Pacific Rim Log Book
2 May 97, Friday, Andrews AFB, DC enroute to Honolulu, HI
It is 1357 east Coast time. We are somewhere over the Western states, probably Utah. We could go ask the pilots, but no one does. Most of the members of this group like to wildly speculate as to what's below us rather than seek the certain truth up forward!
We are flying at 43,000 feet. I don't think I have ever flown this high. You can see the curvature of the earth.
Wow! We are flying over a huge pink-edged lake. Huge stretches of pink close to edges and some turquoise. Must be Salt Lake. Go everyone excited. Some kind of damn across the middle.
This little C-20 moves. It is a Gulfstream executive jet. We are flying in excess of 450 knots or over 500 m.p.h. Since we are going DC to CA in 5 1/4 hours, that is pushing 600 m.p.h. They said this plane will do .9 mach. Very, very nice. (Leather seats smell good also!)
When we left Andrews AFB from the Navy side, you could look right across the runways to the Air Force One hangar. I got the Engineers in the group speculating as to why it looked so different from other hangars:
~ Obviously large enough to house a 747.
~ Huge, round support columns.
~ Not right-angled on all corners.
~ One speculated it could probably withstand a nuclear blast in downtown DC
~ Who knows, just interesting.
Lot of cloud cover over most of the country. Good nap time!
p.s. to 43,000 foot note: the sky is almost black when you look straight up. I think we are closer to space than we are to the ground!
1015 HI standard time
1615 Eastern Daylight time
Just finished refueling at Travis AFB, CA. Now passing north of San Francisco. Beautiful view of the Bay, Oakland Bay Bridge, and Golden Gate.
1017 - feet wet on the way to HI!!
1333 - finally, some blue water. For just over three hours, we were above the clouds. You can just barely see the waves and then only by reflection. Headwind = taking longer.
1430 - Went up and talked to the pilots. One is a reservist; other is active duty. The reservist flies commercially. We are cruising at 45,000 feet now. he explained that the next generation of Gulfstream (V, ours is a IV) will be made to cruise comfortably at 51,000. Confirmed that official "space" is 60,000. He also said commercial planes don't go above 39,000 because FAA requires one of the pilots to be on oxygen at all times and pilots don't like that. Note also: If they lost (rapidly) cabin pressure at this altitude, they would have only 3-10 seconds of conscious though (time to get oxygen).
They love the plane even though complaining that the Navy won't buy the latest software upgrades.
Apparently the altitude allows for extreme fuel efficiency. If we had to drop to 13,000 feet, fuel consumption would more than double.
3 May, Saturday, Honolulu, HI
almost 0500 (1100 DC time)
Woke up at 0310 (local time), tossed for almost an hour, and got up just before 0400. Oh boy, jet lag.
The Hale Koa hotel is fantastic! I have got to bring Denny here some day. Not cheap until you compare with other hotels nearby.
We gathered in the Barefoot Bar near ocean and pool. I took a dip in the ocean. The water is so clear! But the sand is gravely and rough to walk on.
Everyone is really ostracizing Ronnie. She can be so irritating. The other two women kind of take care of her/protect her. But it is divisive to the group.
Joe Sensi called on of his Navy friends. He and his wife met us and about half the group went with them to a nearby restaurant they recommended. We all had Cajun Mahi Mahi (dolphin). Cajun?! Yup. Actually very good. We had to cook it ourselves.
The most interesting thing I heard was from our host (forgot his name). He is a Navy fighter pilot. Joe Schmitt (Army) got him talking about women fighter pilots. He really decried the Navy?olitically correct effort and said many women were just passed along at minimum ratings which would have eliminated males. He also noted that there were tons of problems with junior female sailors on their first deployment on an Aircraft carrier. (pregnancy, fraternization, for example) Joe and I kind of looked at each other because those problems are old hat to us (though maybe not to our combat arms brothers). As a whole, though, the Army has had women in the field far longer than the Navy has had them at sea on combat ships. Sounds like just plain growing/adapting/adjusting pains to me.
I asked him if he knew a woman pilot he would take as his wingman. He readily admitted there was one (of 10 or 12 women pilots he knew). She was a terrific pilot. I asked if men would accept her as a leader. He couldn't bring himself to say, "Yes".
Bottomline: Navy has a long way to go.
After three fruitless calls last night, I finally found a United Airlines representative who really tried to fix our "problem." I was trying to cancel the first leg of our commercial back-up tickets (which keeps the rest of the tickets validly booked AS WELL AS freeing up 14 high cost seats for the airline) but they kept referring me to Group travel which was closed and NOT open on Saturday, as promised. Oh, well, got it on record and hopefully we won?eed them and find they are screwed up.
Tried to call Denny. Woke Laura at 1039 her time. She passed phone to Tome. Wanted to call since I was still technically in the US and not overseas yet (more expensive). Also wanted to tell her I wanted to bring her here someday.
Oh, well, maybe I can get a sunrise stroll on the beach!
AHHH--- I'm an hour off-- It's only 0422!!!!!
1320 (Hawaiian time) 3 May 97
0920 (Australian time) 4 May 97
Well, I went back to bed this morning and maybe got 30-45 minutes of near sleep before getting up at 0600..
Wore my new Hawaiian shirt and everyone laughed, complimented, or otherwise enjoyed it. None of the locals even seemed to notice it.
Joe Sensi go the bus driver to take us thru the port of Pearl Harbor on the way to Hickam AFB (which is next door). Also pointed out various types of ships as we passed their berthing places. (Joe is a surface warfare officer and will command a destroyer this summer.)
Short nap, lunch, just crossed the equator (no Shellback Navy aircraft traditions!) and nothing but an ocean world below us for hours and hours.
Had a conversation with Ed Morgan (Navy Supply officer) this morning, subject: Surface Warfare officers. He noted they get so used to being totally in charge while at sea and having every need catered to that they often expect the same on land. Used Joe Sensi as an example.
Mark Johnson got the pilot and crew in on a joke to try to convince Carol Kokinda that you could see a line for the equator as we crossed it. We all made slight references to the upcoming event all morning. The pilot announced on the PA when it became "visible." Carol wanted to believe us but has become a bit gun shy. I think her skepticism won out. Tammy didn't bite at all and Ronnie is sound asleep. Jeff, from Coast Guard days, knew better and helped in the set-up.
It is amazing how childish we can be in a group of peers!
One and a half hours to Pago-Pago, then 7 hours to Australia.
1500 (HI time) Pago Pago, American Samoa
The guys (average weight = 290) wear skirts (sarongs) and the women wear pants! First Impression. But very nice people. Island ambiance and pace.
1600 (HI Time) 3 May
1200 (Aussie time) 4 May
Wheels up for Australia!!!!
Out of place note/interest item: CA to HI is the ?gest?? most ?gerous??ute flown in normal air routes. On all the other routes in the world there is an airfield the aircraft can divert to usually no more than 1-2 hours away. From CA to HI, it is either keep going or turn around. Since it takes 5-6 hours, depending on winds, they have to carry a lot of extra fuel. At mid point, 3 hour diversion time.
1718 (Aussie time) Wow! Nice nap. Me and everyone else.
Shucks - it?oing to be dark when we get there. Sun is already below the horizon. Forgot it is Fall here.
5 May, Monday, Sydney, Australia
0630 - Inter Continental Hotel
- 5 Stars (and prices to go with it!)
- Great rooms - as good as 06 rooms in Heidelberg!
We gathered at the bar after checking in last night. About half took off to explore. I was tired and only wanted a light dinner. A spinach quiche and a glass of Aus red wine = $20 ($18 US)!! as a bar snack, not in the restaurant.
