Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mingling with the stars

100326-N-1926C-034 NAVAL BASE CORONADO, Calif. (March 26, 2010) The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) arrives at Naval Air Station North Island. Nimitz and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 returned to its homeport of San Diego after completing an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handler) 3rd Class Amanda Cabasos/Released)

Another beautiful day in San Diego, and one day closer to our INSURV inspection!  I pulled this shot off of to give you guys a better view of where I currently work.  I'm about to get kicked out of Panera Bread so this has to be really short. 

My blog posts may be sporadic and with even less storytelling logic than in the past.  At this point, I'm just taking random photos and writing about what I think would be interesting/helpful.

This is MC3 Adam Wolfe.  Who's Adam Wolfe you say??? Shame on you.  He's the original Fort Meade 'A' blogger.  He was the source of information and inspiration for me and my blog, and we're stationed on the same ship!  I gave him a shout-out on the first page of my blog.  Check out his blog here.

Things got...awkward...when I asked for an autograph.


Be ready to be around not-so-bubbly Sailors when you report to a ship.  You will have conversations with people that, for whatever reasons, just aren't happy.  I get the feeling my own considerable determination and good attitude will be put to the test here.  Remember why you joined, and be prepared to hold on to it with all you're worth.

CLARIFICATION:  For everyone writing me about this...  1.  Wolfe is great, and is a very happy guy.  2.  The photos are faked.  3.  The survival tip isn't related to the photos, it was just what was on my mind that day.  4.  I cannot confirm or deny rumors that MC3 Wolfe will return in glorious fashion to the world of blogging.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What lies beneath

Training for an emergency!  I'm happier than I look.

Okay I have to hurry up and post this because the internet is really unruly here.  I'm sitting at a recreation center on Naval Base San Diego.  There's 50 others here with the same idea as me...

I'm continuing to learn my way around and things are getting a little easier.  I've successfully memorized the location of THREE heads (bathrooms) on the ship!


They had grapes AND pineapples today!  There's only iceberg lettuce at the salad bar, though. No nutritional value...

The Nimitz is like a giant anthill, with blue ants scrambling back and forth along its tunnels.  Seriously, it's like a highway in there, and people move fast.  You have to step out of your berthing hatch (bedroom door), merge with the other ants, and turn on the gas.

If I don't know where I'm going, I just pretend by walking real fast and purposefully.

The guys in my shop do pushups, pullups, and situps at random times throughout the day.  I cannot stress enough how much I love that.  Being able to work out in the middle of the work day adds energy and saves time.

The tour group on the Nimitz flight deck.  The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Carl Vincent are in the background.

I've been carrying trash, hauling cargo, and crawling around in dumpsters since I got here.  The ship is undergoing INSURV right now.  It happens every five years and ensures a ship is ready for war.

I was beginning to wonder if I should keep polishing my boots everyday when suddenly I was called to help escort a tour group through the ship.  It immediately became clear why we're trained to look good.  For one hour, I was a representative of the Navy for 12 civilians. 

Dinner at Outback with some of the MCs.


Get out of the ship when you get the chance!  Sunshine and relaxation are key when you live in such cramped conditions. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

The belly of the beast

The Top Gun theme played in my head as the Nimitz arrived.
My home is now the USS Nimitz!  I recently watched in awe as the massive carrier pulled into port.  After a considerable wait, all the new Sailors were taken aboard to get situated.

It's a whole new game now.

Wray in the tv studio's control room.

Wray is my assigned "sponsor", and is my guide while I get acclimatized to ship life.  Over the weekend he showed me the places where I'll be spending the most time, such as the media center (where we edit footage) and the tv studio (where we broadcast the news). 

This is my unhappy face.

It's going to take some time to used to my new life.  I was not prepared for the living quarters.  They were much more cramped than I was expecting.  To my right there's another stack of three bunks.  I have no idea how people operate in such a small space.

I woke up in my rack last night needing to go to the bathroom.  I realized immediately that I had no idea how to find it.  I've been there twice but will need a few more trips to seal it to memory.

The view of San Diego from the Coronado bridge is a nice morale booster.

I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed by everything right now.  I expect it'll take weeks to get my bearings.  I think getting the first work week under my belt will ease the stress a bit.

It helps that Naval Base Coronado is in such a cool location.  There's some great motorcycle rides here and the weather is perfect every day.

I'm not sure what I'm allowed to take photos of, but will post more soon.  Wish me luck people!


Get into contact with your sponsor as soon as you know what ship you're assigned to.  If he/she doesn't call you, take the initiative and establish communication.  (you can probably find a number online)  The Sailors without sponsors had a tough time initially because no one was waiting to escort them onto the ship. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I am complete

 Metal love.
Break out the champagne, Siren made it!  Yesterday my motorcycle was delivered safe and sound to my waiting arms.  I immediately went for a ride, and everything was gravy.

If you know what I'm talking about.

The guys that brought Siren made sure the bike had enough gas and started ok before leaving.

The process was pretty painless and I'd definitely recommend Allied to ship your bike.  But use uShip first to see what kind of bids you can get.  (see earlier post about Uship)  Just be ready to talk to a lot of people throughout the transaction.  (corporate schedulers, dispatchers, individual drivers)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I am a transient

Emptying the trash is one of many not-so-glamorous jobs at TPU.

My stay on Coronado Island didn't last long.  After a little bit of confusion, I have ended up a few miles south at Naval Base San Diego.  I am staying at the TPU, or transient processing unit.

I'll be here until my ship pulls in to Coronado Island.  My new home is not nearly as nice.  During indoctrination on Monday, they told us which areas in the immediate vicinity to avoid.  The reason was gang activity.

But the weather's fantastic!

