THE WEB JOURNAL OF JOHN RAY

Letters to Blumentritt: Week Four

Posted in Family, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 6, 2009

San Diego

Week four’s Sunday was enormously fun because we went to the Naval Amphibious Base. It’s a naval installation located across the bay from San Diego, California. On the way, we crossed this long and winding road over the bay called the San Diego Bridge. First thing that came to mind when we entered the base – so quiet. Not a lot of people were there, an almost barren wasteland. Manung was supposed to take us to an aircraft carrier in the base. After a little going around, there wasn’t any. I guess it was deployed for service. So, drove nearer to the bay area to get a good look at the San Diego Bridge.

USS Midway

Just when I thought I couldn’t see an aircraft carrier anymore, the USS Midway Museum was already at the distance. The enormous ship will take anyone’s attention, even from afar. Surrounding the ship is the Broadway Pier – think Roxas Blvd. but with a carrier parked by its doorstep. There is also a special citation awarded by a certain Filipino named Sinforoso L. Duque, addressed to the Task Unit 77.4.3, for their heroism against the powerful units of the Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar, Philippines,  October 25, 1944. Talk about leaving a thank you letter on marble.

Love

Statues

Further away from the marble, there is a statue of sailor and his girlfriend kissing passionately – a very familiar scene in the life of a sailor. The statue is by no means just a statue. It stands about at least 60 feet high. It also seems to be the perfect shooting spot for newlyweds. Near the San Diego bay, there are also a group of statues, seemingly celebrating in silence.

Claustrophobia

We headed off to the ship and as we drew closer and closer, it got bigger and bigger. The gray metal is majestic on the outside, but the inside is a world on its own. The place can be turned into a venue for any kind of event because of how wide it is. There were folded planes, unarmed bombs and the air of war all over the place. Going down deeper into the ship can be like a maze. Little rooms act as dividers, slicing the slab of metal into organisable chunks. Take my word for it – you don’t want to wander around here and get lost. I could imagine the place as a nightmare for claustrophobic people. As we headed down to the brig and the engine room, we passed stairs going up and down, narrow doors and slim bunk beds. Getting around here isn’t that easy. Every room has at least a tidbit about the past, how the crew lived their lives through war.

Brig and Engine Room

The engine room was massive with a lot of giant pipes, confusing dials and a little bit of steam for authenticity. Back in the day, this must have been the hottest room in the ship. What I like about this museum is that it maxes out the visitor experience with optional self-guided audio tours that explain the history of the USS Midway and helpful staff that will answer any question you have about the ship.

Eject!

We then went back to the hangar to check out some planes. The hangar deck is used to stow aircraft when not in use. There are refuelling stations, plane cockpits, flight simulators and a gift shop for everyone’s entertainment.  We then headed up to the flight deck where a collection of decommissioned planes and helicopters were exhibited. Finally seeing these machines in-person gives me a great feeling of satisfaction. The flight deck is more than three times the length of a football field. From end to end, you could probably have enough of a cardiac workout.

The Island

Bye Mom!

The building on top of the flight deck, known as the island, is where officers can direct flight and ship operations. At the front of the ship, there’s a great view of the San Diego Bay. The long drop below can be nauseating, but I do wonder what it’ll be like falling from a height like this. The rest of the deck was just too much to swallow in one day. There are still so much I could learn about the place but time is the greatest enemy of all.

***

Nothing much happened the next Monday. We just bummed around the house again. Tuesday, we went to a restaurant called the Asian Seafood Buffet – my kind of place. I just stuffed myself with shrimps, crabs and sashimi. I have this affectionate relationship with seafood, which is very unusual considering that I grew up in the mountains. After dinner, we slept over at Tito Hip’s place. I never got to ride on his motorcycle though. I spent the whole night chatting with my girl instead.

***

Wednesday, we went to the outlet mall and window –shopped. Unfortunately, the heat was up and it was not nice. Unlike the humid air of Manila, the heat here is dry and stingy. A short time under the sun can become very uncomfortable. Good thing the place was mostly covered. So, Mom finally bought for herself new shoes and toiletries. I bought some lotions and lip balm for my girl. I couldn’t wait to go home because the heat was doing a bad one on me.

***

Thursday, we went to the bowling alley. It’s been a long time since I played bowling so my hands are a little rusty. Okay, so not a little. I sucked the whole game, but did make some strikes and spares. I forgot how fun this game was that I wanted to play more. Too bad we didn’t play long enough. Dinner was at In-and-Out. The last time we ate there, I had the animal style double-double, which I learned later on, packed almost more than 2000 calories. Ouch! So I just had a simple burger instead.

***

Bidding Farewells

Friday, Mom was uber busy packing all her things for her trip home. Mom was kind enough to extend my stay for three weeks more, and I’m happy for that. Later that afternoon, we left to bring mom to the airport. We had a late lunch at Burger King, where I ate a chicken burger. I try to keep in check what I ate these days, so as not to upset my health. The airport was busy as ever when we arrived at 6 pm in the afternoon. Mom didn’t have much to bring because most of the stuff we bought are to be shipped through a balikbayan box. When my mom was already checked in, we just hanged out at the coffee shops nearby. I was playing out mom again and acted as if I was never going to see her again. We then bade our goodbyes to my mom. She was thinking of coming back again next year.

***

Saturday, we went to Tito Hip’s place and had a get-together with their friends. They were cooking steaks and barbeques. I definitely enjoyed the steak and ribs because they were juicy and delicious. The kids were playing with the Wii, popping in Resident Evil. I still am very frightened to play that game. Later, we started drinking tequila and beer. The last time I drank tequila was when we had a house party at Paolo’s house.

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