Friday, January 20, 2012

Jeff Spotting - Naples, Italy

And yet another port call, this time to Napoli, Italia, which is also very close to Roma by train. The time in Napoli was an experience in food: incredible pizza, the freshest mozzarella, bountiful red wine, anchovies drizzled in olive oil and spices, crispy bread, and a wide variety of crispy and sweet desserts (including some remarkable cannoli). The food in the Mediterranean has been amazing, and I'm convinced that if I were to live here I would gain a significant amount of weight. I also got a fresh shave with a straight razor.

The day in Roma was an experience in art and architecture. And a long day of walking starting from Saint Peter's Square and passing the Pantheon, the Trivi fountain and ending up at the Colosseum with numerous stops along the way, for both food and pictures. It's really mind bending to think just how long some of these places have existed, and definitely worth the trip. Homeward bound.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jeff Spotting - Valleta, Malta

We keep pushing toward home without actually getting there. However, if we're going to make a port call, we might as well do so in a scenic spot such as Valleta, Malta. Mediterranean ports aren't near as nice in the winter as in the summer.

The picture to the left shows some of the architecture and the picture on the right is the approach to Valleta by sea.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Jeff Spotting - Salalah, Oman

One more port visit, this time in Salalah, Oman, on the Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean. I don't have much to say about this port either, although it was fairly relaxing and I took a couple of opportunities to swim in the ocean in December, which was pleasantly warm. There was a cove that reminded me a good bit of Shark's Cove in Hawaii, although with less diversity of sea life.

The map on left (borrowed and modified from Wikipedia) approximates the US Fifth Fleet of operations, which is where I've been for the last several months. I've underlined the ports that we visited while deployed. The majority of the time I spent, as previously mentioned, in the Arabian Sea, specifically in an area known as the Gulf of Aden (which is directly underneath Yemen).

We're out of here soon, which means we're homeward bound.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jeff Spotting - Aqaba, Jordan (Again)

Six months have come and gone, and we're still deployed...

Trip number two to Aqaba, this time to wash down all the Marine Corps vehicles we have aboard the ship to prevent foreign contaminants from reaching US soil. This means that we are that much closer to returning home. I spent the days overseeing the unloading and loading of vehicles and then got out at night to a local resort, which is one of three places we were allowed to go; fortunately it is pleasant enough to while away an evening.

I had my first encounter with a Lionfish the other day. It wasn't up close and personal, thankfully, since I've had enough painful encounters with sea creatures (recalling an unpleasant footfall on a sea urchin back in 2006 on the big island Hawaii).


Friday, December 02, 2011

Jeff Spotting - Manama, Bahrain and Jebal Ali, UAE

More port time! USS WHIDBEY ISLAND pulled into Manama, Bahrain, after some 65 days at sea. The intent of our stop was primarily to conduct ship maintenance, because after eight months at sea the engines need some down time. The crew needed some rest and relaxation, and was granted evenings to go out on liberty to the Naval Support Activity, local malls and restaurants. We stayed for about a week, which provided a few opportunities to get out and stretch my legs. The picture on the left is a shot overlooking several ships anchored with a traditional flat areas in the background. If you check the link above, you'll notice that there are several very tall buildings in the downtown area, so this shot is probably uncharacteristic of the city.
After a couple of well appreciated trips to the Navy Exchange, we left Bahrain and headed almost straightaway to Jebel Ali, which is a short trip from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Our trip was brief, though, and after ship duty on the day we arrived, which left me exhausted, I had one day to enjoy the city. I spent most of it sleeping... but did get out for a bite to eat and ended up purchasing a nice Turkish-made lamp (no genies, though). This is a panoramic of what I missed by sleeping the day away:


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Between the Waters ride

Every year, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore puts on a bike ride - this year it started in Cape Charles and we had options of a 25, 40, 60 or 100 miles.

Though I've done centuries in the past, I just recently started riding again and didn't want to bite off more than I could chew, so I rode in the 25 miler with Dr. Blair Chick, the Chief Medical Officer of Eastern Shore Rural Health (and a great bike buddy!). Unfortunately I had a tire blow out (I suppose a bit of dry rot's not surprising after my bike has been in storage for a number of years).

Luckily there were representatives from a bike shop in Salisbury, so I was able to replace my tires and have various other quirks straightened out. Plus I got to do some shopping with Dr. Chick's wife Elaine.

CBES provided a really nice lunch in Oyster at the aquaculture research center, which had a dock with a great view!

Can't wait to do the ride again next year with good tires; the goal is the 100 miler with Jeff, too!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Crockett Town "loop"

I took my Virginia maiden voyage on my road bike yesterday after some minor complications (missing pedals and a combination lock wired around it that I forgot the combination to...). It was a journey I was going to call the Crockett Town loop, however, it became not very loop like as I took a couple wrong turns that put me at 16 miles instead of 8.5. I was half planning a trip up to Chincoteague today to bike to Assateague, but my leg muscles were protesting and I did some work around the house instead...

It's a good road bike - paved roads without a car on them that almost felt like trail biking at times because I saw deer, birds (including vultures!) and various other wildlife.

The water view was really nice, though I had to fight some particularly nasty headwinds on the way home.

This is a great place to bike, so if anyone wants to visit, they might want to think about bringing one!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jeff Spotting - Aqaba, Jordan

It has been awhile since I've indicated where I've been. After leaving Romania, we sailed south through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to conduct counterpiracy operations as part of the Combined Task Force 151. Unfortunately, counterpiracy operations are not near as swashbuckling as Hollywood would have you believe. Modern counter piracy involves talking with merchant vessels passing by on the Bridge to Bridge radio to inquire if the merchant has seen any suspicious activity. Most vessels have not seen any such activity, so we continue on.

As a reprieve from this, the ship made a brief stop in Aqaba, Jordan in early September. The liberty policy in Aqaba was restrictive which allowed us only a few tours to Jordan cultural sites and a beer on the pier tent. Due to this restriction, my experience in Aqaba was fairly limited. Any time off the ship is time well appreciated, though.

In the meanwhile, I've been out here over three months now with an end still several months out. Jess continues to work on the house, and all the decisions she is making are making me homesick for a house I've only seen three times. Okay, okay. It's probably not the house that I'm homesick for.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Greetings from Onancock!

I have officially moved to Onancock, VA! On the left, you will see the house. There will be more pictures to follow as more and more work gets done.

Thus far this week I have registered the car, registered to vote, gotten my drivers license and new plates for the car, moved myself and two very traumatized kitty cats, and unpacked about 3/4 of the boxes. It's been a busy week!

The new front door comes this week, and very soon we're getting the gorgeous heart pine floors refinished. I've met quite a few neighbors and other people while I've been walking around and doing errands - this has to be the friendliest town I've ever seen. I still have a couple weeks before I start work to get acclimated, and I plan to take advantage of every minute of it!

I figured I would close with a picture of the grill. Not only can we afford a grill, but there is a very good spot for it on the deck my parents and I did a ton of work on a couple weeks ago. I grilled delicious marinated steaks tonight. My grilling up to this point has been on a George Foreman (except tailgating and camping and such) so this was quite awesome. Steak. Yum.