11 May 2006

AK - Round 1

So it’s the start of story time. This’ll have to be in segments since I have basically 3 weeks to cover, but since there are other things I want/need to blog about I probably should get the AK time in now. So here’s week 1.5 highlights or ramblings, depending on how you look at it:

23 April 2006
I’ve been in AK 4.5 days now. Things are going smoother than initially. I packed too much and didn’t realize it until it was too late so I have way more crap here than I need – dammit. I may have to mail some back. But on the drive down I was SO nervous, at times I had a hard time even breathing. I got to the base and it was eerie – not like the other 2 deployments I had gone on where there was a mass movement of people and everything lined up to sign off on. Instead there were 2 tables and a truck. I dropped off my luggage, JP had me sign something to get paid, and I was told to be back at 0645. Crazy. So mom and I went to BK for some breakfast and then she dropped me off. Once I was back and mom had left, I suddenly felt better. I don’t know why, but I did…somehow I shifted into military mode. I walked upstairs to the briefing room, and felt calmer. It was very strange.

We arrived in AK at 10am Wednesday on a KC-135. The ride was awesome…super smooth, even for the jump seats. It wasn’t as cold as I expected seeing as we were sitting in the cargo bay. I slept part of the way, then read a couple chapters of “The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall” by Christopher Hibbert which I’m borrowing from Keith. The flight went way quicker than I had thought it would and when we arrived we jumped right into work. Had a meeting with one of the AEW guys, (which I probably wouldn’t have had to be at since though I was AEW I wasn’t under him, but it gave me a good contact for the next couple weeks) and then headed to PA to meet the team and get to work. I had missed the tour of the base, so I was starting off a bit blind, but immediately was taken by the Captain and Tech Sgt Jeff I was to work with.

The Captain is my main boss and put me to work right away, but not in a bad way. Jeff and I went out to the flight line and took some pics of the Red Team and their mechanics. All these young kids keep these multi-million dollar planes up in the air. Amazing.

The next couple days I was working. We need to be writing and taking pics. I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to write. I hate writing. Ugh. I have a couple starts to some stories but I’m not sure if they’ll work.

Anyway, Saturday a group of us went to Denali National Park in hopes of seeing a glimpse of Mt. McKinley – whatever, it was SO overcast that we could barely see the mountains we were in. Oh well. I got a few pics (see below) and we did see some Caribou which was nice. It was a fun day with Tom, Dan, Rob, Jeff, Machelle and Casey.

Today, after I completed an interview with 3 captains, I went to Mass with Machelle and Tom and a couple others. Tom and I held up the Protestant part of the bench – it was okay, but I think I’m going to see if he wants to go to Protestant service next week. Nothing against Catholic Mass but they always seem so disjointed and not planned well. Do they not have a Worship class? Hello!

After that Machelle and I drove around Fairbanks and then North Pole, AK. It’s been a pretty vegging day. I’m trying to write now while watching DH but it’s not going well.

I did find out tonight that the Captain and Jeff both hate writing too…what a team we have! :) hahaha this should be an interesting couple weeks.

24 April 2006
1351 - Today is a dreary day. I’m hoping the mission went well this morning but with the weather I’m a little worried. Knocked off my first article but right now my captain is double checking my facts….suck. I feel shitty now. Grrr…I’m going to have to haul ass on my next article. Suck.

25 April 2006
0910 – Sunny today, hopefully flying will be better. I’m published though. WOOHOO! Though in truth, the captain helped a ton. Two minds are better than one I think. Today is Aggressor day. I think the Capt is getting a little worried that he’s assigning too much and I’m taking too much on. Whatever…I need to do this for the learning experience. Interviewing Matt F tonight. Should be good.

26 April 2006
So today I got to watch bombs go off…not just set out and detonated from afar, but dropped from planes, see the smoke, hear the big boom and feel the aftershock impact. Pretty damn cool. I just wish my pictures had turned out. My damn card filled up too quickly so I missed the best options for pictures. And by the time I figured out how to delete them off the card the game was done. Oh well. I got to play in the mud and freeze my fanny off. It was a good time.