Asleep by 2200. Woke up several times but went back to sleep until 0511. Fantastic! First jet lag hurdle over!
Time to explore a little. Only 5 minutes from the Opera House!
0916 Impression: European, but a difference. Big city bustle but a touch nicer/friendlier/not as cold.
Our hotel is minutes away by foot from tourist attractions and the business district. After walking around awhile (Opera House and Rocks area) went back to sidewalk cafe at Circular Quay - junction of fail/metro system & intra-city ferries. Interesting watching people. Tried to notice shoes - very few women-wearing-sneakers-commuters. Typical Monday morning business expressions. Regulars at the coffee shop. People mostly look English/North European. Only a few Asians.
6 May, Tuesday, Sydney
0520 Woke at 0230, last looked at clock at 0325, woke again at 0435--jet lag sucks. Oh, well, not a lot of channels on TV but do have CNN International.
(back to Monday review) Yesterday was of interest, but not much. We had to work at it. We are spoiled, I guess, by the level of people who have spoken to us on domestic trips.
We were first taken on a walking tour of Victoria Barracks by the Architect who handles Heritage (we call it historic) preservation projects at the barracks. We were then addressed by a Major who handles Heritage projects for the Army as a whole.
Most interesting item: This winter (July), all the military engineers will be removed from base maintenance and returned to ?itary??its. Civilians and contractors will do all base support.
We then were briefed by a small section of Australian Defense Industries (ADI). This company has been totally privatized, though the government owns all shares. They expect the shares to be sold off to the public in the near future.
The section of the company we heard from cleans up former munitions production plant sites and converts them to civilian use. For example, a site in Sydney will be turned into private housing with a community focus.
Obvious implications for our BRAC process, though doubtful our politicians would allow government to make a profit on the process.
ADI also does a lot of other defence stuff, e.g. ADI marine dry docks refit ships both for the Navy and commercial companies.
Tried to get them to discuss whether or not they had a cozy relationship on getting contracts. They noted they get about 30% of Defence $ but claim they must compete for every contract and in some areas they get beat out by contractors with better political contacts.
On the way back to the hotel, our bus driver (Max) gave us a short windscreen (windshield) tour of the Rocks. That is a tourist area on the point of land just West of the Opera house and below the Southern end of the Harbor Bridge. He is really nice and supportive of our visit.
Jeff and I slipped away from the group, had a fast dinner, and returned to the hotel. Had to work hard to stay awake until 2100.
Little note: One of my minor disappointments so far is that no one had said, ?ay, Mate?? me yet. I tried saying, ?ning?? ?dy??sterday when walking around. Most ignored me. A couple responded with ?ning??ck -- but no ?ays.??ot a big deal -- just defies the commercials and it is a big city.
0752 I am sitting in my ?orite??dewalk cafe again this morning watching the commuter traffic on foot. I take it back about hose-- almost all women this morning are wearing the. I don?now why there were so many bare legs yesterday. Men wear suits --NOT sports jackets and unmatching trousers (except for a few young males).
Most people seem to smoke, no restrictions in restaurants. Can get heavy at times.
Catamaran ferries are really fast. They reverse and move-out far faster than the regular boats. They refer to them as ?er Cats.??t;br>
7 May, Wednesday, Sydney
0455 Couldn?tretch it past 2030 before falling asleep last night. But only woke up twice and rapidly went back to sleep until waking at 0400~ so, all in all, looking good ~ just need to slide it off another hour or two.
(back to Tuesday review) Yesterday was more interesting though we still haven?een anyone from our own embassy.
The State of New South Wales runs a ?ntry Embassy?? i.e. a trade solicitation operation. They bring delegations in and NSW businesses can connect with them. That is where we spent the morning.
We heard from the NSW government officials involved in infrastructure. The state governments in Aus have far more power than US states. The states were originally crown properties. Only in 1901 did the Commonwealth of Australia form and it was up to the states to give the Commonwealth powers. They were stingy. They gave the central government only defence, customs, and little else. And it was not until WWII that the Commonwealth grew stronger than the states and that was primarily due to the income tax, which was the first time the states allowed the central government to impose it.
When talking about local projects, such as rail connecting airport to other rail systems, they have a clever phrase. The NIMBY effect. Everyone wants the project just NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).
In the afternoon, Transfield, the company building the rail extension to the airport, took us on a site visit.
Side note: I got disoriented on the ride out in the bus. I knew, logically, that we had to be going West but it felt like we were going East. I had been consistently on the shadowy side of the bus. It was early afternoon. It wasn?id summer. Everywhere else in my life the sun has always been toward the Southern horizon. That means a shadow on the left means you are going East. But here, in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun is toward the Northern horizon ~ so the shadowy side on the left means you are going West.
Disorienting, though basically understandable.
Another side note: The correalus (sp?) effect is REAL! Of course I had to test it. I ran the water in sink and bathtub, let it out, and it goes down the drain clockwise. Got others to try it also!
Didn?ant to hand with the group (or anyone) last night. Left early for McDonalds. Bought a bottle of wine for what a glass would cost in the Hotel. Home early and fought not sleeping.
OH -- Bus driver took us by Bondi beach -- famous tourist/surfing beach. only a five minute stop
Also --PR type at Construction site was very friendly. Kidded her that no one had said ?ay, Mate?? us. She said it is a myth. No one really uses it. Escort from Defence Department said he thinks it may be used between friends, but he is originally Egyptian and hasn?eally heard its use. Been here 11 years. Sounds like a Crocodile Dundee advertising phenomenon.
Oh, yeah, construction site was interesting -- tunnel, one direction by boring, the other by cut and fill. Dry and reuse some of the removed soil/dirt/rock.
0820, Wednesday, (Sydney to Adelaide & return)
This is the way to travel. We are in our airplane for a one hour hop to Adelaide, capital of the state of South Australia. It would be a 12 hour drive -- two lane roads twisting through mountains. Roads are poor and a real weakness for Aus. Most people movement is by air around the country.
Five star hotel & private jet -- what a way to travel. (Did some of that back at Bragg, but couldn?alk about it!) Dave Harrell is feeling better and joined up with us. 20 hours flying time, 15 of it from LA. Ed Morgan is going home sue to continuing back stress problems.
Finally can see some land. Cloud cover most of trip. Just out of Sydney, tall hills with deeply eroded valleys. Very green. Area we are now over close to border between New South Wales & South Australia (two states), is flat brown, limited forests, possibly stunted growth (from 43,000 feet=hard to estimate). Probably like our plains. Some big fields.
Now there are some square kind of fields. Maybe 1 mile square but can?ell from this altitude. Red dirt. Glacially scraped earth: long, parallel ridge lines.
0915 (Sydney time)
0845 (Adelaide time) One half hour time change!!!!
1010/0940 - Adelaide looks like West Texas ~ scrubby, straggly growth. Wide open. Tons of space between buildings. Ugly strip of ?ss??tween lanes.
1402/1332 - Two interesting pitches:
-DTC: Defense Teaming Center - work on getting defense companies and government together to build team work for the future.
-British Aerospace Australia: Heavily involved in Logistic Support to Training. Commonwealth government is encouraging foreign armies to train in Aus. They do complete support. Apparently sold US Navy & Marines during exercise last year.
~Now enroute to Australian Submarine Corporation.
Well, that was one of those places that were ?interest??t not much to our particular study area. Submarines have an awful lot more underwater than you think. Gee-whiz. No one sure why we went there. We don?are; we?in Australia!
