Tuesday, September 2, 2008

crazy Jeju club

This Jeju nightclub was absurd! It was half Death Star, half Japanese video game - DDR style. This particular one was popular with a relatively older crowd.

The place was lit ridiculously, with automated walls. They kept opening and illuminated in different patterns. They would randomly drop platforms from the ceiling for the DJ and bands. They included a water show. The highlight was the ceiling opening up in 6 sections with bright lights and a foam bubbles.
Their custom was pretty strange. The bouncers would grab random Korean girls, who would kick and scream as they were being led to tables with guys, then sit politely with them. After a minute or two in front of the drink they would thank them and go off back to their table. Then the cycle would start again. No big mystery - everyone played along. Weird!

Jeju Island

Quick visit to Jeju Island, the "Hawaii" of Korea with my buddy Austin. It was a whirlwind of two day trip that felt more like going through the motions than a real vacation.

Did some ATV riding and skeet shooting - lame picture, but fun.

Excellent seafood buffet. Those yellow jet boats were out of order.

The maze wasn't too hard. Go Kart riding at the same place was a lot of fun. Scott and Billy rode their Harley's and took a ferry. I missed out on that one bigtime! That picture was in front of the "sex and health" museum.

The plan was to go hiking (right), but it was a bit overcast and we were late. Found out that the view is awesome if you have 4 hours to hike in each direction.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Bird!!!

Kip and Lafawnduh added a new member to the Family. Maybe Tina - if it's a girl... I've been worrying for the last few weeks because I used to see scurrying, chirps, and movement in the box, but it's been pretty quiet lately. I've been providing extra food and nesting material, but I haven't been able to tell what's going on. Lafawnduh viciously blocks the box with her whole body and pecks when I get near. Today I lured her away with a treat and got a picture of the little guy. Its head looks nearly full grown with a tiny body - gray and brown, but looks like it will be the same colors as its parents. Didn't want to use the flash - the chick's supercute!

Blog update

Haven't cleared the digital camera for awhile - here are a few pics that go with earlier posts:

Top level are from Mudfest. I love the truck with all the bottles pushing its way through the crowd.

Next are from President Bush-ie's visit. That was right in front of my building. The light on the right and its twin on the left were kept on for a few hours - throwing all kinds of heat at us.

Another pic of the president from behind. On the right's my over the top custom leather riding suit, complete with mesh lining, fake patches, and integrated protective pads. Amazing what kind of custom work you can get done for $420.

Here are a few pics prior to the Jump at Maeson-Ri. They hooked me and another Navy guy up with 3 chutes yesterday! Everyone else only jumped one. It was outrageous. We jumped in the 2nd, 5th, and 7th(last) balloon runs! Shortly after hitting the ground we grabbed another parachute, got rigged up and checked, then back up again. I still can't land exactly where I want, but I'm starting to get a feel for steering with the toggles! Next week will be big. It'll be a Friendship jump with our Korean counterparts. So I'll get a chance to present a set of my wings to one of them and recieve Korean ones. Not only that, but my first Helicopter jump (CH-47) and my 10th, earning my gold Navy and Marine Corps parachutist.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cherry Jump!

My first scheduled jump from a CH-47 Chinook was canceled due to weather - it's still Monsoon season here. Lucky for me the balloon jump still happened. You go up in a small blimp-looking balloon that's tethered to a wench on the ground. The "gondola", a small, rickety, metal platform with vinyl siding takes up 4 American jumpers and our Korean jumpmaster - I'm told it's good for 6 Koreans. It's very different from any other platform we jump. Instead of a fast mass exit from a loud and fast moving aircraft, you step off the edge of the calm balloon one at a time, rocking the gondola for everyone else. Instead of a series of well rehearsed, exact commands and responses, our Korean host moved the chain out of the way and waved his hand - not unlike waiting in line for a carnival ride.

Being outside of a training command was a welcome change. The process of getting suited up and inspected, and the pre-brief and practice were a piece of cake. The controllable toggles and beautiful site added a nice touch.

Unfortunately my detachment sergeant wasn't available for my first jump. I missed the opportunity to be properly indoctrinated. He had cherry pies for each pocket in my cargo pants.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Presidential Visit

I was invited to see the President speak. Although we filled the gym with what must have been close to 1000 spectators, space was available. Based on OEF/OIF participation, I was selected as one of ten from our command to sit directly behind him in the bleachers. I didn't get any good pictures so I used a few that I found online.

His speech was interesting enough, the event motivational. It was entertaining to see the level of attention that went into every minute detail - secret service, water carefully placed at the last moment, labels on the ground for where he and the generals stood.

There's a lot going on with the US and Korea in the coming years. It'll be interesting to see which direction it goes. Kapchi Kapchida!

Friday, July 18, 2008

North Korea - Hotel of Doom!

I get a kick when North Korea decides to rattle it's sword or show off to the rest of the world. It blows my mind every time I read/learn more about them. For example, the part about installing antennas even though NK citizens aren't allowed to have/use cell phones. And the propaganda.

Be sure to take a DMZ tour if you come to Korea. Interesting stuff that will hopefully be over in coming years.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Boryeong Mud Festival

Going to the Mud Festival was a last minute decision that turned out to be a lot of fun! We took a 2 hour bus ride to the little beach town that houses the annual event. They truck in tons of nasty mineral rich beauty mud. The outdoor event brings in about 1.5 million people during the one week period! They had local live bands, mud slides, mud wrestling, vendors, and lots of other local activities. Good fun!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tasty local food

My friend came back from a local vacation in Korea. Among his awesome nature pictures with his family was this. Click the image for the full effect. Apparently that long wormy looking one is a Hagfish, which enters a Cod via the Anus and eats it from the inside out. It was dead, but that didn't keep it from squirming when it first came out on the plate. Gross! He told me about those other items on the plate - none sounded much better.

