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Chicopee Massachusetts

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. 12 years ago this month the USAF sent me to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee Massachusetts for an observation of how my counterparts there do the same job as me at their base. Me and my supervisor at the time flew in to Bradley International Airport (#BDL) on a Monday. Bradley is located in north-central Connecticut about halfway between Hartford Connecticut (15 miles to the south) and Springfield Massachusetts (15 miles to the north). We got our rental car, and we drove northward into Massachusetts towards Westover. It was my very first time ever into the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and I haven’t been back there since.

Westover Air Reserve Base (ARB) is the former Westover Air Force Base (AFB) – built in 1939 at the start of World War 2. It’s been an ARB for the past 30+ years, and it’s the largest ARB in the U.S. in both size and military and civilian employee population.

Chicopee is the city that includes nearly all of Westover. About 55,500 residents call Chicopee home. The city reached its peak population during the early-1970s, and it’s been dropping steadily since. It’s a northern suburb of Springfield which it borders. About 156,000 call Springfield home, and about 700,000 live within the Greater Springfield metro area.

“When at Westover – eat at Bernie’s“, and so we did. It’s a nice restaurant located inside a train car. It’s very unique-looking from the outside, and the food is pretty good inside. I remember it to this day.

The area sits near the foothills of the scenic Berkshires – a low-elevation mountain range that’s part of the Appalachians. It’s about a 45-minute drive to the west. On a future visit to the region (and I hope that there is one) I definitely wish to explore this area. Chicopee is known as the “Crossroads Of New England”. My first (and only to date) visit to New England was way too short (barely 5 days). It was a sneak-peek of a future non-work-related trip that will hopefully include more of New England into Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Finally – I was wondering if Chicopee / Westover was the furthest north I’ve ever been here stateside. No. It’s near 42.2° north latitude. I’ve been further north – Detroit (42.3°), Milwaukee (43.0°), Syracuse (43.1°), and Niagara Falls (43.1°).

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit ZooMiami. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Happy Armed Forces Week

It’s Wednesday May 18TH 2022, and National Military Appreciation Month continues with Armed Forces Week (all this week), and that culminates this Saturday with Armed Forces Day. Unlike Memorial Day (this year on May 30TH) and Veterans Day (November 11TH) this is an opportunity for us to honor everyone who currently serves within our military.

I’m a few weeks away from celebrating my 37TH anniversary within the United States Air Force. I actually committed to 4 years of active duty service about a month into my Senior year in high school in 1984. 6 days after graduating from high school in June 1985 I was on my way to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas for 6½ weeks of Basic Military Training.

I’ve been living in or near Homestead Florida since the end of 1987, so that’s 34½ out of my 37 years in the Air Force. I work at Homestead ARB (formerly AFB prior to Hurricane Andrew). During the 19 months immediately after Hurricane Andrew – as the city and the base was being cleaned-up and rebuilt – I served at Andrews AFB Maryland and MacDill AFB in Tampa Florida.

My 37 years in the Air Force includes 29 years as a civilian. Prior to that I served 8 years on active duty and 6 years as a reservist (overlapping with the early years of my civil service).

Up until about the age of 16 I was supposed to go to college after high school and emerge with a degree in either Meteorology or Communications (radio and television). That didn’t happen, but here I am 37 years into an Air Force career at 55 years old. The Air Force determined that I was great at math, so they made me an analyst / statistician.

In the Air Force I’ve had some great years, some good years, some bad years, and some horrible years. There’s an entire 13-year era that was the worst of my career (and life). Thankfully I’ve followed that up with the best 15-year era of my career (and life) – where I am now. I’m ending this career on a high, and I’ve got about 1½ more years to go before I can retire and move away from here.

To all of my fellow military service members – whether you are currently on active duty, a reservist, a civil servant, or a contractor working alongside all of the above – I thank you for all that you do with each new duty day.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Honoring My Fellow Veterans

It’s Veterans Day here in the U.S.A.

This week marks the 36TH anniversary that the United States Air Force shipped me off to a foreign country solo for the first time in my life. As an 18½-year-old I flew from Washington Dulles Airport nonstop to London Heathrow Airport. It was an overnight flight from November 09TH into November 10TH of 1985. From there I took British Rail westward to Swindon in Wiltshire, and then from there I hired a cab to take me up to RAF Fairford in the Cotswolds of Gloucestershire – my home for the next 2 years. (It was my first permanent duty station.)

I remember “Road To Nowhere” from The Talking Heads playing on my cab driver’s radio, and I certainly felt like I was on a road to nowhere, but I was really on a road to somewhere – the official start of my lifelong career.

I’ve been a member of the United States Air Force for the past 37 years now – going back to when I first signed on the dotted line of the delayed enlistment program near the start of my senior year in high school. I was hesitant in joining the military way back then, but it all turned out just right, and it’s become my career. I’d do it all over again.

To my fellow Veterans – this is our day. From one Veteran to all of you – I thank you for serving your nation so that we may be free indeed.

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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Tampa Florida

#TravelThursday continues, and in this edition we visit Tampa Florida.

Tampa is the actual big city – approaching 400,000 residents. It’s the 3RD biggest city in Florida after Jacksonville and Miami. Tampa Bay is the body of water adjacent to Tampa. The Greater Tampa Bay area is the metro area surrounding Tampa and Tampa Bay. Over 3 million residents live in the area, and that number surges past 4 million when outlying areas are included.

The Greater Tampa Bay area is home to the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the repeating Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and the World Series Runner-Up (last year) Tampa Bay Rays. #TitleTown

I like Tampa a lot. It’s my favorite big city in Florida. I like the way it looks (the downtown skyline), and I like all of the activities that can be done in and around Tampa – at both land and sea.

Last #TravelThursday I revealed that I embarked on the Carnival Miracle for a fun 7-day cruise out of Port Tampa Bay exactly 15 years ago. It’ll likely be my future port-of-choice after I retire and move closer to the Tampa Bay area.

I once lived in Tampa – for about 7 months from August 1993 to March 1994 – when I worked at MacDill Air Force Base. That was after Hurricane Andrew destroyed my previous workplace at Homestead Air Force Base as well as much of the surrounding region. For a few months at the beginning of that time-frame it appeared that I’d be living and working in Tampa for years to come, but then political decisions were made to rebuild and reopen the airbase at Homestead, and in March 1994 I moved back. I’ve been here ever since. I like to say that I’ve been here in Homestead for almost 34 years – except for those 19 months right after Hurricane Andrew.

Had the airbase at Homestead not been rebuilt and reopened I wonder how long I would have stayed living and working in Tampa, and would I still be there today. What would I be doing ?

I actually haven’t visited Tampa too many times since I left 27½ years ago. I mostly visit nowadays to attend music concerts and sporting events at the downtown arena (now known as the Amalie Arena). Very near the arena is The Florida Aquarium – the 8TH largest aquarium in the U.S. You can spend all day there enjoying that impressive facility. I was last there in May 2019.

On March 21ST and 22ND of 2003 me and my little brother stumbled onto (OK maybe it was a little bit intentional) the Spring Break scene on Clearwater Beach where we had a hotel room overlooking the Gulf Of Mexico. That was a couple of days after the Iraq War began. College kids were blaring the Outkast song “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” up and down South Gulfview Boulevard. Those 2 fun nights on the beach were part of a 5-day / 4-night vacation in the Tampa Bay area.

Join me next #TravelThursday as we remain in Tampa, and then venture southward along the Tamiami Trail.

They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear. You will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. (Proverbs 3:23-26 NLT)

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries