Kings Bay

Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. Our subs are so advanced they operate underground.

Update: This is my most viewed post by several thousand, so let me add some clarifying detail since I assume you are reading this because you just got orders here (lucky!). So here’s a better heads up: the traffic in the morning can be really frustrating; cops sit around waiting to pull people over too, since they know you’re running late. They generally don’t like the Navy guys here; don’t get drunk and drive. The food is great: try Sharkbites (in St. Mary’s), which was my favorite place to go. It’s a bar and they have crab cake burger and lobster mac and cheese. Intense. Aunt B’s has the best buffet style country cooking anywhere that I’ve found in the South. You gotta try it. There’s a tiny bar on you way into St. Mary’s that gets a lot of skanky girls and drunk military dudes, but it’s a good time in general. You’re also really close to two cool beaches — the first is Fernandina beach, which is right across the Florida Georgia line. The second is on Cumberland island, which you can take a ferry from St. Mary’s (military has a free state park pass), and then hike through a little forest, abandoned mansion ruins with wild horses, and end up on a pristine white-sand beach with hardly a soul in sight. If you want a bigger city experience, you can head to Jacksonville, Florida, which is just under an hour to get to. There’s plenty to do and see, especially in terms of night life. But, if you have a family, or just like animals, their zoo is one of the best I’ve seen anywhere.

 

The Original Post: Well, I’ve been at Kings Bay for a few weeks and everything has been going well. As I was told, Kings Bay is exceptionally laid back and much easier on my heart and soul than NNPTC was. Although I miss the city of Charleston, Kings Bay is, overall, a much better dynamic. It’s hard to say where to start because literally every aspect of this place is better than where I was.

The galley, for one, is delicious. No longer am I trying to find excuses to avoid the galley, but rather I like eating there. That’s kind of strange to say when you think about Navy galleys, but this one just does it right. It’s even pirate themed. And the fish is actually good. My mind is blown! The rooms are excellent, and we get a “Petty Officer suite” to ourselves. No roommate and we can have alcohol in the rooms and even have guests over. For once my mattress is comfortable to sleep on.

The Trident Training Facility. I work here!

The main difference is that the people here are laid back and won’t get in your face over the tiniest thing. As long as you do your job, you’ll be okay. No one is getting masted right and left, and I actually feel like I’m halfway in the Navy, even though I’m working at the TTF, the Trident Training Facility (the nuclear missiles that will start and end WWIII on a whim).  The schedule is okay (no longer having 18 hour days…) and I work as the supply Petty Officer with a retired Chief. Which means I just mess around on the computer and track packages and supply numbers. Not so bad at all!

Otherwise, I’ve hit the beach with Carissa once and been to downtown St Mary’s (the town close by). There’s still a lot to do so I’ll make sure to do it. I still haven’t been to Jacksonville, and it’s only a short drive from here. What I have been doing is hitting the gym — hard. Hoping to get fit like I was pre-Navy, but we’ll see. I’m definitely drinking more beer than usual here, but it’s hard not to when everyone is going out nearly every night.

I guess, most importantly, I’m happy for the first time since I’ve been in the Navy. Being here is not torture and waking up and enjoying my job is amazing. When you want to go to work, it’s a magical thing. Sadly, now I never want to leave this beautiful place!

Grad Hold

Here’s 1201-8 in our whites looking like BAMFs.

Right now, I’m in a magical place called Grad Hold, which is basically a period where I wait for a spot for Prototype to open up where I do 6-9 months of final nuclear training before I hit the fleet. Due to complications with the training reactors, there’s a pretty huge delay time, up to 6 or 7 months for machinist’s mates like myself. This is actually awesome because it gives us time to do pretty much nothing, and it’s amazing. Most of the time we get out early and we can do whatever, which is nice. Finally I’ve had more time for the gym!

So, anyway, right after graduation on the 25th, my family came up and we spent the long Memorial Day weekend on the beach at Isle of Palms, and pretty much did every touristy thing possible. I made sure to get my fill of everything free that I could! It’s nice not having to pay for all the expensive meals that I love to eat. They liked seeing the ocean and seeing Charleston, and the weather, for once, was nice. They were completely skeptical of all the places I took them until they actually got there; I’ve been doing my best to scope out Charleston and the good places to eat for about a year now — Pearlz downtown has the best tuna burger, Sesame Burger is the best place I’ve ever eaten in my life (they have a peanut butter and a banana burger!), and Huck’s Low Country on Isle of Palms is the best fried oysters on this planet, period.

