A Year in Review: Concerts

December 28, 2018

2018 was an exceptional year for listening to live music. And I did my part to support my favorite bands.

February 9, a Friday. House of Blues, Cleveland, In This Moment. Took Number Two Son with me. Wow, their music is harder live than on their albums (is that how you refer to their downloads?). An outstanding stage show, which I wasn’t expecting but thoroughly enjoyed. Maria is a helluva performer and singer.

February 10, Saturday. Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, Ypsilanti, Michigan. About 2-1/2 hours from Cleveland. Halestorm opens for Stone Sour. Went with Number One and Number Two Sons and my friend Matt. Came for Lzzy and Company, stayed for Stone Sour. Have seen and heard Halestorm on many occasions and they are one of my favorite bands. Stone Sour is a band that is much harder live than on their releases. That is not a bad thing. Pretty surprised by them as I’m not much of fan but I do know their music. Halestorm performed for only about 30-40 minutes, but ripped through many of their hits. The acoustics in the Convention Center are terrible. Oh, and it snowed whilst we were in the venue. A lot. Leaving wasn’t at all a good time. But we had a great time inside the venue.

Summer. Number One Son and I attended Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day in Toledo. First time at Centennial Terrace. Really nice outside venue. They are very helpful when you park your vehicle. There is no one around to direct traffic when it’s time to leave. Perfect. But, the concert was awesome! Got to listen to a full set from both In This Moment and Halestorm and was introduced to New Years Day (downloaded their music when I got home). Beautiful evening and hard rock with my son. What more could I ask?

By now, you might be sensing a trend in my 2018 live music choices; female led hard rock bands.

Wait, what’s this?

Seether at the Cleveland Agora, with Number One Son. My first time seeing Seether, my first time at the Agora. Damn, the Agora is beautiful! It’s now my favorite venue in Cleveland, putting House of Blues into second place. Seether comes out and plays five songs in a row, no breaks between songs. Loved it! I’ve been a fan of theirs for quite some time, hard to believe this is the first time I’ve seen them live. It won’t be the last. Just an amazing time with an awesome band.

Finally, a few days after Thanksgiving, took Number One and Number Two Sons to see Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day at Cleveland Masonic Auditorium. Same show as I saw in the summer, but much closer to home. The bands did not disappoint. It was another fine evening listening to hard rock and a great way to close out 2018 musically.

I don’t know who I will be seeing in 2019, but I am hoping that I have a lot of opportunities in the new year to hear more live music.

Rock on! \m/

 


From my Inbox

December 21, 2018

As you may recall, back in August, seven riders and myself completed an Iron Butt ride. One thousand miles (and change) in 24 hours (19, to be exact).

As a member of STAR Touring and Riding, that ride also allowed me, and three other STAR friends, to apply for the STAR IRONAZZ award. I completed our paperwork, submitted it to STAR, along with three, $100 donations to STAR Family Foundation and this showed up in the mail.

STAR_IRONAZZ

A rocker, pin, and patch.

Frankly, I haven’t seen the patch on many STAR vests, but this one will get a preferential spot on mine.

I’d love to do another Iron Butt/IRONAZZ ride in the near future. Perhaps 1,500 miles in 24 hours or a tour around the Great Lakes in 50 hours.  And, do it for a charity, too. The Iron Butt/IRONAZZ ride raised $2,000US for a local charity.

I like “extreme motorcycling.”


One Thousand Miles, 19 Hours, and a Motorcycle

August 6, 2018

Eight riders started at 4AM Eastern, from Willowick, OH, rode to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, turned around, and rode back to Willowick. One thousand seventy-three miles in 19 hours.

We completed an Iron Butt ride!


Clicking on the picture will open an interactive map, where you can zoom in, see some pictures, and read some ride statistics.

Some thoughts about riding (or attempting to ride) 1000 miles in 24 hours. In no particular order.

