Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saying Goodbye

This will serve as the last entry for our time in GTMO.  The weeks leading up to our departure were FULL! After presenting a student recital, directing a youth choir performance, and packing up our house shortly before Thanksgiving, I didn't have much time to shed tears over leaving GTMO. But then November 27th arrived and there we were waiting for the ferry at Ferry Landing and the tears came out.  After several trips to this same spot to say goodbye to other friends who had gone before me, it was finally my turn.  Some people avoid this moment and stay on Leeward side the night before.  I understand why some would do this, but it's not really fair to your friends who want that last opportunity to say 'goodbye.'  My advice is to suck it up and allow yourself that cathartic moment to feel the love from all of your friends.

We were blessed to have an opportunity to live in GTMO as long as we did.  I enjoyed it very much, and recommend the island life to everyone.  It's a great family base and an opportunity to get to know your strengths and weaknesses on a deeper level.

Now I we begin a new adventure on a different island...JAPAN! Our adventure in Sasebo, Japan began Saturday 12:00a on Dec. 8th.  That was the moment we arrived in our Navy Lodge room completely exhausted! Now I'm off to design a new blog. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Preparing for Departure

About a week after Hurricane Sandy hit GTMO, we finally received orders for our next duty station: Sasebo, Japan!  After spending almost two years watching good friends come and go, it is our turn to say goodbye to "Summer Camp."  Yesterday our household goods were packed and moved out by a courteous Jamaican staff.  They finished in 8 hours after which our temporary (aka "Flintstone") furniture was brought in to last us until our departure date of 11/27.  Now the house is too quiet and begging to be thoroughly cleaned. :)  We've spent the past three weeks slowly saying goodbye to friends at various parties, lunches, and musical performances.  I'm glad we get to have one more Thanksgiving in GTMO.  This year we'll spend it with the Rau family.  The only thing I'm missing is a TV to watch the Macy's parade.  Our last GTMO event will be the Tree Lighting at the NEX where I will direct the Youth Choir I've been working with for the past couple of months.  

We will definitely miss this island.  It is a unique experience that I recommend to everyone.  However, we are ready to move on and have new adventures on the other side of the world!  I'll write more after we've made the sad float from Ferry Landing to Leeward side.  For those of you who've been there, you know what I'm talking about.

Thursday, Nov. 22 Thanksgiving Day
How silly of me to think we would not have to endure horrendous karaoke from the neighbors on this fine holiday.  Thank goodness our dinner will be eaten at someone else's house. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Hits GTMO

Last week was the first time in at least 14 years (according to someone who has lived here that long) that a hurricane as made a direct hit in GTMO.  Unbelievable? Yes, I'd say so considering where we are located in the Caribbean.  However, most storms that come our way during hurricane season either miss the base completely or are weakened by surrounding islands before they get here.  Hurricane Sandy was a Category 2 when it hit on Thursday October 25th.  We didn't have to go to a "shelter" since our home is designed to withstand up to a CAT 3 storm.  It was hard to stay informed about the details of the storm.  My least favorite weather man on One Caribbean News spent several minutes Wednesday night talking about the weather everywhere else in the world, and when the subject of Sandy came up he said "that's all the weather for tonight, and that tropical storm Sandy...we'll update you on that tomorrow as it evolves."  What?!

We were without power for almost 12 hours.  Wind and rain were very loud overnight.  There was no serious damage to our neighborhood and our house didn't flood. Praise the Lord!  Overall, the GTMO community as a whole were blessed that no lives were lost and no catastrophic damage occurred.  That doesn't mean that clean up has been a breeze.  The following pictures show that our beaches suffered the most.  Thoughts and prayers are with those in the U.S. who are now staring down this "Frankenstorm."  
(Photos by Andrew Voshell)

View from our house before the storm

Fallen trees at the end of our cul de sac

Waves at Windmill Beach the morning after

This used to be a sand volleyball court

The site of many a cookout.  The new construction in the background remained intact.

The Marina

Big mess at Ferry Landing

We had lunch here the previous Sunday with friends. There used to be a picnic table in there.

Another view of Windmill Beach

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

Three day weekends in GTMO are always a good excuse to have more fun than usual.  I ran/walked my first 5K race and I didn't come in last! Here's a picture to prove it.  My time was 43 minutes. The time on the display was for the 15K runners.

I went straight from the race to the pool for my son's Swim Meet.  He came in 2nd in the Freestyle and 1st in Breaststroke.  It was a neck-and-neck race with his buddy from school.

