Monday, June 7, 2010

Is this thing on?

HEY! Turns out we still have a blog and it still works. Who knew?

Since November? Let's see, I saw most of you at Christmas. Watched Alabama whip Florida's, well, you know from Chicago airport on the way, then got back to Okinawa just in time to watch them do the same to Texas to win yet another National Title, along with a little trophy for Mark Ingram. Nice work fellas, now time for another one.

Ben spent the majority of the year through March in Las Vegas, and Emily got to join at the end of her spring trip home for a long weekend there before we got back to Okinawa. Then, Ben hit the road again to St Louis followed by Korea via Chicago. Much more of this and we'll be president of United Airlines. (Which we will promptly sell and buy our own jet. And a P-51 Mustang. And Alabama season tickets.) That almost catches us up, not too much to crow about in the middle until now, where we have Ben's Mom, Shelby and Olivia in for a visit! We've been at full throttle since they got here - there will be no resting on vacation; we got stuff to see! We'll update with pictures a little more regular now since we have more exciting stuff going on. We've been to the aquarium, Okinawa World, the butterfly garden, Shuri castle (that's been here for about 500 years or so, give or take a century), the beach, driving all over creation, etc. But - we're going to dinner now so I don't have time to sort through the pictures.

Looking forward to the rest of their trip and maybe some more visitors later this year (Wisemans!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Still Alive, and mostly well

The verbal beatings have made us well aware that we have been less than timely with updates to the blog, so here we go! I believe we last left you at summer, after Shelby and Olivia's visit. Here we are now just after Halloween, which means Ben has been complaining about "Christmas crap being out in the stores" for a month now. (Seriously though, is this necessary? It's not like I forgot this year and need a reminder at Labor Day. Especially from people who don't know/care why Christmas exists anyway. But I digress...)

Back to good news, it's almost Christmas! Just so everyone knows, we are leaving out sometime between the 5th and 10th of December and basically staying for the month. We'll leave just before New Year's, as we'll most likely be with a group of friends in Tokyo on the way back to Okinawa for that one. Unless someone wants to buy us a nice jet we can just fly when and wherever we want, we kinda have our 'ole Uncle Sam's opinion weighing in on when we have to leave. (In other words, we have to plan around holiday airport travel issues. The Uncle is kinda grouchy, and doesn't care if your flight got delayed. You should have thought about that.)

New since this summer? We moved, as most everyone knows, I think. The military's infinite wisdom saw fit to start a new rule in August that all incoming military had to move into base housing. We were grandfathered, since we already live offbase. Making a long story short, this put a cramp on the real estate market (sound familiar?) so prices on everything hit rock bottom. We got a place that normally rents for $4000 per month. (Keep in mind a 1300 sq ft apartment here also rents for about $2000 per month.) We got lucky with timing, and ended up finally moving into exactly what we wanted. Now that we're here, we are ready for the visitors to come see! Not everybody at once, now. We don't have a pool.

Ben got to go to Arizona for four days to a weapons course at Raytheon, which ended up being a really good lesson in how jetlag affects humans. The course was awesome - crossing the dateline on a 26 hour travel day to stay 4 days then go back was less than awesome.

The biggest event since the summer was probably Emily's spouse taxi ride in the Eagle. We both went to the squadron and got Emily some emergency briefings (mostly "don't touch this"..."that will hurt"..."if you do something dumb we told you not to and you can't sue us" type of stuff.) Then she got fitted for her life support gear that we normally fly with, and the plan is to go out, start the jet, drive to the runway, and do a high speed taxi to 100 knots (about 120-130 mph). As briefed by the boss, "if you get airborne, I recommend using all the gas, then eject just to see what it's like and watch the fireball. You'll never fly an Eagle again." Subtle, but effective.

We had a great time, Emily made all of the radio calls from the jet to ground control and tower, and then back to the squadron to tell them the jet was "code 1," ready to "fly" again. She also got to drive while we were taxiing around, and for the high speed taxi got to push the throttles up and light the afterburners. She also decided to see how much brake pressure it takes to lock up the tires. Then she didn't get to drive anymore. The only bad part is not getting to actually fly, it only takes about 4.4 seconds to be at 100 knots. Wo don't take off at that speed, but with the afterburners, another 4.4 seconds would put you at about 250+. So yeah, almost 300 mph.

Here are some pics from that day, and once we finish moving in we'll get some photos of the house. See ya in December!


Getting our step brief before we go to the jet
Ready to go!

Checking the brakes. Different technique than Emily's.

Preflight walk-around. Yep, two motors. That's good.

Up you go. No, you can't sit up front.

So you think couples fight about money, moving, kids? Try strapping into an Eagle...

Nah...just kidding!

Okay, give me serious face.

I have to pee. You should have thought about that before we got in the car, jet, whatever!

We're off!

Looking sharp back there.

We survived!

That's mine! It doesn't have your name on it. As a matter of fact...

I leave you with this.

Anyone else hear that giant sucking sound?...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer (blur) with the girls!

We left you in Alaska, or at least right after we got home. Okinawa, my friends, is NOT Alaska. After a month in the best weather in the world we got back to tropical Japan. In July. We love this place, but it is amazingly HOT here. During the day it feels like you're on another planet, one that's about 10 feet from the sun. I'm sure there are other places in the world like it, I've just never been there! Anyway, it makes for good beach days and there is still no shortage of things to see and do here. We went adventuring a few times while the girls were here and found some more new places to go.

