We arrived Wednesday, late afternoon, and checked in to our hotels. I had chosen a dive, based on a completely misrepresented photo online – so reservationist beware. It cost me some bucks to cancel, and I did some begging for a room at a nicer place. I even got the military discount, without having my ID card. Whew! Thank God for small favors!
Much of my family made the trip, as well. Mark’s leave was canceled so he wasn’t able to come, but my Dad and his wife, my Mom, my sister and her family — and my brother all drove down to Missouri to see Brandi graduate from basic training. We met at a diner for dinner and yacked it up for a bit before heading back to get some sleep. We were up at Zero-Dark-Thirty (6AM, military style) to get together and yack more over coffee before heading to the base to wander around before the Graduation Ceremony.
Funny and scary thing happened, when pulling through the gate a MP spotted our cameras. She asked if we took any photos of the gate area. I said no — I took a photo of my dad in his rear view, and I offered to show it to her. (See? I’m a total attention whore. LOOK AT MY PHOTOS! I don’t care if I’m in trouble, just LOOK!) She then poked her head in and asked Catybug the same question. She was about terrified that they were going to confiscate her camera! “Um, no, *big eyes* just the welcome above the gate, is that okay? Should I delete it? *terrified* Here I’ll show you…” And the MP told her that was alright. Phew! Ahem. Let’s get there before we end up in the brig, alright? Dang.
We parked and had a lot of time to kill, so we took a little walk around the base. It was FREEZING! I borrowed my dad’s gargantuan sweatshirt and gave my coat to Catybug. Chickeymonkey, the smart one, came prepared. She also came with strep throat, and antibiotics – but that’s another story.
Me and my momma. Awww.
Me and my girls. Double Awwww.
Me and my Dad. Gasp. SERIOUSLY. That’s my dad. I think I may laminate this one.
Catybug and my Dad walking back up to go to the Ceremony. Sweet.
Catybug in front of the tank. She was seriously digging the tank.
No group of photos on my blog would be the same without wildlife, eh?
During the ceremony, she had to bite down on the inside of her cheek really hard to stop from smiling once she saw us. She was in serious pain, and she looked MAD. She really isn’t ticked off. Or maybe she was, thinking “get the he** away from me with that camera before I bust a giggle”. She would never admit that, though. I wonder how long it will take for the inside of her cheek to heal?
The Ceremony rocked. I cried, and passed out Kleenex because everyone else was crying too. Dang. The girls were totally captivated by the whole thing, which is why I wanted them to see it. There’s a certain pride and love of Country that wells up from deep inside when you see over a hundred people in one place willing to give their lives for any one of us. Having grown up Military style myself and having been married to the Military for 20 years, this is the kind of experience you want your kids to feel for themselves.
Once the ceremony was over, we went to pick up my sis and check her out for the afternoon. When we finally got to her, Mom had first dibs.
Congratulations, Private Belrichard. You look pretty dang spiffy!
Family photo at the hotel, before a late lunch.
(Yes, I brought my tripod. No one is missing! Yay!)
We went to a steakhouse for lunch. The outback was painted all over the walls.
I couldn’t help myself, and Catybug was a good sport!!
We hung out with my sis for the afternoon, not doing much – well, okay, we went to WalMart. We just hung out and yacked and shared pics and stuff. Brandi had to report back to base by 9PM so we returned to base early and she showed us around some places where she trained. It was very cool.
We said our goodbye’s Thursday evening. She’s starting AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) now and has 12 more weeks to go. I have to say, I am so proud of her. There are a certain percentage of every group of people that enter Basic Training that fall out because they are just not meant for it. It’s not easy, and you need to have a special kind of endurance to get through it. I am proud to be able to say that she’s got what it takes!
My mom, sister and niece saw us off yesterday morning. We had breakfast and chatted before heading home, and I got one more pic of me and my fam before we hit the road.
We drove through St. Louis on the way home so the girls could see the Arch. The traffic made me crazy so we didn’t stop, but I-44 goes right past it so we did get a good view. We also stopped just outside of Fort Leonard Wood to get a pic of Catybug by a rock wall. It didn’t look that big when we were driving past it – but dang! It certainly dwarfs her doesn’t it?
It was a great trip, a beautiful trip, a proud trip. And I’m glad to be home.