Friday, March 25, 2011

OOG "Only on Guam"

So as I freeze my heiny off in 39 degree weather, I can't help but miss a little (just a little) bit of the Guam weather. Especially as we hop from house to house looking for the ONE. But more on that later. 

I thought I'd recap my Guam experience with a few OOG moments. For you non-Guammies OOG means "Only on Guam" and to be classified as OOG, it really must be unique to this very unique island. 

So here are some photos that I feel are oozing with Chamorro flavor:

 I had thought they were spelling tuna wrong. Nope, it's the local moonshine.

The MuMu rack at Ross. Does your Ross have one?

This makes me laugh!

Everyone who doesn't live on Guam fears the brown tree snake. Everyone who does? We just fear stepping on a dead one. I don't know of anyone who has seen a live snake outside of a trap. In this case we found a dead one that fell out of my friend Crystal's tree. Colin was manly enough to throw it out for us, and he did it with a smile...not. 

I encountered this waaaay too often. Locals love their meat.

Chamorros LOVE to celebrate, and why not? They can cook up a storm and are some of the more hospitable people I've met in my life. There is a reason to celebrate everything. From a 1st birthday to a Sweet 16 birthday party to annual rosaries.

Guam's election "season" can run as long as 2 years. Some of these signs were up that long. They love democracy here!

Tire Ripar anyone?

And my personal favorite:

Dang it, I've got 46 people in my family. 

The well loved automobiles on island are affectionately called "Boonie Cars" or "Guam Bombs." Whichever you choose, they're quite a buy. They putter at a blazing fast speed of 25mph, spew exhaust that would make a liberal Californian pass out, carry more people that they're intended to and are often...decorated. Here's a few:

Helmets are overrated

A literal example of a true Guam Bomb

This screams "Hit Me!"

I will never understand this

 Rusty, parted out cars are often found on the side of the road. Found this on the side of the harbor

Back in 2009 we had a squadron event and some of the pilots and their wives/girlfriends chose to arrive in style. A true Guam Flotilla

Nice fro Bro!

Colin stopped for his sister Lara to get a picture of a classic Guam bomb. Right as she snapped it the owner of the property and apparently the car, came rambling out of the bush with a machete. All I heard was "HEY!!!" as we sped off. Apparently we should have asked permission to take photos of his property. 

The Carabao
Most of the world knows of these creatures as water buffalo (or as my friend's daughter calls them "water bussalo"). They're known as carabao (cara-bow) in this region and can be found mowing grass on the side of the road all over the island.

Who needs a car when you can ride your carabao to Ace Hardware?

They can also be used to hunt. Colin ran into "Frank" and his owner hunting pig. Now I know why the locals love to buy old uniforms at yard sales.

An icon on Guam, this man walks carabao and dog in the Liberation Day Parade

The Rent-A-Carabao business is booming. Here they're backing this guy into the cave where our church held a live nativity scene on Christmas

OOG Moments

Aside from pictures I asked a few friends (and pilfered through the OOG Facebook Page) to share their OOG moments:

"Maybe not (my) top, but top 5 is driving just north of merizo...people were driving a golf cart on the road like a car with a caribou trotting behind it." ~Abby

"Hard to think of just one... the dinosaur graveyard cracks me up every time I drive by. Probably my winner is the first time we played golf here and Nick said, "Look what's crossing our fairway." And it was a big chicken followed by 5 chicks strutting single file across the 14th hole :) He's also had a pig run onto the fairway... OOG!" ~Peyton

"OOG do you fear the Super Bowl commercials." ~Colin

"Only on Guam does McDonalds serve spam and rice for breakfast." ~OOG Facebook 

"Only On Guam will you see a roof rack for your Toyota Corolla made out of coconuts and bamboo." ~ OOG Facebook 

"OOG will you get serious directions that include, "turn left at the pack of boonie dogs that hang out at the corner." ~OOG Facebook 

So there you have it, a taste of my two years on Guam. I really do miss a lot of it, especially the awesome friends we made. There really is no place like Guam and Colin and I are so glad we were able to take advantage of an overseas experience like this!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

13.1 & Done!

