November 27, 2014

  • Thankfulness

    San Diego, November 27,2014- Buddha essentialy instructed His followers to “want what you have”. Thankfulness for what already is, I have found, is also a springboard to the greater.  I can look back on 2014, and look around at what is right in front of me, in recounting my blessings.  As my sixty-fourth year winds to close, and I start the long countdown to Birthday 65, on Nov. 28, 2015, I give thanks for these:

    A healthy, vibrant 26-year-old son, who has proven, time and again, that parenthood is one of the best investments of time, energy and resources that a person can ever make.

    A body which, while looking every bit of its 64 years, nonetheless keeps up with the challenges I face-and craves more physical activity, in the form of hiking and my exercise regiment at Planet Fitness.

    Having discovered do Terra essential oils.  Not only have they helped overcome what few health challenges I have faced, over the past year, (most recently including a visit from Senor Streptococcus), but they are a vehicle for me to share holistic health practices with others, almost on a daily basis.  (

    Having such a vibrant network of family and friends, both online and in real time.  We spent maybe two hours on the phone today, all told, and spoke with each of my siblings, my two sisters-in-law and both mothers.  I’m sure my dear soul mate and our Dads were listening in, from the other side of the fence.

    Having had a wealth of enriching experiences this past year: Hiking in places like Seven Falls in Tucson; Bill Williams Mountain; Cave Creek and parts of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail; touring Kartchner Caverns; being on Utah Beach, Normandy, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day; visiting the ruins of the church where my paternal ancestors were baptized, in Rouen, France; paying homage to St. Jeanne d’Arc, at the sites of her imprisonment and immolation; seeing several of the great sites in Paris, Mont St. Michel,  Amiens, Brussels, Brugge, Ghent, Luxembourg, Heidelberg and Frankfurt; paying respects to the heroes of the Battle of the Bulge, in Bastogne; getting the chilling reminder of my late father-in-law’s wartime suffering, while visiting the ruins of the POW camp, where he was held prisoner, in Berga, Germany; enjoying 1 1/2 days in Honolulu; sailing from that lovely city to San Diego, aboard my son’s ship and two trips to San Diego and other parts of southern California, besides.

    Feeling ever more confirmed in my faith, and seeing how Baha’i helps those who place trust in God transcend the urge to conform to the prevailing sentiments of our larger society- Materialism, nationalism, racism and outmoded traditions.  The journey of the spirit is an endless one, and I feel like I’m just getting started, even after the passage of 33 years as a Baha’i.

    The year ahead is looking to be equally busy and fulfilling; stay tuned.


November 24, 2014

  • What's In Our Words

    November 24, 2014-  This is, for an educator, the shortest “work week” of the academic year.  Most schools have two days, before Thanksgiving break.  It’s also my birthday week, and this year, I turn 64 on the day after Thanksgiving.  People are given to calling that day, “Black Friday”, as its sales receipts are supposed to put retail businesses “in the black”.  A sad trend has some stores shortening, or foregoing, the Thanksgiving holiday for their employees/associates.  One retail outlet even refers to the most important family holiday of the year as “Black Thursday”.  Shameful, this.

    Words matter.  I have had the tendency, much of my life, to be “in the brain, out the mouth.”  I could blame this on my autism, and it is probably what has caused this series of  faux pas.  My late wife spent the best years of her life coaching me out of this emotional trough.  Discretion and sobriety were the most valuable gifts she imparted to me, through three decades of steadfast love.  I have stumbled and bumbled on occasion, in the three years, seven months since her passing.  Good people have been hurt, and I have done myself no favours with these missteps.

    The purpose of life, though, is to transcend.  We overcome pain, move out of  false comfort zones, learn new skills, make new friends and often keep the old.  In all of this, a successful effort brings one closer to the Source of all life.  I am slowly on the upward path, with my beloved spirit guide urging me on, in matters large and small.

    Our words ought to represent reflection, thought, and most crucially, love.  What comes from our mouths, our pens, our keyboards can either build or shatter.  So, while it’s a fine thing to be ever honest, in our dealings with those near and far, it pays to remember that no one really wants to be shattered, knocked down or left out.  Honesty and kindness are not mutually exclusive.  Have a fine Monday, my friends.

November 20, 2014

  • Community

    November 20, 2014-  This evening will feature yet another speech by the current President.  Some things will change in this country, albeit temporarily, as happens with Executive Order- induced policy adjustments.  The whole affair, though, brings me to the matter of communities, large and small.

