Tag Archives: California

Americans in Paris: 2006

After leaving Guam in June of 2005, we began a new journey towards the other side of the world.  But first, a pit stop in Monterey, California to learn the language of love, le français.  My husband and I went to school just like our kids from 8 am – 3 pm Monday through Friday for 6 months.  The  differences were my husband and I lived, breathed, and dreamed in French 24/7 for those 6 months, AND I still had all of my mommy/housewife duties too.  Everyone tried to chip in and help, but overall, I was stressed out with wanting to be the perfect French student, mom, and wife. 

Miraculoulsy, we all made it through those 6 months and packed up all our household goods to be shipped overseas to Paris, France.

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Welcome Home: Guam 2002

We arrived in Guam in October of 2002 after spending a glorious year in one of  my favorite cities in the US, Coronado, CA.  It is a beautiful city with beautiful weather and wonderful people.  We rented in a neighborhood with million dollar homes facing a golf course and lived paycheck to paycheck to do it.  At least it was only a year!  Or, too bad it was only a year!

I remember stepping outside the airport in Guam for the first time and thinking, “I am in  H * E * double hockey sticks!”  The humidity had to have been well over 100%, and we could hardly breathe because the air was so thick.  But eventually my Florida body got used to the heat and humidity, and we settled into our life on the little Pacific island.  And then December 8, 2002 came along.

“HAGATNA, Guam (AP)–Typhoon Pongsona slammed into Guam on Sunday with intense rain and winds gusting to at least 117 mph, forcing thousands of residents to seek safe shelter.  Six men were reported missing after a gasoline tank at Apra Harbor exploded during the storm, Civil Defense officials said.  Efforts to reach the scene were hampered by storm debris.  Gov. Carl Gutierrez declared a state of emergency and activated the Guam National Guard to help with disaster response and recovery efforts.  The Civil Defense Command Center received reports of downed utility poles, tree limbs and flying debris.  At least one home was believed destroyed, but there were no initial reports of serious injuries.  By noon, about 2,271 people were staying in shelters, said Vince Leon Guerrero, Department of Education response activity coordinator.  The maximum wind speed of 117 mph was clocked before the National Weather Service’s wind sensor failed, along with its radar.  With no radar, the NWS had to use satellite imagery coming in every hour to locate the eye of the storm.  With winds at the center of storm estimated at 150 mph, the storm gained ‘supertyphoon’ status.  As of 5 p.m. (2 a.m. EST), the storm was 35 miles east-northeast of Guam, moving northwest at 12 mph, officials said.  ‘We’re still in the eye wall,’ NWS forecaster Sarah Prior said.  ‘We don’t know exactly how long, but maybe in the next three hours we should be out of the eye wall and the winds should begin to taper off.’  She said typhoon-force winds of 75 mph were expected until early Monday, ‘but it should be decreasing.’  Earlier forecasts predicted the 30- to 35-mile wide eye of the storm would go directly over the island.  After passing Guam, the storm was expected to skirt neighboring Rota, one of the Northern Mariana Islands, forecasters said.  Guam is a U.S. territory located west of the international date line, about 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.  As the storm approached, Guam Civil Defense officials urged residents to seek shelter in designated schools.  Celina Quidachay and her family, who recently finished rebuilding their home destroyed July 5 by Typhoon Chataan, sought refuge at Astumbo Elementary School in Dededo.  ‘It’s a lot to handle,’ Quidachay said.  ‘The worst part is waiting to find out, to see what the kids and I still have.’  More than 400 people filled the school, forcing late arrivals to seek shelter elsewhere.  Some residents checked into the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, which started the day at 70 percent occupancy.  Manfred Pieper, the hotel’s general manager, said he expected it to be full by mid-afternoon.  Carlos Camacho of Talofofo moved into the hotel with many family members, including his wife, who is eight months pregnant.  He said he chose to evacuate to the Hilton because the hotel is close to Guam Memorial Hospital.  Meanwhile, long lines formed at gas stations to fill tanks and cans for electrical generators.  At the S&L Mart, residents stocked up on necessities.  ‘They come in here for junk food,’ said Giovanna Leon Guerrero, whose family runs the store in Inarajan.  ‘They get candles and batteries, too.  And ice, water and beer.’  Pongsona passed north of Chuuk state in the Federated States of Micronesia on Saturday.  Although there was some crop damage and minor landslides, there were no reports of serious injuries on the main island of Weno, accordking to Chuuk disaster officials.  The FSM (Federated States of Micronesia) is located about 620 miles southeast of Guam.”

