Friday, April 14, 2017

Long Beach

   We arrived in Long Beach on Halloween 1064. The moment I stepped off of the ship I though I like this place. I want to stay here. We had bought a new 1964 Turbocharged Corvair Monza Spyder Convertible in Seattle. It was a fantastic car. To this day, I still love that car. In December, I went out and bought a Christmas tree. I hauled it to the car and thought, oh shit, the trunk is in the front of the car. I then thought here I am in California in the middle of December and it's 72 degrees outside. So I dropped the top and stuck the tree in the back seat. I love California.
   One of the first things we did after arriving in Long Beach was to take on a load of 39 missiles which took most of the day. When loaded, some sandcrab handed me an IBM punch card and told me to sign here. On the card was the description Missile Unit of issue Each quantity of 39 and on the upper right hand corner it said 5.7M. Nothing else. Now by now I was familiar with these cards but normally it would show the cost $3.95, or whatever. I asked the sand crab what the hell the M stood for and he said "Million". Now this was 1964 and that was a hell of a lot of money and I was only 21 years old at the time but what the hell, I just made the largest purchase of my  life. Now that we had some toys to play with, we went playing. I was the only guy in the Missile Division that had mad a missile shot so they wanted me upstairs in the missile control radar room to man the console. Everything went along just fine until the end of the shot. The warheads on the missiles were the continuous rod type. The most effective "hit" is actually a four of five foot pass by.  This gives the rod bundle a bit of time to start forming its buzz saw shape. The missile passed by the target but the drone came to a full stop from 375 knots to zero all at once and just hoovered there. I grabbed a pair of binoculars and went out on what we called "the patio" a small weather  deck just outside the radar room. The director was not moving at all and still tracking the target. I sighted up to where the director was pointing and said oh. The Missile Officer was standing next to me and asked what I meant by oh. I passed him the binocs and he looked up and said oh. A chief was standing next to him and grabbed the binocs looked up and said oh and so it went down the line. The jet propelled drones that they use as  targets aren't cheap so they pop a parachute for recovery. The bird apparently made skin to skin contact with the deone and knocked the chute loose and with no weight on it, it just floated around way up in the air.
   After that we spent time off of San Clemente Island learning the intricacies of the 5"/54 naval gun and it's associated fire control system.
   We spent quite a bit of time operating out of San Diego learning  
   


Becoming a Tincan Sailor

   When I first saw my new ship she was laying alongside a pier at Todd Shipyard.
   Her hull was haze gray, aluminum and the superstructure was green zinc chromate. There were no barrels in the 5" guns and the was a thousand electrical cables and hoses laying everywhere. She looked a mess much like a woman two hours before going out for the evening. I was part of the precom, precommissioning, crew. The precom guys job was to learn every square inch of the ship from the bilges to the missile radar room. It was very interesting being most sailors rarely get beyond the spaces where they work, eat and sleep. I arrived in Seattle in February of  1964 and until I got out in 1968, every time that ship moved,  I was aboard her. We went out on several yard trials with the yard birds, shipyard personell, manning the engines and steering etc. This was a bit unnerving for the few sailors actually aboard as we all felt that only real Navy people could man a war ship. The future captain was particularly nervous as was his nature. He was only a speedbump up on the bridge. I suppose that he could  see his beautiful new ship meeting every maritime disaster known in the Western World. But, in fact, the yardbirds did a reasonably good job and we made it back in one piece every time. The USS Stoddard DDG-22  was  being built next door at the Puget Sound Bridge and Drydock Corp. DDG-22 was not only behind DDG-24. But had to be towed in most every  time she went on her yard trials much to our collective amusement.  The last trial was the most fun. We blasted through the Strait of Juan De Fuca at full flank speed for several hours. The actual speed was classified information and maybe still is, but it was way faster than I though was possible for a  4,500 ton ship. I was told by a yardbird that they had a monitor on the shafts for the RPM. It supposedly could tell at what point the screw would twist itself off of the shaft. Then a throttle stop was brazed on as the wartime emergency stop. Then they would back off a few turns and attach a plastic stop that could be torn off in an emergency. 
   In August, the ship was towed, cold iron, to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard. There were only five, or so, people on board for this evolution. This is before the Navy had crowes on the blue work jackets. I was all by my lonesome up on the forward line and we had no power for the winch. I was sweating like hell and some brand new Ensign was screaming at me to heave around or some such bullshit. I, at that time, was the youngest E-6 in the Navy and a young looking 21 year old at that. As I ripped off my jacket and flung it to the deck I and turned to him and hollered back that "You could give me a fucking hand". He was about to practice ass chewing but then noticed all of my stripes and sheepishly said "What can I do to help?" We finally got the mother tied up and I lit up a smoke and he bummed one off of me. We stayed chummy after that.
    On 28 August we commissioned the old girl and she became officially United States Ship Waddell DDG-24. DD for destroyer and the G denotes guided missile armed. Eighty per cent of the crew was straight out of NTC, boot camp and had never seen a real ship. Now that I was an "old salt" we screwed with the boots a lot which is part of naval tradition. I was assigned to helm/leehelm train the helmsmen how to steer a ship. I had steered a ship, a small ship but a warship, on Lake Erie when I  was in the reserves. Me and this other first class a GMG, Gunners Mate Guns as opposed to a GMM Gunners Mate Missile would come up to the bridge eating porkchops and the boots would end up barfing into a shitcan, a trash can. It was good clean fun but like most really good things, it didn't last long enough. The boys turned into men way too fast. 