    I have five basic observations:

    1.  Charity begins at home- Mother instilled this in each of us, from Day 1.  Many people in this country are hyper-charitable.  It’s an admirable thing, when they have the wherewithal to give copiously.  I donate my time and money as close to the end receivers as possible, and as close to my own level of awareness of their situation as possible.  There will always be people in need, right in one’s neighbourhood, and their will always be people in need on the other side of the planet.  “The poor will always be with you.”  Everyone can share something, but few can give all that much.  My son is my top priority, then my family, then the community, starting in Prescott and working upward.

    2.  A family, and a community, is only as strong as the level of trust between its members.  I live in a neighbourhood that is quite homogeneous.  There is, however, a high level of mistrust, especially among men aged forty and older.  Many of these men are carrying weapons.  I don’t pack heat, but I can sense the fear and tension from those who do.  Should there be a breakdown in order, many will opt for the quick response.  It won’t be pretty.

    3.  This leads me to my own support system.  My Baha’i community, Prescott Save Our Schools, Slow-Food Prescott, American Legion Post 6, and the Yavapai County Red Cross are my local support groups.  Individual friends, both real-time and online, local and farther afield, offer additional back-up, and God knows I’ve needed it on several occasions.  Those who don’t have a human support system turn to self-medication.  This fuels the drug and sex trades, resulting in more misery across a wider area, and thus more human migration, both legal and surreptitious.

    4.  Politics has been defined as the art of the possible.  For as far back as one can study, this has been taken to mean, the art of the powerful.  It is time, with social media and its attendant level of awareness, for power to move from the ground up.  Political extremists understand this, and have used it to their advantage.  The grassroots, however, mean that everyone matters, not just the loudest, the most devious or those with the deepest pockets.  Otherwise, what Pete Townshend wrote, in “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, will continue to be the norm:  “The parting on the left is now parting on the right”, and back and forth, ad nauseam.

    5.  Character matters.  We have seen so many prominent people, revered by the masses, prove to have committed horrible acts against others.  Many will live in denial- Hitler still has his apologists, as do Mao Tse-tung, General Custer and Charles Manson. Others will subvert the misery of others for their own ends- which criminals have done since the Biblical Cain and Nimrod.  Each of us does, however, have the bounden duty, from our Creator, as we understand Him/Her/It to be, to “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  The Golden Rule has nothing to do with “He who has the gold, rules”.  As long as we are on the subject, though, it is worth remembering that every behaviour has its consequence, eventually.

    The vast majority of people close to me are wondrous, loving and compassionate.  I work, daily, to be the same and it hasn’t always been easy.  It is, however, the only way I know to be.

November 17, 2014

  • Homefront Musings

    November 17, 2014- So, eleven days remain of one of the most productive years I’ve ever had.  2014 rates with 1972, 1982 and 1996, as years when I got enough things right, that the screw-ups and missteps that have sometimes threatened to define me, became mere background noise.  I won’t sum the year up, in terms of specifics, just yet.  That gets done on my birthday, which, as happens every so often, falls on Black Friday.

    I don’t observe Black Friday, as I seldom visit shopping malls.  I barely observe Cyber Monday, and then, mainly to get gifts I wouldn’t dream of letting go unbought.  Most of my purchases will be from “Mom and Pop” stores, anyway:  Peregrine Books, Arcosanti Gift Shop, The Honeyman, Sam Hill Warehouse, Shannon’s Gourmet Deli.  Cerebral and muse-inspired trump the wan material.

    I have been indulging a month-long Facebook campaign to post themed photos.  Today’s was “Cooking”, so I showed a quick dish:  Punjabi Curry, with Hot Portuguese Sausage.




    Most of my days, of late, have been spent either in a classroom, or trying to preserve a school in which I have worked, on several occasions, for the past three years.  It escapes me that more energy is expended in securing funds for a new jail than for keeping schools open.  I understand they are funded from different sources, but it is still the result of the same misplaced thinking.

    It’s cold, by Prescott standards- went down to 14, last night.   This afternoon, I drove a homeless man around, trying to find him shelter.  He settled on a place where he felt comfortable, and could be in out of the cold at least.  I found myself in that situation only once in my life, and couch-surfed in my cousin’s living room, just for a day or so.  That was many years ago, in the dead of a Maine winter.  Fortune led me to several months with a rambunctious, but caring, blended family of adults, young and old.

