Monday, August 2, 2010

Oh. Emm. Gee.

I thought I knew what it was like to have things rather hectic, with a million things going on at once.

The last two and a half weeks taught me that I was WronG. With a capital "W." And "G." Now, this post is likely to sound kinda whiny, but it was all so very, very worth it. I just feel a little bad for my friends and family who had to deal with me as a stressed mess.

It all started, oh, I guess when we got back from our last patrol, so the middle of July. I had two and half days of being in Hilo to get things organized before my sister and her husband, Suketu, showed up in the first wave of visitors. They are truly wonderful people, easy to be with, and we had a great time. They got in on Friday evening, after riding the local bus, HeleOn from Kona to Hilo. I picked them up and we went to New Chiang Mai for dinner. On Saturday, we hung around Richardson's Beach Park in Hilo, after a Saturday morning yoga class and visit to the Hilo Farmer's Market. Sunday we visited the Volcano Farmer's Market (yes, Farmer's Markets are a theme for the two weeks), enroute to a snorkel session at Honaunau. It was a longish drive, but totally worth it.

Monday, I had to work. It was the first day of the relief week. Craig had gotten the relief binder on Thursday and had a chance to look at it, so the first day went pretty smoothly. Still pretty low stress at this point.

Tuesday, Craig and I flew to Honolulu to meet people on Sand Island. Still pretty low stress.

I knew Wednesday was likely to be a different story. Mom flew in at 12-noon; Aunt Linda and Uncle Adam flew in at 5 pm, and Uncle Steven and Aunt Jan flew in at 7 pm. Vicki and Suketu were going to pick up Mom, then stop by the office to get directions to the rental/vacation house in Kapoho, then they were going to head out that way to check the place out and call me if there was anything we needed to pick up. I was meeting Linda and Adam at the airport, taking them back to my Hilo house for a quick minute to pack up a few necessities, and then we were going to drive back to the airport to pick up Steve and Jan, and then caravan (I was on my motorcycle) down to the Kapoho house.


But it didn't entirely work out like that.

Unbeknownst to me, Mom had a little surprise in store for me. She had made arrangements for my best friend, Amy, and her 9 year-old daughter, Ally, to come out for the COC. I've been after Amy to visit me in Hawaii since 2002, when I first got stationed here. She always had a good excuse (being not too fond of planes, especially when ticket prices were so high). But Mom had worked her Mom-magic, and convinced Amy and Ally to come.

Vicki walked into my office, I handed her the directions to the house, and then she asked me if I could come out to the car for a minute. Sure; I plopped my hat on my head, and strolled out the office door into a crowd of people just standing around. I recognized Mom and Suketu, but these other two blond strangers were so out of context that it took me a couple seconds to figure out that it was Amy and Ally. I'm not quite sure what I said, but I said it in a reeeeaaally high, squeaky voice, a pitch I'm certain none of my crew had ever heard from me before. Thank goodness there were only a few of them in the office at the time. Mom captured my surprise on her camera. Awesome, amazing, great, wonderful surprise.

I got through the rest of the afternoon and got everyone safely out to the house.

Thursday morning we got underway to conduct drills as part of the relief process. Most guests stayed out at the house for a leisurely morning to help overcome the jet lag from North Carolina. But Mom came in with me to take her ride on the ship. I'd been promising to take her out on the ship for, well, since I took command, and this was her last, absolute last opportunity. The weather wasn't great, but it wasn't totally snotty either, so I figured we'd be ok. SN Mike McKinstry's mother and brother were also in town, and they came along also.

We transited out of Radio Bay with XO driving, and we started the drills with an easy Man Overboard. BM2 Neal Bueno did a stellar job driving the ship to recover Oscar, and we deployed SN Ryan Andres as the rescue swimmer to bring Oscar back onboard...mostly becuase I didn't want to suffer through reproachful looks if I hadn't let him get into the water.

Unfortunately by this time, our guests weren't feeling too good, though they all hung in there like champs. So I reconsidered staying underway to conduct all the drills, and decided instead that we could get the same training/relief value doing the drills at the pier as we could underway. We launched and recovered the small boat, ate lunch (well, the crew ate lunch; the guests...not so much), and then headed back to the pier. I had planned to drive the ship to the pier for the last time, but felt bad that no one else had pulled into Radio Bay because I was being greedy. So XO drove us in.

It was only his second time seeing the transit and pier approach to Radio Bay, and he did a good job. I'm sure as he drives that transit more, he will become more and more confident with it. He did say that the backing-up part of it took some getting used to.

We finished up our drills at the pier, and by then Linda and Adam, Steve and Jan were waiting patiently at the office for their tour of the ship. They took lots of pictures (from left to right: Steve, Adam, me and Linda), asked lots of great questions, and were suitably impressed with how cool the ship is.

We all headed back home, after yet another stop at the grocery store.

Friday, whew Friday. I got up early, and headed in to meet my friend and Mom's neighbor, Auntie Jane at Ken's House of Pancakes for breakfast. Thank goodness I did, too, because I didn't get anything else to eat until the reception, around 4:30 that afternoon. Jane flew in for the COC, and so sweetly blogged about it on her own blog.

Fortified with a yummy breakfast, Jane ran me on a few errands that being on the motorcycle made difficult (I didn't think the fondant for the cakes would fare so well in my backpack during the ride from the grocery store to the bakery), and then dropped me off at Coconut Island where preps were already in progress.

Lots of back and forth between the office and the park, stressing over logs that weren't signed yet, and tying up a million details ate up most of the morning. Long about 1:30 pm, I went up to the changing room to put on the dress whites.

And at 2:15 pm (yea, the ceremony was supposed to start at 2:30 pm) I realized we were missing something...and sent 1/C Gookin on a mad dash back to the office for the flags! Yikes!

We started a little late.

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was giving out lei to the crew. I know it's not totally traditional, but it just seemed like the right way to show my respect and admiration for them.

And the other favorite part of the ceremony was having it at Coconut Island. Since it was a Friday afternoon, there were lots of people in the park, just hanging out.

There were tons of pictures taken. This is one of the best, by far, of me, Mom and Vicki.This one is of the family/friends crew that came from off island/far away. From left to right in the back row: Suketu, Vicki, Uncle Steve, Aunt Jan and Uncle Adam. Front row: Linda, Mom, me, Ally and Amy.And this is of me and the ladies that work Security at the gate at the pier facility. It was sooo cool they could come.

Hanging out by the water with crew and friends.
And at the end of the evening, Ally and I prepared to jump off the rock into the harbor. Ally was brave enough to jump off the middle ledge.
That was Friday.

The rest of the time was a flurry of time spent with family and friends, until the movers showed up on Thursday, and then it was a flurry of minutaie. All I can say is, thank goodness that part of this whole thing is over. Just another reason why transfer season is no fun at all. I meant to write a post on why transfer season is so painful, but I never got to it. I also never got around to the post of KISKA crew's tattoos.

But now I'm in California, prepping for my ride across country. I will likely not be blogging much during the next three will depend entirely on the availability of computers, so if I get to an internet cafe or a local public library, I might be able to get an update posted. I will be back to it, though. My daily GAR score for the ride will be on Facebook each morning, though :)


Victoria said...

You said, "Oh my GOOOOOOOOD!" when you saw Amy & Ally.


PRcoastiemom said...

So sad we will not be able to read about the adventures of the KISKA crew from your perspective. Best of luck in the future. Thank you for your service and dedication to your crew.