“March 2nd 2015
Alabama – Originally my only specific destination in Alabama was the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Problem being that Huntsville is clear across the state near the Tennessee border. For that reason I decided to roll that destination into my trip when I’m near Nashville. As of today I’ve spent two nights in the Mobile area and I’m hoping to get moving on to Florida later today if everything goes to plan.
The battleship was commissioned in 1942. The surrounding memorial park is filled with planes, tanks, and a submarine, but those are just appetizers compared to steak and potatoes. The ship is imposing. Unburdened of her 1,793 crew, countless shells, and lakes of fuel oil, she floats well above the painted waterline numbers at the bow. The armament of cannons and machine guns is almost comical. “free space on deck?” ⇒ “Nah, we could fit one, maybe two more turrets there.”
You can look up the stats if you’re interested. What I think I can show you that Wikipedia can’t are the inner-workings that made it all possible.
The ship is its own city. No surprise right? But until it’s laid out in front of you how complex all the functions of a city are, it’s hard to visualize. Bakers, butchers, machinists, barbers, plumbers, dishwashers – men for the convenience store, shoe shop, laundry, movie theater, soda pop bar, mail room, and infirmary (complete with full lab) – they’re all things I wasn’t considering when I sized up the ship before boarding.
Also, I’m sure it was a whole lot different experience when everyone and everything was onboard, but it didn’t feel as cramped as I expected. The mess halls and common rooms are decent sized with eight foot tall ceilings. I expected more of a submarine vibe below deck.
From far away the ship looks clean and regal. But when you get up close, you get to see the rust, imperfect welds, and worn ladder rungs. The ship takes on personality.
I’ve been told that I will be able to switch out my flag with one from the memorial. Time to head back west across the bridge and make some more memories.”