When this entire Mission was in the planning stages, it was decided at the beginning that the End of The Ride, was just the start of Phase Two; Vacation Time! There was so much that could be seen with more than half the country sitting between San Diego and Wellman, winnowing down the choices was the hard part.
As with the bike ride, there were people “along the Way”, that we knew we MUST visit. The sons of my life-long friend from Marine Corps days, Jon Ingersoll, both reside in San Diego. We have known Shane, 47, and Chase, 44, since they were infants. Sadly, Jon is a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease and is not able to travel, so we will not be able to see him on this trip. I had come to San Diego to visit Jon and help him when he finally had to move in with family for help and assistance several years ago. We had a glorious time driving around to old haunts, playing his beloved “Geezer Softball”, drinking beer and telling lies and making us “legends in our own minds”. I have those memories and they are the ones I choose to hold.
We agreed to meet Shane and Chase at the USS Midway museum on the waterfront. It was the perfect connection since the plane Jon flew while in the Corps was the A4 Skyhawk, which is prominently displayed on both the hangar deck and flight deck of this tremendous floating history lesson.
We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with all of them on the ship and strolling the waterfront.
The formative years of my youth included dozens of cousins. That’s no exaggeration when you consider I have nearly a hundred “first cousins” on both sides of my family tree. Some of them “moved west”, of course, and that includes Jennifer Chocholek. When I was a “mature” sophomore in high school, I was deemed old enough to “babysit” for Jennifer, her five brothers, and her baby sister. This was, to say the least, an educational experience for all of us. I think her mother, Aunt Dolores, and father, Uncle Bill, considered two things were a priority: 1) I was available, and 2) I worked cheap. Let’s just say I could not have done the job at all without the invaluable help from Jennifer, who wasn’t all that much younger than I was. We have stayed close in heart, if not geography for all these years and we were thrilled to be asked to stay over in their home in Rancho Palos Verdes.
It was a special treat to have their daughter, Anna, and HER precious 3 month old Amelia there on our arrival. We have enjoyed frequent views of Amelia on Facebook as is befitting a first born child! Jennifer comes from a long line of great cooks, and our evening meal was tops! It was made even better by the arrival of yet another “first cousin”, JJ Conway of (relatively) nearby Long Beach. In a family of “characters”, JJ ranks fittingly at the top of the classification. It was an evening of much levity and enjoyment. I seriously do LOVE my cousins.