8 May, Thursday, Sydney
0610 Slept great! Nap on airplane (~30 minutes) helped me stay up. We got in about 2000. I wasn?oing to eat. Had some of the super expensive nuts in room. Still hungry. Snuck out to McDonalds & found Jeff, Dave, and later Joe Schmitt! So much for haute couture (sp?) dining! Asleep between 1030-1100, can?et into Keller book.
~~~~~Been watching my weight on the bathroom scale. Lost one kilogram! I weigh 86 kilograms = 13.6 stone = 187 American pounds. (Where did our pounds come from if they use stone?) [Later note: Aussies call ours the Imperial standard!]
~~~~~It is amazing how self-centered we Americans are. (I?been reading and watching local news.) The ???ws in Aus this week has been an independent Member of Parliament (MP), Pauline Hanson, and her attempts to forma new party called One Nation.
She wants to make all the states do things the same way. Her more subtle message is that she is against non-white emigration and aboriginal rights. Some estimates, since disputed, have her attracting 25% of vote. The Commonwealth Prime Minister has kept quiet though this week, after 3 weeks of heightened controversy after she brought our a new book, two of the Cabinet members began attacking her. Massive protests are now occurring against her when she speaks. I compare her to George Wallace in his hey-dey.
~~~~~They have two main political parties, just like UK: Conservatives and Labor, with relatively the same biases. Note that it is Aussie Labor and Brit Labour parties. Clever headline of week: ?l Labor have and Undue Labour???ich refers to changes in UK party.
~~~~~Everything in Sydney seems to be connected to Olympics in 2000. Not much of the rest of Aus seems to care (at least yet).
A.M. Visiting Engineer/Logistics Center near Holsworthy.
While driving through the post and out to training range, passed ?mando IV??d got the waffly-Bragg-type answer. Was Infantry, now SF with ???sks.
Visited and briefed by Defence Housing Authority: Built beautiful homes on Defence Land. Sold 2/3 to civilians which pay for other 1/3 for military. Joint venture with a profit-making company (Delfen). Remodeled old housing and sold it to civilians also! ?cked up with fences and paint.??eet all except 1-2 % of military housing demands.
2004 Just back in from shopping. Thursday is late night. Went with 3 serious Opal shoppers. After the fourth or fifth shop, I saw something I liked for my wife so I got it and said good-bye. Some great discounts due to low tourist season. I hope they all like them.
This afternoon was a tour of their future (2000) Olympics site. Very interesting.
I asked if they had learned our biggest lesson learned = You need one person in charge. Yes, they had studied Atlanta and, Yes, they put one person in charge, a politician. He will do great or terrible! He is a Minister for the Olympics in the NSW cabinet.
They thought that we actually did pretty well. The two biggest lessons learned they got from us were: 1-Transportation -- they aren?sed to moving over 100,000 people a day to one site. They are really worried about it. 2 - Dealing with the Press --we told them to treat them like royalty and do everything for them.?ey are also worried about security and their basic inexperience with such problems.
MG Cowings, our Commandant, joined us today, fresh from 2 weeks in China. He addressed their War College, ICAF equivalent, and CGSC. I asked how the Questions & Answers went with the officers. He said they asked very insightful questions. He noted that one host was very much the old Stalinist. The guy would jump in with the old party answer and MG Cowings would watch the students eyes politely glaze over.
He will be with us tomorrow and I want to hear more about that.
We also got a great power boat ride back down the Parametta River to the Central Business District (where our hotel is). Under Harbor Bridge and water level view of Opera House. Our guy took us on down the river and out to the opening with the sea. Actually got a few swells. Beautiful houses, some up to $20 million. Landed back at the Opera House just after dark.
Joe gave the driver an ICAF coin and the driver seemed to be really touched. Name of Greg (or Bushy, after his long gray beard.) He told some great stories though I couldn?nderstand every 4th word!
9 May, Sydney to Canberra & return
0820 Bus driver giving us sights on the way in to Canberra from the military airfield. They have now combined the service academies into one.
10 May, review of Canberra
0602 Yesterday turned fast paced. Let me review.
Welcomed by Vice Admiral Burrie, the Vice Chief of their Defence Force! So much for our snivels about seeing only low-level folks!
Briefed by an Air Commodore (one-star). Interesting, slick, but presentation forgettable.
Crusty, older, Engineer Brigadier (one-star) then took charge of us. Interesting, focused brief on facilities management. Also, more details on how they are turning back/selling off property. They care less about the $509 million per year in revenue because they are saving so much more in the rapid turn over of property they no longer have to maintain.
Took us on site where they are building two new Defence headquarters buildings. They are by happenstance five sided but are not true Pentagon shapes. They started off with three wings and then the courtyard was enclosed by two more to increase the amount of office space.
The buildings will complete the grand plan of a federal triangle in the city. The sketch roughly shows the triangle. The pictures show the view from the Defence corner of the triangle. ~
\ ~ / District
\ ~ /
~ \ /
Only two political appointees in Defence: the Minister & a Deputy!!
Took us out to Royal Military Academy and Australian Defence Force Academy. RMC is the Army-specific service ?demy.??8 months for fresh-off-the-street entrants and 12 months for those from ADFA. ADFA (main parade field and academic buildings shown in picture) is a 3 year academic program including all 3 services in a regimented environment. After completion of ADFA, they go to service-specific academies. Sensitive subject: there is no university equivalent given.
~~~~~Back to construction site: Our hosts confirmed that they are seeing the same problem we are: not enough youth going into skilled labor. Too many want to go to ?.??t;br>~~~~~Back to lunch. Engineer LTC escorted us around Duntroon House, the oldest building in Australia. It was finished in 1833 as a farmhouse. It is now an officer?ess. It is strange to hear someone with an English accent explaining why their buildings are so much younger than ours! An English accent makes me think of old traditions--not a country barely settled 200 years ago. (First Fleet came in 1788.)
At lunch, I asked the LTC, who was seated across table, about Pauline Hanson and aborigines (after noting our own problems with race relations and Indians).
He says Hanson is focused more on preventing further Asian immigration to Aus.
He also says the aborigines ?se??t to partake of opportunities provided by the government. They are nomadic and don?ecessarily want to be integrated to main stream. The few who do try do well.
He sounded sincere but it also sounds like a rather typical racist response. I don?now; can?ell in the short time we are here.
Must pack up now. Will come back to other key points yet to be reviewed.
0743 - Crew chief is tying down the pallet with our luggage.
Back to Canberra review.
They took us to their Parliament House. Unusual, striking design. Huge, stainless steel triangular structure on top flies a flag which is about the size of a double decker bus.
Very modern design -- I like it but not sure it will stand the test of time. Most unusual aspect: Grass-covered ground runs up the sides and over the tope of the building. From a distance, it looks like roads continue over it. Idea was that the people could walk over their Parliament, that they superseded the politicians.
They then took us to the War Memorial. Most impressive, particularly the huge underground museum. Nice lady escorted us. I was tired and kept sitting down.
On Airplane back to Sydney, MG Cowings talked about ...
([just took off -- love the way this little airplane leaps into the air!)
....China. He says they have a concerned, professional officer corps. They shut down and won?alk openly when the political officer is around. When he isn?they are curious and eager to talk to Americans.
He says the country is not a threat and won?e for years except in the area of missiles. The Army is totally defensively oriented. They were seldom seen training -- spend most of their time growing food.
They showed him a gun battery in training. After meeting the LT in charge, MG Cowings wanted to shake the hands of the crewmembers. Shocked his escort and impressed the troops.
He said the senior officers openly display a class attitude. Referred to soldiers as peasants. When he complimented female soldiers serving lunch, his host dismissed them as lowly women peasants who were lucky to have the Army give them so much.
