Saturday, November 28, 2015

Trip to Waukegan, Illinois

Anyone who knows me for any great length beyond the superficial introductions knows that I have an older brother who is currently in Navy basic training, a brother that I am incredibly proud of.

He's at 5 of 8 weeks now, and my parents have been receiving letters from him bragging of the rigorous training.  He's improving and delving into the Navy way of life; he loves it. Truly loves it, so much so that he's been volunteering for extra duty, standing out among his peers. I could attempt to explain in military lingo all the things he's done and achieved and told us all about, but I'd probably fail. All in all though, he is a significant leader of his division now, which will prove to set him ahead in the ranks when he graduates in 2 weeks and moves on to A-school.

Since his basic training keeps him in Illinois over the Thanksgiving holiday, a few weeks back we received information to "adopt a sailor" for Thanksgiving day only, so we made plans to drive up and spend it with him.

We left 2 days before Thanksgiving, planning to do some sight-seeing in Nashville and Chicago.
The Parthenon in Nashville Tennessee
It was an incredibly long drive, but spread over 2 days it wasn't too bad. The day before Thanksgiving we went to the shore of Lake Michigan and on into the tremendous city of Chicago.
Lake Michigan

The Cloud Gate in Chicago
Then, finally, on Thanksgiving Day, we got to see Shelty all dressed up with his hair shaved down in military splendor. We arrived on base 45 minutes before we were supposed (driven mostly by my moms paranoia of being too late) and stood in the bone chilling wind, waiting. Slowly the divisions started marching past us, into the visitor auditorium. They were all slicked down in huge black rain coats and marched identically across the graying yard. I was determined to see Shelty march by, and after at least a dozen other groups of recruits went by, my eyes failed to register his pale face. He was at the back of his division, the tallest guy there, singing with pride. They stopped about 20 feet in front of the crowd of parents and families and that's when I saw him. I was about to burst into tears, I was smiling so much. It sounds way mushy, but honestly to see Shelty: reckless, crazy ole Shelty, all dressed out and serious was such a shock. He hurriedly looked back and searched the crowd, and gave a quick smile when he found mom.

So we got him for the day and we ate at some fancy restaurant that was serving a Thanksgiving day buffet and we drove straight into Chicago and saw the Cloud Gate and Lake Michigan again.
On the shore of Lake Michigan
Me and Shelty, and our reflection in the Cloud Gate
Then we drove him back the base, and gave him one last hug. He was impressively positive and excited. Even after 24 hours cooped up in a car just to spend a few hours with him, those few hours were worth every second of car sickness. In 2 weeks he'll graduate and move down to South Carolina, and I promise I'll stop writing about him every chance I get.