So Courtney and I cranked out 13.1 miles at the Safari Park Half Marathon this weekend and I have to say I didn't do as badly as I predicted finishing in 2 hours 11 minutes.  It was a typical race for us, waking up at the butt crack of dawn (on Daylight Savings Day no less) and freezing our rear ends off in the dark waiting for the race to begin. The race was held at the Safari Park in Escondido (Wild Animal Park for you Southern California folk) and we were greeted with a downhill start (yay!) only to be challenged with at least a dozen or more hills throughout the course. We saw lots of cows and horses but unfortunately all the zoo creatures were still getting their beauty sleep (a lot smarter than us!). 

As usual I shivered during miles 1-5. Cursed myself profusely during miles 6-12:


and praised myself wondering what race I'll sign up for next at mile 13.1:
Thank you for the photos!
A routine race for me! 

One of these days I'll challenge myself to get beat my PR (personal record) of 1:54 but for now, I'm enjoying the scenery!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One HECK of an update!

So a few of you have poked and prodded wondering when I’ll finally update the blog. Of course I keep giving the excuse that I need time to think about what I want to write, edit etc. Well considering I’m sitting in the Petsmart parking lot waiting for Cheddar to finish her doggie spa day (if only dogs enjoyed pampering as much as we do…) and my purse has already been cleaned out, the excuses are up!

So last I wrote I think we had just gone to Palau. Well hope you’re comfy cause your in for a long one but I promiste I’ll try (that being the operative word) to be humorous. Since then we’ve been a little busy. Packed up our entire house, shipped our car, the dog and ourselves to the States! Our time on Guam came to a sad but good close. Lots of goodbye lunches and dinners, happy hours, luaus, picnics and well wishes until we see each other again (and yes the US Navy guarantees you will see each other again…at some point!). It never gets old to look back at how many friends we've been fortunate to make in our lives, an impressive bulk of them on Guam no less!

Additionally we had Colin's last flight with HSC-25. I barely caught his fly-in on video (sneaky sucker!) but my good friend Jackie managed to catch a couple of photos for me! I had the pleasure of hosing him down, a custom usually reserved to a family member or friend upon a last flight. I think he enjoyed it considering he gave me a big soggy hug!

Our "Bail plaque" at the squadron's 
Hail and Bail on GabGab Beach in January

Our church Lutheran Church of Guam held a farewell luau for the five couples leaving island this winter. We were one of those couples and boy did we have a great time! It was sad to see everyone for the last time but again, I'm sure we'll see many of them again someday soon!

Guest of Honor. :)

Pastor Jeff and us!


Our last few days in Mircronesia were capped off with a trip to Chuuk (or Truk, depending on your historical preferences). This is one of those places we’ve been wanting to dive so we managed to squeeze three days of diving WW2 wrecks before flying to Virginia, our next station. Chuuk was pretty cool although it does make Guam look like Waikiki.  All the mud lakes puddles made for a 45 minute trip from the airport to the dock. The distance? Two miles. 

We took a little boat to our ship, the SS Thorfinn, that we’d call home for the next few days. I wish the trip started out better, there was a pretty bad storm that came in and as a result, brought huge swells into the Chuuk lagoon. From previous blogs you all probably know my tolerance for bad seas….nada. Hoping my Dramamine could handle the battle, Colin and I stowed our suitcases, setup our gear and jumped into the dive boat. It took 20 minutes to reach the dive site and I already knew I was soggy toast. When we cut the motor we couldn’t even standup without holding on for dear life. You gotta love watching everyone take their dear time donning their gear despite the hellacious conditions and seagreen shade of my complexion.  Hello?? Girl ready to puke here! I As I shoved encouraged everyone into the water I began to panic as I was about to vomit and couldn’t hold onto the anchor line. I let out the air in my BC (vest) in hopes of a fast descent to get out of the swells….except I couldn’t sink! My lungs were so full of air from the panic I couldn’t allow myself to sink. That’s when my savior, Hayley (our divemaster) swam to me, added some weights to my vest, held my hand and pulled me under. I’m pretty sure this is the only situation I can think of where getting pulled under water in stormy conditions is actually a calming feeling. Pretty sure.

