Saturday, December 21, 2013

When 82 degrees feels cold... know you've been living in the tropics for awhile!  Seriously.  When I go outside in the mornings or go to a movie at night, I need a sweatshirt!  Last week, after the movie, the temp on our car read 82 degrees.  I had a long-sleeved shirt on and had wished that I had a blanket.  I was freezing!  And yes, I realize this is utterly ridiculous.  I sincerely apologize to all my friends and family who are currently experiencing sub-zero weather.  =)

Friday, December 13, 2013

An Outsider's View

Recently, the youngest person to have traveled to every country in the world visited us in Guantanamo Bay.  He has website and wrote a post about his experience here.  It is very accurate, well written, and contains several good pictures.  Check it out!

Click here to read his article

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can scarcely believe that it has been more than a year since we've been here and we are at the start of our second holiday season here.  Time is flying by very quickly for sure.  We celebrated today with a traditional meal and enjoyed several guests.  We had a Jamaican father and son, a Filipino from our church, a young soldier who is like part of our family and a young sailor who we have recently gotten to know more.  The Jamaicans and the Filipino said that this was their first Thanksgiving meal ever.  Since they got seconds and also piled plates full to take home, I think that I can safely say that they enjoyed it!  It always makes me happy when someone enjoys the food that I prepare.

The highlight of my day was when we allowed the young sailor to use our phone to call home.  His Mom asked if she could speak to me and extended her gratitude for taking care of her son.  I am absolutely honored that we get to be a home away from home for a few of these young servicemen and women.  They truly make a huge sacrifice when they sign up to serve our country.

Happy Thanksgiving from Guantanamo Bay!  May we all remember that we have so much to be grateful for not only today, but each and every day!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Should We Eat Tonight?

I am sheepishly poking my head back into the blog world.  For those of you who are either considering coming down or who already have orders to come down and have been daily checking the blog for a new post, I apologize for not keeping up lately!  I know when we were in the same position, we eagerly checked a blog every single day for a new post.  It's not that I've run out of things to say!  Quite the contrary.  It's simply the fact that we are incredibly busy.  As I've mentioned before, I homeschool my 6 children, and coupled with that fact is that they all play soccer, several are in Girl Scouts, some work, several play on the worship team, and they all have friends!  Plus, I know this is hard to believe, but they want to eat three meals a day and tend to wear lots of clothing that then needs washed.  So, there you have it.  The busyness of life just got to me and hence I've neglected the blog.  I promise to try and keep up better. to the actual post.  =)

I thought it would be fun to list all the restaurant here and next to each give a brief description and then tell what my favorite thing to order is.

The Galley - this is the chow hall and there are four separate galley locations around the base.  Cost for breakfast is $2.50 and lunch and dinner are $4.60.  I have several favorite foods there, but I especially love their homemade yeast rolls.

Bayview - this is our (almost) upscale dining experience.  Tablecloths and cloth napkins grace the tables and the view is beautiful.  It is only open for dinner except on Sundays when it is open for Brunch.  My favorite food there is Mongolian Night which is every Thursday.

Jerk House - Jamaican jerk at it's finest.  Take-out only, although there are picnic tables to sit at and enjoy your meal.  I usually order the combination plate with Jerk chicken, ribs, beans and rice, coleslaw and a johnny cake.  Since I absolutely LOVE the burn of jerk sauce, I request extra.

Caribbean Coffee and Cream - known around GTMO simply as "The Triple C", this place serves Starbucks coffee, smoothies, Breyers ice cream, and some baked goods.  They usually only have between 4-6 flavors of ice cream, but thankfully they always seem to have Mint Chocolate Chip!

Subway - hardly needs an explanation.  The only thing different here is that they make some really yummy pizza!  They serve everything that a stateside Subway serves with the exception of spinach and cucumbers as a sandwich topping choice.  There are three Subways on the base: one at the NEX, on at the Marine Hill Mini Mart and one at the airport on Leeward.

McDonald's - again, not much of an explanation is needed.  This McDonald's doesn't have everything that a stateside McDonald's offers.  I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a McDonald's fan, but I am really loving the new Chicken Wraps!  Since it is the only restaurant with a drive-thru, I find myself there fairly often when a quick dinner is needed.

