June 15, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Happy Father's Day

I couldn't wait till June to devote one of my daily columns to my father (see my April 23 entry), but now that it is actually Father's Day, I should say a word or two about this great man.

We've shared some wonderful memories. When I returned from the Gulf War onboard the USS Ranger, he met me in Pearl Harbor and steamed home from Hawaii to San Diego onboard the aircraft carrier with me and my shipmates. Watching fighter jets take off from the flight deck, braving the mystery meat on the messdecks and rising at "Reveille" every morning, he got a firsthand look at what it was like to be a sailor in the United States Navy. It was a thrilling experience for him, and a proud one for me.

We later spent more time together at sea when I crewed with him during a trip from Morro Bay to Ventura Harbor to relocate his 34-foot sailboat "Peggy Ann." What should have been a pleasant sail down the California coast turned into a harrowing, white-knuckled adventure. Not two hours out of Morro Bay, an impenetrable fogbank descended upon us, and did not lessen for the rest of the journey. If not for our GPS locator and a good chart, we would have ended up either on the rocks or halfway to Hawaii. As it was, we took turns at the wheel every hour, spending the other hour getting whatever fitful sleep we could. Despite a close call with an oil rig in the middle of the night, we made it safely into Ventura Harbor at last, exhausted but relieved.

Still more recently, our family spent a week on a houseboat at Lake Powell. We rented a small ski boat at the same time, so when we left the dock to venture out upon the lake, my dad captained the houseboat while I followed behind in the ski boat. We hadn't been out on the water long when a summer thunderstorm suddenly pounced upon us. The formerly tranquil surface of the lake turned as choppy as the ocean in a sea squall. Being at the wheel of the more mobile of the two watercraft, it fell to me to find "any port in a storm." Having learned most of my piloting skills from my father, it filled me with a sense of pride to work with him to bring the two boats to safety.

I find it interesting that some of my fondest memories of time shared with my father involve being on the water. If there is one intangible aspect of my personality that I feel I inherited directly from my father, it is a fondness for the ocean. Like him, I love being on or under the water. It doesn't matter whether I'm on the deck of a yacht with a cocktail in hand or on the deck of a warship with a paint brush in hand (well, perhaps I'm laying it on a bit too thick now). Salt water must run through our veins.

My father has certainly taught me a thing or two in my life, but I've gotten a lot more from him by osmosis. Just spending time around him, I've picked up some of his hobbies, some of his ways of thinking, even some of his mannerisms. But when I catch myself telling a story in that same hesitant, Captain Kirk-like pattern of speech, I don't groan and say, "I'm becoming my father!" Instead, I smile to myself, because there's no one else I'd rather resemble.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

NEW: 'Froadin'!

I finally got around to posting a video clip from my off-roading excursion to Joshua Tree National Park. Broadband users (it's nearly 15 MB), check it out here.

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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June Columns:

6/30: Halfway There
6/27: 28 Days Later
6/26: I Am a Racist
6/24: America the Obese
6/23: Reality TV Sells
6/20: June Gloom
6/18: Hatch's Hollywood Hacking
6/16: Qualcomm Stadium
6/15: Happy Father's Day
6/14: Flag Day
6/13: Friday the 13th
6/12: Extreme
6/9: Spammed
6/8: Lack of PLANning
6/7: When Grass Attacks
6/4: Culture Shock
6/1: The Baja 500
Previous months in The Archive

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