The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Something in the air

I'd like to take a trip down memory lane... I do that a lot, it seems. It's what happens as you age. It's also what happens when you drink a Bloody Mary after a round of golf. Especially a very good, very strong, Bloody Mary.

I joined the Navy when I was 19. I chose the Navy, rather than any other branch, because I had an affinity for the ocean. I had lived close to it all my life. No more than 50 miles from the Atlantic, usually much closer. I had spent a lot of time in it, especially in the year before I enlisted. I had gotten hooked on surfing. I did not think that I was going to be able to do much surfing while in the Navy but I was sure to spend a lot of time on the ocean.

I went to boot camp in San Diego. It was situated on Pt. Loma, a spit of land between San Diego Bay and Mission Bay that poked out into the Pacific Ocean. I did not get a look at the ocean until after boot camp was over. It would be several months before I was on a ship. Training. Learning how to locate submarines. And how to tell them apart from whales.

I reported aboard my ship in Long Beach, California in June of 1966. We left for the Gulf of Tonkin about a month later. You didn't just steam off to the Gulf, you went to Hawaii and then to Japan before you head for the Gulf.

Ports are smelly places, diesel fuel, rotting vegetation (seaweed), garbage, and, in Long Beach, the smell of refineries. Once you are at sea for a day, those smells are long gone. It is a clean smell, slightly salty, that is only occasionally interrupted by the odor of diesel soot, food cooking, and the trash that gets dumped off the fantail. You become used to it. It becomes the norm. As you approach Hawaii, if the wind is right, you smell the flowers first before you even see any of the islands.

The smell of flowers is so foreign it takes you a little time to understand just what it is. As you get closer, you smell the land itself, the soil. The smell is a pungent, sweet, scent. It is a mixture of a multitude of exotic tropical flowers. It is a scent that is more intoxicating than the most expensive perfume. Then, just as you have begun to appreciate the perfume of Hawaii, you enter Pearl Harbor and smell the old stinky port smells all over again. It is a great letdown.

Within a few days, you are pulling out of port to wend your way to Japan. You will not smell the unique scents of Hawaii for many more months and no other port will please your senses in quite the same way.


The Jules said...

Never been to Hawaii, but if I do I wonder if I can go by boat now?

Although, I'd probably have to take a year off work . . .

Douglas said...

Jules, it's a solid bet that you cannot get there by car, bus, or train. They have cruise ships that tour the islands and leave from California. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Certainly the most beautiful I have ever been to.