Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jeff Spotting - Rhodes, Greece

When I flew out to meet the ship several weeks ago, I went with the assurance that I would be deploying with no port visits over the course of four months of deployment. However, seeing as I have visited a new port roughly every other week, I'm inclined to believe that my assurances were incorrect.

While the intention of our time in Souda focused on maintenance, our time in Rhodes focused on liberty. The name Rhodes applies to both an island and a city, and I had a chance to explore both but only minimally. Unfortunately, the Colossus of Rhodes no longer exists, because it would be really cool to see an ancient wonder of the world. However, the city is split into an old town section and all the periphery new town. Similar to Chania, the old town provides dozens of cafes and shops to wander through, although it is also surrounded by a massive medieval wall.

I was able to take a tour of the entire island which included a trip to a Grecian pottery manufacturer which is basically just a little hut with a foot spun wheel, a paint station, a kiln, and a store to sell the pottery in. We then traveled to the Acropolis of Lindos for a hike up to the top. Other stops included a stop for lunch; local wine, olive oil, and honey tasting; and a visit to a location called "Valley of the Butterflies" that was overrun by butterflies.

At one point during my first night out, I texted Jessica with the comment: "Drinking beer out of a boot, eating grilled octopus, and thinking about stealing a sailboat." The beer boots come in multiple sizes: 1 liter, 1.5 liter, and 2 liter..., the octopus was delicious, and I never got around to stealing a sailboat. I wouldn't be opposed to returning and sailing through all the Greek islands, though.

-jeff

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jeff Spotting - Souda Bay, Crete, Greece

The ship left Cannes and made way directly toward Souda Bay, Crete for a week of mid-deployment maintenance. Souda Bay has Hellenic-navy operated NATO piers where several ships, US and otherwise, pull in for work, refueling, and recreation. I had pulled into Souda on my first deployment back in 2005, which was interesting because West Coast based-ships normally don't make it into the Mediterranean. Then and now, I've fallen in love with the Greek landscape: harsh, rocky terrain that softens to pleasant cool tones in the evening with water that gives Hawaii a run for its money. (Hawaii still wins out on beaches, though).

The closest city to Souda is call Chania. The tourist destination in Chania is a harbor right on the water surrounded by shops, bars, and restaurants. The lighthouse in the picture above is at the entrance to the harbor and the picture at left is one of many side streets loaded with shops and hotels.

Since the ships was was moored in Souda primarily for maintenance and in-port work, we were allowed to go into Chania only on the weekend. However, Souda has a Naval Support Activity located close by with a NEX, mini-mart, and restaurant that we were allowed to visit after working hours. Also, about a mile from the NATO piers were several beaches and restaurants. Toward the end of our stay, I ran the hills of Crete several days to stretch my legs. On a couple of occasions, I wound up at a resort beach with gorgeous clear water that was so very refreshing after running in the heat of the day. Jessica and I are figuring out a way that we can come back together some day, although I'm conflicted on if we should rent a villa, rent a sailboat, or backpack from city to city and stay in random hotels.

-jeff

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Graduation, house, Jeff deployment: Jess update

Graduation in less than a month, holy cow! I am currently on rotation #10 of 10, my nephrology elective, and about halfway through. Nephrology = kidneys, in case you were wondering. It's really interesting, but between looming graduation, burnout from 10 rotations without a good break, and buying a house, I am extremely ready to be done!!!

Speaking of the house, sorry we haven't been in touch much about that! Jeff and I found the perfect place in Onancock when we were on the Eastern Shore over Memorial Day, right before he left. We went through it once with the real estate agent - then we were wandering past and met the owners and went through a second time, and then we went through a third time with the real estate agent before deciding to go ahead with the offer. It's right in town, walking distance from some restaurants, antique stores, the post office and the wharf. There's a bed and breakfast across the street and one right beside it, which is kind of adorable. And it's a two-story farmhouse with a big front porch and a small yard - that was landscaped by a master gardener with local plants.

Basically we put the offer on the house and Jeff deployed, so I've been dealing with getting all the paperwork together to secure the loan and get ready for closing August 30, which is one week after I take the boards. The area really is beautiful - and I'll be happy to have visitors after I get settled in!

Just wanted to put it out there that I communicate with Jeff pretty regularly if anyone has trouble getting in touch with him for whatever reason...

--jess

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jeff Spotting - Cannes, France

The ship recently anchored off of Cannes, France for a Fourth of July celebration. Cannes is pretty enjoyable, although expensive, being on the French Riviera. After a couple of days of duty and participating in the reception aboard the ship, I was able to get out and explore the city and surrounding area, including a day trip to people-watch and drink coffee in Nice. Most of my time in France was enjoying the scenery and eating fantastic french food at outrageous prices. Unfortunately Jessica couldn't join me, but we'd love to arrange a trip out this way some day when we can explore at our leisure and not be chained (metaphorically) to a ship.

I have photos, but not the bandwidth to upload them. Therefore, they are forthcoming.

(Edit: I don't have any great shots of Cannes or Nice. The below picture is Howitzers on the Flight Deck with Cannes in the background)


-j

Sunday, July 03, 2011

First Lieutenant

I've taken over as the First Lieutenant on the USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41). A First Lieutenant on an amphibious ship manages the Deck Department. The Deck Department conducts shipboard evolutions such as anchoring, mooring to a pier or buoy, launching the ship's boats, launching amphibious craft, and also a large amount of painting the ship.

I joined the ship just over three weeks ago in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and should be attached for about a year and a half. In that time, the Whidbey Island participated in a bilateral amphibious exercise with the Spanish as part of the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group.

Although I don't have a quality camera at the moment, I'll attempt to include photos of the places I see along the way and some of the evolutions we conduct.

-j