Got back to Sydney and all of us went directly to the group dinner at our escort?Men?Club (which is no longer exclusively male). Fancy, clubby, older folks who like to spend the entire evening dining. Between 1st and 2nd courses, go MG Cowings to present Jeff high his ?st Sergeant??signia, actually a Warrant Officer 2 crown insignia. WO2 is the highest British/Australian rank. Comes after Sergeant Major.
Went home, went to bed, woke up at 4. Running out of paper. Will have to adapt.
~~~~~One of our group claims to have heard a workman on the Defence construction site say, ?ay, Mate?? a fellow worker!
~~~~~Political structure: Blend of UK & US systems. Parliament (lower house) and Senate (upper house or house of review). MP?nd Senators elect together their party leader. Major or coalition party leader becomes Prime Minister. Theoretically could be a Senator but has always been and MP. The Senate is elected based on geography (12/state, 2/territory). MPs are elected per capita. 147 MPs.
1140, Saturday, 10 May (finally writing about current time)
About to land at Darwin. Four hours over the outback. From 43,000 feet it looked flat, treeless, and nearly uninhabited. Occasionally see a shed with straight lines leading from it in all directions. ?ds.??Just start your engines and go. Huge stretches of vacant land.
Darwin, according to one of the attaches, is the place where no one has a past. They won?ell you where they came from or why.
11 May, Sunday, Darwin
0645 Darwin is also a 1/2 hour time change, which means I take away 13 1/2 hours to figure out what my family is doing. That 1/2 hour time shift just doesn?make sense to me. It seems like it should only be in whole hour.
OK, lot of stuff from yesterday.
Impression: It IS their frontier, wild West, friendly (and potentially meaner) people. Very much a looser atmosphere. I like it.
We got in and whisked to our very beautiful hotel, the Beaufort, apparently the best in town. 45 minutes of free time. In park nearby, there was a monument to US Army Air Corps 2LT killed in ?while escorting a convoy which departed from Darwin. Another monument to a US Destroyer sunk by Japanese air attack on Darwin harbor.
Found a sidewalk cafe, actually ice cream parlor. Sat and watched the locals. Young, mostly. Everyone wears shorts. It is hot here, but not unpleasantly so.
Off to a Briefing by Northern Command or NORCOM. It is a joint command, but only OPCON of service forces kind of like our system. Obvious interservice rivalries definitely like us.
They refer to the peninsula that Darwin is on as ? Topping?? ? End?? Australia...so it then becomes ? Topping Down Under.??idn?ave the faintest idea what they were talking about the 1st time I heard it.
Off to briefing by Trade Development Zone. OK.
Then briefed on efforts to complete the railway from middle of the country (Alice Springs) to Darwin. $1 billion. 1400 km. Would save 11 days shipping time. Will only build with private investor, not government even though government is providing right of way and other incentives.
Briefed on deep water port. OK. Current port user: Land trains, which are ?i??ailers with 3 to 6 trailers! Future user: Railroad. Market? Asia. Toured the port also. Impressive engineering feat.
Then toured another absolutely gorgeous Defence Housing joint venture project. I wish we could do something like this for our servicemembers.
We got back to the hotel in time for Hugh, Jeff, and I to make 1830 Mass. It was in a cathedral! But smaller and in a modern style using arches proportionally shaped like McDonald?rches.
Probably could have seated about 500 but only 75 people present. Everyone (except us) in shorts (or very loose, sun style dresses) to include the readers. Priest was in robes.
Mass is the same the world over. This course gave me the chance to go to Mass in Mexico this year. You can follow the service even if you don?nderstand the language, which happens half the time in Australia!
Dinner at Tim?urf and Turf. Very casual restaurant positioned on ground floor and between 2 wings of a motel courtyard. Take your own order to the bar with your table #, pay for it, get your drink while you are there, return to your table and trust it will be delivered. Very young, very casual, very social-party-like atmosphere. Jeff and I enjoyed it.
Ended in a conversation with two construction workers at the next table. John is a ?ter??d Ray is a ?ger.??pipefitter and electrical rigger, I think) Both from Brisbane. Just flew up for a job starting the next day. John trusted us and talked; Ray didn? John put down, vividly with expletive (f...ing sound different in Australian accent). Government is screwing worker. Multi-nationals, particularly Yanks are screwing workers. Western Australia is trying to break the unions by bringing in 7,000 foreign workers, etc. Real rabble rouser. Tried to insert questions.
They say that Aus stock market bust in ?resulted in Unions stopping all apprenticeship programs. They and their mates are getting older. John is 50 and Ray is 47. Youth today just aren?nterested.
When Ray wanted to (apparently) caution John, he would switch into a deep lingo I couldn?nderstand.
When we got back to the hotel, stopped in the bar for my ?e??ampagne. Very young crowd. Asked barmaid why they were so young. She said they stop in here before going to the nightclub upstairs to dance.
Hugh and Dave Price joined me. We ended up talking to a young couple. The man (boy?) was most perceptive & opinionated but politely expressed. The woman (girl?) just wanted him to party.
I asked them about Pauline Hanson. Apparently the Northern Territory (NT) (where Darwin is the Capital) is her primary market.
They expressed some sympathy for her views, but overall dislike because she overstepped her bounds. (Note that aborigines are 1% of 20 million Australians. But in NT, with a population of only 180,000, aborigines are 20-25% of the total.)
The couple displayed an attitude of ?long-as-they-keep-their-place-they-are-OK.??he gave an example of recently stopping and breaking up a drunken fight in the street, ?y needed to be respectful!??He gave an example of aboriginal resistance to the railroad which meant, ?eed for a government with a national perspective.??t;br> She then said she was tired of the heavy thinking and jerked him up to go dancing.
Hugh and Dave went bar hopping. (They are both older than me!) I went to bed.
Off to the nature preserve this morning. More on that later. Our only chance to see kangaroos!!!
1330 Jakarta time, Sunday
1600 Darwin time - enroute to Jakarta
The nature preserve was great! Perfect capper to Australia. First thing were the Kangaroos (& wallabies and wallaroos--indistinguishable to my eyes). and an emu and a crocodile and a bunch of other critters. Three of us actually hiked through the park and saw nearly everything, though at a rapid pace.
Wow! Just glanced out the window and saw land. Decided to see if I could figure out where we were on map based on shape since we are so high. I?ositive it is the island of Timor. It is amazing to fly this high and pick out things.
Last night is the first night I slept past 0600. It was great. We?see how I do with 2 1/2 hour time change. Will be calling home past 2000 here, 1900 in DC, 0800 in AR. That way we will all be on Mother?ay at the same time!!
Indonesia ICAF equivalent is supposed to be meeting us and we fear they will be more formal than we want. Not a big deal, just kind of a hassle.
Time for a nap.
Oh -- Customs officer & air movements NCO (as we are clearing Darwin) both said they don?now anyone who says, ?ay, Mate.??ords are both used but separately.
12 May, Monday, Jakarta, Indonesia
As one of the columnists commented in the local paper this morning, ? can Australia and Indonesia be so close yet so different???t;br> We arrived at the military airfield promptly at 1600 yesterday. Two colonels and several others met us. After being received in the VIP lounge, we then proceeded to our hotel escorted by police with streets along the way controlled to reduce traffic. Hugh rode in a Mercedes looking Toyota with the AF COL while the rest of us rode in a bus.
While waiting for our luggage to catch up with us, I went into the lobby bar for a glass of wine. The bartender profusely explained why it cost so much. The local importer of wines (they make little in Indonesia) was controlling the distribution so he could jack up the prices.
