Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 5,6,7,8,9...Now it's starting to get real.

For those that are following this blog, I've been out of commission as of late; half lazy and half lack of resources. Let me bring you up to date.

Day 5 (Friday)
We finally received our initial "Sea Bag" (big green duffel bag) full of clothes and boots and were notified of our flight status for our trip to Fort Riley, Kansas. That was a busy night as I methodically packed everything I could into my sea bag and a backpack...I still managed to forget toothpaste...oops.

Day 6 (Saturday)
Woke up at 0600 rather easily...I suppose I was anxious about something. Isabella and I grabbed coffee at Starbucks and then drove to the base where my bag was loaded in one truck and I in a bus. 0815, It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to Isabella, but she was great and video tapped some of the farewell as we traveled to Coronado where the plane would depart. We boarded a C9 Bravo (looked like a 737) and by 1016, we were departing North Island Naval Air Station, heading for Kansas. Isabella managed to make her way to Coronado and I saw her wave as we made for the skies. Now, the inside of our plane was pretty nice. It reminded me of a commercial airline without the complimentary beverage service and stewardesses...no complimentary cookies or peanuts either...I'm not bitter. While the majority of the flight was uneventful, I began questioning our pilots experience during the bumpy landing. In retrospect, I suppose the "Wizard of Oz", "we're not in Kansas anymore" (which...we were), tornado-like gusts of wind had something to do with it. Welcome to Manhattan Municipal Airport! Winds out of the North at 40 mph...ugh. We were met by a Commander, a Senior Chief Petty Officer and a Petty Officer First Class. They, being the Navy, proceeded to bus the 15 of us to Fort Riley where we received our room assignments, 2 sheets, 1 pillow case, 1 pillow and a blanket. During the first week at Fort Riley, we were given our very own rooms with a shared common area kitchen and bathroom between two of us. Quite nice, actually. The remainder of the evening was ours to do with as we pleased as well as the following day, Sunday. Pretty mild first day in Kansas.

Day 7 (Sunday)
Very relaxed day. I spent much of my time speaking with Isabella on the phone and working out. I relished the down time, though I wished it could have been spent with Isabella, family and friends. Moving on...

Day 8 (Monday)
We mustered at 0830 at our dorm room office and proceeded to a nearby chapel for in-briefings regarding our future evolutions here on base. (As with different professions, the military too has a certain terminology one becomes familiar with over time: Muster=attendance, Evolution=task. I will try to clarify terms as they come up.) Walking 5-6 blocks to the chapel seems like a pleasant endeavor on a Monday morning, yet the weather had precipitously changed over night from a balmy 55-60 degrees on Saturday to 30 degrees on Sunday with a windchill of about 10. Needless to say, the weather didn't change much by Monday morning. So, lacking anything resembling cold weather gear, we braved the blustery Kansas winds and trudged our way to the chapel. I was very cold. While thawing in the chapel lobby, I was surprised by the very large Air Force contingent already present in the pews. It would have been foolish for me to think we were the only trainees present for this cycle and while I was not foolish, I was impressed by the Air Forces large numbers (maybe 150) compared to the Navy's 30. I guess they need greater numbers to accomplish a task, Ha! (Just kidding Major Payne). Following the meeting, we ambled briskly back to our dorms (barracks) and awaited our next evolution following lunch...more gear assignments. This was a bit more sobering than I anticipated. After being bused to a large warehouse, we received our body armor. It's hard not to think of the need for this equipment and the place we are going. Again, very sobering and very real. This was the last evolution of the day and the mantra "Hurry up and wait" remains consistent. Keep in mind, I say this with a smile. Nothing left to do today but get a workout in, eat dinner and call family. I'll be doing a lot of that I am assured.

Day 9 (Tuesday...today)
63 degrees...so I hear. Thank you Lord for blessing us with warmer weather...I've become soft living in San Diego. Up and going by 0715, we leave for another warehouse by 0730. We sit and wait for more gear only to realize not all but 3 of us need to be there. Efficiency is running rampant. So, I go workout. I eat. We muster again after lunch and proceed to fill out more paperwork. I probably would have been completely bored, yet the destination for this paperwork-completing-evolution was down near the barracks we (as a group) will be berthing (sleeping) in a place called Camp Funston. I'm sure I'm spelling this incorrectly, so don't hold me to it. Camp Funston is about 5-7 miles down the road from where we are staying currently, Custer Hill. The barracks will have 20 bunk beds in an open bay...yippee.

Wow! I know I have written oodles, but bear in mind, this is also acting as my journal. I don't have access with my own computer currently, but as soon as possible, I will post some pictures. I miss everyone and hope you are all doing well.