Pizza Hut Express - serves pizzas, breadsticks and wings.  They don't have the full menu like you would find in the states.  They do offer delivery though and I take advantage of that quite often as well.

The Windjammer - this reminds me of a typical chain restaurant that serves burgers, sandwiches, salads, and then some specialty items like steaks, fajitas, and pasta dishes.  My favorite thing to eat here is their fried zucchini and the sweet potato fries.

Cuban Club - run by a Cuban who was born on the base to Cuban exile parents.  The food is amazing! I have never eaten anything that I don't love there.  One of my favorite dishes is the Pepper Steak.  Since they make everything from scratch when you order, the waiting time can be long, but they do allow call ahead orders.  Worth the wait!

Rasta Hill- ok, so I'm not even sure if it's officially called Rasta Hill, but it is an open-air style kitchen that is open on the weekends for dinner only.  They serve traditional Jamaican food and their johnny cakes are to-die-for amazing!

O'Kelley's - this is actually a bar that is in the same building as The Windjammer and they serve food from that menu as well.

Rick's Lounge - the officer's club, and again, not actually a restaurant, but it is in the same building as The Bayview and food can be ordered off of that menu and served in the lounge.

Taco Bell - located in the bowling alley and serving all the regular menu items.  I could be wrong, but the tacos and burritos seem to be more generously filled here than at their stateside counterpart.  My favorite thing about the Taco Bell is that they have Cherry Coke in their soda fountain.

House of Yum - fast food style Chinese.  They are located next to Taco Bell at the bowling alley.  I have only eaten there twice and their menu changes so I don't really have a favorite there yet.

As I review this list, I realize that we are quite fortunate to have as many choices available as we do.  Of course, nothing could compare to the plethora of choices that the states have to offer, but as I've mentioned before, I tend to embrace the simplicity of GTMO.  It sure makes it easier to choose where to eat on date night!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The GTMO Freeway

The maximum speed limit on the base is 25 mph, except for one road which leads out to the beaches.  On this one lonely stretch, we can drive 35 mph.  Assuredly, after driving 25 most of the time, it feels quite fast!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Me

Yesterday marked our one year anniversary of living in gtmo.  I'm a day late because, go figure, our phone (and therefore internet) lines got cut by accident on Friday during a construction project.  We couldn't get it fixed until this morning, so we spent the weekend without our phone and internet.  It is just funny because things like that happen often here.  I remind myself that I have two choices: complain or embrace it.  Admittedly, I was tempted to complain first, but then I (with some gentle prompting from my sweet husband) decided to embrace it and we enjoyed a media-free weekend.  You see, living here sometimes equals living the laid-back island life.  As the Jamaicans would say, "No problem mon".

In other news, my mom is here visiting for the next three weeks!  She is loving it already.  Having visitors is relatively easy here.  It isn't cheap, but it is fairly easy.  A round-trip flight is anywhere from $620-$840 (for non-military) to get here and flights only originate in Ft. Lauderdale or Jacksonville.  My mom lives in FL, so it is a quick trip to the airport for her.  If she were to live in another state, she would still have to pay for the cost of a round-trip to FL first.  Now that would get pricey!  Passports are a requirement for traveling here, and there is some paperwork that we have to fill out before our visitor comes, but other than that, it is just a matter of buying a plane ticket.

We are loving life here still.  I certainly don't want to live here forever, but I'm in no hurry to leave either!  One year passed so quickly, so I really want to take every opportunity to enjoy the time we still have.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Farewell, my friends

Prior to taking the job here, we researched everything we could about gtmo.  I read blogs, I looked through photos, I talked to everyone I knew who had been here before.  I knew ahead of time that it would be hot, that it doesn't rain much, that the commissary can sometimes be out of staples.  I knew there wouldn't be ample shopping opportunities, that I would have to give up my cell phone, that I would be confined to a very small piece of land.  I knew the internet would be slower, that iguanas would replace squirrels, and that I could only drive 25 mph.