Next Long Beach California.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS

In November of 63, I finally went aboard a Navy warship. An aircraft carrier USS Constellation CVA-64. It was docked at North Island in Coronado CA across the bay from San Diego.
  By now, I was a Missile Technician second class with a hashmark on my uniform, for every four years in the US Canoe Club you added a hashmark. I don't know the official name for them, probably service stripes, but everyone called them hashmarks. When I came on board, everyone assumed I had considerable sea time, which I didn't. No one asked me what my prior duty stations were and I never volunteered. A school, C school, shore duty and B school weren't real duty stations. I kept my big mouth closed and listened a lot and soon could talk a pretty good game as a real sailor. The adventure was finally beginning.
    I was very glad that I was now actually a crewmember of a ship but I didn't like life aboard a birdfarm. There are several navys. There is the submarine Navy, the battleship/cruiser navy, the gator Navy who transport the Marine jarheads to the beach head, the CBs, the aviation Navy and then the real navy, destroyers.   
    There are actually two vastly different Navys on a carrier, or bird farm. There are the black shoe guys who run the engines and make the electricity the engineers, or snipes. The bosun's mates, gunner's mates, signalmen, radarmen and Missile Technicians and all the others who make the ship run, supply the food and supplies are also black shoes.
    Then there are the aviation personell for which the birdfarm exists. In all fairness, it is their ship. Why the name brownshoe for aviation you may ask? I'm glad that you did. Pilots and other aviation officers wear green uniforms with brown shoes, hence the name. The captain of an aircraft carrier, by law, is a Naval Aviator. If you are an aviator you can't get promoted to Admiral if you hadn't had command of a birdfarm and you can't have command of a birdfarm unless you had command of a deep draft vessel. 
    Deep draft vessels are mostly supply ships that carry food and other stores, oilers that carry the fuel that the ships and aircraft need to have and ammunition ships that keep us supplied with munitions and bombs. Any time we went along side of a supply it was a good bet that the skipper of the auxiliary was a naval aviator. Naval Aviators are brave, smart men but quite frankly, they don't know shit about commanding a ship. Especially an aircraft carrier.
   On the destroyer one day over in WestPac we were coming along side an ammo ship. Mount 52, our after five inch gun was pointing up at an odd angle with a fire hose  stock in the muzzle splaying water all over the place. The skippers usually chat to one another via bullhorns and the brown shoe ammo ship captain asked what was up with the after gun mount. Our skipper hollered back "hot gun". The brown shoe usually has a black shoe commander right at his elbow. We could see him ask the black shoe what the hell a hot gun was. The other officer explained that a hot gun is when a projectile gets stuck in the barrel due to overheating. The gun gets a hose stuck down in it's barrel  to cool it down. When cooled down, a gunners mate sticks a long brass rod down the barrel and drives the projectile back down and out through the breach. A task I would be reluctant to do. The ammo ship did an emergency breakaway and got as much water between us as fast as he could.
   But I digress.
   Life on the carrier is like being on a cruise ship. You can eat twenty one hours a day. There is a one hour break between meals and they are back in business. There was closed circuit TV and you could go up on the oh eleven deck, IE 11 stories up and watch flight ops. It is an amazing sight to see but pretty soon you realize that you don't want to know what is going on "on the roof". Also like a cruise ship, it gets crowded. With an airgroup aboard, there is over 6500 sailors aboard. I was volunteered to be the Messdeck Master at Arms. Essentially the cop who keeps the peace and enforces good behavior and manners on the messdeck. Twelve hours on and twelve hours off. It was long hours but being I was bunked with the commissarymen, the real cooks, I and we ate real well.    
I spent about six months on the bird farm with a MidPac cruise to Hawaii. Did a few missile shots when one day I was summoned to the ships personell office. I had to have one of my strikers guide me to the office being the ship was so large. We passed a big compartment which looked like a Walmart. I asked the kid who was an older hand on the ship and he replied that it was the ships store. I said what the hell was that place back by where we slept sold cigarettes and lighters and watches and he replied that it was like a  quickey mart. This huge place was the ship's store. I was told at the personell office that I was going to new construction in Seattle and I was needed in three days.
   I packed my seabag and left the ship, went to where my wife was working and gave her the news. I didn't know how long I'd be there or where the ship was going to be home ported so we had our furniture and other belongings stored in San Diego the lucky wife went to her parents in Cleveland and I was Seattle bound.  





