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How to properly order a San Miguel beer
You will understand the headline later in the story so I ask you to bear with me as I write this entry mostly for myself to preserve the details of a great weekend.This past weekend Sharon’s parents along with her sister and her husband, and her other sister came to visit. We rented a 5 bedroom, 4 story condo just across from the beach for 4 days so we could all stay in the same place. The condo itself was incredible, between the view and being within walking distance to everything made it ideal for us.
Rachie and Donny arrived first driving from Port Charlotte, FL. They were greeted with sunny skies and beautiful waist-high surf to watch roll in from which their fourth floor master suite balcony gave the perfect vantage point. And with Donny being a surfer without a board it was almost torture for him.
A few hours later the parents and her other sister Aimee reached Pensacola, they too were greeted with nature’s beauty in the way of a dazzling sunset full of oranges, reds and purples reflecting off the water and the low clouds. I wish I had gotten a pic of it. Looking back now, I wish I had taken a lot more pics in of everything over the weekend.
It was great to see when Sharon’s parents first met their grandchild. A moment that cannot be described. The year before they were so torn up and distraught over Noah’s passing that they were overcome when they saw little Nora for the first time.
We just hung out that night and the next day we explored the beach and Fort Pickens. That evening Sharon’s mom made us incredible Maryland-style crab cakes which is her claim to fame and rightly so.
The following day was football sunday and I got the pleasure of watching my Bengals beat their Ravens over at Sidelines sports pub. The evening was spent just hanging out again after some shrimp quesadillas. After that we all got a cocktail and sat around to listen to Sharon’s pops play the guitar and sing us songs. My request was Homeward Bound, I just really like the way it sounds when he sings it.
He had not played much lately and stumbled through a few songs and forgot a few lyrics but it was great to hear him play. It reminded me of when he plays for us at their home on Deal Island, MD although it just did not have the same feel. There is just something about being at the table on their screened porch, with your hands covered in Old Bay Seasoning picking steamed crabs you caught earlier that day to the light of a citronella candle hearing pops playing his old Martin Guitar singing…”did he ever return, no he never returned, and his fate is still unknown **bullshit**…” I always have to ask myself during that song, “why didn’t she just give poor old Charlie a nickel to get off the MTA instead of sandwiches???”
The night ended with a few of us going out to the shaker and literally carrying someone home and laughing so hard while doing it that one of us peed their pants (names have been withheld to protect identities).
It makes me a little sad to think Nora may not have any siblings or cousins to have family gatherings with. Maybe she will get a little cousin or three, so when we get old and just hang around the house during vacation, she can go off and make memories with them that they can tell their children. If Sharon and I were not so old, we would love to be able to give Nora the gift of a brother or sister. It seems weird to think of that way, but when parents have kids, in essence they are gifts to those children.
I did have a brother and sister but they were much older. Fortunately I was given the gift of friends. I have never felt like I grew up alone, it feels like there was never a time when Skippy and Jason were not around.
The vacation was coming to a close but not without more drama. Hurricane Ida had formed in the gulf and was heading straight to Pensacola. She got as high as a category three in intensity before easing up. We were saved by the cool waters which, had it been a month earlier, would had fueled her to a cat 4-5 Im sure as she had great structure.
It still made for some tense moments about whether or not to end the vacation early as it was a gamble that it would weaken before landfall and we were directly on the Gulf. But with this storm not being anyone’s first rodeo we opted to ride it out. Before it came though, Donny, pops and I went to the Naval Museum for the day.
If you have never visited the museum before you must go see it. It is full of planes and exhibits detailing the trials and tribulations of war. It can be very powerful. Donny and pops are both big military history buffs, adding to it that pops served in the Vietnam War, it was a feast for their eyes. There is sooo much to see in there I knew we could not see it all in one day. So when they told us that the museum was closing around 1 we were frantic trying to see everything. We had to brush by so many cool and interesting exhibits it was killing them. We did manage to see an Imax movie, appropriately titled Storm Chasers :)
Afterwards we went to the Cubi bar located inside the museum for lunch and a couple beers. It is a place I have taken many other people but had a feeling it would be especially a treat for these two as it is a recreated replica of an Officer’s bar from the Cubi Point base in the Philippines. Come to find out pops had been on that base before, just not to the officer’s bar as he was just an enlisted soldier.One of the things you must be when at the bar is order a traditional Philippine beer, San Miguel. When we ordered the beer he recalled ordering San Miguels when he visited the Philippines those many years ago. It was apparent many memories that he had not thought about in a long time resurfaced. He told us that there were several breweries at the time brewing San Miguels, one in Manilla and the other overseas. When in the Philippines is was customary to order a San Miguel Manilla for two reasons, the first to support the local countries economy, and the second was that it just tasted a lot better.
He went on to tell us how a day-long training trip to the Philippines lasted a week due to a typhoon that was headed their way (de-ja-vu :) He recalls it being more like a vacation at the base more than anything else. The class lasted just around an hour and a half. He remembers how that was the nicest base he had ever been to. That in the mess hall they had Filipino chefs that would cook eggs any way you wanted them and with any ingredients you specified. Every day he and his fellow soldier that he was sent with would check in at the airfield to see if they were going back yet, always a little late and hung over, and hearing the news that the flight was cancelled again.
The corporal they checked in with everyday would get on them about being late every time and they would just reply “What are you going to do to us, send us to Vietnam?” and chuckle. He was not amused by it though, and after a few days of it, told them “Do not say it, I do not want to hear it soldier Harp.”
Pops told us stories of how soldiers would find ways to smuggle San Miguel out to Vietnam. They would add another fuel tank onto a plane and fill it with cases of it. They would hide it in empty ammo boxes. I guess necessity really is the mother of all inventions.
It was a such a nice time hanging out and listening to stories. It was a highlight of the trip and one I will never forget even if I did not write it down. I look forward to having more times with pops so I can pick his brain more. I soak it up like a sponge to release to the stories from her grandpa to Nora someday. Hopefully he will be around to tell most of them straight to her.
Well the storm was still coming to us and the rain had begun to fall. We begrudgingly left the museum and headed back to the beach. The waves were now getting huge, almost crashing over the pier. We took turns going out on the pier to see the waves returning fully soaked. But it was well worth it to witness the power of the ocean up close and personal.
That night the winds did kick up quite a bit. They lashed at the condo all night with 40-50 mph intensity. I watched it as much as I could as I love a storm and rarely do I get to ride one out in style like that. It was pretty cool to watch Al Roker, Jim Cantore, and Stephanie Abrams of the Weather Channel broadcast live just a few yards from the condo. There was a big drawback to the storm which I failed to think about until it became time to take Jack and Jinjer out to go potty :) That was not fun in the driving wind and rain, but they handled it like champs, because just like us, this was not their first rodeo.
We awoke to the wind still howling and the sea just as angry. But the time had come to say goodbye to everyone. They all packed up and headed out after a tearful goodbye. It was awesome seeing how they just fell in love with little Nora. Everyone was a big help by holding her and taking care of her so we got mall breaks to relax. Rachie and Aimee got to wrap her up in the sling and walk with her, and Donny invented a new game called Sumo with her.
We all agreed we need to do this at least once a year from now on, minus the tropical storm of course. Maybe it can become a November tradition and celebrate Thanksgiving together at the condo.