  • 4AM is damn early. Be sure to get to bed early. It may help to have a couple of beers, a bourbon, to help you get to sleep. But don’t drink too much, you have to get up early and you don’t need a hangover.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. At every stop, I drank water and/or fruit juice to keep my fluid levels up. Saturday was a hot day and it required continual fluid intake. The night prior to leaving, open some water bottles and drain some water from them. Then, put them in the freezer. You will have some rock solid bottles of water that you can put in a small cooler. They will slowly melt as you ride and  provide you with ice cold water for the entire trip. They also double as ice to keep fruit cool.
  • Keep snacking. There isn’t time, nor do you want to, to have a meal of any size. Fruit, granola bars, nuts, energy gels, maybe some jerky, are quick snacks. The linked energy gels do not require liquids to wash them down. However, some of them taste pretty bad. Regardless, I think they helped and it doesn’t take long to ingest 2 ounces of gel.
  • Invest in a pair of bicycling shorts (these are shown inside out, so that you can see the padding, you will NOT look like a baboon when wearing them). The extra padding will go a long way to make your ride more comfortable. However, with them under your pants or armored riding pants, you may find that you walk like you’ve got a full diaper. It’s worth the extra padding.
  • Know how far you can travel on a tank of gas. In my testing, I was able to get 42 miles per gallon. However, the actual ride was moving at a quicker pace than 69-72 miles per hour because the speed limits were higher in Michigan. I-75 ranges from 70-75 mph in some areas. Because of that, my fuel economy dropped to 33-36 miles per gallon (I do not have stock pipes on my bike, which makes a big difference in fuel consumption at higher speeds). Because of this, I was the rider with the shortest range. Plan your gas stops for the person with the shortest  range. In this case, it would be me. The ride leader adjusted two stops because there was no way I would make the planned stops.
  • This wasn’t my ride, so I followed. As the person with the shortest range, we could have changed the gas stops. That didn’t happen, the ride leader simply tacked on an additional stop. If it were me, I would have adjusted as we rode. Sure, that part of the planning would have gone out the window, but our stops would have been consistently 120-130 miles apart. As it was, one stop was only 60 miles from the previous stop. That cost us 40 minutes (we stopped at the same gas stations twice, going up to Sault Ste. Marie and back). It’s a small thing, but I was personally responsible for the additional stop and I didn’t like that feeling. I’m grateful for an additional 40 minute break, though.
  • If you are worried about range, you may want to consider a jerry can. However, the additional weight may reduce your range, too.
  • While the weather did not show rain along the route, I still packed my rain gear. As it was, we missed some early morning rain in the Cleveland area. It didn’t rain at all along the route. Still, I was prepared.
  • Speaking of packing, pack as light as possible. The less you have, the less you need to track.
  • I rode in a full face helmet with a Sena 10S as my travelling companion. Through it, I can listen to music, hear Waze give me directions, and, if there are others in your group with Bluetooth headsets, the ability to talk to them. It worked, as always, exceptionally well. However, a charge will only last about 16-17 hours. Which meant that the last 90 miles or so, I was travelling in silence. I did bring the charging cable, but with only 20 minute stops, there wasn’t enough time to get a proper charge. Not sure how to remedy this situation, since the Sena doesn’t have extra battery packs or fast chargers.
  • If you are starting out early, and your start point is not within 15-20 minutes of your home, I highly recommend that you get a hotel room. First, you won’t have to ride any sort of distance to get started. This means a few more minutes of precious sleep. Next, and most important, after you return, your bed is only a short ride away. I cannot stress enough how tired you will be at the finish. The thought of riding more than 20 minutes, at least to me, was depressing. Thankfully, the hotel I booked was about 3 minutes from the staging area. I was in the room, showered, and watching a little television before some of the riders were home. Also, during the last segment, all I found myself thinking was “how soon can I get in bed?” Not exactly the smartest thought, but knowing that the final ride of the day was only a mile, at worse, from the staging area, really made me feel good.
  • The Iron Butt Association (IBA) allows the use of Spotwalla for tracking your ride. This was the first time I used the app and I do like it. It may replace EatSleepRide as my preferred riding app. That said, before embarking on a 1000 mile ride, download the Spotwalla app, create an account on the Spotwalla site, configure the app, and then use it to track your ride. As you are using it, remember to post pictures and comments on your ride. When done, you can submit your Spotwalla trip, along with all of the paperwork, to IBA.
  • The use of Spotwalla also allows for the sharing of your ride with anyone and everyone. At a glance, your significant other, parents, friends, can see where you are, where you’ve been. Not only does this make the ride more inclusive, your significant other/parents/friends are aware that you are still moving or at a gas stop, reducing the anxiety of the ride for everyone.
