The photo below tells a sweet story that needs no words. But it was the photo moments before that I missed. In the background you see a bearded gentleman who seemingly is just sitting casually as so many were that day. Just moments before, the young sailor was was sitting along side the young lady in an embrace that had his head against her back. I nearly sneaked a photo of two people, obviously a young couple, taking in a few precious private moments. Just as I homed in the bearded gentleman approached and sat down with them. The couple quickly changed their positions to face each other. For a few moments they weren't touching at all. Then it was as though the magnet of affection drew their hands together and I stole this shot. I happened to see them again in other places, hands tightly entwined.
These two people seemed to be enjoying a pleasant conversation while the ocean breeze blew over them. The lack of uniforms indicates that they were guests of the Navy on a behemoth-turned-cruise-ship-for-a-day.
Along the perimeter of the ship are a variety of observation decks, many quite small. The folks below found one that was out of the way and provided a great view of the trip back into port. We exchanged some friendly conversation with them and, as we turned to leave, I snapped this shot. The young lady looked at me and grinned, "I knew you were going to do that!" Yep, it's what I do. They were fine with that. One would guess that she was spending some precious time with her Navy beau, but who knows?
The day started before sunrise for many who came aboard so by the time we returned to port we had been on the ship for well over 13 hours. Scattered about the flight deck were folks taking in the sun and cool breeze.... and maybe a few zzzzs.
This is actually photo 3 of 3 of this family taking a rest on one of the service carts. The first showed the man laying back as though napping and the woman sitting and watching what everyone else was watching --- whatever that might be. The second photo showed the woman had succumbed to the laziness of late afternoon and was laying back. Then this photo with their child snuggled on her mother for a rest.
I love these photos of the sailors with their girlfriends/wives taking in as much time together as possible. While many sailors mustered on deck as they were granted leave time, others, as possibly with this sailor, would be returning to their work stations after their loved ones left the ship. My heart went out to couples like these.
This mother and her son were next to us on the bleachers. It appeared as though his leave was ending (he's in civvies). My son enlisted nearly 12 years ago, but I remember these types of moments early in his career, especially when he was off to Japan. A mother's embrace is unmistakable, no matter how old the son. Except that my son would be mortified if I held him like this now! (No worries, I get my share of hugs! He really takes good care of his dear ol' Ma'!)
It is fitting that a ship named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower would be nicknamed "Ike". So all the more fitting that the passageway at the base of the island would display the 1950's era campaign pin design -- proudly, I might add.
The evening light casts a very different glow on the ship as people were methodically debarking. Those brows, or staircases, coming off the elevator platforms could hold only a limited number of people, so the process took some time. The steady stream of departure actually made the traffic out of the parking lot far more controlled. I can think of sporting venues that could learn from this --- though I think it would bring on near riot attitudes.
My last photo of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. I love this shot with the sun setting at her stern. I was exhausted, exhilarated yet very reluctant to leave. I wanted to sit there until she was shrouded in darkness and fog again as we had found her that morning. But I know that when she is underway again, with my son and thousands of mothers' sons and daughters on board, they will be safe and sound in service to this great country.
GO NAVY! GOD BLESS AMERICA!