Sunday, November 13, 2016

On a wing...

Last Christmas I gave Chris a bit of an unusual gift.  He had mentioned that he had always wanted a chance to see the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I wanted to make that little dream come true, but wasn't sure how to wrap such a gift. So, on Christmas morning I sent him on a merry chase... a scavenger hunt, with a variety of clues. The final clue was an ornament of an airplane hanging on the tree. I had him "fly" it to a "runway" I had made out of a folder which had brochures about the museum, and mock-up airline tickets to Dayton inside. I had put money aside to take him to fulfill his dream and we planned to take a trip there this spring. Then I was injured and all fun plans were put aside for a bit.  Until this weekend.

We left Portland Veteran's day morning and were in Dayton by supper time. As he often does, Chris wore a ball cap with the name of the ship he served on in the Navy emblazoned on the front.  Many passing people thanked him for his service as we traveled. One man in New Jersey even stood up from his chair and walked across the room to thank him.  We were both deeply moved.

We arrived in at our hotel by suppertime. We went out for an excellent meal, made all the better when the restaurant gave Chris his meal free because he is a veteran. The weekend was off to a more than auspicious start.

Our hotel was across the street from the museum.  The weather was fine.  We spent all day exploring the vast exhibits.
We walked until we couldn't walk any more, and still didn't see it all. But we saw the parts that were most important to Chris. That smile?  He wore it all day.  It was so much fun to see him going from exhibit to exhibit, and to hear him tell me the history in his own words.

Most of our time was spent exploring the planes from WWI and II.  I was delivered back in time to all the things my father used to try to tell me about WWII. And I was awash in guilt that I didn't listen well. That I didn't learn at his knee the lessons he was so anxious to teach.  I saw much of the exhibit so choked with emotion that I couldn't even speak.

Our travel to and from went pretty smoothly, including the fact that we discovered the wonders of Uber.  From an app on his phone Chris would push a few buttons and in mere moments a clean, nice car would appear and take us anywhere we wanted to go. The fees were deducted from our account, and were less than half of what we would have paid for a cab.  Bonus points!  We had some very interesting conversations with each of the drivers.  One of them told us that his wife is pregnant with triplets, and that his father had a farm in Africa and sired TWENTY children.  Another was a banker by day, driver by night. A third was active duty Air Force, and one was an engineer.  The Uber experience added a whole layer of enjoyment to our adventure.

Perhaps most of all we enjoyed having three days all to ourselves.  After 32 years together we are easy and comfortable companions. Driving home from the airport a larger than life "super moon" rose up over the treeline, and followed us all the way to our cozy house.  From start to finish our weekend was one to be treasured.

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