    Any encounter with the disadvantaged reinforces just how well I have it now.  Physically, I’m alone, but my eternal love is always watching, and sending message waves.  Financially, I’m not wealthy, but I’m out of debt and living carefully in a cash economy.   Health-wise, regular exercise, daily use of essential oils, and good sleep habits keep me going, so at nearly 64, I don’t look a day over 62!  Socially, I have a varied network of friends, both online and real-time, and have been meeting new friends constantly.  I don’t go into a friendship with expectations, so the flow is amazing in its depth and width.

    Each day, whether at home or on the road, seems to bring far greater opportunities for growth than I would have expected in the darkness of 2011. Let this remain the way.

November 15, 2014

  • A Rim Country Saturday, Part 3: Mr. Gowan's Haven

    November 8, 2014-  Like many new arrivals in the American West, in the mid-19th Century, David Gowan, a native of Scotland, headed to California, to take part in the “Gold Rush”.  As the California lodes played themselves out, he headed to Arizona, in the hope of finding more.  As mentioned earlier in this series, Payson, where Mr. Gowan ended up, had scant offerings in terms of rich ore. To make matters worse, he was pursued by angry Apaches in the area.  He managed to escape northward, and in the process of navigating Pine Canyon, found a natural bridge.  There, he hid in a cave for three days.

    David found a small, but profitable, lode of gold ore, along the East Verde River, west of the natural bridge, and homesteaded atop the bridge itself.  The rich soil allowed him to farm successfully, and the place became a comfortable home for his family, some of whom later turned the farm into a tourist site.  The home built by David Goodfellow, Mr. Gowan’s nephew, is still there today, and is the lodge for Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.

    Here are several photos of the rim and canyon, into which I hiked in the afternoon of this splendid day.  The granite and rhyolite made for some slick hiking, especially where Tonto Creek was flowing, and the mist dripping off the natural bridge gave those of us below a refreshing shower, of sorts.  First, is the terrain of the canyon rim.




    Rhyolite is quite common, throughout the park.



    I made my way quickly down a narrow path, to the canyon floor.



    A view of the natural bridge was not long in coming.  It is believed to be the longest travetine (slick limestone) natural bridge in the world.



    Here are a couple of close-ups of the porous granite.  In the second frame, you can see an observation deck.






    A lovely pool below the bridge, lends a grotto-like effect to the scene.






    Boulder-hopping was necessary, in order to explore the length of the canyon bottom.  A bit past this area, I found the trail became obscure.  A ranger who was there said that the trail was a series of hand and foot holds, which were probably better done on day when there was more time.  Seeing that I only had twenty minutes to get back up top, I turned around, and left the rough climb out, for another day.



    In the meantime, here are some views of the sky, from underneath Tonto Natural Bridge.






    A look downward, as I was climbing out in the late afternoon glow, had its own magic.



    Finally, here is a look at the Natural Bridge’s ceiling.  Lichen is abundant, in the crevices of the granite.


November 12, 2014

  • A Rim Country Saturday, Part 2: Flecks of Gold and A Lingering Elvira

    November 8, 2014- 8693191109_264ac6385e_k


    Every town in the Southwest, and from what I’ve seen, just about every town anywhere else, has a story to tell.  Our Arizona burgs generally have a wealth of tales revolving around cowboys, copper miners and Cavalry.  Payson, and the Mogollon Rim, have their share of cattle ranches, the grass being very sweet thereabouts.  There are about a dozen kinds of barbed wire, and twice as many cattle brands, on display at Rim Country Historical Museum, which was my second stop on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon, last weekend. It is housed in a replica of the Herron Hotel, a former mainstay of old Payson.  The hotel burned down in 1918.

    The mines were less forthcoming here than in other places, as the granite contained only flecks of gold, and silver.  An attempt at mining in the vicinity of Tonto Natural Bridge, at Kohl’s Ranch and a few other areas along the west Mogollon sector, produced very little, if any, in terms of precious and profitable ore.  I noticed a unique type of mining cart in the museum’s Oxbow Mine display.  It was able to pivot, sideways, so as to be able to stop, on the steep slanted terrain, which characterized the few lucrative mines in the area, of which Oxbow was the largest.

    General George Crook tried to keep the Tonto Apaches on a reservation near Payson, but the bean counters in Washington determined otherwise.  The hapless Apaches were moved, first to San Carlos, in the eastern Sonora Desert, then to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  They were able to, eventually, return to the Payson area, and today the Tonto Apache Community is an integral part of the social and economic life of northern Gila County.  A replica of an Apache gowah, or round, thatched dwelling, is displayed in the Museum’s east room.

