The Willamette River* runs smack through downtown, placing the nautical display right in our urban living room. For hardy souls who brave long lines, there are free tours.
On Friday I went aboard the USS Spruance, a US Navy destroyer put into service in 2011. I was impressed, for she is sleek, well-equipped, and ship-shape beautiful. Make no mistake, as a weapon the Spruance is intimidating. To think that a monster this size can appear on radar as a small fishing vessel boggles the mind.
Hats off to the Navy for bringing the fleet’s flagship helicopter to display on deck. None of the others sport the spiffy ‘wolfish’ paint job. The tall, boxy edifice you see behind the boarding gangway (photo, below right) is the hanger.
Who better to tour with than Frederick Wentworth, Captain? Forgive the American flag at the stern, sir. And although other senior officers were piped aboard, you were not. Even so, I bet you’d think that helicopter was awesome.
For forty minutes, I walked in a sailor’s shoes. As instructed, I saluted the officers stationed on the quarterdeck when I boarded, I strolled the forecastle,* navigated ‘knee knockers’ and steep ascension ladders, and basically had a lovely time.
I came away with photos and a scorching sunburn, but that’s another story. Hey, can I help it if we’re having July weather now? It’s supposed to be drizzling! Gah.
See, around here complaining about the weather is like a sport. Unless it’s 77 degrees with a light breeze and humidity at less than 35%, we gripe. True confession: At home we do not have air conditioning. (I know, that’s insane. But for two weeks of heat it’s hardly worth the expense.)
*Pronunciation Guide and two more photos:
Willamette River = “Will-LAM-it”
Oregon = “Or-a-gun” (not “Or-ee-gone”)
Forecastle = “fok’sl”
I know, right? Oregonians can’t pronounce words as they’re spelled.
And neither can sailors, bless them.