It was a good night; even though it was not our normal super-sized bed, we had fun. Marcy and Vicky were well teased and pleased. The rest of us were all smiles. Thankfully there were no hickeys we needed to cover.
I was up early before everyone else, drinking coffee and reading the updates. Between the UK, Germany and the US military bases there were two hundred thousand body bags on a C5 somewhere over the US heading west. It was to land around daybreak. C130s would have them on the carriers by noon-time.
I wasn’t going to bother the military there until 1700 – to them, a full day to do things. I did look at the weather forecast – the storm was getting bigger and stronger and was on a collision course. There was no doubt that all ships and men needed to be away from there before it hit.
The smell of coffee and breakfast had the rest of my family up. The kids made it clear they were hungry. JJ and RJ were ready to go exploring, snorkeling and hunting for pirates.
I could tell that half of the Secret Service detachment were fighting hangovers. Bobs Construction group was no better. They were being fed from the buffet in one of the side rooms. That was another of Lorrie’s arrangements to offset the crappy temporary living arrangements. Her idea was to keep them happy and they will be more productive.
It was an offshore oil rig support barge. I did learn it was air conditioned and had fair living quarters with a rec room, showers and kitchen, but none were cooks. The Cay’s housekeepers were doing laundry for them.
I learned from the banter that they had gone to the casinos and had a good night, leaving with more money than they went in with and then went to a couple floor shows.
The Secret Service agents needed to be careful, I was sure the agency had strict rules about such activity.
We were going snorkeling to keep the boys happy for a couple hours then to the beach. In the afternoon we were going to Low Island to view upgrades. Lorrie had rented the big house to a wealthy European family for the months of November and December and again for February and March. Not only the house, but they wanted a helicopter with pilot to ferry them around the islands and a boat with captain, crew and a cook and several maids for the house.
While they were gone improvements were being done. A hangar for the helicopter was in the finishing stages with a lighted landing pad and a nice dock for the boat. The hangar was rated for a category 5 hurricane, but Lorrie ordered extra bracing and double screw anchoring for the sheet metal and double gauge thickness to make it even better and stronger.
‘’After I put all the information on the rental website, we have been getting hit after hit – all of them from Europe or the Middle East. This one is leased continuously until the end of July. Its already leased for next November, December and January. I could have rented a dozen of them,’’ Lorrie said.
‘’ There is a place two miles south that is perfect to build another mansion just like this – the complete set up,’’ Lorrie said.
‘’But is it going to be cost effective? It is going to cost a lot of money,’’ I said.
‘’The cottage with staff rented for twelve thousand a week, the exclusive use of the helicopter with pilot added five thousand a week, the boat with crew added three thousand a week, that’s twenty thousand a week and I have rented it for eight months,’’ Lorrie said.
‘’That’s between you and Marcy then. Have you brought Bob over to look at it, so his engineers can draw it up and begin the process? It needs to be fancy,’’ I said.
‘’Yes, he has been over several times and so have his people, taking measurements and making blueprints,” Lorrie said.
Back at our cottage Troy gave me several notes to look at. I added my notes to them and handed them back.
‘’Did you hear about the news group last night?’’ Troy said.
‘’No, what happened with them?’’ I said.
‘’They got drunk and rowdy in one of the casinos. Eight of them spent the night in the jail and were charged by the magistrate today. They are not happy campers,’’ Troy said.
‘’The media starting an international crisis – who would have thought it?’’ I said before we both started laughing.
We went snorkeling with the boys again, back through all the sunken boats and artifacts placed to be interesting. A little further out in the shallow lagoon was a more challenging area for more advanced snorkelers, depending on the tides.
Concrete replica-looking old cannon, old ships anchors and a concrete treasure chest or two – some open – had been placed to give the appearance an old pirate’s shipwreck. Last time the boys were here they had not found it. Today we carried them there, they were ready for the advanced area. We played in the sand and water until 1400.