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NAD CRANE, INDIANA AND MT B SCHOOL

After seven months of Guidedmissileman A School and three months of Terrier BT-3 C School, I was finally ready to get to my first duty station. As you complete a Navy school, you are given a "dream sheet". Most every sailor knows what a dream sheet is and why they are called such. You put on the dream sheet  three choices of assignment. They are called dream sheets because only in a dream will you actually get your pick. There's the doctrine of "The need of the service comes first". Out of our class of six, two guys got orders to NAND Seal Beach. Arguably the finest shore billet in the whole Navy. North Orange County and not too far from LA. Two others got new construction on the East Coast. George and me got NAD Crane Indiana. None of us ever heard of  Crane and thought that maybe this was some lame brain's idea of a joke. It wasn't a joke and George and I weren't laughing. 
Tom one of the East coast new construction guys was driving his brand new Corvair back to Maine so I bummed a ride with him so we could share expenses. This was in May of 1961 and the Interstate Highway System construction was just getting under way. We drove east on route 66 most of the way. Four years later when I drove the same route it was worlds different. The road was bigger , flatter, smoother and a lot less interesting. 
The Mojave Desert wasn't at all like the deserts that I saw in the movies. Phoenix was still a sleepy little cattle town. The was The Whiting Brothers' chain of gas stations on 66 placed strategically apart. Every time the gas gauge dropped to 1/4 of a tank, a Whiting Brothers loomed ahead. We gassed up at Whiting Brothers  until they ran out around Chicago. Damned near ran out of gas because we were so acclimated to stopping at the trusty Whiting stations along the way. 
While in Cleveland, I bought my first car. I must regress a moment and state what my definition of Cleveland is. Cleveland is anywhere between Harrisburg Pennsylvanian  and Chicago. The car was a 1957 Plymouth Fury. One of the very handsomest cars ever built in that era. It was as crappy as it was beautiful. It broke down almost as fast as I could fix things. For fifty years, I never bought another Chrysler product. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. 
Somewhere between Pomona and Cleveland my advancement became effective. I left Pomona as a lowly GSSN and arrived at Crane as a full fledged third class pettyofficer. Crane was like being in a comedy movie. Everything was very strange. Crane was in the boondocks, 125 miles south of Indianapolis in farm country. The place was 110 square miles of stored ammunition. The central storage facility for both the East  and West coasts. I was attached to Guided Missile Service Unit 219, gumshoe to the sailors. Crane had about 2500 civilian workers  and maybe twenty sailors at the GMSU. At 1600, all civilians went home except for the base fire department. Fire safety was a major concern there. We had special conductive sole safety shoes issued to us to prevent static sparking, you had to grab a brass handle and you had to pass an automated conductivity test in order for the pneumatic door to open and all windows on any second floor had sliding-boards to facilitate a speedy exit should thing turn to shit. As a very small group of sailors exiled in the middle of nowhere, there was no regular facilities such as clothing and small stores, so Claude our Storekeeper made a jaunt up to the very large naval station at Great Lakes. We would make up our shopping lists and Claude would buy everything for us. In 1962, Claude came back from Great Lakes without any GS crows. 
He was told that there was no such thing as Guidedmissilemen in the navy. He was offered no further explanation. Crows are navy talk for the rate insignia of petty officers. It gets it's name from the eagle above the chevrons. The officer in charge of the GMSU had to call Washington to find out what the hell was going on. What was going on was we were re-designated as Missile Technicians, MTs. In typical navy fashion, nobody bothered to tell the GSs, or the MTs or whatever. Next trip up to "the lakes", Claude came back with a bale of MT crows, no problem now. 
We. as sailors, had a reputation to maintain and it was as if the locals expected us to perform. We drank heavily and handled high explosives while in that state. My best friend was Bart Hart a wiry self-proclaimed cowboy from Wyoming. Bart and I remained friends until the day he died a few years ago and I miss him much. We terrorized the local farm country, got into brawls as sailors are required by law to do and wooed the local country girls. Or should I say that they wooed us. Most of the local gals didn't much care for the rural life and they knew that sooner or later the sailors would be moving on. Either by transfer or discharge. Not one of my mates said I like it here, I think I'll stay. Because of this, the local girls wanted to meet and marry a sailor and a lot of them did marry their ticket out. In March of 1962. I reenlisted into the regular Navy for six years for a number of reasons; a large reenlistment bonus, orders out of rural Indiana and a billet at MT B School in Vallejo California. MT B School was, at the time, the most comprehensive school in the navy. Forty hours a week of what amounted to four years of a college level Electrical Engineering program. Very intense but it was fashioned so that after you graduated from B School you could walk aboard any ship or submarine in the navy and take over the missile division. We learned all about the Talos, Terrier, Tartar and Polaris missiles. The idea of my going through MT B School was so I could get accepted into NESEP, Navy Enlisted Scientific Educational Program. In NESEP you reenlisted for six years and would study Electrical Engineering at a school such as UCLA, Northwestern, MIT etc. After two years of successful studies, you would extend for another two years. This meant that if Uncle Sam gave you four years of collage, fully paid, you would give Uncle Sam back four years of your life. It was a very fair exchange in my humble opinion. As it is said, the best laid plans of mice and men... For political reasons, a feud between the FBI and the US Navy over my secret clearance, I was denied NESEP. I didn't cry about it. To this day very few people know about this, so I just carried on as a proud and loyal sailor. I had received an excellent technical education that has served me well to this day and I got to be a real sailor. A real blessing.  
I finally got orders to a real ship as a PO2 with a hash mark on my sleeve without ever actually  being on a ship. She was the aircraft carrier USS Constellation CVA-64. She was the second newest CVA in the navy, Enterprise CVA-65 was the newest. Apart from the nuclear power plant and the square island on the Big E, they were the same ship.   
  