I had prepared myself mentally and tried to prepare my family as well.  And I think I did a pretty good job.  Weighing the pros and cons, we were all willing to give up some choices and luxuries in order to enjoy a slower pace of life and enjoy the close community.  Shocked and surprised were not words that I used when I arrived.

There is, however, something that I didn't think about or prepare myself for.  The fact is, aside from a few Cuban exiles and some longtime contractors, no one lives here forever.  Everyone leaves.  We lived in a military community for 12 years, so we are very used to the comings and goings that military life inevitably brings.  But, there were also so many people who stayed.  There was a core group that was never going to leave.  We had several of the same neighbors for 7 years.  We went to church with the same people for 12 years.  Sure, some left, but not everyone.

Here, everyone leaves.  Or, we will leave them behind.  No one will be permanent neighbors for us.  We will, at some point, have to say goodbye to every single person that we have met here.  It is a stinky part about being here.  And it's hard.  On Monday, I had to say goodbye to my neighbor, Cindy, and her family.  We became instant friends and I got to enjoy the blessing of her being my neighbor for almost a year.  Next week, we will bid farewell to a couple of young men in our church who have become part of our family.  Then just a few short weeks later, we will bid farewell to another young man who is also very dear to us.

Tears are shed often around here, but what I must remember is that tears mean we have made life-long friends and no matter where our travels take us in life, we will be able to cherish the time we had, and perhaps even see them again!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's like Mayberry...only better!

I had heard this place described like Mayberry (ya know, The Andy Griffith Show?) before we moved here.  I describe it like that now.  We essentially live in a small town, only better!  Why is it better?  Well, I've lived in many smalls towns myself and while they are fantastic for the sense of community, it can often be difficult if you are a newbie.  So many small towns have residents who have lived there for years and can trace their family history back several generations.  Not so in gtmo.  Aside from a few Cuban exiles and some long-time workers, everyone is relatively new here.  And therefore, everyone is accepted readily.  There is a real "we're in this together" mentality.  Everyone seems willing to help each other out whether it is answering questions to learn the ropes or by sharing a rare item.  It is quite common here to loan a vehicle to a new neighbor, offer to pick up an item while visiting the states, or share an item that may be out of stock at the commissary.  Everyone knows everyone.  It is safe to allow the kids to watch the movie in the electronics department while grocery shopping.  If my kid is at the paintball range, I can call, ask for him by name, and the worker will know who I'm asking for.  We still have an operator.  If I don't know a number, I simply dial the operator and ask for it.

We have one gas station.  One store.  One movie theater.  One post office.  One McDonald's.  One chapel.  One school.  One hospital.  No traffic.  No DMV lines.  No stoplights.  No Wal-Mart.  No crime.

Yes, it's like Mayberry...only better!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

USCG Barque Eagle Visits Guantanamo Bay

We had a very special treat when the U.S. Coast Guard sailing vessel "Barque Eagle" visited Guantanamo Bay last week!  I have never seen such a majestic ship up close, let alone been able to board one and have a tour.  I was simply in awe.  The history is amazing.  Commissioned in 1936, it was originally a German Navy ship and was taken by the U.S. as a war trophy after WWII.  It was then commissioned as a USCG ship in 1946 and has been used to train cadets ever since.  The ship is nearly 300 ft long!  It is hard to get a real feel for how large this ship is by simply looking at pictures, but it is huge!

I found not only the ship to be amazing, but the history behind it as well piqued my interest.  Interested readers can find out more about the ship by reading here for the Wikipedia article or here for the official United States Coast Guard Academy site.  Enjoy!

The golden eagle on the bow used to hold a swastika in its talons.  Since acquiring the vessel, all swastikas on the boat have been removed or covered up.

One of three masts on the ship.  All the sails are set by hand which means a cadet must scale the rope ladders, climb out along the beams, untie the sails and set them.  

The ship is so large that it requires three helms with a person on each side to steer the rudder.  

My heart always swells with pride when I see Old Glory proudly flown

Eagle is not the original name of the ship.  The name Eagle dates back to the 1700's and several ships have carried the name.