I’m working late tonight. Jeff and I told the Captain he needed to go back to his room and just sleep and rest. He’s been working WAY too late lately. And so I sweetalked him into giving me the office keys so I could come back and work in quiet. It’s so much easier to work like this. I’m listening to interviews (90 minutes from Matt alone!) and I typed up a quick secondary story idea and shot him to review in the AM.

I’m trying to figure out my role here…am I for my unit or for the exercise? I’m kind of leaning for the exercise but with side bars for the unit. I’m not sure that’s the best option but we’ll see. RC wants a general article on what we’re doing and why were here…I’m working on that but it’s hard to write in a general way when there are so many little specific things going on. Hopefully if the captain approves this MXS story idea I shot him tonight I can use a bit of that for the big article at the end. Plus the Aggressor story I’m working on now should help to supplement it all as well. I just don’t think I’ll be able to pull that together ‘til next week.

Oh and the captain asked again today about the aggressor story. I think he’s getting the feeling he should do it but he doesn’t want to take it from me…I don’t care. It’s not like he’s stealing from me but if he feels he should do it for PACAF or whatever then he can…but I’ll probably still do a smaller aggressor story for our paper anyway. I don’t know. I just finished my notes, will print and highlight tomorrow and sort what I want to put together. Then I’ll have a better idea of what I want to showcase and we’ll see if that matches him. Ugh.

27 April 2006
Tired this morning. Machelle and I stayed up way too late again last night, but at least she’s filling me in on things happening. Found out Phil gave a briefing yesterday and is doing one again today for the unit (didn’t happen). And that she and Daryl are going to go around to the shops today and meet up with everyone. I need to get on that trip so I can find everyone. And found out from Tom there was a fuel leak last night so I need to get pics of them moving the plane and such and get our guys doing some work. My fingernails are gone I’ve been biting them with nervous energy so much lately. As mom would say, “it’s nerves.” Oh well.

28 April 2006
Man…stupid idiots across the hall partied until 3am. Jerks. Even after I asked them to keep it down. grrr. Plus I worked til 9pm, got back at 9:30, did laundry with Machelle and didn’t get done with that til 12. Finally had fallen asleep and at 1:30 the phone rang – JeffVW calling saying Northern lights were up. Those were beautiful – green and dull yellow, constantly shifting. Sweet stuff. But I didn’t want to screw up my sleep schedule any more than I already have so I still got up at 630 to shower and be at work by 715.

Three things today – picture we sent up that I took got gigged because I forgot to blur out the line badge. Bad.
Typed up my Aggressor article – Captain helped with the lead and editing and I nailed it. YAY!
My ATO crappy article made the front page of the Arctic Sentry. Woohoo.

So that’s been my trip so far. Going to a briefing by Phil at 3 today then taking pictures of some folks who want their picture taken. Blah blah blah.
Oh well. Really tired today.
Oh and did see mooses yesterday…but didn’t get very good pictures of them. Ugh point and click cameras. I wish I had had the D1 with me. They would have been awesome.


RC said...

Thanks for the recap - wish I could have been there for the fun! Looking forward to installment #2.

kendi said...

um, i must say i don't have a clue about most of what you're talking about. it's true that once we get out of our own cultures, it's all doublespeak.

but it sounds like you rose to the challenges presented to you, wrote well, and made good contacts. i'm proud of you! i'm looking forward to hearing more of what you did (and maybe understanding it more!)

Karen Elizabeth said...

"infodesk nice"= when one extends a manner of being hospitable past one's normal limit of nice-ness (due to tiredness, and other circumstances that cause one not to feel happy and hospitible) because one know's that one must imitate Christ even though one's flesh is sizzling with bad thoughts (not directed towards any one person but at the world-at-large) AND one must always remember that tone of voice and choice of words convey a sense of info-desk professionality that must be maintained at all times.