    The Museum staff was still in the spirit of Halloween, so a skeleton or two, and Elvira, the TV horror movie hostess of the 1980’s, were hanging around, perhaps waiting for the Thanksgiving theme characters to show their faces.  Photos of the interior were not allowed, but follow this link, and you may see for yourselves:

    I was able to take some shots of the outside surroundings.  First is a view of Green Lake, a man-made gem from the 1980’s.


    Time was that logging, also, was a key component of the Rim’s economy, as it was across the Ponderosa Pine region, from Chihuahua to Alberta.  With logging’s demise came overgrowth, and increased fire danger.   This was one of the unintended consequences of clear-cutting, which focused on relatively small areas, for the sake of maximizing profit.  Clear-cutting incited environmental activism, which brought logging to a standstill.  Trees thus became overgrown, and nature’s way to handle overgrowth is fire.  In June, 1990, the Dude Fire laid waste to 24,ooo acres of land in the Rim Country northeast of Payson.  The original Zane Grey Cabin was a casualty of that fire, as were six Wildland Firefighters.   (The Zane Grey Cabin which now exists at Green Lake Park is the result of an intense community effort, including replicated furniture and other wood work by Industrial Arts students at Payson High School.)  A special exhibit, in advance of the 25th anniversary of the Dude Fire, in June, 2015, tells the story of that horrific loss.  As I was wearing a t-shirt honouring the men killed in June, 2014, at Yarnell Hill, the docent asked whether I would be disturbed at viewing the video of the Payson tragedy.  I watched it, solemnly.  One community’s tragedy is just as worthy of respect and its grief equally deserving of validation, as any other.  The firemen are honoured with a statue outside the Museum.




    Also honoured is William Goettl (GETT-l), a Phoenix heating and cooling entrepreneur, who bought, and lived in, the old Zane Grey Cabin, when Zane’s family no longer wanted it.  His family underwrote a goodly portion of the replicating efforts for the Cabin we are able to visit today.




    Finally, just to the east of the Museum’s main building is an original cabin of the Haught family, who were Zane Grey’s key helpers in his ranching efforts.  They lived near what today is the settlement of Kohl’s Ranch, east of Payson.




    This complex does an excellent job of telling the many stories of the western Mogollon Rim.

    NEXT:  Tonto Natural Bridge

November 10, 2014

  • A Rim Country Saturday, Part 1: The Boy Named Pearl

    November 8, 2014-  Zane Grey was nothing, if not headstrong.  The best-selling author of all time had an impetus, however.  His mother, a fervent admirer of Queen Victoria, named him Pearl Zane Grey, the first name coming from the Queen’s wearing of pearl grey attire, whilst she mourned Prince Albert.  Zane was his mother’s maiden name, and they lived in Zanesville, Ohio, which was named for one of her forebears.  Zane’s father, a dentist, commanded him to follow in his footsteps, and he grudgingly did.  He also devised the curve ball, whilst playing for his college baseball team, and wrote a novel, Betty Zane, based on the life of a maternal aunt.  This last gave him the idea of getting out from under dentistry, which he detested.

    I learned these facts about P. Zane Grey, as he called himself, once his parents had died, at Zane Grey Cabin, part of the historical complex of Payson, AZ.  He was an avid hunter, in the Payson area, until the new state government got involved and started to change the rules of hunting.  He then quit hunting, loudly and publicly, taking up deep sea fishing for a time, and setting records in that sport, many of which still stand.

    The cabin is a humongous affair, built in the style of the Adirondack Region of Upstate New York.




    No photos are allowed, either in the Cabin, or in the adjacent Rim Country Historical Museum, as many items are on loan from private collectors and families of Zane Grey’s employees and associates.  I started my visit with Docent P., in the Cabin’s kitchen.  There is a huge, old-style cast iron stove in the room.  It is especially notable, in that on the top of the stove are two passive heat receptacles, used for keeping infants warm, in the dead of winter.  No, the witch in Hansel and Gretel didn’t work there.  The two infants in question grew up to be successful in their trades, and lived to a ripe old age.

    I then went into the Great Room, festooned with bear rugs, taxidermed elk  and Zane’s Morris Desk- a comfortable chair, with arms that allowed a slab of pine to be stretched across them, serving as a desk. Across from these is a collection of first editions of Zane Grey’s books, many of them signed by him.  If you ever happen to be in an antique shop or old book store, look for Zane’s still-missing treasures.  30-45 of them are still out in the wider world.  He painted extraordinary word pictures of all the areas in which he lived, from Wheeling, WV to Tahiti and New Zealand.  Being something of a contemporary of Samuel L. Clemens, he was, in that respect, a man of his time.