Since the bar was empty, we continued to talk. He was young and his English was good, even though he kept apologizing for it. I asked him to explain what was going on with the upcoming 29 May legislative elections. He did, though claiming he knew little of politics. Three parties:
--Green - symbol = star Officially the PPP - Muslim United Development Party
--espouse equality of men & women in education & jobs
--preferred in Jakarta
--Yellow - symbol = tree Officially named Golkar
--government party = biggest
--Red - symbol = bull Officially the PDI - Christian Nationalist Indonesian Democratic
--fight for chairman produced a split. Non-popular leader won in party caucus.
Female daughter of Sukarno (1st Pres) lost). She has led supporters in general
direction of the Green party. Upset government?arefully laid appearance plans.
My bartender noted that his vote would be secret and that not even his father knew which party he would vote for. He further expressed a heartfelt obligation as a citizen to vote.
I went to the room, luggage was there. Called my wife and mother for Mother?ay. Dialed straight threw on AT&T and sounded nearly as if I were in the US. Great to talk to them. Feeling particularly lonely for my wife. And my kids and the chaos often surrounding them.
Dinner in the hotel, intentionally by myself. Had the attache recommended Nasi Gorang (phonetic). Terrific. Fried egg on brown rice with mini shrimp. Vegetables -- watch out for the tiny peppers -- super hot! Little piece of chicken or some kind of bird. Little sausages (I think) smothered in something.
Went to bed. Woke at 0300. Turned over. Didn?ake again until 0530. Great!
Oh, yeah -- we were supposed to stay in the Mandarin Oriental, but ended up in the Hotel Sari Pan Pacific. Why? Our US Ambassador has had some kind of dispute with the manager of the Mandarin and flat told the attache that we couldn?tay there.
This hotel looks just fine to me. Maybe not five stars but the same high level of amenities. The only thing really irritating me is that there is no remote control for the TV. The controls (also for lights, music, and air conditioning) are permanently mounted in the night stand where you would normally find the top drawer. Most awkward for addicted surfers like me! But very minor. Still get CNN! (Didn?et it in Darwin -- slight withdrawal pains! Particularly since the newspaper there was so .... locally oriented and looked like a National Enquirer!!
Gotta get dressed.
Long Day. Hit the room early. I?ired so this may be brief, though I do have one interesting story I must do justice to later on.
We started off with a country team brief at the US Embassy. The Ambassador joined us as well as each of the section chiefs.
I asked what good ideas we might get from the Indonesians as well as what subjects were taboo. The Ambassador said we could ask about anything as long as the question was phrased politely: corruption, the F16 deal, local politics. (The security chief later said it would be suspicious if we asked any of those things because we had been billed as an infrastructure group and were meeting high level officials based on that premise.)
We then went to the Ministry of Public Works where we were hosted by the Governor General and his four Director Generals: IG, Water, Highways, and Human Settlement (public housing and environmental sanitation).
Open discussion. Of some interest.
Lunch at the (American chain) Sizzler, apparently a very popular spot. Hosted by our NDU counterparts, Lemhannas. Oh, yeah, brief reception with them earlier where we met several officer who spoke English. Hugh had to meet separately with the LTG.
Afternoon with the Chairman of the National Development Planning Board and his 8 directors. (i.e. their OMB) Very dry, all talking, no handouts. Most interesting thing was a summary of their current 5 year plan. Goes into extensive qualitative detail. Sounds like a master communist plan but balanced with capitalism. Works because they?had the same government for 30 years.
Back to the hotel by 1515. Jeff and I headed out to see some of the tourist sights. Independence Plaza (huge) is a block and a half from our hotel. Met a very friendly Indonesian, Jimmy, who said he took off work early and was relaxing before he did some volunteer time at the mosque. Offered to show us around since he was going in the same direction. Did a great job showing us the history in the museum in the basement of the torch monument. Took us up the torch, 147 meters high, and pointed out the multitude of sights.
Then offered to take us into the Independence Mosque, second in size to only Mecca (looks big enough, but all these ?ts??me from Jimmy). Showed us several angles where the Catholic Cathedral, a block away, could be viewed. Took us into main prayer room and up to 5th floor and roof, supposedly where tourists can?o.
Sat down for a rest. Insisted Jeff and I each take two commemorative cigarett lighters even though we protested we didn?moke. I gave him a little lapel pin with US & Indo flag. Jeff gave him a pocket knife (which most perturbed him later since it had sentimental value). Jimmy suggested we tip the security guard escort 10,000 rpf (about $5). We did. I thought he was going to suggest his tip also but he didn?
Saw the huge drum that calls people to pray. Got back to entrance and got out shoes back (whew!). He offered to take us to the Cathedral but we declined saying we had to get back to the hotel. As we left the grounds, he hi us up for $50 each. After much loud discussion, we left him with $25 each and stuffed the lighters back in his pocket and I told Jeff just to walk away.
Jimmy caught up with us and insisted we take the lighters back because he had given them to us in the Mosque. We left him and took a different route than we came in on.
I blew it off as a cultural learning experience, though Jeff was still perturbed for awhile. We got back to the hotel, took 15 minutes to cool off in our rooms then headed back out to eat and shop.
Went to McDonalds half a block away, met the ladies coming out of the shopping complex, who directed us to the 3d and 4th floors. I bought everyone junk, which was mostly all that was offered. There were silk items offered but I didn?ee anything anyone in my family would wear. Wild, weird patterns. I don?hink they?like what I got but they?smile politely -- they love me!!
Jeff stopped for another 20 minutes and then took pity on me (he knows I hate shopping) and we headed back to the hotel.
13 May, Tuesday, Jakarta
0646 - Great breakfast! I?allowed myself one each week. This was 1/2 the price of hotel in breakfast in Sydney. Gotta take pleasure in the small things!
Woke at 0400, tossed & turned. Up at 0500, CNN World Report (1800 home time), then off to breakfast. Odds and end comment/observations/items of interest:
~~~~~Asia really is different from Western cultures. It makes me think of the people as having a group think or collective, unconsciously agreed upon direction/willingness to follow those in power.
Contrast that against our focus on rugged individualism and limited attention to consensus building. Who gets more done with resources available? Great research project but I?ot the one to do it! My gut says the Asians get more bang for the buck but at what cost to the pursuit of happiness we treasure?
~~~~~The military has four branches of service: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Police. Yup -- every cop in the country?,500 islands works for the military.
Per embassy brief, the military is really an internal defense (potential repressor?) force. No real focus on defending the nation from foreign enemies. Haven?ad any since the Japanese.
~~~~~Hotel energy saving technique: You have to put your room key card in a gizmo by the door to operate the lights! When you leave, just take the card and everything turns off in a minute!
~~~~~Five principles of Indonesia (heard at two different government agencies):
1- Belief in God (85% Muslim, but secular and tolerant of other religions)
2- Humanity and Justice (i.e. human rights)
3- Unity of Nation (no federated set island states i.e. strong central government)
4- Democracy, guided by ?dom of representatives??alf of whom are appointed, not elected)
5- People?elfare/social justice (apparently adopted from Communist influence of 60s)
~~~~~President Soeharto (Suharto to us) and Vice President have full color (2?3?hotos everywhere, not just in government buildings, e.g. behind the reception desk of our hotel.
~~~~~White hat means a Muslim has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Black doesn?but still a devout Muslim.
~~~~~Microphones are used even in small conference rooms. Apparently comes from non-confrontational style. Very quietly spoken, therefore, microphone system allows person to be heard without having to raise their voice.