  • Spotwalla seemed to get people to text me at points in the route. I cannot overstate the boost I got from people texting me their good wishes, their recommendations for sights to see at specific stops (sorry, no time for sightseeing), and general snarky comments. Keeping it light and funny made the time on the bike seem to go faster. Thank you for your text messages.
  • Speaking of IBA, our ride leader is an IBA member. That means easier paperwork for the other riders. It’s like he is a sponsor. When we completed the ride, we each provided him with three gas receipts; start, midpoint, end, along with the mileage written on the receipts. He is responsible for submitting our ride to IBA. It really was easy. If you are not riding with an IBA member, pay close attention to the guidelines. Since we were all starting from Cleveland, our route choices were limited to east, west, and south. I’d highly recommend that you plan a route for every direction, so that you have a chance to miss bad weather come ride day.
  • Put all of your receipts in an envelope and keep the envelope in the same place. This reduces or eliminates hunting for the envelope when you need it at every gas stop.
  • It may seem stupid to mention, however once you’ve decided on your route and gas stops, it doesn’t hurt to call the gas stations. You want to make sure that they are open 24 hours, have more than 4 pumps, and allow the use of credit/debit cards at the pumps. If you have to run into the shop to pay or to get your receipt, you are losing precious time that could have been used to eat or drink something. Or to use the bathroom.
  • We limited our gas stops to 20 minutes. That is just enough time to get gas, get your receipt and take a photo of the receipt with your odometer reading, eat and drink something, and to use the bathroom. There wasn’t any time for much more. Remember, you can ride 1000 miles in about 16-1/2 hours at 60 mph. Add in 8 gas stops at 20 minutes, you are now at 19 hours.
  • When I ride by myself, 20 minute gas stops and no lunch or dinner is my preferred method of riding. This ride fit my style of riding but at much greater distances.
  • There could be time for a proper lunch or dinner. While that is an enticing thought, don’t do it. You will get tired as your body digests a large meal. You will also need to stop for additional bathroom breaks. As I said above, just keep snacking. I didn’t get hungry or tired (I was tired, but it was from riding, not eating).
  • Do a full check of your bike before leaving; pads, fluids, tires, cables, lights, everything. You don’t need a mechanical problem out on the road. And you most certainly don’t need to ride on tires that need replacing.
  • This is not an easy ride and can be dangerous. In most cases you will be riding highways with cars and trucks. Even at 4AM in Cleveland, with extremely light traffic, I saw some pretty stupid drivers. We rode Michigan; deer are an ever present danger. More than any other ride, you have to keep awake and alert. In our case, we started in the dark and ended in the dark. Do not ride faster than your headlights can illuminate. In the light of day, you can see the idiots better, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t relax.
  • As they say, there is safety in numbers. Riding in a group helped a lot with safety and visibility. It may have also helped that, as tail gunner, I was wearing a high visibility, military spec vest. One, the leader could easily see me at the back of the group. Next, riding in the dark, I stood out like a beacon. Finally, it has an ID pocket. You know what fits in it? My EZ-Pass. Going through toll booths was a breeze (just make sure that you orient it properly before starting out). While I did have to wait for the others to pay their tolls, if everyone in our group had an EZ-Pass, we could have saved several minutes at each toll booth.
  • If riding in a group, do not skip the safety meeting prior to starting. Go over staggered riding, hand signals, a reminder of the route to the first gas stop. The leader should also tell the group the expected speed at which the group will travel depending on road conditions, weather, traffic. If you experience toll booths, the procedure for moving through them.
  • Do not allow yourself to get cold. Leaving Cleveland at 4AM, it was a bit chilly. I didn’t ask the other riders, but as I always ride in armor, I was pleasantly cool. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is markedly cool than the mitten. Wear layers, stay warm. If you’re cold, you’ll burn more calories which makes you tired. Especially at the start and end of your ride. Don’t look only at the high temperatures for the day you riding, look at the low’s, too.
  • Ride with someone you’ve ridden with and trust. I was fortunate to have two people on the ride with whom I’ve ridden many times. Not only are you engaging in friendly, pointed banter at the stops, which makes the ride more fun, you are riding with people that know you. They knew when I was tired, even though I didn’t say anything. They knew when it didn’t look like I was having fun and did their best to change my attitude. And we all had someone we could lean on at the most trying points of the ride. In short, we relied on each other to push through the hard parts and finish the ride. Also, when you broach the subject of “1000 miles in 24 hours” with your significant other, knowing that you will be riding with people that she knows and trusts, goes a long way toward acceptance of the insane thing you have in mind. “I may not like, but at least he’ll be riding with Aaron and Harvey. I know they’ll keep an eye on him.”
  • Most important: The IBA checks mileage reports based on Google Maps. Because odometers and speedometers are notoriously wrong on motorcycles, be sure to map your ride using Google Maps to confirm the distance. For example, when we finished, odometer readings ranged from 1,023 to 1,074 miles. Google Maps is the one, true measure of distance traveled.

