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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Old Ironsides

The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world.  Surely there are older historic ships in display around the world, but she is the only ship still maintained on its nation’s roles of active warships.

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Of course, she doesn’t sail anymore in support of U.S. Navy missions, in fact most of her sails are missing.  But that won’t stop visitors from coming onboard to see how life was in the Navy two hundred years ago.  She is a window into that life and it wasn’t always easy or glamorous. 

Imagine climbing up the mast and out on the yardarms in storms and high winds while the ship was being tossed on rough seas to furl the sails, often barefoot.  Or being a Marine sharpshooter on the platform on the mast trying to draw a bead on the sailors and officers of a nearby enemy ship during battle.

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How about being a gunners mate wrestling the heavy cannon to get shots on an enemy? 

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No power steering here, just muscle power of at least two helmsmen to keep the Constitution on course.

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A compass at the feet of the helmsmen showed the course.

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The hull was built of Georgia oak, so strong that in battles, enemy cannon balls bounced off, giving the ship the nickname of Old Ironsides.

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The hull is sheathed in copper from the waterline to the keel to prevent marine worms from boring into the wood and slowly destroying the ship. The copper, the orange band in the picture, was originally supplied by Paul Revere.

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The bow has beautifully carved woodwork.

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Intricate detail is found all over the ship.  There are these lion heads on the end of the anchor winches.

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A beautifully crafted ship’s bell hangs on the main mast.

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Looking up at the masts, you see hundreds of ropes…but they are not ropes at all.

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Everywhere you look, there are these “non”-ropes.

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How come there are no ropes on Old Ironsides? 

Because on a ship, ropes are called `LINES.

Nautical vessels have their language and things that are ashore are known by different names afloat.  Floors are decks, walls are bulkheads, ceilings are overheads, stairs are ladders and the biggy, bathrooms are called heads.  So don’t call a line a rope on Old Ironsides, or you might find yourself being Keel Hauled.

The USS Constitution is free to board, you can walk the decks yourself or take a tour around the ship led by an active duty Navy sailor dressed in authentic clothing from the ship’s heyday.  A amazing piece of American history lovingly preserved for future generations.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bahston

How could we be so close to “Bean Town” and not take advantage of some of the sites?  Since it is a big city, we decided to ditch the car and head in by train, about an hour ride to Boston’s South Station.

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The first thing we did was purchase tickets for a city tour via trolley and a 45 minute boat tour of the harbor.  We caught it right, they had a special price, $20 for unlimited stops and reboarding of the trolley at various stops around the city.  The boat tour was included in the price. :c)

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We took the trolley up to meet the tour boat.

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Starting off, there was fog over the harbor,

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and also over the city, but it began to lift.

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There were many interesting sights to see, including this old, retired Coast Guard lightship that has been converted to a luxury yacht.  I had a chance to tour the inside of the Nantucket a couple of years ago on a trip with the Coast Guard Commandant.  It is really beautiful on the inside.  The best part?  It is for sale, for a mere seven million dollars.

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There was the Old North Church where Paul Revere had the “One if by land, two if by sea” lanterns hung.  Despite all the skyscrapers, you can see why he chose the church as a lookout and signal post.

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The famous U.S. Navy frigate, the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) resting at her pier.  She is the oldest commissioned warship in the world, being built in 1787 and won her claim to fame in the War of 1812, but that is for an upcoming post.

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We went past the Coast Guard base and saw some large, 270 foot cutters.  Here is the USCGC Spenser.

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I was surprised to see an old friend visiting Boston from her home port in NYC.  The USCGC Hawser.

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The Hawser is a 65’ harbor tug that is special to our family.  I served aboard her in 1985 and my son Ryan served on her 2006 to 2008.  Many good memories.

There are many cool condos around the harbor.  For 2.7 million dollars you can have one of these.  For another $50,000, you can also purchase a parking space, for one car.

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Later we headed up to the North End, Little Italy for some fine Italian cuisine. We were not disappointed.  We enjoyed the small, tight streets,

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and some of the fine pastries in the bakeries.  (Don’t look Sherry!)

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These little guys were pleading with their eyes for me to purchase some of them, but I was strong.  I didn’t buy any of them because they don’t come with a membership to Weight Watchers.

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We also strolled by Paul Revere’s statue in front of the Old North Church.

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On the front of the church is this large plaque honoring its place in American history.