Me and Dad in downtown Charleston seeing the sights

I can tell they were proud of me graduating from this school, and I myself am more proud than the four years I spent in college — mainly just because it was such an awful bitch to get through. I didn’t take leave since they came up here, but I’m certainly missing Texas and that feeling of being home though; nothing will ever replace it in my heart. And I miss the barbeque! What is up with this pulled pork mess they love so much in this part of the country?

After that, Carissa came up and I was able to show her some more of Charleston. We did one of those romantic carriage tour things (aw) and drank heavily at one of my favorite pubs, Molly Darcys. Then, that weekend, me, Burns, Wager, Kass, Werner, Wagner, Barker, and other people I’m probably forgetting headed to Myrtle Beach. I had always wanted to go, but never made it, so I’m glad I finally did. We had a big suite overlooking the ocean and did a fair bit of partying. We did a casino cruise boat tour which I wasn’t too excited about after my last big winnings, but I ended up being a craps mastermind and winning a fair bit — enough to pay for the whole trip and a little more. On top of that, we had just got our 15 grand sign on bonuses (of which we see about 4 grand up front after taxes and being split over our contract). So, all in all, a good time.

Moving sand in the rain. Much like a Navy SEAL, only the exact opposite.

Other than that, I’ve been chilling. Did a BBQ at McNaughton’s house and had homemade chicken fried steak at Buetow’s house (courtesy of his lovely wife). Good to have a little homemade food mixed into the crap I’ve otherwise been eating. For the most part, we just sweep up and clean the base for a couple hours, but we were lectured about the importance of our job (actually the Senior Chief compared it to storming the beaches of Normandy, but that’s really a poor comparison…). The result is that we’ve been doing massive amounts of time sink activities, such as moving sand from one wet pit to another wet pit. Oh well, at least it’s something.

But, all this is fine because on Wednesday we’ve been given orders to go to TAD (temporary assigned duty, I assume?) to King’s Bay, Georgia, about 4 hours south of here. It’s awesome because it’s not here and I won’t be surrounded by us for a while. As well, it’s going to pay 60 extra dollars a day. Awesome. The plan is to work there for 4 months, but now we’ve been told 2 months. Who knows. I like to think that until something is happening to me, I won’t believe anything at all. We’ll see where it goes!

Thanksgiving

Petty Officer'ed Up

Well, this has been an interesting Thanksgiving. Yesterday, when I was getting my haircut after being yelled out by annoying third class for my hair touching my ears, the barber lady, Stephanie, invited me to her family’s Thanksgiving. It seemed a little strange, but there was no way I’d turn down a homecooked meal. My fears were put to rest as soon as I met her family — an eclectic mixture of people that were pretty awesome to hang out with. The food was fantastic and I actually enjoyed myself the whole time. Good stuff. It’s not home, and it’s not my family, but it was way better than eating frozen turkey at the galley.

Otherwise, things have been pretty good. Kicking it for the most part. I haven’t updated in large part because I’ve put in 140 hours to Skyrim, a super nerdy video game that consumed my soul since it’s release. But I burned myself out so it’s back to trying to get in shape again. The Navy is great for making you not want to work out.

Leave was good. I pretty much did nothing all day every day and it was fantastic. It was 10 days of me ignoring the world, sleeping in, and eating delicious food. (Yes, Kara, I remembered to mention you!) I have leave upcoming two weeks into Power School, meaning I’ll probably do the same, though if I am motivated enough, I’ll tour around Texas and see Emily, Mella, and a few others.

How can I be healthy when I have places that make a sandwich that looks like this?

As for now, we’re standing watches on what it called T-Track, or Transition Track, which basically means I ask if people have cell phones or often just stand there looking like I have a purpose. Lots of cleaning involved too. I’m still not really enjoying the nuclear field, even though I’m good at it. Yesterday I finally got to resubmitting my officer’s package, though it’ll take a while to get it all set up. I figure there’s no harm in trying and seeing what I can do. If I make supply officer, I’d be really happy. Then again, just as before, I’m terrified of OCS, Officer Candidate School, which is run by Marines and probably a lot tougher than bootcamp — and now I’m in pretty bad shape compared to when I first entered. Oh well, if I put my mind to something, I can make it happen. It just might suck in the mean time.

