Sunday, June 3, 2012
On My Way
I swore the oath and the recruiter handed me a set of mimeographed orders. I had 24 hours to report to the processing center at Fort Ord. The other recruits were loaded into a van [as I had been the first time] to go to the main processing center in downtown Los Angeles.
My car was gassed up, everything I owned in the trunk, and I’d said all my goodbyes. I turned the ignition and the big Police Interceptor V8 roared to life. Off I went west on Olympic Boulevard headed for The Pacific Coast Highway and U.S. Route 101 - there were freeways but no Interstates like today. Eisenhower had started the nation-wide project to equal the Autobahns of Germany, but they were still a long way from where they were planned to be.
PCH was quite familiar to me. It was the way to reach some truly beautiful beaches where all you had to do was find a parking spot off the highway and walk down steep paths to reach sometimes isolated beaches. A great place to take dates.
I have always loved the California coastline. It has some truly beautiful vistas and an hour or two in a tide pool will make you appreciate just how diverse life on this planet can be. Once past Malibu, the CHIPS didn’t hassle you and the needle soon reached the 85mph mark. I, of course, had to slow down for Ventura and Santa Barbara but picked up speed to Pismo Beach.
As I did not yet an ID card, I couldn’t stop for lunch at Vandenberg AFB, so I stopped at Santa Maria, finding a nice little roadside diner. A good old burger and fries with a strawberry malt and I was back on the road.
I’d never driven that far north so I’d bought a Rand/McNally Atlas so knew where I was going. The main highway with the faux mission bells went one way and I took California state highway one to Cayucos and Cambria. I wish I’d had time to visit Hearst Castle but made it a point to do so the first chance I got.
I’m sure you’ve seen these pictures but they really can’t show you the awesome views with the tangy smell of the ocean.
A brief stop at Big Sur and I was on my way. It was growing late when I reached Carmel and made it over the hill to Monterey. I knew the processing point was open 24 hours so, after a light snack at a diner in town, I headed up the highway to the main gate. My driver’s license and my orders got me onto the post and the military policeman gave me a map [which I didn’t need] to the processing center.
There I was once again. Only this time with a difference - I was no longer a raw recruit but a Previous Service type with the rave of Private. I reported in and was led to a barracks where I was issued a mattress, pillow, sheets and a blanket. I was told to be in the morning formation so I could start in processing and be issued my military uniforms and equipment.
The ‘Cruits stared at me as I’d already been there and knew what to expect. I was too tired to chat it up so I stripped to my skivvies and hit the sack.
Tomorrow I’d be a soldier again.