~~~~~Oh, yeah, in response to my question soliciting ?d ideas?? the embassy, the security chief said that we could learn a lot about Peacekeeping Operations from them. Probably derives from military focus on internal civil affairs. For example, when they went into Bosnia, they taught their troops several popular songs which they sang as they entered villages. Immediately disabused locals of any hostile intentions.
~~~~~Well, off to another exciting day, a bit wiser than the day before!
14 May, Wednesday, Jakarta enroute to Hong Kong
0856 Taxiing out of parking slot to take off for Hong Kong.
Indonesians have ?ber time??ich wasn?oo evident until this morning. Had to have bags ready at 0630 but the transport vehicle did show until 0700. Supposed to load bus at 0700 but it didn?how until 0720. Must take-off by 0800; here we are still waiting on the ground. Primary reason is that our passports were held up by some bureaucrat and forgotten by Indonesian employees of US Embassy.
I?aking it relatively easily, but a couple of folks are rather angry. All of us will be if we can?and in Hong Kong. Have now missed our scheduled landing slot and will have to circle awaiting ?ce available??ot or be diverted somewhere else.
Back to yesterday. On Tuesday we were briefed again by the Human Settlements directorate of the Public Works Ministry. Took us to a site where their state-owned company was developing a huge, new Central Business District. Trying to entice investors to build and lease office & residential buildings with complete other services in the same few blocks. Huge project.
Back to Wednesday, current time. Just took off. Pollution is terrible. There are mountains sticking up above the pollution we never saw from the city, not even from the torch tower monument. You could tell it was bad in the city when we walked -- saw cyclists with masks -- but disappearing mountains brings it home!
Back to yesterday, Tuesday. Note that every conference room we went to served us coffee and a little plate of local food items all on china. (rice cakes, sweet-gooey bready fried balls, jello like stuff)
Went next to the Department of Communication which is in the old definition, i.e. land, sea, and air transportation. Of interest.
Lunch break back at the hotel. I skipped lunch (as did others) due to partaking of numerous snacks in the conference rooms!
Went to US Department of Commerce Trade Center that afternoon.
Heard from 2 US businessmen involved in building a power project on Java. Most interesting item was their response to question on ?ilitating payments??e. bribes.
One said that American companies simply can?ompete with foreign companies, particularly Japanese, Koreans, & Canadians. All 3 (& any other Asian companies) constantly pay-off the necessary local officials. Not only that, but either governments allow tax credits as necessary operating expenses!! The only way US companies can compete is in areas where only US (& some European) companies are the only providers.
Got back to the hotel and went to the bar to try and find the bartender who served me on Sunday night and provided such great information. He wasn?cheduled until 1700; waited; Hugh and Dave Price joined me.
Shortly after 1700, got Wo-Wan (phonetic) and his manager to come over. Made a big deal out of taking off my US-Indo flag pin and pinning it on Wo-Wan. Profusely thanked him and his boss for improving US-Indo relations. Slipped him 10,000 rpf ($5) in handshake but think his boss took it from him in his own immediate handshake and swift move to his pocket. Anyway, Wo-Wan was very grateful.
Went to dinner with Hugh, Dave, Carol, Tammy, and Ronnie. Indian food. Okay, but not my favorite. Ronnie made something of a scene. Grrrr. Won?ver sit at a table with her again.
Back to the hotel room. Tried to watch movie that came on at 2100, but fell asleep. Up at 0530. Great night! Feel fully jet lag adjusted! Just in time to start back East and suffer the worst jet lag!
Hong Kong is a one hour back time change; -12 hours to home time.
~~~~~Odd note: Blue blazers are the obvious alternate uniform of military men. One day, all 10 males had their blue blazers on, though Scott claims his is really black..
1124 (Hong Kong time)
Crossed the Equator! We are back in the northern hemisphere! I?empted to go fill the sink in the airplane to see how it drains but tilt of aircraft may influence it.
1334 Okay, I tired it, but you can?ell. Water gets rapidly sucked down one side. Oh, well, hopefully I will remember to try in hotel tonight.
1439 Landed in Hong Kong. Flew in right over the new airport project with the connecting highway and bridges. That is our primary reason for coming to Hong Kong. Couldn?ave worked out better. Steep mountains on the islands. High rise slums on approach to the runway. Immensely busy port.
15 May, Thursday, Hong Kong
0737 - Review of Yesterday.
Impressions: RICH, hot, HUMID, beautiful women (sorry, Denny, but you know I notice), exciting, dynamic, western with an oriental face.
Met by the Air attache and briefed on way to our hotel, the JW Marriott (luxurious!).
Dave Price, Jeff, and I took off for Victoria Peak. After a couple of wrong turns in the very beautiful garden park, we found an intermediate station for the tram car. Jeff had to stand which was quite interesting for him during the very steep section (I would guess about 30 degrees).
Terrific panoramic layout of the harbor. Inexpensive trinkets at the shopping complex at the top. Got a spoon for only $4!! We had a drink at a terrace cafe overlooking the city. As we left, an older British couple scooted down to our table which was one of the best on the balcony. You could watch the lights coming on in the city as dusk turned to dark.
We descended and then took the Star Ferry across the Harbor to Kowloon, still part of the colony but only the island seems to be referred to as Hong Kong.
While Dave was shopping in the coin shop (he? collector) I went to the T-shirt shop next door. They were the ones who will do your name in Chinese while you wait! So I got four for only $12 a piece! Joe Sensi?riend had written him about the shop and we had just stumbled upon it. Great (or at least I think so -- in hind sight, I don?now if the kids will wear them or not.)!
She also gave us the name of a couple of restaurants on the Kowloon side. Very nice young lady.
We took the ferry which was predominantly filled with commuters. Looks like they can move about 300 people every five minutes.
Open area walking plaza near the cultural center on the Kowloon side has a terrific view of Hong Kong. Lot?f young people necking. Wish I had my wife here. Wandered into business/shop area. Neither Dave or Jeff wanted to eat. I steered them toward one of the recommended restaurants and said, ?d-bye -- I?ating Chinese.??hey changed their minds and joined me.
Interesting food -- Shanghai style. Dumplings were apparently the specialty. I used the sauce for dumplings (which hadn?rrived yet) as if it were soy sauce. The older gentleman scolded me in Chinese and then brought the soy sauce. When he brought the dumplings, he explained by and gestures what the other sauce was for.
We headed back across the ferry. Walked by the Prince of Wales Barracks which now has a 20 story office looking building on it.
Got to the hotel about 2236 and we all headed to our rooms. I stunk from sweating in all the humidity. Took a shower and wrapped up in my luxurious hotel terry cloth robe. $200/night!! All the amenities, to include the over-priced mini-bar. But I?rinking the tap water with no ill effects!
We are off to the Bechtel Corporation today. At mid-day we will take a ferry ride to the new Airport site. Hopefully, we will see some junks. Surprisingly saw none yesterday.
Got thru to home via phone after a couple of tries. I wish Denny were with me.
1810 - Well, an interesting day. Bechtel/Airport Authority gave us an extensive briefing on the new Airport and 10 related projects. Great handouts, key items of which I will keep.
The most amazing thing to me is whoever envisioned the project. The result will not simply be a new airport. The fact that they included key infrastructure items -- bridges (for road and rail) and power (for development) means that an island of only 20,000 will probably grow into one that can support millions.
We did lunch at the Fleet Arcade. Mostly shops (at which I got silk pajamas for my wife; no further comment here) and McDonalds with a beer. The beer impressed folks. I didn?isabuse them of their impression by noting every McDonalds in Europe serves beer.