Notlong after we got here, the girls were ready to see the sights and eat at a Japanese restaurant. So we did - and they loved it! The on-the-fly chopstick lessons were pretty funny, but they picked up on it pretty quickly. Shelby developed a taste for Sashimi, and both of the girlies enjoyed their sushi. And of course all of the other fried stuff that came along with it!

What else? Well, we went to the second largest aquarium in the world. Went camping on the beach. Snorkeling a coupleof different weekends, most recently to Cape Maeda which was awesome! The Emily and the girls went to work to watch Ben fly, and to work with emily teaching gymnastics several times. All the ladies went and got over-the-top pedicures (which apparently you just HAVE to do here. Unless you're a dude.) Shelby drove the car on the left side of the road. (If you're law enforcement, that last part was a lie. No it wasn't. Yes it was. ?) We missed 4th of July at home, but went to the airshow on base and saw the fireworks, and our good 'ole Dave remembered us at the lake mansion since we missed cheeseburgers in paradise. Not to mention a birthday party for Ben, complete with silly string, magic relight candles and power rangers decorations. (Shopping for the simple things can be more of an adventure than it should be. It's the thought that counts.)

It's been a blur of a summer, and we've been having a blast with kiddos! Already can't wait for them to come back - and ready for more visitors soon! You never know what we might get into here.

Ahhhh, Chopstick!

Yes Liv, you have to try

Shelby liked the Ahi Tuna Sashimi. Olivia, not so much

This is fried. I will definately eat this.

Toe time!

Liv too!

Beside Dad's Eagle at the airshow

This was one big, goofy looking fish. A dorkfish, if you will.

All kinds of cool stuff like these guys where we were snorkeling.

Whale sharks and giant manta rays.

Waiting for a Japanese lady to figure out our camera while we wait.

Shelby. And a shark. (She's not inside the tank.)

Neither is Olivia. We're better parents that *that.*

Random beach camping

Liv at the beach

Birthday party!

Dave's poster he had up at the lakehouse. (ZZ is the tail code for Kadena.)

Come on, I had to have at least ONE flying picture! I'm second from the right, flying during the solar eclipse.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

June 2009 - Alaska for the summer?

Hello everyone! The squadron had an exercise in Alaska in June so Emily tagged along about a week late and we both spent most of the month there in Anchorage. Everyone who has visited always raves about it, and so will we, but you never really grasp it until you actually see it. The view just never gets old, and you don't have to be anywhere in particular to see it. The mountains are different every day, new snowfall or melt, different weather - something always makes it all new again. It is just unbelievable and after visiting its no wonder so many people in the military fight to stay there as long as possible, or just retire and stay there. It's one of the few places you can still go and just being outside actually smells clean. Yep, the sun never really goes "down" in the summer, and you have to get used to a bear or moose blocking traffic now and then - but its worth it! We never had any detours due to wildlife bigger than your car, but it definitely happens.

I can tell you that as fun as flying the F-15 is when we are doing what we do - it is the same degree of not fun on a ferry flight from Japan to Alaska. Ejection seats were not made to be comfortable, especially for 9 hours at a time. We took off at 9am on a Thursday morning and arrived in Anchorage at 1am Thursday morning. In daylight. How's that for jet lag and just purely messing with your head? We have to wear anti-exposure suits as well, which have a rubber liner and seals around your neck and wrists, which adds to the luxurious first-class comfort of the Eagle jet. But hey, even *then* its still a good job. So 9 hours and 8 air refuelings later we arrived. I got promptly to work, including the weekend, while Emily started trying to make her way to join. I'll end up working all day every day, but our friends from Tyndall are stationed there so she had built-in tour guides while I was away every day. We both ended up getting to see a lot of the local scene - hiking around the glaciers, playing in the snow in June, fishing for king and red salmon, learning to fly fish, and bailing out of the car like lunatics to take a picture of a moose. All in good fun. Oh, and to explain one other thing - we get a batch of rental cars when we go somewhere and to keep track of who has which car and where it is, we usually give them ladies' names. Much to our surprise when we showed up, they had decided to name them after our mothers. And our wives we a little too quick to cough up pictures of our mom's, so Mom - I hope you enjoyed tooling around Anchorage in June. The gate guards thought it was pretty funny.

The unknown is still winter. I do know that on the days we were there that it was cold, it's not cold like back home or even here. They don't have the humidity and the heavy, wet cutting cold. And once it gets down to -10 or so, any colder than that is still just cold. Then again, if you aren't up for the snow, it's probably not a good place to live in the winter. Our friends who live there spent their first winter there this past, and the pictures they have from the skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile riding looks pretty appealing too! I'll be back there sometime during the winter for sure. I have to ride a snowmobile, and I have to hunt moose. And maybe a bear.

Here are some photos from the trip over and our time in Alaska. Stay tuned, we brought Shelby and Olivia back with us!

Getting much needed gas on the way

You know I had to.

Ready to takeoff in Alaska

I am Bluto, here is my car.

Mom had NO idea she was in Alaska.

Pretty awesome view flying, too.

Time to fish!

Just more ho-hum scenery at the river.

BEAR!!! Whew. Fence.

No ships were harmed by icebergs in the making of this photo.

Emily and Summit the wonderdog.

Didn't get a chance for the train ride, so we took a picture.

MOOSE! No fence. No hunting license. No close up picture.

The drive down to Seward for more fishing.

Our friend Marcy on a glacier hike with Emily & Summit.

Hiking! We love this place

Emily's horseback riding trip

One last shot