I still have a lot of dreams, and I’m committed to them, so no matter how long it takes, I’ll keep trying. But, until then, I’m just going to continue doing my thing as Third Class Petty Officer. (The phrase “Take it like a third class” is used pretty often around here.)

All in all though, I’m pretty content with things right now. I’ll probably update this before the new year, but we’ll see!

Big Bend

The Jeep. Badass.

I had a really great time at Big Bend. It’s the kind of place where you can get away from everything. And when everything is Midland, it’s a pretty enjoyable event. My parents had bought a 2001 Jeep in December, but it’s been too cold to really go out and do anything (or other things pop up), so it’s taken this long to test it out. I’m glad I got to do it before I leave though. I stayed in a little town called Lajitas, overlooking the river and Mexico. Very quiet and peaceful, minus the roosters crowing every morning.

The waterfall in a canyon in Big Bend

Big Bend itself is pretty incredible though. It’s one of those places where pictures don’t do justice so putting them online is kind of like a blind person describing Taylor Swift — it just can’t compare to the real thing. (One day, she will be mine.) There were two main parts to the trip, one was the little bit of hiking I did and the other was the driving. The hiking itself seemed like a lot of fun but I really wasn’t set up for anything tough, so I only did the small stuff. One thing I managed to find was a waterfall in the canyon, which is so remarkable since the rest of the area is a desert. But here was green and full of life; lots of ugly mule deer around too. As well, there were some old Indian paintings on the side of the rocks, some of which nearly perfectly preserved after hundreds of years.

Me trying not to get myself killed

The other experience was the driving, which is so completely exhausting. It’s hard to describe the roads out there, but imagine being on the side of a mountain on a road that is actually just a path of loose rocks. For someone who hasn’t really driven a standard since ’05 (and that was a Porsche, not a Jeep), it’s a pretty challenging endeavor. I finally figured out more of the Jeep’s capabilities and was able to get more comfortable towards the end, but the process of learning in that kind of condition was a fun challenge. Of course, I am still here so I made it safely. By the time I was done driving, I was ready to have a beer and call it a night.

The view from Lajitas

I was only out there a couple of days, but it was a really good break. Everything is so calm and peaceful. It’s just you and nothing else. And the view is pretty much awesome at all times. I definitely will be back, and next time with the right hiking gear.

Well, besides Big Bend, my life has been pretty uneventful. I quit my job on the 15th of this month to give myself time to get into Navy shape, which isn’t to say I’m not already. But I figured I should just step it up and go all out. Also, when you have nothing to do all day, the gym becomes the reason to get up. Well, and watching my favorite 80’s movies, eating fruit snacks, and drinking diet Mountain Dews. Yeah, I can be lazy too! Just a few more weeks and I’m out and gone for a while. I’m not taking anything with me, so if you want to get in touch, you’ll have to shoot me a message on Facebook so when I finally get to a computer I can check it. I’m actually looking forward for to the break from technology for a bit. I guess you could send me letters but that just feels archaic.

I'm going to miss you blowing dust, 100 degree weather, yellow jackets, rotten egg smell, posinous gas, etc.

Anyway, I’m planning one more possible trip. Unfortunately flying is out of the question — Southwest just raised its rates so much that driving (at least across Texas) is more feasible. Oh well, I’m used to a lot of driving. Maybe I’ll hit up Austin or San Antonio, or if I’m inclined to 9 hours of driving, Houston. But then maybe I won’t do anything and just focus on beasting at the gym. We shall see.

I’ll probably make one more post before I go. It’ll read “Oh my God, what have I got myself into this time”. Sike, Charleston is going to be kick ass.

Houston

Me and Emily. After this, it was all down hill!

Houston was really fun. I haven’t wrote the post about it because I’ve just been entirely too lazy, but it is definitely worth remembering. That’s kind of ironic, of course, since I really can’t remember some of the most exciting parts. Thankfully for me, seeing Emily always means one thing: photos will be taken. I haven’t appeared in any photos on Facebook in a long time, so it was nice to change it. You can see my ridiculously long hair (that I’m shaving off tomorrow). Unfortunately for you, I’ve untagged myself in a million photos where I look like a walking corpse. Houston can hit a person hard!

I’d definitely say the highlight of visiting Houston was the club experience. You can’t get that in Midland, and you can’t even find that kind of club in Austin either (though I still love 4th street when I want to be classy). It was a lot of fun to meet Emily’s friends as well — they’re a good bunch. They definitely reflect Emily’s party spirit. I think I impressed them with just how much I can handle and still remain alive; I’m definitely the classiest one of Emily’s friends for sure.