Like the sails, the lines attached to them are also entirely set by manpower.  I was amazed to learn that there aren't any wenches to assist with the process!  I imagine that is partly what makes a voyage aboard the Eagle such a grueling experience.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gorgeous Flowers

Right now the island is blooming with tropical flowers in all sorts of vibrant colors.  My yard doesn't have many, but we do have a few.  I'm not even sure of the names of the various trees and flowers, but it doesn't diminish the fact that I thoroughly enjoy them!  Especially delightful is the fact that hummingbirds love these flowers and congregate regularly to drink the nectar.  I wish I had a picture of the hummingbirds, but they are too quick for me!

The flowers are beautiful, but Vincent's favorite part of this tree are these huge seed pods.  I'm pretty sure I've opened no less than 50 of these for him!

These grow right outside my front door.  The tree is very spindly though and there are only a few branches with sparse blooms.  Vincent loves to pick these and bring them to me by the handfuls.  I try and encourage him to leave them on the tree to enjoy, but he doesn't quite understand that just yet.  How can a mother say "no" to her son picking her flowers?

This one grows in our neighbor's yard.  Again, not sure of the name, but it looks and smells wonderful!

I do actually know the name for this one.  It is the pink plumeria and it smells even better than it looks! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Mango trees are plentiful here in gtmo and the season for the ripe fruit is upon us.  We have been enjoying fresh mangos for the last couple of weeks.  Mangos are one of our family's favorite fruits, so this is spectacular!  Not only is the fruit the best I've ever tasted, it is free!

Science fact of the day: Mango leaves, stems and sap contain a substance called urushriol - the same  substance found in poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak - and will cause a similar reaction. Vic learned this the hard way when he first arrived last summer!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Activities Galore

Has it really been over a month since my last post?  Trying to keep us with the busyness of life has kept me from the chance to stop and blog.  Anyone who says there isn't anything to do here is mistaken!  Along with my regular commitments of homeschooling and housekeeping, we have managed to keep a full (and sometimes overfull) schedule.  Baseball games, Soccer games, National Honor Society induction ceremony, Manatee watching (planning another post about this), Girl Scouts, VBS planning, and Birthdays are just a few of the activities that have managed to keep me on my toes.

So, I really hope to be back to blogging on a more regular basis!  Please stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's HOT!

Based on my experience so far, and from what I can gather from long-term residents, there are basically two seasons here: Hot and Warm.  About two weeks ago, I'd say we reverted back to the HOT season.  I honestly don't check the weather report very often because it would only be redundant.  It is mostly always sunny, doesn't rain very often, and is at least 80 degrees year round.  During the Hot season, that number jumps up to the 90's.  I am pleased to say though that during the months of January, February and March, the weather was absolutely glorious!  While it was still warm during the day, the intensity of the sun felt considerably less and I found that being outside was very pleasant and didn't result in instant sweating!

The mornings, evenings and night even felt cold at times.  I do realize that cold is a relative term and when I say cold, it was probably in the 60's.  Add a breeze to 60 degrees, and that can feel downright cold to those of us who are used to the intense heat!  Going fishing or to the movies at night time even required a light jacket or sweater.

So here we are, smack dab back in the middle of what I think is the start of a 9-month Hot season. Guess that is perfect weather for all the activities gtmo has to offer!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Sea fan, several sizes of sea urchins, a tiny starfish, and coral.

The Babies.  Check out the pic above to get an idea of the scale.  The starfish is the biggest in this pic, but is actually smaller than a quarter.  While many times, searching for the biggest shell is common, sometimes it's fun to find the teeniest shells too.  Those white sea urchins are smaller than a pea!

Three different shapes of sea sponges and two types of corals

Sea glass.  My favorite color is the sea foam green.  These colors: brown, dark green, sea foam green, and white are the most common colors.  Rare colors include cobalt blue, red, purple, yellow, and black.  

Various shells.  It is quite easy to come home with a gallon-sized bag of them after only one beach trip.

Another sea fan and a piece of driftwood.  The sea fans and sea sponges were quite plentiful after Hurricane Sandy.  Otherwise, they are quite easy to find while diving, but don't wash up on shore as readily as shells.

Boating License - Check!