This is a tough ride. The worse part for me was the start time. Frankly, I didn’t think I would be able to finish the ride, as I was pretty tired from lack of sleep. But, when we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, I was feeling great and ready for the ride back home. I don’t know if I qualify it as “fun,” but I can say when we finished, I felt that I had really accomplished something. Hopefully, the points above are helpful.

Ride safe.

 


One Thousand Miles, 24 Hours, and a Motorcycle

August 2, 2018

The year after I bought my bike, I discovered the Iron Butt Association. It’s members have completed a 1,000 mile motorcycle ride in 24 hours. I knew then that I wanted to do that ride and I added it to my Bucket List of motorcycle rides.

Last year, watching Paul Mooney complete the ride, gave me the impetus I needed to actually attempt the ride. I talked with several other riders until one stepped up and said “Let’s do it,”

Now is my chance.

On Saturday, 4 August, at 4AM Eastern, I will be riding 1000 miles in 24 hours with 9 other riders. We will be leaving Willowick, OH, riding to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, turning around, and riding back to Willowick. And we’re doing it for a charity.

Starting at 3:30AM Eastern, you can track the progress of the ride by clicking here. The link is updated roughly every 5 minutes or so. It’s near real time. Thankfully, I have a phone charger on my bike, so I won’t worry about losing battery power.

If you’d like to contribute to the charity, all of the information can be found on the GoFundMe site.

Paul was extremely honest and helpful when I asked for his advice. So, I am very well prepared. Last Sunday I rode 150 miles (plus a little more) on the Ohio Turnpike to know, exactly, how far I can go on one tank of gas. That was a 300+ mile ride. Amazon has been delivering packages with items that should make the ride more comfortable, my stops more effective, my body more prepared.

I’m am really looking forward to this ride. Click the ride link, above, and come along with us. And, there will be Monkey and Donkey pictures along the way. They will, as always, ride with me.


