfolk, where all the families of the crew were waiting. The ship had been deployed in the Middle East for six months and there were some joyous and tearful reunions that day.
Early the next morning, there was a cab trip to the airport and another security fiasco. Then onto a turboprop Metroliner to Pittsburgh, where we had more escalators, walkways and another underground train shuttle and finally aboard another modern jet back to Denver, where another bevy of moving sidewalks, escalators, underground train shuttle, etc. awaited.
Then I was picked up by Phyllis in modern iron and back home where I went to the garage to tell “Sally” about the trip and all the forms of transportation I had used over the week, which now totaled at least 39 rides on 18 types of transportation. As I stood there looking at our ’40 LaSalle, I realized that she was still the most beautiful, most dependable and the most loved. All in all, she is still my first choice. Yep, she is the top banana.
Speaking of bananas, its lunchtime, so I’ll see ya next month.
P.S. Anyone who has a startup disk for Windows 95, please contact me at (303) 935-9805 or e-mail email@example.com.