But, mainly, I feel like what I missed the most is just being in college. It was such a fun time to party and hang out. (Yes, Trinity was lame and most of the people were massive OATs [“Only At Trinity” can you find people this strange], but the people I did make friends with turned out to be entirely awesome.) I think Emily and I had a pretty good dynamic — how many times have we partied together over the years? More than I can possibly recall, I’m sure. It was great to have a group of regular people (at the time, usually Ariel, Rob, Austin, Emily, D, and myself) that would come to my apartment, watch stupid movies, and get entirely too drunk. Now it kind of feels weird when I have more than one beer. Strange times, strange times indeed.

I digress here though, so back to the story. Houston is a pretty nice city to hang out in. The food there is undeniably awesome and we got to eat a variety of places I enjoyed a lot. Sushi, fried seafood, and steak — what a good three day streak of meals! And, Emily cooked for me so I even got the home cooked experience. Because she’s a terrorist sleeper cell from Saudi, she’s not, apparently, familiar with American things. She asked me if I had ever had chicken and dumplings. I thought that is the backbone of America? Jeez, I’m sure the next ingredient you’ll be using is fissionable nuclear material to take down freedom and democracy. Your move, traitor.

We climb the rock wall. I shouldn't have attempted this after two hours of working out...

There were other things that happened, like movies, court cases, and rock wall climbing (which I completely failed at) but the point is that I had a great time. It’s less that Houston is a good city and more that Emily is a great friend.

And she’ll be a  rich lawyer one day so I have to flatter her as much as I can to get invites to VIP yacht parties…

Get Out of My Gym

Ah, West Texas. Only here would you find this on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. What's funnier, the coyote or the fact that someone actually did this?

Well, it’s the new year — 2011, one year away from our inevitable destruction. If John Cusack survives the 2012 apocalypse, it’s still a complete loss in my eyes. So, I have been neglecting this for a while. It’s not really out of a lack of interest. I think about updating this daily but by the time I get home I usually want to work out, shower, and go to bed. Yes, my life is the pinnacle of excitement.

Anyway, I’ve always seen those commercials on TV about joining a gym after New Year’s and I didn’t realize that people actually flock to the gym like that. Today it was actually impossible to do anything. Every machine, even the old busted bikes with the giant wheels, were being used. I can’t believe how many people were there. Definitely over 100 (whereas before there were maybe 10). What’s sad is that people have to have this trigger to get to the gym. If you want to work out, just go to the gym. I ended up starting about this time last year though it was because I wanted to rather than what everyone always does. Anyway, the whole concept just seems weird. I’m wondering how long it will take for them to fizzle out. The lady behind the desk says March and it’ll be completely back to normal. Can’t come soon enough.

So besides the gym frustrations, I spent my New Year in Dallas for the Chastain family reunion. Good times, good food. I wish we had more time to go explore Dallas a little, but we’re usually in and out pretty quick. I managed to get some sort of awful sinus infection (girls dig it), and missed most of work last week. I really hate just sitting around all day doing nothing, especially for the better part of a week. I ended up just playing video games (c’mon like I would read a book?). I felt pretty awful. I’m not sure how Sam could sit around and play Battlefield from 8 AM to 8 PM at my apartment… I guess that’s considered a skill.

Pretty nice ride. Can't wait to take it off some sick jumps. (You got like 4 feet of air that time.)

One of the cooler things to happen is that my dad sold his motorcycle and bought a pretty sick Jeep. I think it’s a lot more practical than a motorcycle and I can’t wait to beast mode it at Big Bend later this year. Hopefully when it’s warmer. This cold weather stuff is for chumps.

And finally, the Navy got back to me. My commission was denied for all three fields, meaning I’ll go back to being enlisted and doing the nuclear field. Not all bad, but I can’t help feel like there was something more I could have done. Also it means I’ll be here until May. Trying to hold down the fort until then.