Well, it's only taken me 8 months, but I finally did get my boating license!  This will open a whole 'nother world to us.  The bay is beautiful here and there are opportunities for kayaking, sailing, water-skiing, fishing, diving, etc.  Plus, there are a couple of beaches, which I hear are full of shells, that can only be accessed via boat.

The process of obtaining a license can be boiled down to four steps.

1. The Written Test - pick up a study packet at the Marina, study, then take the test when you feel ready.  While the test wasn't difficult, it DID require studying!  The test covers the basic rules of boating, the major landmarks within the bay, flags and their meanings, and rules specific to renting an MWR boat.

2. Driving Lessons - after passing the written test, an appointment for driving lessons can be made.  For me, I had to wait about 5 days.  The lessons consist mainly of teaching docking and maneuvering in small spaces.  I grew up on boats, so I was fairly familiar with the basics of operating a boat, but it sure has been a long time and I was quite nervous!  With some coaching, I quickly picked it up again and was able to make it through the whole lesson without crashing!  I think my instructor was just as thankful as I was!

3. Driving Test - it seems that sometimes the lesson and test can happen at the same time, but often it requires another appointment for this.  The test isn't hard, as long as you are a quick learner during the lessons and are able to duplicate the skills that were learned!

4. Orientation - this was by far the best part of the entire experience!  Once the driving test is passed, an orientation of the bay can be scheduled.  One of the employees takes a group for a boat ride around all of Guantanamo Bay.  My trip lasted around and hour.  It was the first time that I had traveled to various parts of the bay.  Even though I went on a sailing trip and have ridden the ferry numerous times, I had no idea there was so much of the bay that I hadn't seen!  The map that I had studied for so long on paper came to life during the trip.  Since we share part of the bay with Cuba, it is essential to know where our boundaries are.  Unexploded Ordnance is another danger posed in part of the bay.

Oh, one more thing to note: I had mentioned in another post that the entire process was free.  Well, I was wrong about that...when I went in to get my actual license, I had to pay a whopping $5, but I think I can handle that!  ;-)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Boating Licenses

I mentioned in a post last week that we were going to try and get our boating licenses.  Vic and I both took the written test a few days ago and passed.  At this point, we could rent non-motorized boats like a kayak or paddleboat.  We would like to rent a pontoon boat, so our next step is to take some driving lessons and we are scheduled to do that this afternoon!  After the lessons, we will have to take a driving test and then we will be authorized to rent the motorized boats.  As I mentioned previously, there are also sailboats to rent so we plan on taking some sailing lessons as well in order to be familiar enough to be authorized to rent the sailboats.

This entire process from tests to the lessons is all free.  Seriously, where else could this happen!?!?  Love it!

House of Yum

Last week, a new restaurant opened here!  This is a huge deal and I'm sure it doesn't happen very often.  House of Yum is an Asian-style fast food restaurant.  Think food court at the mall. The sad part for us is that it replaced the combined KFC and A&W, which was one of our favorite places.  Oh well.  We are excited for the new choice anyways!


Since being here, I count that we have enjoyed at least six different concerts.  Some have been for special events like Oktoberfest or St. Patty's Day.  Last night, Vic and I went to another one.  It was a cover band and they played country, classic rock, and alternative.  We always enjoy listening to live music.

I'd say on average, there is one concert per month.  Usually the concerts are offered at the Tiki Bar which is a 21 and up venue.  Lately though, opportunities for all ages have been available too.  For example, this weekend, the band was playing Friday and Saturday nights at the Tiki Bar and also an all-ages concert on Saturday afternoon at the Windjammer Ballroom.


Vic went golfing for the first time since being here.  We have a 9-hole golf course to enjoy, and it's cheap!  $8 for green fees with free club and cart rental!  One interesting thing though is that the golf course doesn't get watered here.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but gtmo is actually a semi-arrid region and we don't get very much rain.  Because of this, and due to the fact that there isn't a fresh water source on base, we make all of our own water here at a water desalinization plant.  So fresh water is a scare resource and therefore, watering grass isn't a top priority!  To avoid golfing in dry grass, each golfer is given a small square of turf to play on.  Each time a ball is hit, the golfer simply has to pick up the ball, lay down the turn, replace the ball, and swing away!

btw, there is also a miniature golf course here.  It is entirely free and my kids have played several times since it is within walking distance of our house.