  • A Small-Time Mariner's Voyage, Day 12: Meanwhile, Back On Land

    Oct. 22, 2014-  Each time I venture out to San Diego, I make a foray into Orange County, and usually try to get up further along the coast.  This time was no different, and I met an online friend and mentor at Crystal Cove State Park, Newport Beach, in mid-day.  J is always enthusiastic about the California coast, and is a good source of information about the state of affairs in SoCal, which is more crucial to the welfare of the rest of us than we might care to think.

    The weather was dry and mild, when we landed in San Diego, two days earlier.  It was a nice Monday and Tuesday in San Diego, as I mentioned previously.  Wednesday morning found me headed north, on a smooth-flowing freeway and with comparatively little traffic on the Pacific Highway, from Dana Point up to Crystal Cove.  There were about a dozen people on the beach itself, being Wednesday of a school week.   As we strolled the beach, the work of a couple of children was in evidence.SAM_3136

    Beachcomber Cafe, where we had lunch, is a reliable spot, for good food and entertaining people-watching.  J and I have been here twice before, and spent close to an hour talking of her concerns about California and of my experiences in Honolulu and  at sea.

    After lunch,we focused on the troubled north side cottages of the beachfront.  Crystal Cove Alliance is working on restoration of the deteriorating structures, and has largely completed the work on the south side.  The rest of the work on the north will likely begin in December, according to the flyer I read.  These cottages are actually unique for Orange County beaches, which are largely structure-free, aside from changing rooms and lifeguard towers.  Their restoration would be a fine achievement for Newport Beach.




    For more on Crystal Cove, please see my earlier post:  “Back to Crystal Cove”, 4/5/2013.

    After, J bid me farewell, I decided to end my northward quest, for now, and headed back towards Arizona, opting to take the back roads from Oceanside to Palm Desert.  It’s a winding route, but traffic is minimal, especially once past Temecula.  I stopped only to wonder at Cahuila Tehanet, just southwest of Palm Desert.




    The rugged outback of SoCal’s Colorado Desert seems to be one of the sub-state’s best-kept secrets. Well, my list just keeps getting longer.  For the moment, though, I felt the homeward tug, and made it to Blythe, and Relax Inn- recharging, before driving back to Prescott, the following day.  Like Arnold, I’ll be BAAHCK.

November 5, 2014

  • A Small-Time Mariner's Voyage, Days 8-10: Hard-Tied Knots, A Picnic at Steel Beach and A Bright Gray Homecoming

    October 18-20, 2014-



    Our last 2 1/2 days of sail found the Tigers and crew reaching a modicum of comfort with one another’s presence, even as most of the sailors were just looking for landfall, as anyone would be, after seven months.  We started the Saturday morning with a lesson in knot-tying.  The most hardened tough guys among us were almost as perplexed as I was, when it came to completing anything more complicated than a square knot.  It’s been a long time since I was at the edge of becoming a Star Scout.  The Boatswains (“Bo’suns) were, thankfully, much more adept at the skill which keeps ships moored, and things tied down.  Here, a boatswain demonstrates tossing a guy rope overboard, with requisite gusto.


    The deck crew has this view of the Crow’s Nest, which would humble just about anyone.


    I also tried, a bit later, to don and use a full firefighting suit.  The air mask did not fit properly over my nose and mouth, though, and I quickly had to remove it and get out of the suit, though not before going through a room filled with faux smoke, so as to experience the visual aspect of firefighting.

    That embarrassing experience aside, it was a pleasant and productive Saturday.  I forewent the Ice Cream Social and Bingo, preferring to hang out on in the chart room with my son.

    Sunday found us getting ready for Steel Beach Picnic.  This is done on the Flight Deck of a ship, with no blankets, no ants, but plenty of barbecued meats, watermelon, salads- and a Journey’s End cake.  You may think there was beer involved, by looking at the zig-zag wake.  Not to worry.  No alcohol is aboard ship.  It’s simply a photo of the ship’s course while on autopilot, with the helmsman simply watching the charts for shoals or other impediments to safety.




    By 11 AM, the gathering on Flight Deck was getting into full swing.










    You may notice more than one shade of blue.  In the course of the cruise, I distinguished five shades, when the light was brightest.