I share a room with three other guys.  Two of them are coming onto the Nimitz with me.  It's the first ship for all of us.  One is a nuclear technician, the other an aviation administrator.

The reactions to my job are varied.  Some want me to take a picture of them, others give me a you-lucky-dog smile.  I've already recruited two Sailors to take photos of me.  They seemed pretty stoked to get a photo credit.

When I told one Sailor about Admiral Moynihan reading the blog, he replied: "You guys have your own admiral?"

 Cleaning tile 74B...left-handed...there was only one glove.

I've been assigned to bathroom and p-way cleaning duty.  Monday through Friday, from 0730-1430, I clean toilets, showers, sinks, sweep & swab, take out trash, etc.

Once I'm free, I head straight for the internet locations.  I've been bouncing around trying different places.  Here I am studying for E-4 at the bowling alley while waiting for the Ravens game to start.

The various commands here PT during the day.  It's always 70 degrees, so why not?  They run, play football, soccer, frisbee, etc.  We don't PT at TPU.

Notice the small group of Soldiers in the lower left corner.  Ironic, coming from an Army base.

I've been swamped with acronyms since arriving.  I saw this sign and stood there wondering what SALUTES and PRIDE stood for.  I thought my salute was pretty good, but this made it sound much harder.  After heavy contemplation I'm 97% sure they're not acronyms.

The highlight of the last few days was watching the Ravens beat the Jets to start the season 1-0.  I met up with Marty (Carey) and his buddies from Combat Camera at Cabo Cantina in Pacific Beach.

Ignore that San Francisco hat.



1.  Be flexible.  If you find yourself thinking "This isn't in my job contract", squash it.

2.  Make sure your sponsor tells you where you need to go upon arriving.

3.  If you're eligible to take the E-4 exam after arriving, be sure the Fort Meade Navy detachment sets it up!  They need to forward the exam to your new command.  I have to wait a month because something went wrong and there's no test for me to take here.

4.  Keep your military bearing.  You're going to see a lot of Sailors that aren't at the level DINFOS teaches us.  Don't talk in formation, keep your uniform looking good, cover on outside.

Yeah it's crappy busy work, but do whatever job they give you with professionalism.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Welcome to Coronado Island

The view of the Pacific made me drop my bags in awe.

I've arrived at my new duty station, on Naval Base Coronado!  Fort Meade seems light years away right now.  Being on a huge Navy base for the first time is pretty cool.  (The gate guards are wearing NWUs!) 

I told the students to be reliable and treat their word as a valuable asset.

I gave the DINFOS students a final talk before I left.  They gave me a nice "awwwww" when I told them I was leaving the next day.  That was sweet.  My mother took photos and told Lieutenant Commander Cummings she was my press agent.

Votaw drove me onto Naval Base Coronado and past some great scenery.

My first piece of advice on transitioning to your first permanent duty station:

Have a shipmate who knows the area pick you up at the airport and show you around. 

Petty Officer 3rd Class Steve Votaw is an MC who showed me how to be a good section leader at Fort Meade.  He picked me up and took me on a tour of San Diego.  It was a true VIP experience.

My cheap camera is extremely homesick and refuses to focus but I feel good.  I'm still getting my bearings but will post more soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We have a winner!

 Ma and I at her prize lunch date at the Green Turtle in Arundel Mills, Md.
I swear she didn't already know.  My mother successfully guessed what Siren meant. 

Named after the mythological creatures that lured Sailors to their deaths with their song, my bike fits the bill perfectly.  She's got a beautiful sound, but if I'm not careful she'll kill me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summer's over - Siren's not

My trip to Florida came and went fast, as expected.  How could hanging out on the beach with good friends...

and partying on huge yachts NOT go by fast?  I mean come on!

It's a good thing I like my job... it wasn't too hard to come back. 

We cooked some burgers and ate while Mark regaled us with wonderful tales.  He's Australian, and if his countrymen are anything like him, I shall look forward to visiting Australia some day.

Desiree made us all feel weak and ashamed when she pulled off some Yoga maneuvers on the back dock.

The Amtrak Auto Train is my method of travel.  Here, the workers load the passengers' bikes up for the trip.

It's a long trip, too.  Seventeen hours!  I usually grab a seat with an empty one beside it and make a little bed.  It's almost long enough to stretch out in!

Running from Lorton, Va., to Sanford, Fl., the train offers a much easier way to travel.  And it allows me to ride my bike in Florida.

This sad shot is Siren loaded into the truck that will take her to San Diego.  Yes, I paid $700 to get my motorcycle cross-country.  It's my only ride, and I'm not going to miss the chance to cruise California.  And IF... I decide to sell it, the bike's nearby and not stuck in storage in Maryland somewhere.

At a friend's suggestion, I used a site called uShip. You put the price you want to pay and companies bid for it.  It's easy to use and so far I have no complaints.  I'll let you know in a few days how it went.

Oh, and if anyone can guess why my bike's called Siren you get a prize.

...I ship out in two days.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Embrace the Zen

Aram, Hector, me, and Michele before our 100-mile cruise.

I brought my bike down to Florida on the Amtrak Auto Train,  because I can't come here and not ride A1A up the coast.  Cruising at 35 mph, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal, is a Zen experience.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

So much sunshine

Photos by Michele Lopes

I'm on leave in Fort Lauderdale, and just went to the Museum of Discovery and Science.  That thing behind me moves colored balls through a massive track that winds around the entrance.

I got to do all sorts of fun interactive stuff, like fly a plane!

And watch cartoons about the wonders of water!

I am very impressed with Michele's ability to take pics of herself.

My people and I at Caliente Kitchen, on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach.  This is a great group, made up of video shooters & editors, chefs, a programmer, a captain, a yoga instructor, and King Wheatgrass.