Farewell

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 30

So after several days of not leaving, we are finally on our way.

Of course everyone was skeptical. After all we’d already packed up once before. But sure enough, in the afternoon we were once again packing our bags. Then came the lovely task of driving a large pallet of baggage over to the airport.

 

After that the only thing to do was sit around until it was time to load up and go.

 

When we got to the airport we had yet more waiting to do as our plane had not yet arrived. We, however, did have confirmation that it was on our way. And sure enough it came.

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I did have a momentary panic when we were all called together that we were going to be told that for whatever reason we weren’t getting on this plane, but thankfully that was not the case.

It’s been an interesting trip, but it’s time to go home.

…And Not Today Either

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 29

Another day of just waiting. We got up in the morning had a quick meeting and then just sat around and waited until later in the day when it was time to load up all our bags on an aircraft pallet. So that time came and we did this thing. An hour or so later, as I was laying on my cot watching a movie on my phone, Captain came in and, quite annoyingly, said that we were not leaving today. The flight had been delayed, or retasked or something that meant it wasn’t coming in. So I walked outside to discover that it was beer o’clock.

Hey, at least we had a good party.

…But Not Today

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 28

It will, of course, be much more difficult to leave that it was to arrive.

We did get the chain saws that we were waiting on yesterday. Unfortunately they came in several pieces so the early parts of the morning were spent trying to put them back together. By then the weather was so bad that we couldn’t go out and work. Alas, it would have been nice to actually get to do some clearing work like that, but it seems that it was not meant to be.

We also got told to pack and that we would be leaving this evening. Then we found out that the plane that was bringing our relief (that we were then going to get on) was reassigned. Then we found out that that wasn’t true. Then we found out that it was coming tomorrow afternoon/evening. Here’s hoping that stays true. It’s been an interesting trip, but it will be nice to be home. I’ve been gone pretty much this whole year and would like to spend some time at home.

I grew a mustache. It looks pretty weird.

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Hurry Up and Maintain

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 27

Still another day without a whole lot to do. But that’s the life when your mission is to maintain what you built. You just sit around and wait for something to break. Which of course, when you’re as good as we are, doesn’t happen. So the morning was spent mostly reading. Which in and of itself was not a bad thing. There was some talk about going up to clear a road, which I was excited about because that’s one of the things we thought we might be doing when we got here. So I also helped load a skid steer onto a roll off truck. And then we sat and waited for some Blackhawks to bring us chain saws. Which, of course, never came. Well, the helicopters did, but there weren’t any chainsaws on them. And then we found out that there were but that they’d been sent up to the armory, but also there was no gas for them. Guess we’ll try again tomorrow. In the afternoon though I did get a little stick time digging a trench and a hole for some more drainage that we were putting in in another part of the site.

It’s been raining a lot the past few days. I think I need to go to Arizona for a week or so when I get back, where it’s dry, rocky and there are no mosquitos.

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We may be out as early as tomorrow. There’s a KC135 that’s supposed to be bringing in our relief sometime tomorrow, probably late, and the hope is that we can get on that and at least get to Savannah and if we’re lucky a Mansfield C130 could then get us shortly thereafter. Though even if we had a night in Savanah we could at least be somewhat rested when we get home and I won’t have to sleep on the shop floor for a couple hours. But even if it means sleeping on the shop floor for a couple hours it’ll be very nice to be home.

When Trainees Aren’t There to Train

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 26

Another day of “maintaining.” So I was planning on spending the day around camp hoping there was something to do. Then out of nowhere I was told I was going up to the other site to help train some Army plumbers on how to replace toilets and take care of a few final things in that camp. I was also told that I might want to pack a change of clothes and/or swimsuit.

When we got to the armory, where the other camp we set up is, we found out that of the five toilets we were told didn’t work, two of them worked just fine, one just needed plunging and the other two were actually broken. We also found out that the plumbers we were supposed to train weren’t there because they were in class (the university started up again today) and that they wouldn’t be back until sometime later in the afternoon. Guess we’ll try again tomorrow.

After that we went back to the beach bar we’ve been to a couple times for lunch. We were going to try to go snorkeling but the dive shop there has wonky hours and by the time we’d finished lunch they were closed. We’ll see if we get another chance at it before we leave (which could be in the next two to three days, by the way). What was really cool about that though is that one guy got talking to a local who then mentioned that his generator was acting up. Well we just so happened to have two generator techs with us. Next thing we knew we were up the hill, sitting on his deck, having a beer while the two guys see if they can figure it out. Sadly they couldn’t, but the guy, Al, turned out to be pretty interesting. He started out in the Army after high school, and when he came back to St. Thomas after a couple tours in Germany he was tapped to be the Sergeant at Arms for the legislature, which he did for 30 years.

After talking to him for a bit we went in search of what was supposed to be one of the best beaches in the area, but the resort it’s attached to did not fare the storm well. Also by the time we got there it was raining. So we stopped off for dinner and then back to camp.