I pretty much spent the 40 minute dive trying to balance my equilibrium while everyone else enjoyed looking at artifacts on an old Japanese merchant ship. Don't I look happy here? ;p

We finally ascended (note: panic setting in again) and as the swells began to carry us we took our 10 minute safety stop (a normal one is 2-3 minutes but they require 10 minutes due to the deep depths of these sites). I couldn’t handle the fact that I was already on the verge of vomiting again so I shot up 3 minutes early and well, fed the fish. All I can say is I feel terrible for the dive guides, our fellow guests and my dear husband who had to witness my first dive with them. Needless to say I spent the rest of the afternoon curled up in the fetal position in my stateroom, sleeping off some of the worst nausea I’ve encountered yet. If you’re still reading this well, I applaud your stomach! I promise, that is the last of my pathetic sickness stories! 

The rest of the dives were pretty awesome. ALMOST better than Palau I have to admit. It was like going back in time, we’d dive 90-130 feet down to these Japanese destroyers and tankers where everything literally stopped in time when they were bombed over 65 years ago by the Americans. While we only dived a handful of the 70 or so shipwrecks, we got to see and touch things like teakettles and rice bowls to tanks and bullets.  Colin even saw a skull on one of the dives I didn’t go on.  I even got to swim with a turtle on our last dive. It made me (almost) forget about the first day and fortunately I will remember Chuuk fondly…I just hope the dive staff of our ship will remember me to such a degree!
Remaining pages of a book...amazing!

One of too many sake bottles I found



More sake bottles

I named this dude Speed, it took some effort 
on my part to keep up with him!

Colin, recycling.


11,000 miles later we spent the better part of a week house hunting in the Hampton Roads area, our next station. Here we are: two virgin home buyers, a big city (make that seven little cities) neither of us have ever spent any time in, and five days to make a decision that will affect a substantial part of our future….that’s a lot ot think about! I think we saw 30 houses in five days, my brain about went on strike. In the end we decided despite finding a great house or two we weren’t comfortable enough with the area to make a sound decision. I mean, buying a house IS a big decision!  So we’re working on finding a short term rental for the time being until we can find a neighborhood and house that we like!

After the failed house hunting trip we headed back across the country to San Diego. Colin enjoyed a couple of days with my family, we even enjoyed the Naval Aviation 100th Anniversary Air Show on North Island that weekend, so fun!

Colin and his friend Matt (also a recent Ex-Guamite) in
front of the first plane they flew in flight school

Perhaps one of the coolest sights I've ever seen. 
The carrier USS Stennis' ENTIRE fixed airwing 
flying over in formation...that's 40 aircraft people. All I can say is whoever coordinated that feat needs a promotion...just sayin'

Only because he just loves commercial travel, Colin flew BACK across the country to attend a month long class in Florida earning him a grand total of 17,000 frequent flyer miles in 10 days. If he ever decides to run for political office, he'll have the campaign stop deal down cold. =) So that left me time with the family, friends whom I haven’t seen in awhile. I've also kept busy with running. Gone are the days of 80+ degrees/90% humidity weather, instead I’m running in gorgeous high fifties , low sixties temps and great sights! I’m running the Safari Park Half Marathon next Sunday and hopefully my ten mile training run today was enough to get me through it on Sunday!

So I suppose everything has been updated. I’ve gone through half a box of teddy grahams which tells me I need to put it away and go pick up the mutt.

Stay tuned for a recap on my two years in Guam complete with an OOG (Only on Guam) photo gallery, one not to be missed. =)