We said goodbye to the City by the Bay. It was a fun time, and we will probably come back. There’s no way we saw all the historical sites we wanted to see.
Before we left though, we had a visit to make. Our hotel was just south of the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, and my mother had given me the name of my great-grandfather, a Corporal in World War I, who was buried there. Walter E. Montague, who died in 1957, long before I was born, was buried in the northeastern corner of the cemetery. Robyn and I, plus the kids, hiked the many many rows of white marble gravestones to find Walter’s final resting place. We finally found it and were humbly moved by the simple white stone and the markings, denoting his name and rank and where he served in what was known as “The Great War.” I had never met him, but I found myself in tears looking at his stone, seeing my children stand around it, and realizing just how amazing life is. We paid our respects to the man and his service and walked quietly back to the van.
From there, it was another trip across the Bay Bridge, because our other choices were much much longer, and Robyn wasn’t enjoying the bridges anyway. Our destination: The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda. My dad’s ship when he was in the Navy, the Hornet is a famous aircraft carrier for many reasons. CV-12 was commissioned during WW2 to replace an older version of the Hornet, which was the original ship that Jimmy Dolittle launched his famous airstrike on Tokyo from in 1942. In fact, the dock where the ship now resides is named in honor of Dolittle. The ship itself is famous for its many battles (The Battle of Midway, for example) and also for being the ship that picked the Apollo 11 astronauts out of the sea after the moon landing in July 1969.
I had never seen my dad’s ship up close and was blown away by the size and majesty of the air craft carrier. It was truly impressive. The kids were excited to go on board, too, but after Robyn and I watched Autumn nearly dive head first into Alameda Harbor because she was daringly walking too close to the edge and pulling too hard away from us as we yanked her back, we realized an on-board visit would have to wait until she was older. And with August in the front pack, it was going to get to be a long journey through the ship. We took a few more photos and told the kids we’d come back when Autumn was less daring. If that day ever happens.
We then drove around looking for a new National Park in honor of “Rosie the Riveter” and the American Homefront during WW2. Unfortunately, without telling anyone, they closed the visitor’s center as they prepared to open the next phase of the park and the park’s headquarters were now in a very unsavory part of town. We got lost several times and finally decided to pay homage to Rosie and the rest of the US Homefront at a later date. One less National Park along the way, a lot of wear and tear on the GPS, and finally ending with Autumn having to go to the bathroom so badly that we all fell into a state of panic until a restroom was finally found in Emeryville, home to Pixar. Which we should have visited on this day instead of doing the trip twice. Oh well.
The next stop was our hotel in Oakdale, California, and we headed out of San Francisco inland. We saw a lot of broken down wind turbines that were supposedly generating green energy but really just looked broken down and not maintained and pretty much spoiled the views along the hills. But that, of course, is not the point. The next day was going to be Yosemite National Park, and we decided to get a good night’s rest so we could get into the park nice and early. We swam in the pool, ate dinner, and enjoyed the 90 degree weather.
Autumn decided to be a little too brave here and jumped farther from the stairs than she should have. I jumped from my chair and into the pool, lifting her out by one arm after seeing her blonde head sink under the water. I was panicked and frightened, but after she coughed up the water she had swallowed and calmed down, I knew she was fine.
She said, “Daddy, your pants are wet and your phone is on the ground.”
I said, “That’s because I jumped in to save you.”
“You did that for me? Why?”
“Because you’re my child and I love you. I would do anything to save you.”
After a moment, she said, “I love you, Daddy. Can I get back in the pool now?” Holy cow. A father who was watching his son swim and was clearly of military background, said, “Your little one’s a real soldier.” Yep. And that’s what I’m afraid of. But she was fine and I was okay, even though I was a bit shaken up.
The night was peaceful and quiet, and I knew the alarm would be going off early. John Muir and Yosemite valley were calling.