Friday, Nov. 4, 2011:
Walt and Shanna enjoying Waikiki Beach. Photo courtesy of Walt Spicer.
We left Hill AFB,UT, about 1600 on a C-17 cargo plane, flying military Space-Available Travel heading for McChord AFB near Tacoma, WA. As we were walking toward the aircraft to board, Shanna was amazed at what she saw. We entered by walking up the rear ramp, built to carry Abram tanks and other heavy cargo. I only warned her that it might get a little cold, so she had her coat and was somewhat ready for the flight experience. Walking into the huge aircraft was like walking into the belly of a whale.
We met several retired soldiers and their wives also traveling Space-A, including one former Vietnam helicopter pilot, Ted, shot down three times. On one occasion he said his body was placed in a body bag and presumed dead. The medics, upon seeing the bag moving, concluded he was alive. He was transferred to a hospital where he recovered. They put a steel plate in his head and sent him back to Vietnam.
Boarding at Hill AFB into “the belly of a whale”. Photo courtesy of Walt Spicer.
We arrived at Tacoma’s McChord AFB Passenger terminal around 1800. We carried our baggage into the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Field Passenger Terminal. Together, with another couple we befriended, we called an Ace Taxi who took us to Americas Best Value Inn in Lakewood, WA, where we all spent the night. The couple is from Ogden, UT. They have family living in Washington.
Saturday, Nov. 5:
This morning we rented a Hertz Toyota and drove around the Seattle-Tacoma area, took pictures of the beautiful fall-colored trees on the west side of the city, across the bay, with Shanna’s new iPhone®. We drove around downtown Seattle and to the Space Needle. We then continued driving southwest thru Olympia and on toward Aberdeen, WA, where we spent the night in another Americas Best Value Inn. We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Aberdeen where, no thanks to Shanna, their staff sang “Happy Birthday” and placed a sombrero on my head. I
Walt’s birthday celebration at a local Mexican restaurant in Washington. Photo courtesy of Walt Spicer.
shared my birthday dessert with the children in a family sitting across from us. They looked like they wanted it more than I.
Sunday, Nov. 6:
This morning, we attended our church in Aberdeen, WA. We then continued up the coast to the Naval Pacific Coast Resort, at Pacific Beach, WA, where we spent four days and three nights. Had a surprise cellphone call from my sister, Geri, wishing me happy birthday, just as we reached the Naval Resort. We had a wonderful visit and talked about Aberdeen, Moclips, and the fish hatchery. I remember coming to Aberdeen with the family, (when I was about 10) going deep sea fishing, catching a small shark, going clam digging, and cooking them for dinner that evening.
Monday to Wednesday, Nov. 7 to 9:
The weather along the coast was around 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and very humid and misty. The forecast is always rain – but it’s not really rain like you think of rain. People here rarely use umbrellas even though you can see the rain coming down.
Shanna at Pacific Beach Resort in California. Photo courtesy of Walt Spicer.
The ocean is beautiful. We had a nice view from our guest room. We spent hours walking along the beach dodging the waves, watching the birds, and admiring the beautiful coastline. We also visited the Quinault Indian Reservation and the Quinault National Fish Hatchery. A young man from Twin Falls, ID, gave us an hour private tour of the hatchery. He served eight years in the military including Desert Storm. He was thrilled to talk about our mutual military experiences. He has a young family a few miles from the salmon fish hatchery in Nelson, WA.
We also walked around the town of Moclips. There are a lot of summer cottages for rent along the coast. People visit here to get away from the extreme heat and cold as the weather stays very mild all year long.
Wednesday, we drove back to McChord AFB to catch a flight to Hickham AFB on the island of Oahu. Arriving at McChord once again, I dropped off Shanna and the luggage at the air terminal and returned the rental car to Hertz, which we prearranged with Salt Lake City’s AAA at a great price. One of the employees drove me back to the air terminal where Shanna and I waited for our plane to depart.
Around 1400 we flew out over the ocean toward Oahu. Arriving around 1800, after we landed, the plane had trouble shutting down one of its turbine jet engines so we were an hour sitting on the plane waiting to exit. I visited with a young soldier in the 25th Infantry (my former unit in Vietnam) who was heading for Afghanistan to serve. His young wife and two children were with him going to Hawaii where she has relatives. The 25th Infantry is headquartered at Scofield Army Barracks in Oahu but his unit is now in Alaska, where he will ship out of soon. Concerning the turbine jet engine not shutting down, his very bright five-year old son asked his dad, “Why don’t they just turn off the key?” I think we all had that same thought.
Departing the plane, the weather was tropically cool, and not as hot and humid as at other times I’ve arrived here. This is my sixth trip to Hawaii and Shanna’s third.
Thursday to Saturday, Nov. 10 to 12:
Enjoying the Waikiki views. Photo courtesy of Walt Spicer.
Spent three days on Oahu where we waded in the beaches of Waikiki, and shopped in the large shopping mall of the famous Ala Moana Shopping Center. President Obama was to visit Saturday with the APEC Hawaii Meeting with 21 leaders from around the world. The main boulevards were shut down to traffic, and we left Honolulu for the island Molokai at a perfect time.
We were able to arrange a week at the beautiful Molokai Hotel, Hula Shores Resort. We flew out of Honolulu on Saturday on a Pacific Wing commercial flight and arrived in Molokai a half hour later, around 1000. From high above we could see four of the Hawaiian Islands. Flying into the Molokai’s small airport we were facing strong winds which gave us a scare as the wings started rocking back and forth and high into the air. We looked at each other wondering if we’d make it down alive. We did make it safely. Two weeks ago a sight-seeing helicopter from Maui crashed on a hillside a few miles east of here killing all five passengers. A very sad event as one of the couples, from Pennsylvania, had been married for only one week.