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Next post I will answer this question:  “Why are there no ropes on the USS Constitution?”

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Which brings me to…The End!

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm Such A Lucky Guy

Not everyday as a fulltime RVer is filled with exciting travel to exotic locals, seeing amazing sites.  Somedays, not much of anything goes on, especially when you are "Moochdocking".

Sitting here at Marti's sister's house in Rhode Island, we've been trying to come up with some fun things to do while sister Gail is working during the day.  If you've been reading our blog for a while you know that Marti and I each like certain things that the other doesn't.  Shopping and museums come to mind.

I've have rediscovered how much I enjoy reading, and have been tearing through many excellent books on my Kindle, Marti has been enjoying crafting and has spent time sewing dresses for our granddaughters.  She's even ordered a new sewing machine to be able to take on more detailed sewing projects.

Right now Marti is out geocaching.  She is looking for one that has eluded her for several days.  I went with her the other evening and eventually talked her into leaving before the local constabulary came along.  When you are walking all around a business after hours looking around windows, doors, in plants and edges of the building, well it looks very suspicious.  Me and handcuffs don't get along, well we used to, but I was the one putting them on someone else.

Taking  a break from my latest adventure novel, allowing my heartbeat to return to normal, I thought I'd take a look at the spam comments on my blog.  Judy of Travels with Emma, mentioned the other day that she had lots of comments on her blog winding up in the spam comments filter.  I thought maybe I should check out my spam filter to see if I had missed any blog comments from my loyal readers.

I did, in fact, find a couple.  However, I found so many more hidden treasures there I would have never known about had I not looked.  Judy, I owe you big time!

I now have inherited millions of dollars from the King of Isabullfullstan, all I have to do is send my bank account information and it will be deposited immediately.  Oh boy, the shiny new Winnebago Tour will be ours in no time.

But wait, I also have perfect matches waiting for me on several dating websites!  Wonder how my real perfect match feels about that?

Then I have several insurance companies guaranteeing me the lowest premiums, I'll be saving tons of money for diesel fuel in that new Winnie.

I also can get free 30 day supplies of Viagra, Cialis and other performance enhancing drugs.  Guess we might be a little busy with all that stuff and have to postpone novel reading and geocaching for a while.

Included in the spam comments are offers from the DNC and the RNC to contribute money so they can continue to vilify each other's presidential candidates.  That is a hard one to pass up...

Also available is all kinds of health and beauty products, to give me clearer skin, less cellulite, more muscles, better eyesight, whiter teeth and to be able to enlarge certain body parts for more enjoyment.  Wow, how'd I survive before all this makeover stuff?

The big disappointment is that there are many more comments, but they are in different languages, so I might be missing out on the real mother lode.  Then again, with all this other stuff, what more could a person need anyway.

I'm glad I checked those spam comments, life is really going to be better now,  how could one guy be so lucky?

Before I send off for all this stuff, I have to go back to my Kindle and find out how the hero is going to save the world.  While I'm at it, I'll keep my cell phone near for that phone call from Marti after she gets picked up by the police for suspicious activity.  I'll have the bail money ready.

Just another lazy day in the fulltimers life.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Progress, No Matter How Slight

If you were a betting person, do you think I would actually get a call back from the Veterans Administration like I had an appointment for?  Yes or No.

No.  No call came.  I really was not surprised.  So today I called again.  Got another appointment from the same electronic voice, this time only 47 minutes in the future instead of the several days like last week.

Do you think I got a call back in 47 minutes?  Yes or No.

No.  The call actually came back in 53 minutes, so I am not complaining.  And I got to talk to a real live person.

This person was really on the ball and she found out why I've been hanging in limbo for so long.

Back in early May, I went in person (for a second time) to the VA Hospital in Columbia, SC to see what was going on with my claim.  That person that "helped" me that day really didn't seem to care, but said she would submit a requets for an appointment and told me that they were all backed up and it would be a while before I heard anything.

The lady today said that according to the notes on my file, my claim and case file were closed on June 27, 2012.  No reason given.  Ah ha, that explains why I never heard anything.  What it does not explain is why my case was closed.

Anyway, the nice lady sent a request to have my claim and case reopened.  When I asked how long would it take until I heard something, she said the VA is supposed to contact me within 21 days, but it could take up to 60 days because they are so backed up.  She advised me to call again in 21 days to see what, if any progress is being made on scheduling me an appointment.

