I got back yesterday afternoon, after a long, long, LONG drive. I had a GREAT time and my dorky pics below do not do any justice to the fun we had. I'm just glad I remembered to take out the camera every once in a while.
So, let's start our review of "How Debbie Spent Her Summer Vacation," shall we? ;-)
I left last Thursday about 6:00 AM and drove straight through to Cherry Point, NC. My new GPS I bought last month sent me off on a slightly different route than my son's GPS I had been using previously — and it saved me a LOT of time. This time, the trip took just over 11 hours, including a couple of stops for gas and potty breaks. Last time, the trip was about 13 hours including stops.
I pulled into the base about 5:30 PM and waited for Tyler to meet me at the gate so I could get my entry pass. Since he wasn't expecting me for a couple more hours, he had made plans to help two friends change the oil in their cars so we drove to the "Hobby Shop" where I watched the car maintenance. It's a great facility for these guys — a complete auto repair shop with lifts and tools and helpers, all for $2 an hour. There are about 12 bays total. This pic shows only 3 of them:
Here are the guys under one of the cars they worked on. Can you see how clean the floor is? After each use, the Marines have to sweep and mop before they can check out.
After the car shop, we drove to Tyler's barracks so he could clean up and change. Then we had some dinner and checked into my hotel. Tyler spent the night with me in the hotel and left early for work the next morning. This aviation display was at the tourist center behind my hotel and I snapped this pic as I was heading back to base the next morning.
Friday was a work day for Tyler, but his CO let them all leave around noon. He got permission to take me on a little tour of his "shop" and the flight line. This is Tyler in the hangar with his hand on what he does — ordnance, i.e., BOMBS.
I probably wasn't allowed to take pics so I won't say here exactly why this Harrier jet was completely dismantled, but it was. And it was cool to see it in pieces.
After our little tour, Tyler got his hair cut so he wouldn't have to worry about it upon return. Male Marines have to get their hair cut at least once per pay period. (I got some sideways glances as I sat in the barber shop with him, since not too many females go into the place. I said I was there for a "high and tight" too. lol) After the barber shop, we walked back to his barracks, packed up his clothes and then we left for Richmond VA around 4 PM.
We got to my sister's house a little before 8 PM, had a late dinner, and then we all headed out to a redneck bar up the street. Tyler was recognized as a Marine without having said a word and scored a couple of free drinks for his service. This is Tyler and my sister Lisa shaking booties on the dance floor.
We drank and danced some more and played some darts. Lisa lost. LOSER! ;-) My BIL Marty won.
The next morning, Tyler found Marty's silly cap and we all had a giggle and wondered what the reaction would be if he showed up on base with it.
Saturday was spent out on the water (the York River), near my mom's house where Lisa and Marty dock their boats. My mom lives about an hour from my sister so it's a great deal for both - no Marina fees for my sister and my mom gets regular visits. We took the "party boat" out for some fishing and touring. The weather was gorgeous, but very hot. It's hotter there in summer than here in Florida, but no one ever believes me. We slathered sunscreen on but I still managed to come home with a red face, which is starting to peel today. Lovely.
Mom and son:
Tyler and Marty (with a fish):
The requisite "King of the World" pose on a boat:
Later, back at Lisa's, getting ready to cook the crabs we caught:
Sunday morning, Tyler and I took off alone to do some car shopping, which was one of the goals of our trip. Car shopping around his base is awful. Mostly trucks, and very small inventories of everything. A few weeks ago I suggested we shop around Richmond since there are tons of car dealers and a much bigger population so many more choices. We started at a Hyundai dealer. Tyler tried out a new Elantra, which was nice in a very sedate, "mom" sort of way. In other words, not really anything a 22-year old Marine gets excited about. But he had pretty much resolved to go with boring since his loan approval wasn't enough for exciting and cool. Hah!
