Katie and I slept on the USS Hornet!

Holy cow, talk about bringing history to life! It was a fantastic experience – from walking up the gang plank to choosing our bunk to eating in the mess. What a ship.

We arrived in Alameda on Saturday at 4pm. It was a little “Navy” from the start and I explained to Katie that a big part of how things work is the “hurry and wait” routine. We queued outside the ship while we rustled up all the Girl Scout troops that had come to the event. The ship loomed over us but seemed very welcoming – despite its reputation has a haunted ship.

We were assigned to a terrific team of rag-tag Scouts (Katie is a Juliette which is like a home school scout and so we are often freelance at these things). Our leader was funny and easy-going and eventually got us to our sleeping quarters to choose our bunks. We learned the rules quickly (no eating except in the mess, clean-up after yourself at all times, and never, ever run.

After a fire drill, we headed down to dinner. I think I know why they call it a “mess.” There’s a reason sailors are skinny – they work hard and eat really bad food. I can’t remember the last time I ate canned veggies. After dinner, we had free run of the place. Katie and I started exploring. We share rampant curiosity and as a result, we ended up exploring areas of the ship all by ourselves. It was incredible.

We were in the officers’ quarters and the Marine head. We found the room where the fly-boys got their orders and the post office. On the wall was a special picture of Snoopy on the USS Hornet – Charles had a soft spot for the ship! We eventually ended up in the torpedo room which is, ironically, really close to the sick bay.

We decided one of the best parts of the whole event was spending about a half hour on the bridge, alone with three wizened vets who told us stories of their time on board (in the 60s) and in Vietnam. Mostly they had stories about their hijinks, bad food and their buddies. The guys also told us to make sure and ask for a private tour of the captain’s quarters and the admiral’s quarters. We did the next morning and it was totally worth it!

I highly recommend making time to see this fascinating vessel. It’s very accessible and I had no idea the Hornet brought in the astronauts from Apollo 11 and 13. We left with profound respect for the men and women who serve and a better understanding of the sacrifices they have made for us (thank you Uncle Don, Bruce and Herb!).

[You can see all the photos here.]

Home School POV
Prior to the event, Katie and I spent some time researching World War II. Then, to help her understand how we got involved and the role of an aircraft carrier, we watched Carrier (an excellent, almost soap-opera like documentary) and Pearl Harbor. We also plan to watch Tora, Tora, Tora because the guys insisted it was one of the best, more realistic movies about Pearl Harbor they had seen.