"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Davis-Monthan Day

B-52  This carries 258,000 lbs of fuel!
Yesterday we attended a Davis-Monthan AFB picnic.  We couldn't work out whether it was a celebration of something or an annual event.  Whichever it was, they did it up BIG!  They had everything and there was no charge for any of it.  Pony rides, petting zoo, soda, hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, about 8 different bouncy houses, rock climbing wall, play area for little ones, pop corn, cotton candy, snow cones, live music in one area and a DJ in another.  Not to mention hundreds and hundreds of people milling about, enjoying the hot sun and the cool breezes of a beautiful Arizona spring day.

It's my amazing Spider Children!  This wall was, conservatively, 25-30 feet high!  Also, check out the size of the boxing gloves; the boys could barely lift them.  #1 managed to win best two out of three in the ring but #2 made it all the way to the top of the wall.  It worked out pretty evenly!

My favorite part of the day was the free bus tour to the Bone Yard, where all good planes go to die.  We saw over 70 different types of aircraft, row after row, all lined up and mostly covered in a white latex coating to help keep the heat down inside the plane.  Many of the new fighter jets no longer in use could be brought back to the air with about 80 hours of work.  A lot of them are destined to be sent up, unmanned, and used as target practice.  The rest of the craft are either waiting around to be used for parts, to be chopped up for the metal or for someone to come kick their tires and purchase them, such as the Russians who visited for that express purpose just last week.  We even saw a plane that had no markings or serial numbers of any type and we were told it was used to fly "under the radar" and enter fly zones where it wasn't supposed to be.  How cool is that piece of information?

Row after row of engines, just stacked on top of each other.
Back when Tom Cruise was still cool he did a little movie called Top Gun where he flew an F-14 Tomcat for the Navy.   A year ago there were 400 in the Bone Yard and now there are only about eight left.

Go Navy!!

The last photo is a P-3, near and dear to our hearts because we had P-3's in Iceland along with good friends who flew them and maintenanced them.  All the P-3's were retired while we were there, meaning entire departments of folk were without jobs and had to be sent elsewhere.  There was a stationary P-3 used as decoration and when they were closing the base down they dismantled it piece by piece.  I took the boys to watch one blustery morning.  Anyone out there remember the Val?

Yesterday was somewhat bittersweet for me.  It is great to stay on military bases because I can fool myself into thinking that we are somehow still part of it all.  We get to hear the Star Spangled Banner every night at 5, go to cheap movies and attend cool functions, like free picnics.  But as I stood in line with the boys, waiting for the climbing wall, I shamelessly eavesdropped on several women in front of me as they talked about their next duty station.  One of them was headed to the east coast and another to Italy.  I couldn't help but feel a bit sad, knowing that I don't have those conversations anymore and I always wanted to be stationed in Italy.  In another line we chanced upon a couple stationed in Iceland at the same time we were there.  We didn't know them but recognized the Keflavik t-shirt and struck up conversation which brought back that familiar "homesick" type feeling for living overseas and for all things military.  No one on any of these bases knows our story so I can pretend to be part of it all but at the end of an otherwise great day, I came home pretty sad.  I'm sure this is all part of the grieving process of leaving something I truly loved and like all types of grief, it comes and goes.  I just have to keep telling myself there will be something better!
Ocotillo, very thorny with flaming orange tips

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