Connect 2017: The Really Good

February 28, 2017

[Note: I was going to create one post on Connect 2017, but have decided it would be better to break it into sections. This is Part One.]

This was the first year I have attended Connect that I did not attend any sessions that dealt with IBM Notes and IBM Domino. Well, other than the forced sessions, such as the Opening General Session and the Technical Session. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s coming, it’s that in my current role, I am focusing primarily on IBM Connections. So, if you were expecting something from me on IBM Notes and IBM Domino, this is not the place.

But, I will say this: Last year my team upgraded our Domino 8.5.3 environment to Domino 9.0.1 Social Edition, removed 95% of the IBM Notes clients in the environment by moving users to iNotes, and the remaining 5% of the clients are running IBM Notes 9. Applications? What can be moved to other platforms is nearly complete. What wasn’t moved in the first phase, will be moved, probably this year. Unlike a lot of places, we are using IBM Domino for (strictly) mail. And it’s all on-premises.

That said, I was very impressed with Connect 2017 as a person with an IBM Connections focus.

The Really Good:

  • Catching up with my friends in the IBM stack. This is arguably one of of the few conferences where I can see and talk with most of the people I consider “friend” in this space. Because it is the one large, international conference for all things IBM Notes/Domino, Sametime, Connections, and so on, it will attract the most people from around the world. Regardless of the name or location, they will be at this event. This year, it did not disappoint in this regard. Most of the people were here and it was a great week to talk to them in person.
  • If you haven’t, or don’t, travel internationally, this is the place to talk to your non-USA friends about world views. Sure, it’s a technology conference, however since I have known a lot of these people for quite some time, I do not hesitate to ask about Brexit, the current political climate in their home countries, or in the USA. It is a great way to experience the world from other perspectives. And as I respect them and their views, it broadens my view of the USA and the world.
  • There was a plethora of Connections sessions from which to choose. In fact, on Wednesday, I was double and triple booked during certain time slots. This caused me a lot of stress. Too many sessions, too little time. And no repeats.
  • Wednesday was the best day of the week. Many of the Customer Stories were presented on this day and they were excellent. There is nothing like seeing how other people overcame obstacles, integrated other business applications into Connections, on boarded new Connections users, and increased adoption, to get your enthusiasm to increase. There was furious note taking happening. Also, I introduced myself to several speakers, hoping to parlay the introduction into a more informative conversation in the next several months.
  • Also on Wednesday, there was an onslaught of Connections Pink sessions (see point #1, above). It helped that I was privy to a special meeting with Jason Gary, so I was able to miss several of those sessions, as I heard everything I hoped to hear, directly from him.
  • The Product Showcase was primarily focused on IBM Connections Business Partners and IBM Connections 3rd party applications and extensions. It was perfectly suited to someone like me. After working with Connections for several years, it’s nice to go into the Product Showcase knowing exactly what you want to learn more about as it pertains to your installation and culture. I think I was an “easy sell” to several vendors.
  • While there was a lot of walking within Moscone Center, it was primarily confined to the second floor.
  • The Opening General Session was a nice mix of customer stories, demos, music, and more. It seemed to flow very nicely from one thing to the next. I know that many were ecstatic that IBM Notes and IBM Domino were mentioned, especially concerning IBM’s continued support of the platform. For the nuts and bolts of that support, you had to attend several sessions dedicated to the roadmaps. I was missing from those sessions.
  • The featured speaker, Dr. Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choosing, was an excellent choice. Appearing toward the end of the of Opening General Session, she wove what we had seen and heard, specifically Watson, Watson Workspace, and cognitive, into our current lives and choices. It was enthralling.
  • The Technical Keynote, hosted by Ed Brill, was just what we needed to see and hear. Chris Crummey led the demonstrations and, as expected, did an exceptional job using “real world” examples using real people and real situations, not some made up company with made up problems.
  • The Closing General Session, as usual, recapped the week. However, as is IBM’s custom, their featured speaker, Eric  Whitacre, a classical music composer, was outstanding. Ever since I witnessed Benjamin Zander in Orlando, I absolutely love music themed Closing General Sessions. I suppose it reminds me what I already know, I need to see more orchestras. While I love rock (the harder and more angry, the better), it is classical music that affects me emotionally. I think we all should seek out art that affects the emotions. Eric’s story was spectacular. But, as the session closed, there was no announcement of Connect 2018. No dates, no location. What 2018 will bring for this conference seems to be . . . unknown.