From there I went to a productive choir practice at the chapel and then took a much needed nap.  The day wrapped up with the first ever Ladies Night at the Windjammer Ballroom followed by a viewing of Magic Mike at the Lyceum.  Great ending to a fun day!

Sunday we went to church, volleyball practice and the movies. Monday we grilled out (of course) for our neighborhood since we had several new families move in recently. Andrew's cooking did not disappoint.  Now it's Tuesday, Sept. 4th.  My Fantasy Football team has been drafted and I'm ready for the fall season to officially begin!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Storm That Wasn't

Before AND After Isaac.  The only difference is the the green awning in the background came off due to the storm.
Tropical Storm Isaac wasn't very tropical and a joke of a storm.  I suppose you could say we lucked out here in GTMO.  Thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by the storm and still looking it in the eye in Florida.  The mountains that surround us really do a good job of keeping out serious weather. The worst part of the day (Saturday, 8/25) was the fact that we were not allowed on the roads until given the "All Clear."  So we waited patiently for rain to come around 2:00 pm as forecasted...but, no rain.  There were threatening clouds and wind gusts, however nothing out of the ordinary.  Several Words With Friends games, two meals, and a completely built Lego set later, we were given the "all clear" at 5:00p.  The galley was scheduled to open at 5:30, so to celebrate we decided to get dinner there.  You can imagine the mass Exodus to the galley and the sighs of relief from those who have just spent an entire Saturday indoors.  This is not what we do on the weekends in GTMO!  Weekends are for outdoor recreation!  After dinner we exit the galley to find....wait for it........................a deluge of rain falling mercilessly from the sky!  Obviously, the joke's on us.  It rained on and off the rest of the evening, and Sunday was sunny skies as usual.  I suppose we'll keep the stash of water, batteries and pavers we collected for Isaac.  It is only September after all.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer 2012

I am not a huge fan of summer vacation.  The lack of structure and departing friends from the island bother me.  However, the summer months didn't crawl along like they normally have in the past except for this very week!  Maybe it's the fact that the first day of school is scheduled for this following Monday or maybe it's because the previous week was filled with rehearsals for "Robin Hood" presented by the students of GTMO led by the Missoula Children's Theater (and accompanied on piano by "yours truly").  Either way we are looking at a weekend filled with the effects of Tropical Storm Isaac.  But, more on that later.

We were able to leave the island for a week in July.  Two days at Disney, then two days at my sister's place, retirement dinner for my father, and car shopping for my mother-in-law made GTMO look like a welcome "staycation."

We said goodbye to several families this summer.  Each passing year here gets harder in that respect because your relationships deepen with those who have made the island experience special for you. But here's the funny part: Usually within 2-3 days after good friends leave, I end up meeting someone new who helps to ease the friend-shaped hole in my heart.  They don't replace my old friends, mind you, but it's nice to know that the friendship turnaround here is a quick one.

In August I decided to start something I NEVER thought I would  I've taken up many new physical activities since moving here over a year and a half ago (yoga, weight training, step class...heck, working out in general!), but running was always one of those things I found boring unless I was running to or from something.  Thanks to two of my friends, they managed to inspire me to try it (Thanks, Itzpa and Chanh!).  But wait! There's more! I've also joined an Ultimate Frisbee team!  What a fun game, but exhausting!  I've got the proof right here in photographic form! I'm the third one from the right (wearing green) in the end zone getting ready to catch the frisbee for 2 points. (Yeah, it's TWO points if a girl catches it, only 1 for guys. :)

This strenuous activity has a price though.  My knees hurt and I've got sore upper body muscles since I went back to the gym this week after being out of the weight training routine for about a month.  It's all good.  I'll suck it up.

Tomorrow we will be making our final preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac.  So far it's been a great excuse to clean out the garage and storage shed.  I found four angry crabs who had made snuggly homes in some of my boxes.  We'll see what other critters the storm will bring.  There is a silver lining's FOOTBALL SEASON!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May (An attempt at poetry)

May in GTMO
a month of celebrations
Salsa dance sensations

Talent abounds in all forms and ages
Success on two stages

Mothers are honored
breakfast is calling
from the grill
out of doors
The Chef, well, you know him!

Camping at Phillips
Cub Scouts promote
retiring a Flag
honoring the Fallen

A Storyteller
Memorial Day gatherings
Fun? Yes it is....until...until

Hail and Farewell
inevitable goodbyes
we wish our friends well.