Not too much has been going on here in H town. Other than W1 and I both working many hours. I was called out by S1+o but I'm not sure what to write about.
My travels were not all that exciting. I went to Hawaii which was pretty nice. We spent about 2 weeks there. They were in a drought and it rained almost every day we were there. Our ship seemed to have that effect. Everywhere we went it rained.
Our Captain was not the brightest guy out there. One quote I remember vividly was about 3 weeks after we had been out to sea, and had not seen any land, he got on the 1MC (Loudspeaker) and said "Uh, yeah. This is the Captain speaking. For anyone interested there is a whale off the port side. I don't know what he's doing out there..." And I can remember thinking was "He's swimming. He's an effen fish! What the eff are we doing out here?".
One thing I do remember is the lack of sleep. It seemed like as soon as the ship left port I could not sleep to save my life. I was literally getting 2-3 hours a night, if that. I always found that odd. Until we went to 12 and 12's. Instead of working regular shifts we were moved to 12 hours on and 12 hours off. I liked this because i always had the night shift. The down side was our berthing was 1 floor below the missle launcher on the back of the ship. They would come get us about an hour after we went to sleep to "clear the area". After about 3 days of no sleep I started half climbing out of bed until I saw the door shut, the getting back in bed. Only to be awakened every 15 minutes or so by an SM2 missle being fired a few feety above my head. Now, I can sleep through anything.
We also spent a little time in San Diego (hey, it's almost a foreign country). While we were there I went to Tijuana twice, and almost got arrested in Tijuana, twice. The first time was over tacos. But they were good, and almost worth a trip to the klink. You see, they had these carts that sold tacos 3 for $1. Not american, more like a small tortilla with some mystery meat and salsa. I ordered 3 and when my ese handed them to me, he said "$2". Now, since I already had quite a few "dos equis
" and was not in the mood to be ripped off. And I let him know this. Right around the same time the Policia arrived and asked if there was a problem. The owner of the cart told him something in spanish and he reached for his cuffs. It was right about this time that I pointed out what a great deal I was getting paying him $2 for 3 tacos and immediately split. My second visit was much of the same. Way too many drinks. Spent way too much money. When my funds were tapped out, I decided it was time to head back to the lovely U S and A. Our Captain had us on the "Buddy system". You had to leave and return in groups of 2 or more people. (Even though our first stop he got mugged out by himself the same day he told everyone else to be on the "buddy system". The kicker being, he was 99% positive it was someone from our ship that mugged him.) I was out with a group of guys so I enlisted one of them to return with me. On the way back we were in a fairly deserted area and he decided he needed to pee. I knew this could only turn out bad, but didn't feel like arguing. I'm not even sure if he started going yet when the 2 Policia rounded the corner. But they let us know they were not impressed with him urinating on the building in public. The fine was $100, cash, on the spot. I had to inform them that we were broke, hence our trip back to the states. That was not a good answer. So one of them stayed with us while the other went to get a car to bring us to jail. While we waited I chatted with the other officer for a while. I guess he finally realized we were serious about being broke and told me "You guys go ahead and get out of here. But don't run, walk, or you will look guilty." And he didn't need to tell me twice. We were out of there. I decided not going back was a good idea.
We also went to Japan. That was very interesting. Unfortunately we went on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. And we were the first Nuclear Vessel to dock since then. So, needless to say, we were not welcomed with open arms. I didn't get off the base much but when I did, I noticed signs on the tattoo shops and bars that said (in english) "Japanese Only". Although I did get to eat at a Dennys. The entire menu was in Japanese and I had no idea what I was eating. There was no "Grand Slam Breakfast" that is for sure. I just pointed at the food with the most colors. I believe this was the same evening I came home scraped up and bruised from a fight with a beer machine. They have beer machines (much like soda machines) on the streets. Unfortunately for me they took Yen not American money. When the machine kept spitting my quarters back at me I got frustrated and had an all out battle with it! I lost. From what I can remember Japan wasn't too bad. We spent a lot of time drinking at the bowling alley on the base.
Then there was Korea. The one thing I noticed was that the houses all looked like shacks but the cars were really nice. I was told (but don't know how true it is) that in Korea they will take your license after 1 accident. That sounded like a good explanation why all the cars were nice. It was truly amazing riding on a bus there though. Those guys drove crazy. Enough to give these people in Houston a run for their money. The specialty I found there was a "rice wine" they made. It was actually pretty good. When we were there sailors from a few different countries were also there. I remember standing in a bar with my rice wine and looking over at a Russian Sailor. Being the polite person I am, I passed the bottle to him so he could have a taste (redneck style). He took a swig, made a strange face, then smiled. He handed back my wine and motioned for me to follow him. We ended up at a table full of Russians drinking, VODKA. And lots of it. Apparently he was so shocked at my generosity, he wanted to return the favor. So the last thing I remember that evening was drinking shot after shot of vodka with Russians. It was actually pretty cool. I imagine we probably got bored with the whole language barrier and went about our ways.
Another day while in Korea I went out with a Buddy to "downtown" I guess. It reminded me of a poor Bourbon Street. Lots of neon lights and signs. We sat down at a table to try octopus and squid. The guy I was with ordered it and didn't seem to care for it much. So it was taking him forever. Now I had been informed of a drink called Soju
. Some sort of grain alcohol or something. We were told the Koreans will pour a "shot", drink it, refill the glass, then pass it to you. It is considered extremely rude and an insult to turn it down. So, while this guy is taking his sweet ass time nibbling on sea creatures, the guy running the cart is pummeling me with shot after shot of Soju. I finally reached over, stuffed my mouth with what was left of the rubbery, squeaky seafood, and stumbled away.
The only other really cool thing I can think of off hand were the albatross
. They are these Giant Winged Birds. When we were out at sea, either 50 or 100 miles off of any coast we dumped our trash. Just paper, food, biodegradable things. And these Giant Birds would follow us around eating the trash. Seeing them from far away i remember thinking what huge birds they were. Something like a 6 foot wing span. When they tried to take off they looked like the least graceful creature on earth. Flapping their wings like madment trying to get 2 feet off the ground. But once they caught a breeze, they could glide for days. One of the smoking areas was on the back of the ship. I remember hanging out with a group of guys all smoking. One of the guys walked to the edge of the ship to flick his cigarette butt into the water. While he was looking down at the water, one of these birds apparently decided he was something of interest and swooped down. He immediately matched speed with the ship and it was like he was floating in mid air. That is when I noticed his head (just the round part, minus the beak) was the size of a human head. He turned and looked at my shipmate, and his beak (which was probably 2 feet long) was inches from his head. Because of the way the bird "floated" down, my shipmate never knew he was there. But he found out quickly. He looked up and was being stared at square in the face. I swear he must have jumped nack 20 feet and fell on his ass. Classic! Ha ha ha.
I guess every now and then there were a few good times.