Wednesday was “Pink Day” at Connect, and in response to that, here is a photo of Jason Gary for your enjoyment or amusement:

img_2303

I think that Jason must use the same bespoke tailor as Mat Newman.


Seven Years Later, Another Graduation

January 22, 2017

Graduation day, 20 January 2017, Kilo Company and Oscar Company. This is, IMHO, the greatest graduation ceremony I have ever witnessed. And I’ve seen it twice.

Every time I think about it, I get something in my eyes. Strange.

Graduation takes place on Peatross Parade Deck, one of the largest parade decks I’ve ever seen. Graduation begins with the Parris Island Marine Corps band entering. Then, the Parade Adjunct marks the right flank of the formation and the two graduating companies enter the deck, marching in unison, platoon flags waving in the breeze. It is an incredible sight.

usmc-graduation_paradedeck

I hope that this panorama of the parade deck, with 599 men and women that are the United States Marine Corps newest members, helps you see just how large the parade deck is.

It was during the Commanding Officers Remarks that something got in my eyes. He’s talking about honor, courage, and commitment. Then he says, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine,” and asks for all Marines in attendance to stand and be recognized. Up goes Number One Son. I’m working on getting “dust” out of my eyes.

I had to laugh to myself after thinking about this. Every other graduation ceremony you might attend wants to honor all veterans in attendance. Not here. They only want to honor Marines. Sorry, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Army veterans.

After the Remarks, the Marines pass in review, which is another spectacular sight.

Then, they retire the guidons, present awards to the high shooters and high scorers in combined personal fitness, the band plays the Marines’ Hymn, and then there is the Final Dismissal.

Now, another rush to greet the new Marines, take more photos, and meet some of friends he’s made during the 13 weeks of boot camp.

usmc-graduationday-newmarine

 Number One Son with his cousin, his new brother.

After congratulating him, it was time to head back north. But first, a special stop. What Number One Son called “a tradition.”

usmc-wendys

To all, this looks like just another Wendy’s. To my family, this is the Wendy’s where we stopped with Number One Son, after his graduation and he had his first civilian meal in 13 weeks. It’s at Highway 17 and I-95 in Jasper, SC. To quote my blog post from 2010:

On the way home, we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch, with our Marine. What did he eat?

  • A Triple Baconator, small fry, and a Mr. Pibb.
  • Sweet and Spicy Asian Boneless Wings, small fry, and a lemonade.
  • Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty

Quite an amazing sight.

This time, it was just a Double Baconator, medium fry, and a soda.

My mother now has all of her grandchildren in uniform: two Marines, a soldier, and a (auxiliary) policeman. I think that is simply amazing and I am extremely proud of them all. Although, as I said back in 2010, “proud” is a word that doesn’t seem to appropriately describe how I feel about them.

I cannot say that I will not return to MCRD Parris Island for a third visit. Of course, it will be with Number One Son in tow. And, hopefully, with Number Two Son. Our family now has a proud tradition of men in uniform after a generation without any.

By the way, graduation ceremonies at MCRD Parris Island are open to the public. If you ever find yourself in the area, please take the time to witness a graduation ceremony. Here are all of the dates for 2017. It will only take you a few hours of your time (depending on whether you also decide to see some of the sights on the base). As I keep telling you, it is truly the best graduation ceremony you will ever witness. Honest.

Semper Fi!