Friday, March 10, 2017

TERRIER BT-3

It was February 1961 and freezing cold when we left  the East Coast. We arrived at LAX at about 2100, nine PM to you civilians, and I bundled up before deplaning. I had on dress blues over a wool jersey with a scarf and peacoat. This was still the era when you came down steps and walked to the terminal. I walked off of the airplane and was engulfed in heat. Not jut warm, or very warm, but heat. This was February and I immediately knew that I was home. That this is where I wanted to live. We had transportation to the Convair plant in Pomona where the birds were built. Did you get it the missiles were now birds. I was picking up the lingo. You have to walk a very narrow line when you are a young sailor. If you look babyish, you get shit from your shipmates. If you have a squeaky voice, more shit. For whatever reason, maybe it was because I was already in for two years and had learned the "ropes" I didn't get too much crap. Terrier C School was fun. SoCal was paradise to me. The Navy had two and a half surface to air missiles back then. The Talos was a very long range bird. It had an approximately eighty mile range and was powered by a ram jet engine. FYI, ram jets don't even work under Mach 1. The first stage booster takes the Talos up to supersonic before separating. There was the Terrier also a two stage missile with solid fuel propellants. That's what we learned. The Terrier had a little brother the Tartar. Tartar was basically a single stage Terrier with a DTRM, duel thrust rocket motor. It was much smaller destined for use on Destroyers. It was the quarter horse of missiles. Very fast off of the launcher but it only had a little less than a twenty mile range.
I bought a tricked out 41 Ford coupe and was excelling at school. Sure there was state of the art electronics to learn, but there was those beautiful missile airframes that just took my breath away. I was the top dog in my class. The big kahuna. C School was far too short, only 11 weeks. And then I got my orders. I joined the Navy to see the world and I was being assigned to Guided Missile Service Unit 219, GMSU or gumshoe to the sailors, at Crane Indiana. It was the worst of times and the best of times. Crane is huge about 110 square miles and is where there is enough ammunition stored there to make a very big bang if the shit hits the fan. I pinned on my third class crow as I arrived. 
I bought a '57 Plymouth Fury  a very beautiful car but a real turd mechanically. Things broke on that Fury faster than you could get them repaired. The ammunition depot is surrounded by farms and the farmers used to burn their fields once a year and if the fire got out of control, they would call the base and say something like oh dear my fire is headed toward your ammunition and I'd hate to see the whole state become the sixth great lake. 
This is how and why I taught myself  how to sail. If I heard the base fire engines tear out sirens a blazing, I'd look out of the window and if the OOD was heading towards us, I'd jump in my car where I had the sails, rudder and centerboard stored in my trunk and head for Lake Greenwood which was rather large and completely on the base. No cell phones back then and no-one could get to you. My old buddy Bart Hart beat me to the dock one day and was bitching like hell. He said that he couldn't find the gear for the sailboat. No trouble, I said, I know exactly where everything is. Locked up in the trunk of my car.    
I made second class pettyofficer while at NAD Crane and reenlisted into the Regular Navy for six more years. I still wanted to see the world. Part of my reenlistment incentive was B School. Being that we were literally in the  back woods of Indiana, we sent the Storekeeper to Great Lakes to get us clothing and small stores. He came back after one trip and said that they no longer carried Guided Missileman crows. The OIC of the GMSU called someone and asked what the hell was going on. That's when we found out that our rate was changed to Missile Technician. 
I got married to my first wife while in Indiana and three months later we packed up the car put Tiger the wiener dog in the back seat and moved to Mare Island MT B School in Vallejo, California.
Next exciting chapter B School.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

