Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nothing to Do

When I was a kid, I remember moaning to my Mother on some long hot summer day “there’s nothing to do!” Now I find too many choices on my plate and perplexed about which one to select. Don’t get me wrong, this is not something I am complaining about at all. My complaint is that I want to do all the things on the list. The problem is that I find they often conflict with each other. At such times I am faced with the having to construct a pros and cons list to decide what to do. The trouble with pros and cons lists is that they can’t help but be arbitrary. That is OK if the list will be applied strictly to oneself, but more difficult if they involve a group.
This was my challenge this past weekend, when a long planned group ride that I had been anticipating, clashed with an invitation from my daughter. Toss in an opportunity to spend time with friends we haven’t seen in a while and the situation becomes more confused. All turned out well, however, when the friends heard about the daughter’s invitation and the idea appealed to them as well. It was easy after that to decide and no pro or con list was needed when simple math would do. An opportunity to see the daughter and baby, toss in the “haven’t seen in a while” friends with one fun activity, ride to the destination on motorcycles, and we put the group ride aside.
Riding to any destination on a motorcycle is always more enjoyable than travel by car. There is a perception of the world around you that is missed when viewed from inside a car. I begin to have the impression that the people in the cars are traveling in isolated bubbles, oblivious to what is happening outside. The windows are closed, the air conditioning is running, the music is turned up or the kids are screaming. As they travel along with hundreds of other cars, their world is isolated to their immediate environment.
In our travel to Pease Air Force Base for the air show, the world around became a magnificent transformation from pine scented small towns, the gentle sounds off a lake water lapped shore of Massabesic, to the striking salt air scents off the ocean breeze of the Rye coast line. Add to that the salt flat, the Pemigwasset River and Great Pond and you have a wonderful mix of heady sights, sounds and smells that no automobile ride can come close too.
An air show is a fantastic activity for any genre of people. The lay person has an opportunity to see inside various aircraft that under normal situations they would never be exposed too. The aeronautical buff gets his fix of the real thing. Former service personnel take pride in, and relive past moments in history. Current service personnel take great pride in showing off their “stuff”.
We arrive at the parking lot and we are successful at parking four motorcycles in one spot for twenty dollars. This is good news as parking is twenty dollars per vehicle. Since we all fit in one spot, we get away with the one fee. We make our way into the airfield and meet up with Kyla and Aiden. Andy and Lee walk off to investigate some missile launchers he once worked on in the machine shop. Deb and I walk off with Aiden and Kyla to see the opening ceremony. The wind is very strong, and I can’t hear what’s being said because the sound is carried off. We decide to move along and stop to watch various activities around the Air Force section of the field.
We find the gyroscope type ride and watch a few people, mostly young, take their turn at spinning around this way, that way, and upside down. Kyla connects with Tim and he wants to give this a try. We watch as he is strapped into the contraption. I can’t determine the look on his face. I think it’s one of anxiety, but not the bad sort, more of a concerned anticipation. He has a wide grin and he is being spun around every which way, but his face is turning a bright red. In the end, he does very well and walks away with his dignity in tact. I’m impressed!
Aiden is taking everything in stride from the comfort of his stroller. When I stick my head under the canopy to give those cheeks a kiss, he takes me in with one long look, and then looks away as if too say “oh, it’s just Memere”. Memere doesn’t mind, he’s just too darn cute.
Around noon we are getting hungry. We head over to the vendors and find long lines we do not wish to stand in. The air show is in full swing and we don’t want to miss anything. We spot a vendor where the lines are shorter. They are selling smoked turkey legs. The things look huge! I watch a few people walking around with their huge foil wrapped drumstick looking like people out of the middle ages, and get in line. What the heck, the line is short and we’re hungry. The smoked turkey actually is pretty tasty and I eat half before I’m full. Kyla polishes it off. It turns out to be a good investment as it fed two for the price of one.
We park ourselves and settle in to watch the show. We are not disappointed at the formation flying, F18 fighter jet demonstration, the Stealth swooping in to hushed silence among the crowd. Deb and I watched the woman wing walker with respect, but we both though her crazy just the same. “The Only Canadian Woman Wing Walker” blares the announcer. Deb and I look at each other and are not surprised. We believe most Canadians have common sense.
Aiden is getting a bit restless. Andy finds a pinwheel and Aiden is amused with that for a while. However, little guys only have so much battery power, and Kyla and Tim head home so he can nap.
Lee, Deb Andy and I take a stroll while we wait for the glider to be towed to the desired elevation. We spot too old soldiers swapping stories. It’s a sight right out of a movie, and I am moved to ask them for a photograph. Joseph D Greeley may look ancient, but his mind is sharp. He stands with dignity for his photo and gives me his card so I know of whom I am taking a picture. I read the card.
“ 99th Bomb Group, 50 Combat Missions-B17G, Pilot- 15th Air Force, July 1944 to January 1945 Foggia, Italy.” I’m impressed! I think my Dad should carry such cards! There is an e-mail address as well. I will send Joseph the photo.
The announcer lets us know that the glider is ready and directs our attention to the sky. I have seen gliders before as the land at the Pepperell air field a lot, but I have never seen anyone do what this guy did. That glider looped, dipped and rose in a beautiful sight to see, choreographed with a classic piece playing from the loud speakers. It was a joy to watch.
We head back toward the vendors, and Andy and Lee engage in a bit of “trash talk” about getting on the gyroscope ride. Andy will not be out trashed and gets in line for the ride. Lee settles in his chair to watch the show. A little kid tries to cut Andy off in line. Andy points out that he’s waiting. I think the kid doesn’t believe him. The ride operator hands him the sheet upon which you have to list your name and age. He calls out to me, “How old am I now anyway? 60?” Andy is strapped in and when the ride starts up he is whooping and hollering like it’s some mechanical bull ride. The ride operator is chuckling and the crowd is enjoying it too. He does wonderfully and I am shocked that the ice cream cone he just ate stays down. Andy’s ride has generated a lot of interest and we watch a few other older men line up for the ride. The kids are watching their grandpas, some with embarrassment, and some cheering them on. It’s the most fun we’ve had all day watching the people take the ride. The young kids all wanted to be “cool”. The grandpas are hooting and hollering and the crowd is enjoying it all. Andy checks the sheet and the oldest person to take the ride is 62.
At four o’clock the show ends for the day. We take our leave and head south along the shore. We are rewarded with beautiful blue ocean, seascaped vistas and gulls sailing overhead. The perfect end to a perfect day.

1 comment:

Dan Greeley said...

I'm just going through a bit of a time right now and was missing my Dad pretty much. I was searching for some of his military stuff and ran across your mention of him in your blog... he was Joseph D Greeley. I'm glad you had a brief moment to meet his, to take his picture and become as impressed as I always was. Here's his obituary: