Quarantined on a Navy Base

I traveled from upstate New York to the coast of California and embarked on a once in a lifetime adventure. I have spent the last 14 days in quarantine on the Naval Base on Coronado Island, CA in preparation to board the USS Essex along with our B-25 Old Glory. Our destination, Oahu, Hawaii, will host The 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII events. As mentioned in previous blog entries, I am beyond crazy about this airplane, and along with The Prescott Foundation I am humbled to have the opportunity to honor our veterans at the Commemoration ceremonies.

I began my journey with trepidation.

I have no experience living on a military base, and although my stay would be relatively brief, I was more than nervous. I had dozens of questions – where will I sleep, will I have a roommate, how about a bathroom, will there be internet, and can I still have wine with dinner? (P.S. no alcohol on a Navy ship!) With all of the coordination and preparations that went into the undertaking, there wasn’t much time to answer a lot of my questions before departure. My boss, a Navy Veteran, was quite tickled that I offered to join this mission on a Navy ship, adding to my uncertainty – he knew what I was in for and giggled about it – a lot!

I was warmly greeted at the entrance to the Navy base by the friendly Master Chief Westervelt, “Welcome ma’am.” Who doesn’t love the politeness of the military? In the civilian world I cringe when called “ma’am” – here I could get used to it. I was grateful he offered to load my bags, embarrassed by the fact that my luggage for a 7-week journey outweighs me. It really does – four bags, 1 monster bag, 1 overstuffed (expandable) carry-on, one toiletry bag  and a backpack for my electronics and personal items. I apologized for my luggage, “oh, no worries ma’am,” he said as he transferred the bags with a solid heft causing the truck’s backend to sink. There it began…I had arrived.

I was escorted to the Lodge where I would spend the next 14 days in quarantine.

My friends and family were all amazed that I signed-on for this trip… locked in a hotel room for 14 days – they were sure I’d go stir-crazy. Not knowing what to expect, I was a bit worried too. Upon arrival, I those worries vanished. The “Naval Lodge” was a hotel with a balcony on the ocean within the military base. Along with the other civilians joining this mission, I was instructed to self-police, wear my mask, keep to myself if I left my room, and socially distant exercise is permitted outside only. I was warned that if I did anything to compromise my quarantine, I could be excluded from joining the USS Essex journey with Old Glory on the deck. My meals would be delivered to the lobby each day at 5:00pm – a hot dinner, along with breakfast and lunch for the next day. Hmmm, 3 meals a day, a room with a view, yoga and walking on the beach for exercise – I could get used to this! What a great place for me to focus on all that I had ahead of me yet to do, including the “journaling” of my trip.

After I had unpacked and settled in, I poured myself a glass of wine and sat on the balcony, reflecting on my journey thus far. As I took a deep breath in, followed by a relaxing exhale, I was startled by shrill shrieking, then screaming, then laughing, and yelling. I hadn’t noticed the playground area my balcony overlooked. And, it was full of children, running, climbing, chasing each other, their wee little voices piercing my bubble of relaxation. Even the crashing surf wasn’t noise enough to soften their high-pitched squeals.

Faintly in the distance I heard music.

It sounded like TAPS… suddenly I remembered scenes from movies when TAPS is played at the end of the day. Straining to hear over the children playing below, I looked down at the playground. The children began to pause, they too heard the music. There were a few that had not yet caught-on, the others shushed them saying “shhhh, ki-yet, ki-yet!”

In civilian life, our version of TAPS has become a barrage of noise, social media, television, etc. We all move through moments like these bombarded by the multitude, of communication today, not impacted by anything specific. People looking at their smartphones instead of where they are walking or the sounds around them. HERE, NOW, I was awestruck by the simple act of pausing to listen to music, being grateful to live in this great county.

That’s all for now – check back for updates as Old Glory and I make our way across the Pacific to Hawaii. Communication may become difficult; I will update as I am able to.

Stay tuned for my next post: Old Glory’s arrival to San Diego and loading onto the ship.

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