IN THE BEGINNING

For a few years now various people have suggested that I chroniclize   my life's story. I'll start out with my first years in the Navy. My life didn't really start until I went into the Navy. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. In May of 1959 while I was a junior in high school, I joined the US Naval Reserve. During the summer vacation between my  junior and senior year, I went to boot camp at NTC Great Lakes north of Chicago. I remember we came into The Windy City on a New York Central passenger train. We then had to transfer to The Chicago & North Shore railroad, which looked like it came straight out of a cartoon. It was very old elevated train and wound through Chicago until it got out of town and rumbled up the west shore of Lake Michigan. 
I should go on record that even though I started out as a titless wave. as reservists were called then, two years after going on active duty, I reinlisted into the Regular Navy with much pride. Navy boot camp wasn't all that difficult, at least to me. Instead of being the usual eight weeks, reserve boot camp was only two weeks. In my senior year in high school, after having been to boot camp, I was probably a very large pain in the ass. If a teacher thought he was being a hard ass, I just let him rave on. Monday evenings were reserve training sessions and due to the rigors of the bar(s) with other sailors I was usually too hungover to attend school. Most of the Chiefs were retired USN who just couldn't let go of the lifestyle. 
It was at the Reserve Center that I first realized that just maybe I was pretty smart. After taking the usual battery of test that all recruits take when joining, I was called in to see the head man, the captain of the base. He commended me and told me that he hadn't seen scores that high for years. He told me I could have any rate, job, in the Navy. I told him I wanted to be a Guided Missileman. He paused for a minute and told me that they didn't have any training or trainers for that rate. He then said that when I go on active duty next year that he was sure that I could work something out.
A month after graduating from high school, I was on a train to the receiving station in Philadelphia. When I talked to the personnelman in Philly, he explained that could go to Guided Missileman A School in Virginia but I would have to extend for a year. I figured that the three years was a bargain because the regular Navy guys had to extend their hitch from four years to six.
Two days later, I was on a Greyhound bus headed for Virginia Beach and A School. I sat near the back of the bus and bullshitted with another seaman apprentice from Chicago, who happened to be black, about what our lives would be like in the big bad world. When we got off of the bus in Virginia Beach I noticed that the whole bus station was all Negros as they were called way back then. When we walked out of the front door of the bus station, some old guy wearing a short sleeve shirt and clip on tie started screaming "Nigger lover". Neither me or my black friend from Chicago knew what that was all about. The old man pointed to a sign over the door that we just walked out of and the sign said COLORED. Then he pointed to another sigh over another door which said WHITES ONLY. Welcome to The South. 
I caught a gray Navy bus that said NAATC Dam Neck over the windshield. NAATC meant Naval Anti Aircraft Training Center.  Dam Neck was where it was located in the heart of The Great Dismal Swamp. 
I settled in and two weeks before my class started it's seven month run, I was informed that our trigonometry refresher course would start the next day. It was being taught by one of my classmates. The guy who was just bounced out of "The Academy" for behaving like a sailor. He was sent "back to the fleet" which is where he started out from. I told the guy that it may well be a refresher for most everyone else but that I didn't know nothin' about no Trigonometry. He and 