Background note: Tyler has his Jeep on base now, but it's old and the AC doesn't work and is too expensive to fix, and it's just not a comfortable ride for weekend getaways. It's fine for short trips around town, and hauling stuff. But he really wanted something else too. Plus he's Tyler, which if you knew him you'd know that means he always has to have more than one vehicle at his disposal. He's been like this since he could walk — first with trikes and Power Wheels, then ATVs and dirt bikes, then real cars.
So, we got back from our test drive and he says, "Hey, I think I see an Impreza over there" … at the very far, far end of the used lot. And figures, he was right. The dealership had just taken in a Subaru Impreza WRX the previous night as a trade and it wasn't really on the lot yet, it was on the dirt road behind the lot. It hadn't been inspected yet and wouldn't be until Tuesday when the mechanics were back after the holiday. That meant he could only "test" it in the parking lot. Which he did. And he was in love. You see, the Impreza WRX is EXACTLY the car he really wanted and had been talking about for the last few months. But the new ones are too expensive and the older models are impossible to find.
The salesman told us that the manual transmission didn't go into 3rd gear, but my BIL Marty is a certified mechanic at a Honda dealership in Richmond, so if that's all that was wrong with the car, he could fix it. So we left a deposit on it, said we'd return the next day with my BIL to look it over, and we then headed back to my sister's for the evening festivities, which was …
Marty's race at the local track. That's him in the 28.
It was an exciting race, to say the least. Marty didn't win. But there was LOT of contact between him and this blue car (his arch nemesis!) and it made for exciting spectating, although my sister wasn't exactly thrilled to see her husband spun around numerous times. lol
Here's Tyler sitting in the race car later that night after it was back home at my sister's. You can see some of the damage on this side. The other side is much worse. Marty races again in 2 weeks, so he's got some repairs to do.
Sitting in the stands at the track was like sitting in an oven and it brought back memories of sitting in stands for high school football games. We all got more sun and sweated out about 5 pounds. Lisa and Tyler hit the pool as soon as we got back.
Monday morning, we all headed back to the car dealer so Marty could look over the Impreza. Except for the transmission, he deemed it to be in great condition mechanically. Cosmetically, the interior is perfect and the exterior has only a few small dings. We told the salesman we'd be back in the morning to road test it after the inspection and that Tyler would be buying it unless it blew up on the road test or something.
We lazed around back home for a couple of hours. Well, "we" did — Marty spent the afternoon building a little stairway/deck up to their pool. Tyler helped a little, but Marty had it well in control and was done in just a couple of hours.
Around 5 PM we headed out to Marty's family's gathering for some 4th of July cookout food and a couple of games of "Cornhole," bean bags thrown at opposing targets with a cut-out hole. Something I had never heard of until my first trip to see Tyler at Cherry Point. Apparently, it's a very popular game in the South. Who knew!
The weather wasn't too great the night of the 4th, but we did finally manage to light off our fireworks arsenal back at Lisa's around 10 PM, and then soon after called it a night since Lisa and Marty had to get up for the work the next morning and Tyler and I had to go buy a car and then return to base.
The Impreza did pass inspection, and Tyler bought it at a great price (far below market even including a trannie replacement) and will be able to pay off the loan a lot faster than if he bought a new car, which will be much better for his checkbook. He'll return to Richmond with it in a few weeks when he and Marty will put in the new transmission to be ordered. Until then, he'll just drive without 3rd gear, which isn't really a big problem. 1st or 4th would have been much worse. Here it is driving in front of me as we headed back to NC.
And a silly shot out the back window when I was in front. I'm surprised it came out at all, since I was driving and had just held the camera up and quickly clicked. Excuse the bird poop on my window.
All in all a very busy week, but lots of fun. Tyler hasn't had this many days off in a row since he graduated boot camp so he was enjoying his "lazy civilian time" as he called it. I had a great time but I'm also happy to be back home with my pups, who I missed a lot. Oh, and Alex too. hahahaha
Parting Shot: A sign seen on the drive back. What exactly is Jesus Couture??