Friday, April 5, 2013


It's Spring Break around here and Vic is also off for the next 9 days.! So, our first Staycation in gtmo begins.  We intend to take full advantage of everything that our little island has to offer.  I see a visit to each of our favorite restaurants in the near future, actually we will probably visit every restaurant!  Not hard to do when there are only 4 to choose from, not including fast food or to-go only places.

A top priority for this week will be for Vic and I to finally get our boating licenses.  These are necessary to rent boats at the marina and we then hope to rent a boat and visit one of the beaches that is only accessible by boat.  Other plans include plenty of beach days, bowling, some yard work, hiking, and a movie or two at the lyceum.

I think we shall enjoy the peacefulness and simplicity of a stay-cation in gtmo!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

He is Risen!

This morning all of the Christian services combined together enjoyed a beautiful Sunrise Service at the beach.  I always find it a huge blessing when we can gather together, regardless of church affiliation, and worship God together.  Being here provides many wonderful opportunities for that.

After the service, we were all treated to a catered breakfast served seaside.  The weather was gorgeous and I must say, at only 68 degrees, I felt quite chilly even with long sleeves!

Now I am home preparing some food for a potluck lunch after the 11:00 service.  There are also activities for the kids planned this afternoon.

Happy Resurrection Sunday everyone!!!

A little blurry, but this gives an idea of the beauty we enjoyed this morning.  I wanted to take a picture of the sunrise, but I realized that a restricted area was in the background and no photography would be allowed in that direction.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


This morning, Vic and I had the opportunity to go sailing with someone in the bay.  We had such a marvelous time!  There was nice breeze which obviously makes for good sailing, but also keeps things from being too hot.

Boating is a popular activity here.  Affordable too!  I think the boat we went on rents for only $10 per hour!  We were on a 24 ft. Hunter sailboat.  A wide range of boats from paddle boats to kayaks to pontoon boats are all available to rent here at the marina.  Required before renting is that at least one person has to have their Captain's license which is fairly easy to obtain after studying and taking some tests to prove sufficient boating knowledge.

Perfect weather for a day of sailing

Vic took a turn sailing the boat

I mostly enjoyed the ride

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Perched high on a hill and proudly flying 24 hours a day, this flag overlooks all of Guantanamo Bay.

Each morning at 0800, our national anthem blares over loudspeakers that are positioned all over the entire base.  And each day around 1900 (this time changes based on the setting sun), evening colors plays to signify the closing of the day.

I don't tire of this daily ceremony as it serves to remind me of how proud I am to be an American.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Six Months

Today marks six months of being on the island.  We are still thoroughly loving it.  I think it is a great place for families!

Yesterday, MWR threw a wonderful Mardi Gras carnival.  Every single bounce house, water slide, and inflatable toy was set up and available for the kids to play.  I think there may have been four bounce houses, two water slides, the sumo wrestling suits, bow and arrow, rock climbing wall, hamster balls, and a "king of the hill" kind of inflatable toy.  Also provided was a cake walk, face painting, tie-dyed t-shirt making, and a mask making craft station.  Cotton candy, snow cones, lemonade, and popcorn were also available - completely free of charge!  In keeping with the Mardi Gras theme, beads galore were plentiful and we were graced with a live New Orleans jazz band!  Seriously, where else could you do this?  An entire carnival, free of charge, for everyone who lives here!

Another popular activity yesterday was Surf and Turf at the Galley.  Surf and Turf happens about once a quarter.  For the regular charge of $4.60 per person, the menu consists of steak, lobster tails, shrimp, and crab legs!  Not only that, but plenty of side dishes, a salad bar, dessert and drinks are all included as well.  Yum!

Then to finish the day, our kids headed to the Lyceum to see "Escape from Planet Earth" - free, of course.  Wonderful!

Yes, six months here and were are looking forward to many more!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...

...and buses and ferries.

That is exactly how our trip went.  Here is a quick overview of all the transportation modes that were required to make our trip possible.