The afternoon was a ferry ride to the new Airport site. Great water level view of the Harbor. We also got to see the suspension bridge and went under the cable stay bridge; The actual reclaimed island site was impressive. Got to talk to an engineer about how they did it. Even though the mountains are steep, the area below the ocean levels off and it is not as deep as you would visually believe. They drive piles and fill with rock from the ocean side and dirt from the land side. A totally impressive project!
Nice ferry ride back; now I?ff to find some food for plane ride tomorrow (no one wants to pay $30 for an Airport catered box lunch!)
2005 - I just had my first, last, & only consciously expensive dinner. It was perfect with one exception: Denny wasn?here.
There are no sidewalk cafes in Hong Kong, with one exception that I found. The heat and humidity drives everyone indoors.
But there is a mall connected to our hotel. The entrance from our hotel is at the lowest level and there is a sidewalk cafe at the base of the escalators. (Translation: elevators = escalators; lifts = elevators; Brit = American).
I got the perfect table at the base of the escalators so that I could watch people. It is obviously an upscale crowd who comes to this mall, but there is still a lot of diversity.
For example, two young ladies brought my wine and bread at the same time. I tried to say, ?nk you?? Cantonese (Hm Goi). They looked at me blankly. I explained in English. One of them explained that the other girl was Nepalese and she was Filapina! They appreciated my try and treated me royally the rest of the evening.
It was great just watching the crowd. I did see 8 of my seminar mates but only 3 noticed me. They know by now that I like watching people and all except one left me alone.
The mall is fascinating. It?ust like an American one but nearly everyone is Oriental (and dressed better). There are kids out for the evening and moms and children and guys & gals going on dates.
The Westerners have a distinct British look about them. A greater incidence of redheads than you would expect in a normal sample.
There is a tendency for the Westerners to dress down. The women wear smock-like, loose fitting dresses and the men wear unpressed, open-neck shirts. Not all, but a significant minority are slobs relative to the Chinese.
~~~~~New subject: There are no junks and no boat people anymore. I observed from Victoria Peak last night that we couldn?ee any. Dave Price thought they all might be restricted to another part of the harbor.
I checked with a couple of locals today. One said that he has seen one junk in the last couple of years of the type with sails with spines. The other said that they only tow those out on pretty days and park them for the tourists to take picture. He also ntoed that the colony of boat people on the south side of Hong Kong island -- the ones who used to be born, live and die without touching land (reported in National Geographic), were gone. They?been assimilated.
There is a type of ?k??ithout sails) which plies the harbor with multi-colored rubber tire bumpers and caters to parties. But the old ones are gone.
~~~~~Immigration (not emigration; exiting) is a major concern, both under the old (Brit) and new (PRC) governments. e.g. If the father is from Hong Kong and the mother from PRC, the child can still take 6-8 years and $US 6,000 in bribes to get to Hong Kong. As reported this week, a mother died in an airplane crash but the baby in her arms survived. The claim is that the Hong Kong government won?et the baby join the Hong Kong father because the baby has grandparents in The PRC village of the mother who can take care of it.
Speculation has it that the PRC will be more humane in such cases, but they are still going to treat Hong Kong as a special zone with extremely limited movement into the zone.
Both old and new are anticipating a flood of Chinese trying to enter after the 1 July turnover. Everyone wants to get RICH. And Hong Kong is perceived as the place to do it.
16 May, Friday, Hong Kong airport (old)
0733 - Hurry up and wait and time changes repeatedly. I?ust going with the flow -- some folks are highly irritated. Nothing exciting to report this morning, well, except personalities.
~~~~~Concluding Hong Kong comment: Great place to do business but tourists would have little to do after the 2d day. That is the general consensus from the group.
~~~~~Wheels up. Will refuel in Misawa, Japan. That is about 5-5 1/2 hours.
1000 - flying over Okinawa.
~~~~~Every person I asked about staying in Hong Kong after 1 July was perfectly confident about their safety and future, both westerner and Chinese.
~~~~~At one point at dinner last night there were kids at tables on either side of mine. Three boys at one were dressed kind of like skaters, but acted rather politely. Used only English. Four kids a the other (2 couples) started by using English and then switched to something else later.
~~~~~At least two of the locals commented on how safe the city is. Yeah, there is still the occasional pickpocket, but no violence. Or rather the violence is invariably criminal gang (triad) connected. They feel perfectly safe of 0200 walking the streets by themselves.
1210 - Beginning descent toward Misawa. Very cloudy. Only occasionally get a glimpse through a hole. Hilly/mountains -- settlements in valleys. Golf course. Farm lands. More clouds.
Broke out of clouds about 5,000 feet. Beautiful, rich black earth in fields. Flat rolling hills now. Rice paddies as we approach runway. Blue is a common roof color.
Hmmm...construction cuts are a light colored soil. Fields must be heavily fertilized.
Clouds keep obscuring. About 2,000 feet. Man, he banks this thing about 30-45 degrees.
Beautiful forests. Evergreen and deciduous. Mountains in distance. Full Circle & some. Crew chief came back and said, ?l, they can?ind the airfield again!??e waits until 1,000 feet out from touch down before he ever straps in. =/- 10 seconds!
Some fields have long white (plastic?) stripes in them.
1408, 16 May, Friday, Hong Kong time
1508, 16 May, Friday, Japan time
2208, 15 May, Thursday, Alaska time
0208, 16 May, Friday, DC time
Wheels up from Misawa after a ~45 minute refueling. Saw nothing. Kept in sterile waiting room so they didn?ave to do customs on us. So, technically, legally, we never ?ered??pan even though our feet were on the ground. One said Masawa was on the main island north of Tokyo, another said it was on the first island north of the main one. Who knows....saw more from the air than from the ground.
0024, 16 May, Friday, Alaska time
Got an hour and a half of sleep. This isn?oing to work out, jet lag is going to have me all messed up.
We are 2 1/2 hours outof Japan and 3 1/2 away from AK. Sun is still shining. I don?ow how much dark we will see being only one month away from the solstice and this far north.
Several of us want to see ?ething??ile in Anchorage. We are getting in about 0415, three hours latter than expected, and leaving at 2100, three hours early. Gives them just enough crew rest and may get us in before Air Show crowd at Andrews, about 0730.
0103 - Sun went down. About half way between Japan and AK. Taking ??s??iguratively) on when it will come up. Hmmm....writing that gave me the idea to start a football-type pool. Everyone got a 15 minute window and had to put in $1. Pilots are holding the post and will officially determine sunrise. This group is already debating if the elevation of the aircraft will significantly advance the time; whether it is mean daylight or actual corona over the horizon; whether cloud cover counts if we are on the ground; etc. All in good fun.
We are actually in a pretty good mood. Of course, our bodies think it is early evening when tomorrow they should think it is time to wake up.
0145 - It is still twilight!
Oh, based on heading of 053 degrees, sun went down about 320 degrees on the compass. That is NNW. Expect it to come up in NNE.
0237 - Still twilight! Or, rather, there is still blue in the sky on the northern horizon. Looks pretty dark below us. Aircraft is heading 060. My guesstimate is that the center of light is about due North right now. Horizon is lit for about 90 degrees.
This is fascinating! But it does probably lesson any chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis (sp?).
There is a red smudge along the length of twilight next to the Earth. Blue above.
0331 - It is definitely and distinctly getting lighter. Bob thinks Jeff has it in next 15 minutes. I think I still have a chance at 0415.
0356 - This is the great circle route. The pilots describe how the twilight crept to the left and is now coming back. Darkness in the sky is almost a line to the starboard of the aircraft. Looks like a squall or something physical like that.
