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F is for Father, Family, Fayetteville and Florida!

Welcome to Day 6 of the A-Z Challenge Blog. I’m a little late today. Got to bed at 2 AM. Have to say we had a wonderful trip to the East Coast, in all respects.

We spent time with family in Fayetteville and I really enjoyed the town and its people. I am second generation Northern Californian (up here we think there should be two states, so we have our own North vs. South issues). My father was born in a small town in the central valley, Selma, “home of the peach” he used to say. Things were simple for their family who barely made it out of the depression. When he went to Berkeley for college, Grandpa took him to the highway and he hitchhiked. No college dorm “room decorating” like I overdid for my crew.

Dad had visited Fayetteville and liked the South. He and my mom almost retired to Tennessee, and would have, except for needing to be close to the grandkids. But they would have fit in.

I found the people in North Carolina friendly. We enjoyed the beautiful woods, little towns, small town mannerisms and courtesies we don’t often get here in California. Men open doors. Women say thank you. And no one thinks it’s uncool to say, “Ya’ll have a great day,” because they mean it. Really mean it. It doesn’t go on rich or poor lines. Humanity wins here.

We spent a late after brunch walk around old Fayetteville and her pre-Civil War buildings. Fascinating. The Airborne/Special Ops Museum was closed. Although run by mostly volunteers, has recently had it’s days cut to Saturday and Sunday only. We got to walk around the park on the outside. My previous posts in this blog show pictures of that. The art piece to the right is a dog tag representation, based on the number of fallen service men and women from North Carolina. Walking under it was very moving for me.

We flew to West Palm Beach on Thursday and enjoyed the warm humid air as we toured the SEAL/UDT museum at Ft. Pierce. Again, some earlier posts have pictures. Three perfectly timed and calibrated shots freed Captain Phillips on Easter Sunday in 2009. You can see what’s left of the little window those rounds went through in the center on my post from Friday. Rescue is never pretty. I found a great T shirt in the museum store: “If you want to meet a Navy SEAL, steal a ship.” ‘Nuff said.

We walked the beach in the rain. Felt good to get warmed and feel the white sand between our toes. The place was packed with “Easter Breakers” getting ready to go home to the cold. Our hotel was rumbling from little feet trying to get in the last body surf at midnight. Reminded me of my childhood days when my brother and I used to visit my Grandfather at Rio Del Mar, near Santa Cruz. Sand was everywhere. Made me remember the days when my son’s entire 8 year old baseball team wound up in our hot tub. Water everywhere. Used more towels than we used in a month.

We came home to all the usual things. Our dogs, who missed us, and family drama. Of course. Life is, just life, afterall. I am extremely grateful for my family, and for those who lived a good life before me, sacrificed much, so I could live the life I have today.

And, of course, to my Dad, who loved the Navy, but I have to admit, he loved his drums probably a little bit better. I made sure he had a set of drumsticks at his grave at Christmas, just so he could make another joyful noise up there. ‘Cause that’s where I know he is.

Don’t forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here

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