At least now I know what was going on.  Good thing I wasn't in dire need of a blood transfusion or a brain transplant, because I wouldn't have made it.

So, it is progress, no matter how slight.  What this does do is put a crimp in our traveling plans.  We were kicking around running up to Maine, attending the Gypsy Journal Rally in Ohio and spending a week in Branson, MO.  We really can't lock anything in now, until I hear back from the VA.  I guess we'll just have to continue our "Moockdocking".  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



Monday, July 23, 2012

A Wasted Day

I didn't get involved in anything much today because it was the day I had an appointment to be called by the Veterans Administration.  I had to make an appointment last week for a scheduler to call me today to make an appointment for me to be seen at a VA hospital for an initial evaluation of injuries I incurred while on active duty.  Even though I have a cell phone, I didn't want to take the chance of being in a dead spot when the call came in.

The way it works is the scheduler will make appointments for me to be seen and I have no control over the dates or the time of said appointments.  And no, you cannot go to the local VA hospital to make an appointment directly.  You must go through the regional appointment office.  Great system, huh? 

Of course the call never came.  Should I be surprised?  Tomorrow I'll fight with the VA phone tree again and see if I can get another appointment for an appointment for an appointment.  The rate I'm going, I'll be long dead an buried before an appointment is made.  :cO

Marti didn't let any grass grow under her feet, though.  She was introduced to geocaching by our niece when we were up at Brant Lake so she set off to find several.  She did discover two out of three, despite having to crawl through some bushes and wander around an old cemetery.  She came out no worse for the wear.  It is amazing what things she can do with her I-phone.  It has proven to be a very handy device for our travels.  Plus we get lots of pictures of our grandkids on it most every day.  :c)

Not every day as a full time RVer is exciting, some are and some are as fun as watching paint dry.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Checking Out The Big Guns

Marti and Gail went out on their own way, so, being left to my own devices, I thought I’d go and check out the Big Guns.

Now before you jump to conclusions, no I did not go down to the local gym to look at weight lifters muscled arms, I drove over to Fall River, MA to Battleship Cove.

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Battleship Cove is a wonderful maritime military museum where the battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59),

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submarine USS Lionfish (SS-298)

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and the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy (DD-850) are on display, along with some PT boats and other naval craft.

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The two PT boats are really rare.  At the end of WWII, most of them were destroyed as they were obsolete.  The two here have been restored and look very sleek and menacing.

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Walking through the tight quarters on the submarine, you’d wonder how some 60 men could live and work in such little space.  Our Journey would seem huge in comparison, and to think sometime we complain about our little space, and there is only two of us.

I marveled at the complexity of the sub’s torpedo tubes.  I’m never again going to complain about how intricate the systems on the Journey are.

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From the tight quarters on the sub to the massive decks of the battleship Massachusetts, nick named “Big Maimy”, you wonder how all that steel could stay afloat. (That is a bridge behind the ship over the Fall River, there is a "Bridge" on the ship, just not that one).

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There are nine 16 inch guns on the ship, each capable of tossing a 2000 lb. shell twenty miles.  Picture a Volkswagen flying through the air for that distance.  Quite a powerful weapon (the gun, not the VW).

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Touring through the interior spaces of the ship brought back some memories.  I slept on racks like this, but my cutter was much, much (much) smaller.

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It was amazing to see some “fancy work” still remaining on some of the ladder’s handrails.

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Fancy work is small line wrapped and tied around rails and handles to dress up the ship.  It takes hours to do and often sailors would do it on off duty time.  It is quite an art.  I never did any of that, I’m of the Velcro generation.

An interesting part of the ship is the Fairweather.  It is a shield to deflect waves crashing over the bow around the superstructure of the ship.

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Hard to imaging waves crashing down this distance, but the ocean can be a fearsome place in a storm.  Ask me how I know.

Up on the bridge is the Captain’s chair.

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It offered a great view of the ship’s bow.

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Speaking of the bow, it seems it was the most popular place on the ship, people would go up there and do the “I’m King of the World!” scene from the movie “Titanic”.  I tried and tried to get a shot of people doing it, but I was too slow on the camera.

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I was glad to see all kinds of tour groups and Cub Scouts visiting the ship, learning about our nation’s history and the men and women who fought for our freedom.  Freedom is too precious to forget the cost.

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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