Marine Corps Seal

Marine Corps Seal

This past Friday we attended grandson Josh’s Basic Marine Graduation Ceremony which was held at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.  Although we missed Thursday’s Family Day, we arrived early enough on Friday to observe the 8 a.m. Color Ceremony that featured the Marine Corp Band and remarks by Brigadier General D. D. Yoo, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot.  Our early arrival allowed us to find good seats in the bleachers facing the Parade Deck where the main event started at 10 a.m.   Six platoons of the India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion participated in this graduation ceremony.  Josh was a squadron leader in Platoon 3206 where he was promoted to Private First Class based on his high degree of proficiency and exceptional leadership.  His intense 12 weeks of training transformed him from a civilian to a Marine.  We were proud to be a part of the dozen or so of his supporters.  After the ceremony we toured the Command Museum which documents the contributions of U. S. Marines throughout U. S. history.  As a librarian, I would have liked to see more documentation in the display signage.  After three months of intense training, Josh craved a visit to McDonald’s.  After a driving tour of downtown San Diego, we finally found a McDonald’s.  It was moving to observe customers, including some who looked to be homeless, thanking Josh, still dressed in uniform, for his service to the country.

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Maritime Museum of San Diego

We stayed in the Residence Inn by Mariott on the Pacific Highway, just a block from San Diego Bay, which serves a great hot breakfast. Thursday night we walked a few blocks to Little Italy and selected Mona Lisa’s for dinner; it features several veal dishes, including veal scallopini.  Friday night we dined at Anthony’s Fish Grotto with a panoramic view of the harbor. On Saturday we visited the Maritime Museum of San Diego.  The USS Dolphin, a research submarine that launched in 1968, holds the depth record for operating submarines.  It was hard to believe that the B-39 Soviet Attack Submarine, a diesel-electric powered submarine, was commissioned in 1974 because it seemed even older.  Where did they keep 22 torpedoes? and how did they move about through the four portholes dividing the ship?  The HMS Surprise is a replica of a Royal Navy frigate that was used for the film “Master and Commander.”  The Medea, a 1904 steam yacht, exemplified the sailing by the elite with its polished teak and fancy furnishings.  The Berkeley, built in 1898 to carry passengers across San Francisco Bay, is now filled with interesting displays on San Diego’s Navy and commercial fishing industry.  Finally, the Star of India, originally launched in 1863, is the oldest merchant ship still regularly sailing.  The Museum is currently displaying a special exhibit, “Cook, Melville, Gauguin: Three Voyages to Paradise.”  Original paintings by William Hodges and John Weber, the official expedition artists for the 2nd and 3rd Voyages of Discovery commanded by James Cook, were quite interesting.  Herman Melville, of course, is famous for his novel Moby Dick.  The Gauguin collection includes representative watercolors, woodblock prints, engravings, and sculpture.  From there we walked toward the Gaslamp Quarter and then back to the harbor and Seaport Village where we enjoyed fish and chips for lunch at San Diego Pier Cafe. When it was raining earlier in the day we drove to the House of Scuba where I selected a dry snorkel and mask for an upcoming trip.

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

On Sunday we attended the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Old Town.  Father Junipero Serra celebrated his first holy mass in California on July 2, 1769, near the site of the present church.  The cornerstone to the present church was laid in 1868.  When we participated in the Marine bootcamp graduation ceremony we learned that Marines arrived in San Diego during the Mexican-American War (1846-48) .  They seized the town and raised the American flag for the first time in California near what is now known as Old Town Plaza.  Old Town combines historic sites that are now part of the California State Park system along with specialty shops and restaurants. The Estudillo House, La Casa de Estudillo, was a social and political center of San Diego during California’s Mexican period from 1821-46.  Capitan Jose Maria Estudillo, a retired San Diego Presidio commandante (fort commander) in 1827.  Seeley Stables exhibits restored vehicles, including a green striped Studebaker wagon.  We chose Fiesta de Reyes for an outdoor lunch and were not disappointed.  Succulent vegetation, fountains, and sculpture create an open, pleasant area.  A stage featured brightly costumed dancers.  One of the shops on our return walk to our car featured an amazing array of wind chimes, one with deep set of tones should add to the deck experience in Prescott.  We have more of Old Town to explore on a future visit, including Presidio Park.  Our San Diego visit concluded with a first class upgrade on our return to Phoenix.  Another great long weekend in San Diego.

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