So in the spirit of resolutions, I was thinking about making one to go with the fad, but I just came up with a list of stuff I want to do before I die, unless I die first. And here it is:

  • Sky dive. This is my biggest fear in the entire world. It’s not natural to jump out of a perfectly good plane. Also if the chute doesn’t open you’ll have to think about how much you shouldn’t have jumped out of that plane. But, I want to do it so I can say I did it.
  • Get in a shark cage with pissed off sharks. One of our relatives works in Galveston for a nonprofit dealing with ocean life, so I will have to get her advice. I’ll probably have to do it in Mexico to make it cheap. I feel like either way, I’ll be charged an arm and a leg, one more literal than the other.
  • Run a marathon. This sounds so ridiculously impossible. By the time I hit 8 miles I’m nearly dead. How do people do that? It’s insane. It will kill me. Might as well do it.
  • Get back to Australia. Man, I love that place. I have to go back and relive some of the best experiences of my entire life. In general, I just want to travel. Maybe that’s why the Navy was so appealing?
  • This is the poster for a documentary on why we shouldn't like spiders.

    Hold a tarantula. This is right up there with skydiving. They are hell spawn abominations. I hate spiders, but I really hate the massive tarantulas. I get sick to my stomach just thinking about them. So, I better man up and hold one.

  • Have a stranger recognize me for something I’ve done. And, hopefully that’s a good something. I don’t want to be a star, but it would be pretty awesome if I was known for something awesome — like that guy who went to Mexico and jumped into a shark cage and ended up losing an appendage much to the delight of YouTube.
  • Pay off all my debt. I’m actually closer to this goal than I have been in years. I finally got my credit card completely paid off — the first time since I turned 18. At this point, I’ll try not to use it again. Now all I have are my student loans. Awesome.
  • Give more. I really would like to give more. Right now, it’s hard to give much of anything since I’m pretty constrained with the aforementioned student loans. But I feel like it’s a good thing in general to get in the practice of giving. Maybe not money at this moment, but time. I do have time off occasionally and I really should try to do something productive with it instead of sit in front of YouTube wasting my life.

 

Life in Midland

Thanks a lot, jerks.

Shortly after joining the Navy, I was told that I would have to wait until March (eventually until May) to ship and so I was faced with a unique situation: I couldn’t get a long term job, but I needed money to pay off all my college lifestyle credit card debt (both living in Australia and just going out with Sam, Christian, and the rest of the guys so often my senior year). As well, I saw the impending, looming, daunting shadow of my debt from going to school at Trinity University. I shelled out so much money to go there, it’s kind of ridiculous. In the end, however, they sent me a generous refund check… of 1 dollar. Seriously, just rub it in you jerks. Every time I get a letter in the mail asking alumni for financial contributions I curse out loud and rip the letter up. I took a class called Underwriting and Development, so I know that Trinity has staff that knows not to make requests in such a jackass way.

Either way, as a result of all this debt and the fact that my apartment contract was coming for an end, I was forced to consolidate and do something I vowed never to do again: return to Midland and get a job until I leave. At the time, I was looking at March as the latest, though I have no idea what it might be at this point. The advantage of going home was purely monetary in nature because I hate Midland, I hate the people in Midland, I didn’t know anyone there, and living back at home can be frustrating. That, and the issue is coupled with a lot of tension between them right as I was getting back, meaning I was thrust into arguments that I had thought I escaped from in 2006 when I left for San Antonio.

Probably the cutest baby I’ve ever seen

Thankfully, I’m not completely alone because I do have my brother and his new niece to visit, and that’s always a relief since we grew up with the same frustrations as a kid so I can have someone to share with. And, for the first month or two, I met a girl who I really thought I clicked with, but I must have done something or she found my character to be unsavory, because she stopped calling and texting in that way that people do when they’re too embarrassed to say “I don’t like you. Stop talking to me.” If I had to guess, it’s because I’m not particularly Christian. Church hasn’t made a lot of sense to me and the morals imposed there seem superficial and not applicable to modern society. Then again, Midland is stuck in 1965 when it comes to things like that.

Welcome to Nowhere, Texas

But, being completely alone has its perks. First, I was able to get a job with a company called Two Rivers Pipeline Construction that has me driving all over West Texas and New Mexico. It’s time away from the house, from the family, and gets my mind off the looming uncertainties of the future. Second, I spend most of my time at the gym, generally for the same reasons as work. I don’t like being at home, and I really wish I had my own place, but I have too much debt to pay off and a who-knows-when ship date that have made it impractical to do much else.

So between work and working out, the only thing I’ve done is play a few video games. Few being the key word because I really don’t have the patience for them like I used to. I want to play 15 minutes at a time and I dislike playing online because everyone is an idiot. The majority of my gaming time I spend playing Xbox 360 games with my brother, which is always a good stress relief.