I went to the EM club every night for the next two weeks and I got "horsed" up. 
During the day, I had to stand watches at "The Old School" because my secret clearance hadn't come in yet. My first day as I was walking around I opened one door and there it was right in front of me an entire Polaris ICBM was lying around in pieces.
The first hour of our first day at Guided Missileman A School, the instructor started out with Ohm's Law. I assumed that a GS worked on ultra fancy missile airframes. When I asked why he was wasting time on electrical knowledge, who cares. I was told that I should care because this job was mostly electrical and electronic. Class standings were published each week and each week I moved up a notch or two. You couldn't get promoted to be a pettyofficer while in A School. Navy rules. Most didn't care because they didn't have enough time in rate to be qualified. Being a reservist, I had enough time in rate. A School ended on a Friday and on Monday was the Third Class Pettyofficer exam. It was the first time of many that I squeaked through.
On Wednesday, those of us going to Terrier BT3 C School were taken to the Norfolk for our flight to Washington National Airport. I had never been in an airplane so this was a real adventure. We took off in a DC-3 and ten minutes later the captain came on the horn and announced that we were turning around because it was too rough. We sat in Norfolk for an hour, or so, and waited for a Capitol Airlines Vickers Viscount turboprop. That beast went where angels feared to tread. At Washington, we boarded a Douglas DC-7 for a ten minute hop to Baltimore, and finally for our cross country flight a United Airlines DC-8 four engine jet.
Next time Pomona.


Friday, March 3, 2017

When It Rains, It Pours Part Two

Well today went much better than today. Not great, mind you, but better.
We got Carlos the Friendly Mexican Mechanic to come out this afternoon to replace the broken radiator hose.  I was expecting the archetypical shade tree guy to show up, but Carlos was in a word, good.
I had done my homework on the internet and knew absolutely all there was to know about changing the hose. In less that one minute, I knew that I should put my pie-hole in park and listen to the guy.
The hose clamps had no means of loosening and all of the "experts" on the web said cut them off and toss them in the trash. Then get new ones with screwdriver slots. As I started to splain myself, Carlos said no need to cut them and showed my why. 
He promptly removed the damaged hose and installed the new proper BMW type hose instead of a rubber tube. He added a gallon of new coolant and topped off the remaining with water and vented the air out of the system. I wouldn't have done such a good job myself. 
Because I was so impressed by his professionalism, I inquired about whether he could take a look at the tranny. He produced a very large professional looking SnapOn fault reader. I was already prepared to fork out $4500 to have the tranny rebuilt which is the going rate. I did show him how the BMW manual said to reset the Electronic Transmission Control manual. I am, after all, not just a pretty face you know. We got the damned thingy to finally reset and took a successful test ride. 
I asked him if he could service the tranny and he said he wasn't a transmission guy. Hell, nobody's perfect. Carlos' opinion was that the tranny was OK and it just had a sensor or solenoid problem.
He gave me the phone number of Jose, his amigo who has a transmission shop which is fairly close. Jose was a pain in the ass. He said he couldn't even look at the car for over two weeks due to his heavy work load. I told him all I really wanted him to do was take a look and figure out whether we can drive Loretta back home to Long Beach. 
I'm going to drive around Palm Desert tomorrow before heading back to the beach. If all goes well, we'll come home on Saturday when the traffic is lightest.
I know that you make your own luck,  but wish us luck anyway.