So I got back to work after being on leave for spring break just in time to find out I was tasked with going on a work-related trip to Groton.
That was quite the trip down memory lane.
I was stationed in Groton for SOBC (Submarine Officer Basic Course) and my first sea tour from 1995-1999, and I went back briefly for 6 months of SOAC (Submarine Officer Advanced Course) in 2001 and SCC (Submarine Command Course) in 2006.
As I drove down I-95 this week, my mind was a swirl of memories from the MANY times I drove that stretch of road back when I was living in Mystic and dating LW from Boston. As I passed the Allyn Street exit in Mystic, I thought, "There's my exit," and the Barenaked Ladies started singing "this is where we used to live" in my head.
In no particular logical order, here are some random observations from my quick trip to Groton...
- RI State Troopers still use the SAME spot they have always used to set up speed traps under the overpass just south of Exit 5.
- The radio ads for Bob's Discount Furniture are just as annoying as when I left Groton 10 years ago. As soon as I hear Bob's voice, I have a conditioned response to immediately turn the radio off or change the channel.
- I saw a REAL submarine on the waterfront. It was kind of weird to see after 6 months of working in the Pentagon.
- I didn't bother taking my laptop with me because I had to stay in the Susse Chalet, and they didn't use to have internet access. NOW they have a cable modem in every room! Wahoo! BZ to the Chalet for that!
- Gas pumps without the locking mechanism on the handle annoy me. I thought I was going to leave the gas pumping while I cleaned out the trash from my rental car and got my things sorted out between my carry on bag and my checked bag. But alas, no locks on the pump handle, so I had to stand there holding it the whole time.
- On the flight up to Providence, I sat next to a project manager type of guy from Raytheon. I'm always interested to hear what guys think of their company and if they enjoy working there as a mental note for future post-navy employment. He seemed very happy with working for Raytheon and said it was a great place to work.
- This is the first time I have traveled on orders since all the airlines started imposing fees for checking baggage. I just paid the fee and assumed I would get reimbursed for it on my travel claim. It wasn't until after I had already paid the fee when I was checking in to LEAVE Providence that someone behind the counter told me that if I was military on orders I didn't have to pay. NOW they tell me. They make you check in at these touch-screen kiosks, and nowhere on there does it offer you an option for "military traveling on orders." It just asks you how many bags you are checking, so I clicked "1." Then it asked for my credit card to pay the checked bag fee, so I put the credit card in.
- I was very excited to go to my old lunchtime favorite The Village Bake House on Rt. 12 in Groton before I left for the airport. I had a hard time deciding what to get. When we lived there before, it was easy - I could just have something different several days per week. When you only have ONE day to eat there though... decisions decisions.
- I couldn't find the Providence airport in my GPS. It was because I searched for "Providence Airport." When I panned the geo display over and zoomed in on the airport, I did a palm-to-forehead slap as I remembered the airport is actually called T. F. Green Airport. Duh.
- The Providence airport is small - the kind where the arrival and departure boards are still made of wood slats instead of fancy hi-tech flat screens. The good news is the lines are short and it's a quick walk to gate. Plus, in spite of its small size, it's a nice airport with a multitude of shops and eateries. That's a good thing when your flight is delayed by an hour.
- Blackberry lost 3 potential customers. I was standing at the United Airlines ticket counter and the three employees behind the counter saw me messing with my BlackBerry Storm. It quickly got their attention and they asked me how I liked it because they were all considering getting a Storm. I told them it was okay, but I can't type very fast, and it's unreliable - locks up and have to take the battery out to reboot it. No sooner did I say that then it locked up and wouldn't respond to anything I did to any of the buttons, so I got to demonstrate the battery cover removal, taking the battery out, putting it back in, and waiting for 5 minutes while it booted up again. I think all three of them were convinced the Storm is NOT the way to go.