0401 - Starting descent. Note, per Joe Sensi:
Miles to horizon = square root of altitude in feet.
e.g. 10 miles = square root of 100 feet.
(you can see 10 miles from a mast 100 feet in the air)
200 miles = square root of 40,000 feet
(about where we are now)
So, as we get lower, sun rise gets further away. The clouds will also confuse things. Oh, well, we?see. It?een fun guessing.
16 May, Friday, Anchorage, AK
Awk! I left this, the journal in my planner book, on the aircraft! I must have been really tired! I?ust getting back to it.
Bottomline: Joe Sensi won the sunrise bet. It came up at 0517, two minutes after his time expired, but no one else had that slot. Joe Schmitt is whining and moaning that the money should have been redistributed. (Petty Officer Abbott said the radio/TV said it rose at 0510, so no contention!!)
OK, we checked into the Hotel just about the time the sun was rising. Hilton. $136/night and 60$ for the half day. Not the quality we are used to (but good enough and it?merican!!!).
2044 - Present time - wheels up from Anchorage.
Back to review of today. Several of us claimed we were going to keep active to fight jet lag. But only Scott, Carol, Tammy and I showed up in the lobby at 0600.
Scott then begged off and said he was going to work out in the weight room. The rest of us went to breakfast at ?ndies??ich turned out to be the place where the Iditorad starts. Tons of memorabilia. Statue to dog teams (represented by a Husky) across the street. Great touring suggestions fro the two servers when we asked, ?t to do with 10 hours in Anchorage???asically = head South.
Avis rent-a-car is a block and a half away. Got there, checked prices. Best deal for military on orders = $41. Not bad for this so-called high price area. (Heard later that milk and bricks are the most outrageous items. $5/gal and $5/brick.)
Tammy was feeling nauseous (sp?) and took off. Didn?ven want to wait to be dropped at the hotel. (She felt better later, after she slept = jet lag.)
Carol and I split the cost and took off for Portage Glacier. It took and hour to get there. Amazing mud flats stretched across the tidal bay area. We passed them at low tide.
The National Park visitor?enter was originally built 1/2 mile from the Glacier. The Glacier is now 2 & 1/2 miles away. Why? They attribute it directly to global warming.
The glacier had scooped out a lake which had a bunch of little icebergs floating in it. Movie presentation explains the whole process and ends with screen rising and curtains parting for a scenic view of lake and the four glaciers in the area.
The ranger talked to us briefly. She was a little strange, but friendly. Broke her back four times in the Coast Guard?? Thanks to her, I carry a piece of Alaska with me at all times. Ask me how and I can show you.
Chose not to take the boat on the lake to get up close to the glacier. Carol shopped extensively in the gift shop. I got a spoon! Last one of the trip. We then headed back to Anchorage.
Turned off at Gridwood, a recommended ski resort sight. Carol was driving because I was tired and she scared the you-know-what out of me. (Later told me she had totaled her husband?ar just before ICAF! Great!!)
We saw a moose grazing next to a house. Neat!!!!
On the highway back to Anchorage we came around a bend and a large snow-covered mountain appeared. I thought it was Mount McKinley. Got Carol to pull over at a weigh station.
Thirty minutes later I escaped from an apparently conversation starved attendant. He explained that the mountain was (some Eskimo name) commonly called Sleeping Lady (or Goddess). Three volcanoes (two visible) in the area were part of the legend. Eskimos said three gods were fighting over the goddess. Higher gods put them all down, the goddess to sleep. When a god wins or all three go dormant, the goddess can rise.
We headed back to the city. Carol wanted me to drive in the city -- fine by me. Dropped Carol at hotel. Couldn?ind parking near bargain basement souvenir shop. Went back to the hotel and parked there.
Asleep in room within minutes of arriving. Awake two hours later, about 1500. Went shopping. Found T-shirts for $3.95 & $4.95 and baseball hats for $3.95!! Also, a little brown bear for Laura.
Went on the trolley (look alike bus) tour of Anchorage. I was the only one on the tour! While waiting to see if anyone else would show up, the tour guide chattered (not chatted) with me. Born in a barn near Anchorage (Preston) in ? When a staggering, sloppy looking Eskimo passed us, he made numerous derogatory comments about them preferring to be alcoholics and addicts and not taking any help that the government offered but instead taking all the welfare and royalty payments. He said one or two he has known made it.
(Sounds reminiscent of Australian aborigine discussion, doesn?t?)
Great patter on the tour of the town. Since I was the only one, I felt free to intercede with questions. Not much to see so he even took me through suburbs, low rent housing, bush airplane/float plane parking and gravel strip next to international airport, as well as tourist area.
He made a number of interesting comments and cracks. As I remember them, will note as ? for tour guide.
Got back. Stopped in bar next to hotel. Had a glass of wine and free pizza during Happy Hour.
Hit the hotel where everyone was awake and talking about sleeping, jet lag, or sights in immediate area.
2129, 16 May, AK time
0129, 17 May, DC time
Still light where we are flying. Sun is behind us.
^^^^^TG: ?earthquake was 9.2 on the Richter scale. It dropped the ground 10-30 feet in area where Hilton is now built.
^^^^^Every place I went into had dead animals. Sheep, bear, moose, reindeer, etc. Not a place for animal lovers.
Went into 2 different fur stores and tried to hide sticker shock. All coast in thousands, though I got offered a full length mink for only $875.
In one fur store (sable stole = $4,555) which the TG recommended as a must see, there was a beautiful old husky which came up to me. Smelled my hand and let me stroke it. Just a gorgeous animal.
^^^^^There are ice worms on the glacier. They had one preserved in the museum. The movie showed one in action on the surface of the ice. It is related to and moves like earthworms, but the Ranger explained that their normal temperature is 12 degrees Fahrenheit. When they take kids (& adults) on ?m??urs, they let them scrape the worms up from the ice but don?et them hold them. Body temperature of humans warms them so rapidly that it kills them. Anything over 30 degrees is lethal.
^^^^^Older couples touring: I want to bring Denny back before we look like them.
^^^^^DIRECT ANALOGY TO DARWIN: Alaska is our only remaining frontier. Has that wild west feel to it. People are very friendly. Most aren?orn there. Interesting contrast with the ? End?? Australia.
^^^^^I like being back amongst Americans. This trip has been great, but I really want to get back to my family.
^^^^^OK - time for me to try to maximize sleep on the way home. (But I bet I end up writing more here.)
>>>We will have flown 23,640 nautical miles, per the pilots, by the time we get to DC! Wow!!!<<<
0428 - That was nearly and hour and a half of sleep. Whoop de do -- that?eally going to help jet lag. I think I could sleep but the airplane has shrunk by now and the noise of others wakes you even with ear plugs.
Uh-oh, Dave Harrell has just mentioned that he didn?et a warm fuzzy/confirmation that the bus will be there to pick us up at 0730. Boy, is that going to be a real perturber for a number of folks. Hurry up and wait?
I think things have gone very well, but some folks concentrate only on the negative. I want to shake them and explain all the worse, really bad things that could have happened.
0516 (using DC time) Everyone is awake and talking. It is evening by our biological clocks. And, I think everyone is excited about getting home.
0630 - 30 minutes out!! Hope the bus is there. It will be great to get home. Seems like I should wrap this up with some summary, but don?feel?? yet. Just noting.
0711 - Landed. Had to wait for bus.
0827 - Bus to Andrews. Tired. Slept.
1030 - HOME!
They loved my presents! Best ever! All the kids said something! Denny didn?ive me too much of a problem about the VISA bills and she really seemed to like the opal (and the silk pajamas)!
Great to be here! Very tired! That?t!!!!
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