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Career Holidays Military

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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Blogging Driving Food History Holidays Military Shopping Travel

Marsh Harbour

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. 15 years ago this week I was on Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands of the northwestern Bahamas – about 195 nautical miles from home. (Marsh Harbour is adjacent to southern Palm Beach County Florida.)

I was with my brother, his fiancé, our parents, and her parents and siblings. Most of us arrived on Wednesday May 09TH 2007, and we stayed until the following Wednesday May 16TH 2007. We stayed at the Bahama Beach Club resort. My brother and his fiancé got married there on Saturday May 12TH 2007, so today is in fact their 15TH wedding anniversary !

It was a fun wedding. It was a fun week. We explored Marsh Harbour and some of the surrounding Abaco islands. I have some 290 photos of that week on my computer – chronologically sorted from arrival to departure. My brother took all of the photos. (I had not yet become an amateur photographer.)

Over 100 photos cover a fun 5½-hour family trip via ferry to and from the neighboring island of Elbow Cay – where we visited the Elbow Reef Lighthouse and the small village of Hope Town.

View from atop the Elbow Reef Lighthouse

This vacation was just 8½ months into my salvation (3½ months as part of my first church family). As a baby Christian learning and understanding God’s Way I was very conflicted as to how I should act in certain circumstances – particularly where drinking alcohol was involved. I chose to abstain from it completely. It really made me look like the odd one out, but I think that’s what’s God’s plan for each of us who believe and follow Him. Don’t blend in with others. Be different. Be radical.

I was also a bit ill that entire week. I had near total blockage in my right ear. I could barely hear out of it, and it gave me headaches all throughout that week. I played it off, and I didn’t tell anyone about it. Soon after I returned back home I scheduled an appointment with an #ENT. At that appointment the doctor removed multiple chunks of ear wax from my right ear and flushed both of them. My hearing was restored 100% after that.

One last thing that put a damper on this trip is that my cat’s health was quickly deteriorating in the days leading-up to it. I took him to his regular animal hospital before I left to be examined and kenneled. As it turns out he passed on the day after I returned back home. (I’ll post on that next Tuesday May 17TH 2022 – the 15TH anniversary of his death.)

I really did enjoy our family trip to Marsh Harbour. I’d like to go back there again with family, and enjoy the scenery, and do fun things like we did 15 years ago.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit Melbourne Florida. You know – I used to live there. I’ll tell you all about it. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

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Blogging Driving Food History Holidays Military Shopping Travel

Mexico

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Happy Cinco de Mayo mi amigos ! On this day 160 years ago (during our U.S. Civil War) Mexico was victorious over the French empire at the Battle Of Puebla (during the early part of the Franco-Mexican War of 1861-1867). It’s a day that’s observed mostly in the southern Mexican state of Puebla. Here in the U.S. it’s become a very popular unofficial holiday celebrating all things Mexican.

Here in my hometown of the past 35 years we have a very large Mexican population – one of the highest concentrations in all of South Florida. As a result we have many Mexican restaurants here, and Miamians come 30 to 45 minutes south to Homestead to enjoy a delicious meal at any one of them. Personally I’m not a big fan of Mexican food. It’s OK. I’ll only eat at one when I’m in a group setting, and the group overrules my wishes to eat somewhere else.

I do enjoy visiting Mexico. I’ve been there 9 times over the past 15 years via cruises – mostly to Cozumel (more than any other port-of-call). I always get off the ship and do a shore excursion on Cozumel because as many times as I’ve been there – I usually see something new, or I get to visit a fun place again.

Check out my Cozumel album on my Flickr site.

Once in July 1995 during the weekend in the middle of a 2-week military classroom training event in San Antonio Texas at Lackland Air Force Base a group of us drove to the border in Laredo, and then we walked across the Gateway To The Americas International Bridge into Nuevo Laredo Mexico to eat and shop. It was fun and memorable – especially since I remember that day nearly 27 years later.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas exactly 15 years after my last visit there. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

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Blogging Driving History Military Travel

My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 7 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off at the end of Day 17 at my hotel destination in Crystal River Florida – about 6 hours from home. Had I not stopped for the night in Crystal River and I continued all the way home – I probably would’ve arrived by 12 Midnight. (Remember I started the previous day in Hattiesburg Mississippi, so that would’ve been an almost 850-mile drive for the day.)

I can’t drive 850 miles in a single day. I used to be able to. I once drove 1,095 miles in a single day from Northern Virginia to South Florida – only to be stopped just shy of the main gate of Homestead Air Force Base because the base was in a short lockdown at the time (almost 3 AM) due to the arrival of Manuel Noriega from Panama. #PerfectTiming

Nowadays 600 miles in a single day is my maximum, and 500 miles is closer to my comfort level. Driving to Texas I had a 519-mile day. Driving from Texas I had two back-to-back 523-mile days. I’m too old to drive much more than that in a single day.

So the drive home – I took Florida State Road 44 eastward to U.S. 27 in Leesburg (a northwestern suburb of Orlando). Leesburg is a city that I’d like to visit for a few days to explore. I’ve only driven through a small portion of it (many times). I think a lot of retired people live there (I know at least two), but as the Orlando Metropolitan Area continues to expand (especially northwestward) I fear that it will experience a population explosion in the next couple of decades and lose its small-town charm. Mount Dora is nearby (about 15 miles from Leesburg). I’ve heard a lot of good things about Mount Dora. Maybe I need to visit the area for more than a few days.

I took U.S. 27 southward for over 240 miles on that last Sunday morning of November through Clermont, Haines City, Lake Wales, Avon Park, Sebring, Lake Placid, Moore Haven, Clewiston, South Bay, and then into West Broward (County). I then picked-up Florida State Road 997 (Krome Avenue) just south of the Miami-Dade County line, and I took that straight into Homestead. I arrived home at exactly 1 PM on that 18TH day of my road-trip.

I drove 325 miles on that final day for a grand total of 2,822 miles from Thursday November 11TH through Sunday November 28TH. By comparison – in the previous 174 days combined I drove 2,823 miles.

Next #TravelThursday – I’m leaving the country.

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