Yesterday was the ship’s “holiday party.” I put that in quotes because the holiday is seems to be closest to is… well, maybe New Years, but then again, we’re getting awfully close to Valentine’s Day, and to Chinese New Year, as well as Groundhog Day and Presidents’ Day… but I think since tomorrow is MLK Day, I’m going to go with that. They picked a holiday weekend.
I have to say, this was the most low-key holiday party I’ve yet attended courtesy of a Navy command. Though I am told it varies from place to place, the holiday parties we went to in Virginia were something along the lines of a bad wedding reception, assuming you didn’t know any of the other guests. Imagine, if you will: a ball room in a hotel downtown, decorated with greenery and such. Everyone dresses up because it’s an evening thing, and a couple of times we even got our portraits taken by a professional photographer. I say portraits because we sat down in front of a white drop cloth, and not in front of a Christmas tree, or something that might put it in context. Anyway, the next step was to go into the ball room itself. The room, as with any large wedding reception, is filled with round tables that seat 10 to 12 people, though you might not know anyone else there, so you have to navigate the mostly-full tables to find a mostly-empty table where you won’t be caught in the middle of, say, the divers, who are the Navy’s equivalent of frat boys. No joke. After finding a reasonably deserted table, you head to the buffet, where the food is again wedding reception standard: mashed potatoes, either asparagus or green beans, chicken and some type of beef product, with dinner rolls. Maybe there’d be salad. Maybe. So you eat, and then maybe dance (of course there is a DJ and a dance floor, I told you it was a standard big wedding reception!) and then get dessert. We usually stick around for the raffle, though we have yet to win anything at one of these, and then head home around eleven.
I would like to say that last year, we didn’t even go to the one in Virginia. At $25 a person, or whatever the cost was, it just wasn’t worth it.
This brings me to yesterday. The Port Royal’s holiday party was the complete opposite of anything described above. It was at the beach at Bellows Air Force Base, it was family friendly (including those bouncing castle things, a balloon artist and toy giveaways), and it was free. It’s hard to beat that. There were, however, two things that seem to be constant– bad food, and trying to find a reasonable table. I won’t talk about the food, but I do think it’s interesting that at both the previous command and this one, there is no sense of unity. The people who are in shops together kind of sit together, but it was just… quiet. I know morale is low, but it seemed quiet even considering that. What didn’t help is that we’re still fairly new and don’t know many people on the ship.
We spent a little time down at the beach, though the water was cool so we didn’t get too close, and headed home about mid-afternoon. We took the long route, down toward Diamond Head (the party was on the windward side) and stopped to sea the turtles at the Blow Hole and then at the overlook where you can see whales… and we saw three or four, still a good distance out, but very active. One was huge– you could tell from the size of his spout when he came up for breath. Very cool. I’m excited about them being here. ^_^
About twenty minutes from home, we stopped at a kayak launch park and watched the sun set. It was a nice way to end the day. Photos from yesterday are in the photo blog, if you want to see what we saw. ^_^