At the main cottage Troy handed me several notes, one of them was that the west coast dockworkers started the work slowdown and strike. I called Marty and Eric and ordered the legal process to start. The first step was with Judge Hovator. I signed the federal orders decertifying the union. Judge Hovator ordered the arrest of all the union leaders and officials by FBI and US marshals.
Another note was from the Department of Defense, the C130s had left California two hours ago with the body bags and more supplies from Europe. There was one from the weather service about the growing Pacific storm – the ships absolutely had to be out of there in ninety-six hours – after that the seas would be running eight feet, possibly to forty feet before the storm passed.
I sent a note to several agencies asking if all the researchers had been evacuated from the Midway Island wildlife refuge. Normally there were about thirty staying there studying sea turtles and goony birds. The earthquakes and tsunami had spared the island – this storm would not.
Supper tonight was cooked on the big outdoor open grill with hickory and maple wood. There were steaks, bigger steaks and pork barbecue, also Maine lobster and Georgia blue crabs. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes were butter brushed as they were slow cooked. There were buckets of vegetables and tubs of cold beer, wine coolers, ice tea and lemonade. After the food there was a bonfire on the beach.
Morning came before we wanted it to; we were flying to Houston Texas for a fund raiser. There were two, one in the afternoon and one this evening. The party was taking my advice and pressure to start building the war chest for the midterm elections, now less than two years away.
We were leaving at 0900 and all the family was going. We were going to tour the Johnson Space Center while we were there. The Mars mission was still progressing successfully.
The astronauts had successfully assembled four of the tube modules and were just days away from moving permanently into residential wing. Solar panels had been attached on top of the tubes at a much faster pace than the engineers thought possible. The equipment to anchor the module to the Mars surface had been more efficient than thought and the project completed ahead of schedule.
Between the solar panels, battery storage, hydrogen generator and a nuclear power generator, NASA was confident that the astronauts could now survive the Mars surface storms.
There were four more modules to be connected that contained additional science workstations and more berthing areas for astronauts. When completed, sixteen astronauts could comfortably live on the station.
With this much successful progress NASA was going to launch more modules, including one that could produce vegetables and other foods. Another launch was also delivering more advanced rechargeable rovers. Ice had been discovered less than a mile away in what was thought to be a former lake.
From the Johnson Center I would to give a congratulatory call on the progress and be able to wish the mission commander a Happy Birthday. It took four hours to walk the museum and look at all the displays and the time on the call to the Mars station.
We had time to go see one more museum before I needed to go on stage and it was not that far away. The USS Texas battleship had finally been returned to its museum berth. There had been a series of repairs done to its hull in stages over the past decade as funding was supplied by donations. All the hull below the waterline had been finally replaced, making her watertight once again.
The USS Texas was the first battleship to be a permanent museum ship and the first to be named a National Historic Landmark. The Texas also had other firsts; the first to have anti-aircraft guns, radar, a catapult to launch and recover a spotter plane, the first to control the big guns with directors and range finders.
Built in 1912 it saw service in WW1 and WW2. In WW2 it shelled the beaches for the North Africa campaign and the Normandy landing before being transferred to the Pacific in late 1944. In the Pacific it participated in the Naval bombardment for the Iwo Jima and Okinawa battles. The USS Texas is the only surviving WW1 era Dreadnought class of battleships.
I could have spent hours walking the decks, looking at all the big guns and the display of those big shells on deck. I could just imagine the roar and concussion of those guns firing. I had been close to artillery firing many times – these guns were three times bigger.
The room with the range finders and directors was nothing short of mind boggling as it was used to aim the big guns. It was basically a manual mechanical computer. Ships speed, target speed, distance, bow angles – all were entered manually – threw rows of knobs that sent information to the fire directors to put the shells on target.
We arrived at the stadium in time to do the meet and greet with all the right people. For each session Andrew and I worked up a gangbuster of a speech, the place was packed for both events.
We were back on the island, walking towards the bonfire on the sand at 2230. I read the updates on the flight back, leaving me with things to do tomorrow and several important decisions to make.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.