Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Justin's Graduation from Basic Training; Columbia, South Carolina (Day 1 & 2)...

Left work at a quarter after noon on Wednesday. I wanted to make sure that I got a jump on the trip. Since Debbie wouldn’t be joining me and I’ve been having issues driving at night over the past few years, I wanted to make sure that I was done driving for the night by the time it started getting dark.

I stopped at the West Virginia/Virginia border. I went to the Welcome Center to get the coupons for hotels and turns out the hotel that I got did not accept coupons. I stayed at my favorite chain hotel; The Hampton Inn. The sheets are so comfy and it’s always clean and offers breakfast (and cookies when you arrive).

It was an expensive hotel and so to justify the cost, I made sure to use as many of the amenities as I could. I ran on the treadmill for around 15 minutes, I used the computer in the lobby, I made the coffee that was in the room, I had the chocolate chip cookies. The next day I took the remainder of the shampoo and conditioner and grabbed a bagged breakfast and was on my way.

I had 4 more hours of driving. Today was Family Day, which was starting at 9am. There was no way I would make it that early, so I just made sure that I would be there in time to pick up D and Cookie from the Greyhound Bus Station and get them to the B&B to freshen up – then head out to Ft. Jackson.

I arrived at the Chestnut Cottage B&B right around noon. They were not yet ready for me – the room had not been changed over from the previous night. So, I waited in the garden. The weather was beautiful and clear. It was not a normal humid South Carolina day. I realized at that time that clearly, I had not packed correctly. I had checked the weather on-line all week; it had said that it was going to be 80 degrees for the whole weekend. Well, it was getting warmer as I sat there. Turned out to be in the 90’s for the rest of the weekend.

Picked up D and Cookie at the Bus Station at 1:20pm. The bus was only 10 minutes late. Brought them back to the B&B and by 2pm we were on our way to see my soldier.

Drove to Hilton Field and called Danny to let him know we were there and waiting. He started right away with his “sense of humor” and asked me why I was at the Hilton when I should be at Ft. Jackson – so before I would start getting upset with him, I said “maybe I should speak to Justin”. Then they drove up over the hill where I could see them.

Justin looked so good in his uniform; all trim, tan and clean shaven. He was smiling really big – me too!

Danny had been with him since 9am, so he allowed me to take him at this point. First Justin showed us around. He brought us to his barracks. They were brand spankin' new. He showed us where he does his PT and then we walked over to Victory Tower where he told us it was pretty early in the training that they had to climb the tower using the ropes, hoping not to fall. He said he did fall and he was pretty scared when he did. Justin wanted to go to the PX and buy the Macbook, so that was the next place we went. This was fine for Cookie; she likes shopping. We spent a lot of time there. While there we purchased the Macbook; he paid half. Cookie bought some t-shirts and D & Cookie both purchased some sunglasses. We had lunch; Taco Bell and later we had some ice cream, however Justin didn't want any. We sat outside at the tables and looked around at all the soldiers and families.

Later, some more sightseeing of Ft. Jackson where we stopped at the museum. We were just a few minutes too late; it was closed. We walked around and looked at the planes and tanks that sat on the lawn. We ran into one of his fellow Alpha Company compadres. He was walking around with his parents showing them the base as well. We sat and listened to these two talk about all of their adventures thus far. It really sounds like both these kids really enjoy the Army.

He needed to be back by 18:45 so, we headed back to the barracks to drop him off. We would be seeing him early the next day for graduation.

We went back to the B&B and decided on where we were going to go for dinner. We decided on Hennessy's on Main Street in downtown Columbia.

This was a very upscale looking place. It was a little on the dark side and kind of loud upstairs. We were told that the waiters were getting the place put back together after a party from earlier. It was like a bunch of 6 year olds were running around and tumbling.

The food was fantastic! I had the She Crab soup. D and I split the Jumbo Lump Crabcakes. Along with the crabcakes came some Adluh Grits - I have never had grits like this before. For dessert, creme brulee and a half a cup of coffee. The waitress was great as well and by the end of the meal, she had split the bill, D's being the most complicated since she shared the entree with me and the dessert with Cookie.

I highly recommend this restaurant if you're ever in Columbia, SC.
Afterward, back to the B&B to get some shut-eye since we needed to be up and rarin' to go before 7am.

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