  1. Drive to Ferry Landing
  2. Take the ferry across Guantanamo Bay to the Leeward side of the island (we live on Windward)
  3. Take a bus from ferry landing to the air terminal
  4. Plane from gtmo to Jacksonville NAS
  5. Another bus from Jacksonville NAS to a hotel near Jacksonville International Airport
  6. Spend the night at the hotel
  7. Hotel shuttle to the airport
  8. Plane from Jacksonville to Baltimore
  9. Plane from Baltimore to Denver
  10. Train from the terminal to the baggage claim
  11. Shuttle from baggage claim to car rental
  12. Rent a vehicle, drive 4 hours to our destination

Total travel time: approximately 36 hours

Stayed in Colorado for 11 days, drove about 1,000 miles and stayed in 6 different locations.

Then we repeated 1-12 in reverse order to make the trip home. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Last week when we arrived home, we were welcomed by clear skies, blue water and  temperatures hovering right around 90 degrees.  It felt wonderful!  Looking out the plane window, I spotted our little island and felt so peaceful.  We were home!  Even though we’ve only been here for 6 months, and even though we will only be here temporarily (perhaps 2-4 years) we’ve already adapted to calling this place home.

I felt even more at home...
...when we visited a restaurant and knew half of the diners! 
...when I was greeted by name at the store.
...when I saw a pedestrian crossing the street and the vehicles stopped.
...when I drove 25 mph and it felt fast enough.
...when I didn’t have to lock my car door.
...when I didn’t have to plug in my cell phone before bed.
...when my round-trip to the grocery store took 30 minutes.
...when I heard colors in the evening.
...when I proudly watched the flag flying high on the hill.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Our trip

We've been in the states for nearly two weeks and we will return to Guantanamo Bay within the next week.  We have had a grand time and are so thankful that we've been able to make this trip.  Here are a few quick observations about our trip:

  • I don't know anyone when I go places.  In gtmo, while I don't know everyone everywhere I go, I do know at least someone everywhere I go.  
  • I felt very annoyed with cell phones and texting at first.  Now I've gotten used to it again, but honestly, I don't think it will be something that I will miss upon returning to the island.
  • It has been cold!  Now, granted, we did go to one of the coldest spots in the nation and experienced negative 30 degree weather but I have to admit that I even felt cold when we arrived in Jacksonville with 55 degree temps.
  • DVR is something that I have missed!  Fast-forwarding through commercials and being able to record a show while not home is such a nice luxury.
  • I forgot how fast the internet can be!  Going back to the slower gtmo internet will be something that I will have to get used to again.
  • Being with friends and family felt really good.  I wish I could gather everyone that I love into one place and keep them there with me.
  • Driving over 25 mph felt downright scary for the first day or two.  In fact, I had a very difficult time driving 55 in a 65 zone.  When cars started piling up behind me, I quickly decided that using the cruise control was a good idea.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Trip to the States

Please pardon my absence lately.  We have been dealing with some sad news that started with finding out my dad was terminally ill and then his passing only five days later.  So, I just haven't been much up for blogging lately.

Because of my dad's death, we are headed to the states for his funeral.  As sad as the reason for the trip is, we are eager to go and visit with family and friends and are really looking forward to a change of scenery!  What I'm not looking forward to though is the cold.  We are headed to Colorado and to one of the coldest spots in the entire nation.  In fact, for three days in a row last week, Alamosa, CO has been the coldest spot in the nation with low temperatures hovering around -35 degrees F!  That is about a 100 degree difference compared to our 70 degree F lows!  Last night when we arrived in Jacksonville, I believe the temp was around 55 degrees and the kids were instantly cold.  Poor little things have no idea what subzero temperatures feel like!

So far, being back in the states is a tad bit overwhelming for me.  Choosing where to go and eat was challenging when given 20 + choices.  Driving more than 25 mph is a little scary too!  And forget texting and cell phone use.  I have my cell phone activated while we are here but I don't much feel like using it.  Not yet at least.

But while it is a bit overwhelming, it is also very enjoyable!  Lightening speed internet is a welcome change as is actually having choices.  We are very thankful to be able to make this trip and will no doubt have a great time!