Guam, a US possession, is a tiny island in the west Pacific measuring 30 miles long and an average of 8 miles wide and lies 13 degrees north of the equator.  The temperature varies from about 75 to 85 degrees throughout the year which was awesome for a Florida girl like me – flip flop weather everyday!  Most houses are built to withstand typhoons which are like hurricanes in the States and look like concrete boxes all over the island.  We lived at Andersen Air Force Base at the north end of the island because it has the only military airport (and my husband being a helicopter pilot kind of needed it).  The Naval Base Guam, or Big Navy as it’s sometimes called, is located towards the southend of the island.

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News Flash from Japan

Continued from my earlier post Our First Overseas Adventure:  Japan 2000 (part 10).

“4/8/01  Hello, Home, I always debate as to whether I am going to tell everyone what is going on because things change so much in the Navy; you never know if things will turn out the way you want or expect.  On that note, I am going to tell you what our current situation is and what we are trying to do.  I found out last month that there is an O-4 with orders to replace me in June of this year.  That means that I have an opportunity to leave here 6 months early.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this, and initially I did not want to leave because after June I would get to spend the whole summer with SR and the kids.  I didn’t want to roll straight from here, zip through the Fleet Replacement Squadron (helicopter training) and then right back out to sea.  That would also change when I went to San Diego and make it so that I would be flying H-46’s…bad.  Well, our Air Boss made a suggestion that I couldn’t believe; he said, ‘Well, why don’t you just go to the Wing in San Diego and help them set up the H-60 (the Navy’s Army Blackhawk) program?’ It is too good to be true.  The ship is behind my early release, and I have talked to the detailer (the guy who writes my orders), and he is going to try to make it happen.  Here is the plan:  Detach from Sasebo July 20 and go straight to Florida for 30 days leave en route.  We would spend the summer visiting (SR would also like to see her mom and sisters) as well as going to Pensacola to check out the house.  Following leave we would go to the Wing in San Diego until January 21, 2002.  Then I would learn to fly H-60’s for 5 months and then go to Guam.  We could take 30 days leave on the way to Guam if we wanted to.  We’ll see – you know how things went last time we tried to go to San Diego.  I am trying to check into NAS North Island in Coronado before school starts there so that the kids would get a whole year there before going to Guam.  This is great because it doesn’t change my timeline and I still get to fly 60’s.  This hasn’t happened yet, so I can’t get my hopes up, but this is a nice alternative to staying here and going to sea in the fall.  In other news, things here are great.  I love being back with SR and the kids, and once again have fallen into the coaching role (if only for two weeks).  Yesterday, Jay’s base team played against the Japanese team he used to be on.  It was a very good game even though the Japanese team won 12 to 6.  Jay pitched the last half of the game and allowed only 2 runs.  He is a thinker and threw some amazing trash at those poor kids.  Our first pitcher throws much faster than Jay, but he is 12 and about twice his weight.  He also throws the ball in the same place every time.  Jay, on the other hand, had them swinging at balls that landed ten feet out in front of them and then watched strikes go by.  In one case I told him to look out for one of their batters (their best player hitter who hit a home run off of the first pitcher), so Jay threw him four balls.  He could have ben a little less obvious, but it was funny.  One ball must have gone 20 feet in the air!  Mr DL and Lulu are on the same team… the Angels.  SR loves it and is so proud that her team is doing well (especially since some of the parents are starting to complain about the crummy coaching of the first team they were on).  I think she is doing a great job.  Mr. DL is having a blast, and all he wants to do now is play catch and hit balls off of the tee.  Lulu is having fun too and is getting a little more caught up in the game because the poor girl is outnumbered especially now that SR is coaching.  I am on watch now and it has been a busy night.  It is time to go to sleep, so I will bid you goodnight.  G8r”

“6/25/01  I hope you liked the e-mail from Jay.  We had a fantastic time on that golf course, and he loved the fact that I lost more balls than he did.  We finally received orders and are slated to depart here in early August.  I really enjoyed reading your e-mails about the farm and how the hay season is going.  It makes me miss home, and I can’t wait to get back there.  That doesn’t mean that we aren’t having fun here though.  The Japanese are some of the nicest people I have ever dealt with.  I see where they can be incredibly frustrating when you can’t speak the language, but my Japanese has really improved since I got back.  I love watching the looks on their faces when I start talking to them.  They generally light up and smile although a couple of times they have just laughed because I used the wrong word (just a couple of times).  I saw a comedy routine once where a young Chinese guy steps onto the stage and starts talking with a wicked Tennessee accent.  Sometimes I wonder if that’s how I come across.  Oh well, we are having fun, and I am going to try to schedule a trip to Mount Fuji before we leave.  G8r”

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