    Later Sunday afternoon, the organizer of our Tiger Cruise re-enlisted in the Navy.  We were privileged to witness this ceremony.




    The closer we got to North America, the grayer the sky seemed to get.




    Those who are able to zoom this photo in, for a close look, will spot some bumps on the surface. These bumps are a pod of dolphins, come to welcome us home.


    Monday morning found Aram at the helm, and it is a proof of his skill that he was able to talk a bluestreak and not lose track of the course and the various features with which we were sharing it:  Yachts, other large ships, buoys, a tugboat (sent to help guide our ship), the crowd  on the ship’s bridge, Coronado Bridge and, finally, the dock itself and the crowd waiting on it.  Below, the helicopter takes off, headed towards ITS base.




    We had our final muster at 8:00, then went above decks.




    Around 9 AM, we spotted the first signs of California.SAM_3118


    These became steadily more apparent, and before long, San Diego loomed large. Note the boatswains and engineers on the foredeck, in Dress White.













    By 11:30, we were at pierside.  Success!







    Son and I had no need to stick around for everyone else’s hoopla.  So, after thanking  as many of the helpful crew as possible, I gathered my gear, Aram took some of his, and we headed to his apartment on the base’s “Dry Side”.  This refers to the area well away from San Diego Harbor.  Still, there are fine views, from the balcony, of the docks, and of each and every sunset.



    I spent  a day andtwo nights more here, in one of my favourite cities.  Though sticking mainly to the base, and surrounding commercial centers, where “return home” chores could be accomplished by Aram and his housemate, it was a satisfying end to another fulfilling journey.  As I’ve said before, I don’t view these sojourns as vacations, but as spiritual quests.  The sea is as good a place as any, for confronting oneself and pushing forward with personal growth.


  • A Small-Time Mariner's Voyage, Days 5-7: Lessons in Vigilance at Sea

    October 15, 16 & 17, 2014-  The themes of presentations given Tiger Cruise participants, (invited relatives or friends of Officers and Crew of my son’s ship), for the first three full days of the return sail, involved the security and rescue tasks of the crew.  So, we got to look at some weapons, view a SAR (Sea & Air Rescue) practice drill, watch a display of the ship’s firepower and tour a helicopter.

    Most of the crew were welcoming of our presence.  Those who felt otherwise, at least kept their feelings hidden until we were safe in port, and by then, it didn’t matter what they felt.  So, days 5 through 7 of the cruise were busy with learning how our sailors are contributing to our nation’s safety and well-being.

    On the morning of Day 5, we were  well out at sea.  This scenario, in other parts of the world, is exactly the place where a ship might be accosted by hostile maritime forces.  The Takeover Crew are trained to board ships, a task requiring peak physical conditioning and an absence of vertigo, among other qualifications.  In this, and other segments of the crew’s presentations, care has been taken to not display too closely the specific munitions and large weaponry.  I will not identify weapons by specific name.  The photo below shows ladders which must be climbed, on a good many ships, and one of the hooks the Crew uses in its task.


    The men below are explaining various phases of tracking and boarding suspect vessels.SAM_3030


    The Crew graciously posed, though unfortunately the Sun was also posing.  Women are a full and integral part of the security operations aboard ship.   Later on Day 5, we met the Navigation Crew, including my son, and paid a brief visit to the Engineering section, far below decks.  Both are secure operations, so I refrained from photographing them.SAM_3039

    One of the helicopters attached to the ship conducted a flight practice on Day 5.  It also was instrumental in the SAR practice on Day 6.



    The two SAR drill swimmers, who are experts in the skill, pose with the father of the swimmer to the left.


    The next several shots are of the actual drill.  See whether your sharp eyes can spot the swimmer, as he is being “rescued” by the helicopter.





    Later on Day 6, we watched a display of heavy weapons fire.



    The orange plastic square below was dubbed “Killer Tomato”.  It became the hapless target of several rounds of ammunition, over a twenty- minute period.





    As with any such event, we met the Looky Lous, and they were us.


    Day 7 was a bit more benign.  We toured one of the helicopters that is attached to the ship.  As you can see, some of us had selfies taken in the co-pilot’s seat.



    The Blue Hawks are an extra safety component during long cruises.


    The ship’s wake increased, drastically, during a maximum speed drill, in the afternoon of Day 7.


    We ended a busy three days with a briefing on the medical operations aboard ship.  Here is some of the equipment available for medical emergencies.


    We would be in a slightly more relaxed mode, for the last three days of the journey.