Korean food has been growing on me, but I've yet to run across something like that!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July madness

Had to make the most of my last day home. I'd just come back from visiting Emma in Napa. A few hours of napping, then off. I managed to crash three different parties in separate areas! Good to see everyone. I'm ready to be back home!

Tahoe with the family

Typical family vacation for us - we were back home approximately 27 hours after departing. It's tough to get us all together at once!

It was a fun trip, though. Got a chance to lounge around the first day, enjoy a few nice meals, then went on a mini-hike at Emerald Bay.

Beautiful scenery at Tahoe! It was only a mile down, but felt like more on the way up!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A day in the city

Today we went to San Francisco to visit a few relatives. The weather was nice and, thanks to a certain GPS FM receiver, traffic wasn't bad. Always good to visit family and eat well. Pictured on the right is a woman with a fur coat riding a moped, complete with shopping bag dangling off the handlebars. A front picture would have done it justice.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ducati Woes...

Even though my bro's been firing it up occasionally, my Ducati battery died in storage. So I won't get a chance to ride my baby this week :-(. Actually, that makes two dead motorcycles since I did the same thing with my BMW in Seoul. Oh well - maybe next time.

It's nice to drive my Honda Accord again. My mom's been taking good care of it.

Wakeboarding in Sacramento

Kept up the old tradition of going wakeboarding with Glenn. Always begins at about 11:00 on a Sunday morning - the routine has been the same as long as I can remember, even though I only make it once a year these days. We waterski and wakeboard down river to the Freeport Inn for an outstanding brunch then fill ourselves with a huge plate of fries and their famous "Mile High Mud Pie" - today they were out so we settled for the "Banana something or another".

It was good to get on the river again with the family. I felt pretty good on the wakeboard, getting some decent air. Missed out on the waterskii pictures though.

That's me on the left (jumping left) and my Goofy little Bro' jumping right.

Done at last with Airborne School

Airborne school has got to be the longest short school I've ever been to. With more time I would have blogged about the experience as I went through it. Descriptions and attitude would have been very different from day to day.

That said, I safely completed my first five jumps to earn my basic parachutist wings. I'm now a Five Jump Chump, looking forward to knocking a few more out at my unit. C-130 and C-17 jumps provide totally different experiences. The older prop driven 130s are crammed inside and require a short exit jump. Its prop blast, or jetstream is noticeably hot and doesn't throw you too bad. The C-17 may not look like much, but that beast has power. Guess I didn't really believe the C-17 pilot that I used to do Mui Thai with in Charleston. Those guys would hold the brakes and rev the 4 jet engines. Takeoff felt like a quarter mile launch followed by a hard bank followed by a leveling off maneuver that felt like a roller coaster. That ended up being more thrilling than the jump. A few of the girls in my "stick" (jump group of 30) made hillarious faces and complained about how horrible the 17 was - I loved it.

The jumps were relatively uneventful, as they should be. The night jump in combat gear was particularly fun.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hot 'lanta

Fort Benning is in Columbus. This is a picture from the part of town I'm staying. The good news is that my friend Chuck flew in to Atlanta to come visit me for the weekend - what a good guy! Neither of us had been around the city much.

The Olympic Park area was very nice. I had no idea that there were so many attractions in such a small area. It was pretty much a zoo of people.

We went to the aquarium first, only to find that our tickets were could only be purchased several hours out. No worries, there was a lot to see in the adjacent park and CNN building. The aquarium was interesting, but hardly the "best in the world". They did a nice job with 5 major themed areas and the props that surrounded the tanks.

Next we walked next door to the "World of Coca Cola". They didn't advertise it, but military got free admittance - sweet! I enjoyed all the old authentic Coke advertising that they had on display. The bulk of the exhibit was informative, but pretty dry.

Their grand finale was lots of fun, albeit sickening. They gave you a plastic cup and had 64 different taps of drinks from around the world. Surprisingly, most of the Asian ones weren't that bad - I'd had several already. There were a few served in Europe and South America that were disgusting! One in particular from Italy - the name escapes me - was atrocious. It was like a foul soda version of grapefruit juice that burned your throat with a disgusting aftertaste. Ughh! I really liked some of the exotic fruit Fantas.

A little more wandering around the Olympic Park area, then on to a Braves game. There were other things to do, but we'd pretty much filled our Saturday.

That night we went to a Braves Games. Chuck really wanted to go to a baseball game in Asia. We couldn't find one in Korea and missed our chance in Tokyo - our stop at the Kirin Beer factory tour on the way back from Yokohama put us back too late.

The game was pretty eventful. The middle was pretty slow, but the Braves made an exciting comeback against the Mariners in the 9th.

Chuck's one of those guys who can find a historic site, monument, or landmark anywhere. I had never heard of Stone Mountain Park, but he insisted on going before making it back to the airport. I was a little nervous because I had to be back for "manifest" or supposedly I wouldn't be able to jump and graduate.

Take a pool of magma, wait a couple hundred million years, then a few more for erosion and you get Stone Mountain. Eventually some dude chisels Southern Civil War generals in the side and there you go.

We took the gondola up to the top to enjoy an Italian Ice and a (foggy) view of Atlanta. Chuck and I have had a "Tower" theme to our travels so this was a reasonable substitute. He's afraid of heights, but that didn't stop us from Skydiving in Vegas last August.