Back 14 years ago, we were living out in Washington State, and Corvette Chick was then a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy, in command of a shore activity at the Bangor Submarine Base. We lived on a couple of acres out in the woods (like a mile down a dirt road) and had a golden retriever named Buddy. On weekends, we loved to go hiking, and one of our favorite trips was to Mt. Baker, in the North Cascades. Here is Buddy leading me up the trail.
At 10,781 feet, Mt Baker, known to the Lummi Indians as Koma Kulshan, is the 3rd highest peak in the state. It also has the second most active crater in the Cascades. Most impressive, it is the snowiest place in the world, having accumulated 1,140 inches of snow in a single season. For those without a calculator, that means 95 feetof snow.
On a summer hike on the flank of Mt. Baker, we heard some unusual chirping, and then saw this little critter peeking at us from a pile of boulders. It was a hoary marmot (Marmota caligata cascandensis). These are the largest American ground squirrels, often reaching 8 lbs. They are also known as “whistle pigs”, and the town of Whistler in British Columbia was renamed in their honor (and to make the town more marketable as a ski area). This fellow was sunning himself on the rocks and alerting other members of his colony that there were human intruders coming.
Suzanne was really taken with this little guy, and said “Wouldn’t it be neat to have a little stuffed marmot?” Well, her birthday was coming up, so I found a company in British Columbia that made plush marmots, and she was thrilled to find Mr. Marmot among her birthday gifts.
Anyway, Mr. Marmot has been our companion since 1999, moving from Washington to Virginia, sailing across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, making numerous moves from boat to house, and finally arriving here in sunny Florida. He was in peril many times, however, because Rudy has tried to eat him on several occasions. Readers of this blog know that Rudy has “this thing” about disemboweling stuffed animals.
Well, he has looked longingly at Mr. Marmot for 8 years, always hoping that he would fall off Suzanne’s dresser onto the floor where he would become “fair game” for Dachshund Destruction. But My Lovely Bride has always kept him in a safe place… until today. Imagine my surprise when I went into the bedroom and saw Mr. Marmot on the bed with a pair of my Jockey shorts (known as “skivvies” in the Navy) on his head. This of course leads into another story… a sea story, this time…
Back in 1986, I was Operations Officer aboard the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61). We were anchored in New York harbor for the 4th of July, awaiting President and Mrs. Reagan’s visit for the unveiling of the recently-renovated Statue of Liberty. Part of the celebration was a concert by the Beach Boys, who would be playing aboard our ship to assembled multitudes aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), anchored a short distance away. This required several days’ preparation for installation of huge speakers and electronics aboard Iowa, and the Beach Boys and their entourage, which included several attractive young women, stayed aboard our ship during this period. They were the very first women to spend nights aboard our ship, and were assigned to extra staterooms in officers’ country. See photo at right – the Beach Boys are tuning up on top of Turret 3.
While aboard, the band’s young ladies had sent their clothes to be cleaned in our ship’s laundry. Now, sailors being sailors, when the aforementioned young ladies’ undergarments were being washed and dried by the 18 year old (male) Ship’s Servicemen, they decided that “Wouldn’t it be fun to wear the women’s brassieres on their heads like earmuffs and their panties like berets?” They forgot that the ship’s Command Duty Officer (CDO) would be making his rounds of the ship about then, and were caught looking rather foolish by the CDO, who the next morning let the entire wardroom (and by extension, the entire ship) know about their antics. They weren’t disciplined, but the “ration of crap” they received from their shipmates over the next few weeks made them regret their lapse of judgment. (Well, at any rate, it made them more careful in the future…) And now, My Funny Bride has made fun of sailors (and me, by extension) who wear girls’ underwear on their heads… she is sucha card.
While taking Rudy and Gretchen for a w-a-l-k in t-o-w-n today, we saw this new addition to the Parking Hall of Shame. My good friend Dale Hilliard, who by the way was my right hand man and a Operations Specialist Senior Chief Petty Officer (OSCS) aboard Battleship Iowa back in 1986, would probably blame this poor parking job on the owner having selected a Japanese car rather than a good old American-built Chevrolet. (Dale, this proves I don’t always pick on GM owners for our Parking Hall of Shame!)
Finally, My Sweet Wife prepared a fabulous Valentine’s Day dinner tonight (she wanted a quiet celebration with me, Rudy and Gretchen). Anyway, she surprised me with a gourmet Italian Osso Bucco, with a delicious garlic-basil-tomato sauce, over pasta. My contribution was opening a particularly nice Mendocino County Pinot Noir… I am a VERY LUCKY MAN!