We have another late start tomorrow, and unless there’s some measurable change I imagine the day after will be late too. Hell, we may even be leaving Wednesday. Who knows? I sure don’t.

Surprise Day Off

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 25

It became evident when I woke up again at 0645 and still no one else was up that we likely had a late start. So I got up a little later, got dressed and went and got breakfast. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but aside from the one day that there was also oatmeal, breakfast has been pretty much the exact same thing: eggs, sausage, some weird potato gravy thing, and cake with some variety of fruit topping. It’s not bad, if you add hot sauce. But it’s time same thing over and over. So it gets a little old. I realized we had the day off when one guy came up to me and someone else who had just sat down and told us to throw it out, we were going to find breakfast. So that’s exactly what happened.

The Delly Deck was what we found. A restaurant in a local shopping plaza. It was, without question, the best breakfast I’ve had on this trip because it’s the first time since I left that I actually had fresh eggs. I very much miss fresh eggs. Egg ‘product’ just is not the same by any means. I also haven’t mentioned it yet, but apparently chickens are to St. Thomas what cats are to Greece. Everywhere you go there are chickens everywhere.

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After breakfast we came back and sat around, I took a nap, and then off we went! We went spent the day over at the Tap and Still watching football and having a generally good time. I was actually surprised how quickly the time passed, which was good because when we left I was still tired and wasn’t sure how I felt about staying out that long. But one of the other things that I’ve really grown to appreciate here is that sunset/sunrise are very close to six. Which on one hand means that by seven at night it’s very dark, BUT, it also means that when you go out you feel like you’ve been out for so much longer, and getting back at 10 doesn’t feel like you left early. It also helps that the curfew means that a great deal of places are closed by seven.

If the curfew weren’t in existence there are places that might not actually close…

Elusive Tacos

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 24

I think we’re destined to never have tacos again. Because of the curfew just about everything is closed or closing by the time we’re done for the day. We did have luck once the last Taco Tuesday, but we have yet to have such luck again. A couple days ago we tried to go and by the time we got there found them closed. Today we went and while they were open, by the time we got there the kitchen was closed so while we could have a beer, there were still no tacos. Flower and The Peanut went out for Mexican with my mother tonight while I had a spaghetti and meatball UGR, which wasn’t too bad.

From what I’ve heard the curfew will only be in effect until the street lights are back up and running. Which actually makes sense. A lot of the roads here are pretty bad on a good day. And also on the side of a cliff. So it would be a hot mess if there were a lot of people driving around late at night when it gets dark. Thankfully it doesn’t apply to military though so when we find somewhere to go out after hours we have no issues going.

Today wasn’t all depressing and deprived of delicious food though. We did get another lunch at The Tap and Still. Another delicious burger. Originally I stayed behind in camp to ‘maintain’ things. A little before lunch I rode out with some of the guys from New Hampshire to the other site. Along the way we passed the restaurant and saw that everyone else was already there. So we stopped for lunch first.

The new site is nearly complete. A few guys are going tomorrow to do the last little electrical/HVAC items and then it’ll be ready to go.

There was something about the weather today that was particularly hot as well. The other site is further inland, so it doesn’t get the nice, constant ocean breeze that we get in the main camp. I don’t actually think I’ve sweat more in my life. There’s a public pool right next door and I’m fairly confident that at the end of the day if I had just jumped in I would not have gotten any more wet then I already was.

I think I might actually be looking forward to fall…

Once More Without the Beeps

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 23

One last time on the backhoe. Before we got going one guy actually got underneath the machine and disconnected the backup alarm so at least we could move around without that gods awful beep. Then I dug a trench across the road so we could run a hose under the road to the drain we built yesterday. Everything went well, I dug the trench, buried the pipe, cleaned up, and then went to park the backhoe. I shifted it into gear and…nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing. Another guy tried. Still nothing. Everything else worked on it, it just didn’t want to move. So…

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With any luck that’s the last we’ll see of that backhoe.

There’s a resort near the other site that we went to this evening. I actually got to walk along the beach a bit. I’ve become so accustom to New England beaches that I forgot that the ocean could actually be warm.

 

I had some conch fritters which were quite tasty. They actually had the Indian’s vs. Yankee’s game on so most of the night was spent watching that. It reminded me of the first Indian’s vs. Red Sox game in ’96 with all the extra innings. Unfortunately we left before the game ended, but did see on the way home that they had won. Perhaps this is our year. [Retroactive Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t]

It’ll Be Here Tomorrow

St. Thomas, USVI – Day 21

Got a chance to go to the new site today up at the armory. It’s a bit of a ride from our main camp. Not so much in distance, but traffic. Same thing there, building more tents. Of course, though, we’re still waiting for the rest of that kit to come in. We have everything except the soft (zipper) doors that go on the back of the tents. Yesterday they box was supposed to be here tomorrow.  Today it’ll be here tomorrow. Taking bets on whether or not it will ‘be here tomorrow’ tomorrow. Continue reading “It’ll Be Here Tomorrow”