A short while ago Mrs. R_G said she was scheduling us a few days away, and asked where I would like to go. I said “I want to go to Battery Russell and climb the stairs.”
Battery Russell is an old fortification at the mouth of the Columbia river where it meets the Pacific ocean. The historical thing is it was attacked by the Japanese in World War II. What happened is a Japanese sub wandered by just off coast a few miles. Knowing Fort Stevens, of which Battery Russell was a part, was out there somewhere, the sub surfaced and started popping rounds from its deck canon onto the beach.
The U.S. commander elected to just sit still. He ordered a black out, and did not return fire. He felt his 10" guns did not have enough range to hit the sub, so he just hunkered down. After awhile, the sub got bored and left. No damage, no harm, no foul. Thus ended the only engagement of the war where a mainland military base came under fire from the enemy.
There are about 100 steps from the parking area to the top of Battery Russell. About 10 years ago we camped in that area, and spent some time wandering around on the old fortifications. For me, it was a pretty good hike up those steps even back then. But I did it on a number of occasions.
Then, with the onset of my friend, “Mr. Emphysema,” the one thing that has proven to be difficult for me is going up stairs. I really don’t enjoy doing that all that much. I elect not to carry or use oxygen, but it gets tempting anytime I have to go up a bunch of stairs.
I suppose if I had a “bucket list” I might have had a return to Battery Russell penciled in somewhere, but I don’t. It’s just something that came to mind when Mrs. R_G asked where I would like to go.
So we went there. The first two days we spent eating and shopping in the communities around that part of Oregon. We got lots of stuff and lots of food. The thing about emphysema, as is the case with lots of things, is you have days that are good, and days that are not so good. By the third day I woke up into one of those not so good days. I just wanted to go home. But more than that, I wanted to go climb those stairs. We arrived at Battery Russell about noon. We got out of car, watered the puppies of which I had one and Mrs. R_G had the other, and then I looked up the stairs. She was already up there with her puppy. I still just wanted to go home. But I didn’t. I took my puppy (carried her, because that many stairs is not good for little doggie backs) and went up the stairs. It took me longer than it took Mrs. R_G, but I got up there intact, mostly, with my puppy.
That may seem sort of trivial, and actually it is. I think of Herb and Peter and so many other of us that work through our challenges each and every day. And it’s kind of so what? We’ve got a little problem in front of us? So what? It’s not like we’re dead or something, we’ll save that for another day. We’re here, we’re doing fine. Challenges? So what? If I sound like I'm proud of myself, yeah, I am. I think it would be wonderful if we would all do something stupid today. Like walk the steps at Battery Russell.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger.”