Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
Ever found yourself driving by the very spot you’re trying to get to but can’t without first driving all over the county? This is exactly my experience every night. Going home is more involved for me than parking next to a house and walking in. It's a process and a hike, neither of which is ever appealing.
The first part to my adventure starts with the facts that I live on NASNI and my car is new and without base stickers. Until Tuesday morning, I must park in the lot furthest from my ship, walk a quarter mile to the gate to check in, then begin my mile hike to the pier.
The other half of my journey is that I don't live on the ship itself. I live in a barge, near the ship, down by the bay. It's a temporary place for junior Sailors, like myself, to live. Is it anything like living in a van down by the river? Yes, and I get to go home to its snuggly greatness each night.
The lot that I must park in is also the farthest from the pedestrian check-in at about a quarter of a mile. From there I walk the mile toward the barge but a fence prevents me from just walking onto it. It's a thousand feet in the opposite direction to the ship’s check in. On the other side of the fence, I take that thousand feet back toward the barge. The entrance to the barge is right there. Theoretically, I could hop one more fence and be on it. But the plank onto the barge is at the aft end, two hundred feet away. Up and over and across and then I'm finally home.
Each day that I hike across base to go explore San Diego, I know that I can look forward to a refreshing hike on the way back. This is what I'd expect if I lived remotely where the road ended miles before the cabin. But while my home is on a barge on a military base, and vehicle decals are temporarily unavailable, I will be roaming the base trying to get to home.