Link:

Number One Son: Marine


Seven Years Later, A Return to MCRD Parris Island

January 22, 2017

Nearly seven years ago, I traveled to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island, SC, for Number One Son’s graduation from boot camp and into the US Marine Corps. Neither he nor I ever thought that we would return.

But we did. Here is what I shared with you seven years ago.

This time, it was for my nephew’s graduation. An interesting tidbit; he graduated from the same recruit battalion and platoon as Number One Son.

19 January, we arrived at MCRD Parris Island for Family Day. The festivities started at the (civilian) God awful time of 7AM for the recruit’s motivational run. This is pretty much just a show for the families, and is a fairly short run, by USMC standards. But it is the first opportunity to see your recruit, even if it is a fleeting moment. At about 9:30AM, we all gather in the All Weather Training Facility. It is here that we watch a film which condenses 13 weeks of training into about 20 minutes. Then, after an interminable wait (remember, the military hardly ever starts anything on time), the recruits enter the facility where we are introduced to the Drill Instructors, reminded of Family Day rules, and on-base liberty begins.

Chaos reigns while family and recruits seek each other out in the massive crowd where laughing, crying, and hugging is everywhere you look.

Our recruit now takes us on a tour of MCRD. First stop, his barracks. His brand new barracks.

usmc-familyday-newbarracks

Kind of looks like a college dormitory, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look inside.

usmc-familyday_barracks

Looks like pretty much every “dorm” you’ve seen, right? Neat and tidy, everything in its place.

They even have showers, sinks, toilets and urinals in their “dorm.” And when they are standing at the urinals, they are reminded to check their stream to make sure that they are drinking enough water with this handy chart:

usmc-hydration

 

Number One Son and I took a good look around the barracks, as this is not the same one that housed him during his time at MCRD. We made a mental note to find his old barracks.

After the visit to the barracks, we headed to Marine Corps Exchange, which has everything a Marine needs (insignia, clothes, boots, and so on) and everything visitors need (souvenirs, beer, alcohol, gifts, food, and so on). Number One Son picked up some Challenge Coins and I bought a new license plate frame.

Number One Son and I remembered that his old barracks was behind the Marine Corps Exchange, so we went looking for it while the others walked to the Visitors Center, as lunch was being delivered to us.

We found his old barracks:

usmc-oldbarracks

And his old parade deck:

usmc-oldparadedeck

Number One Son was not happy. “Do you know how much time I spent on that parade deck? Now look at it.” He was, IMHO, really upset. I suppose the equivalent would be discovering that your childhood home had been torn down.

On our way to meet up with the rest of the family, we talked with an Army veteran that is working in a civilian role on MCRD. He and Number One Son had a really nice chat about where they’d been, what they’d done. I think that the little conversation lifted Number One Son’s spirits. Plus, for me, it was extremely cool to listen to two vets talk about their experiences.

After an excellent lunch (thanks Laurie), it was time for a few pictures.

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A new Marine and an alumni (say hello to Number One Son).

usmc-familyday3

 

And one of just the new Marine, my nephew:

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More touring of MCRD followed, before the Marine had to report to the parade deck to practice their graduation ceremony.

usmc-familyday6

The sand pit. This is where “Individual Training (IT)” takes place. From what Number One Son told me, you don’t want to be in the pit. I trust his judgement. It’s also the only place where the Drill Instructors cannot touch you. But even with that limitation, recruits do feel their wrath.

usmc-familyday1

The Yellow Footprints. When the new recruits disembark from the bus, in the dead of the night, they are required to stand on a set of footprints. This begins their welcome into the Marine Corps.

usmc-familyday2

New recruits. Notice the high visibility belts they are wearing. That immediately signals to all that these men have just arrived at MCRD. And, according to Number One Son, signals to all to keep an eye on them during the first week at MCRD, as this is when they are most apt to have issues.

Next time, graduation and fast food.