The Corner

Away and Back

I’m home and that is a wonderful thing (perhaps not for the reader, but for me and mine it’s great). The French NR Cruise was a really lovely experience, and for all my French-bashing (both the deserved and the gratuitous), the country really is just a lovely place to visit. We had a great time on the boat, despite an almost parodic river lock keepers’ strike that blew up the schedule. As always, the NR cruisers were a great bunch.

I was particularly glad to get to know and spend some time with Bing West. He is such an impressive guy. He’s seen a lot of combat, as a warrior and a journalist. He’s been on patrol in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He’s a senior citizen but still found time and energy to run about 6 miles pretty much every time we were in port. A former spear fishing champion (no really) and a muckety-muck in Ronald Reagan’s Defense Department, he has fantastic stories to tell and couldn’t be more charming.

My favorite moment of the trip was when we were visiting Pointe Du Hoc. I was standing there on a bright sunny day with a cold wind blowing off the sea thinking, “Wow. How the Hell did they manage that?” as I looked to the rugged cliffs that separated Utah and Omaha Beach. I didn’t realize that Bing was standing next to me when I suddenly heard him say, “Wow, how the Hell did they do that?”

What those Rangers did that day was impressive enough, but then when I heard Bing say it too, with the awe only a professional student of war can muster, it made me look back down at those rocks with an even deeper sense of gratitude and respect.

Anyway, now we’re home. My fears that a week with grandma would render my eight-year old daughter a chain-smoking martini drinker with a wry slightly bawdy sense of humor went unrealized.

I’m still in panic mode about getting my book done by mid-Summer and, as shocking as this may sound, a riverboat cruise of the Seine with your wife, a bunch of gregarious and smart people, a well-stocked bar and the death of Osama bin Laden in the news is not necessarily a great way to avoid distractions.

I have to file a column this morning and dig out from the mess. But it’s great to be back.


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