Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August is almost gone!

We spent the first half of August preparing to visit Great Lakes, IL for our daughter's graduation from Navy boot camp.

We flew to Chicago/Midway on Thursday, August 11, rented an SUV and drove over an hour to the Ramada that was about 5 miles from the base. We got there just as the Navy family "meet and greet happy hour" had ended. The property was tired, but the rooms were clean and did not smell like disinfectant! The indoor pool was cold and the hot tub was out of service. The deluxe continental breakfast room was crowded and the food was what you'd expect.

Friday, we ate breakfast at a pancake house on the way to the base--we didn't want to wait in line for a continental breakfast at 6:30a.m. We arrived at the base by 7:30a.m. for a 9a.m. ceremony.Good thing we get there early--the traffic was bumper to bumper, we were able to park in a covered lot, stood in a queued security line that wound through a mini-museum of training camp educational displays (and several K-9 patrols wandering through the crowd), checked in with ID and proceeded to the drill deck. We sat in bleachers that were immediatley in front of where her division would stand. We learned there were 1003 sailors who graduated that day--with another 60 or so sitting in the bleachers as they had not completed their testing and were being held back. The formal ceremony lasted 1 1/2 hours with the band, rifle squad, chorus and flag corps performing along with the obligatory speeches and recruit awards. We then had to work our way down to the drill deck to find our little sailor! Best hug ever!

We were able to spend the next 7 hours with her. We also adopted 2 other sailors for the afternoon because their families could not attend the ceremony. They wanted to eat pizza--so off we went to Giordano's-a franchised "original stuffed pizza parlor" located in a strip mall--the pizza's were huge! Yummy too! We sat there for about 2 hours while they downloaded all their stories about boot camp--a lot of laughter and secrets! They were "dying" for Starbuck's so we stopped in (right next door) and they had their fill...over to Borders to help them with their going out of business sale and then on to the motel. They had not had any electronics during boot camp, so we loaned our phones while they called family and friends. And we had 2 computers with us, so they were able to catch up on facebook, and even stared at the tv for awhile. The time went by too quickly, but we had to get them back by 7--we encountered bumper to bumper traffic again heading back to the base..the kids were getting nervous and many of the other sailors in traffic with us had bailed out of the cars and were walking our 3 followed suit. Quick hugs and they were on their way! Our daughter and one of the other sailors were to catch the bus to the airport at 5a.m. Saturday morning--so we did not get to see them again!

We stayed until Sunday and did some touristy things--Saturday, the boys went to 6 Flags and had a fun time on the roller coasters, I hung out at the pool and did some reading and napping! Sunday, we packed up and left the hotel for downtown Chicago--went to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and went up to the observation deck 103 stories up--the have an area called "The Ledge" which was a plexiglass box window that you could stand on and look straight down--I only got my toes over the edge, our son didn't get that close but my husband stood out there....we then went to the museum of Science and Industry, disappointed, very crowded, low blood sugar, didn't stay long...went on to the airport and returned home safely!

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