Whew! If I had any thoughts that my trip back to America would be relaxing, serene and complacent. Well, I just should have known. Its my own fault, I always think I can do absolutely everything and no event is too small to say no to, so join me as I travel across the United States, some of it courtesy of the Navy, the rest courtesy of what I could dream up and what was recommended to me. So what all can you do in 2 months? Well, I’ll just show you!
When leaving Japan, I made a quick stop in Bali, Indonesia where I hired a guide named Ketut and had him show me ALL around. Which led to my first photo essay of the Tegallalang Rice Fields. Probably should have used a few less photos but I’m known to be overzealous at times and loved them all, so take it or leave it.
A few days later it was time to head to America by way of Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Chicago, and final destination Newport Rhode Island. This was my longest flight chain so far and probably could have been avoided if I had not originally missed my flight out of Bali in the first place. Regardless, after almost 2 straight days of travel I arrived to Newport at midnight, picked up my rental car and collapsed into bed, just to wake up 6 hours later and attend my first day of a five-week class at the Naval War College.
This was by far the best Naval class I’ve ever attended “in all 4 years of service” (can you sense the sarcasm). But really, this class was awesome and it was mostly the people in it! Everyone was very knowledgable, we were all coming from such vastly different perspectives of the Navy, and we were all going to one of the 7 fleets (including 10th FLT) and our class leaders were awesome. One was a commander pilot in the reserves and the other was a submarine commander from Pittsburgh**! We all hung out every night, went out and enjoyed Newport’s fine cuisine, made awful awful runs to the Newport Creamery and in the class everyone worked together and we got shit done! Our class team loved us and in general, it was just a great time.
For the first weekend in Newport, one of my best friends came and we traveled through Connecticut up to Loon Valley New Hampshire Ski resort for a 2 day excursion! O how I love the mountain! as witnessed by my time in Zermatt, Switzerland. I can’t recommend New Hampshire Skiing enough, there are literally 4 ski resorts within 45 minutes of each other and I have also been to Waterville Valley on another trip and loved it.
If you are in the Newport, Boston area and you love skiing, check it out! From Boston its about a 3 hour drive, from Newport about 4 hours. They have packaged deals with all the little resorts in the area, so we were able to get a room for the weekend, lift tickets included.
The second weekend was shopping in Providence! This is exciting because I hadn’t been to a shopping mall in 18 months and if there’s one to go to, its Providence!
Which leads us right into St. Patrick’s Day. I have been in Boston now for 3 St. Patrick’s Day’s and done nothing, and this year I was changing all that nonsense. With tickets to the Dropkick Murphy Concert at the House of Blue’s, M and I did it live, just the way I like!
The concert was at the House of Blues, right next to Fenway Park, an easy taxi from the city, or you can ride the T (subway) if you’re feeling frisky. The next morning we stayed for the Boston parade and got to see some crazy drunken people and men in kilts (some were indeed playing bagpipes), awesome day overall.
My final weekend in Rhode Island I spent in NYC with friends! We had a surprise party for an old friend at a wine bar and after gallivanting the weekend away we ended it with scalped center row tickets to Wicked on Broadway!
My first official Broadway show! If not the Lion King, then I’m so glad it was Wicked. I can’t say enough how AMAZING it was. It was M’s 5th time seeing it, but she didn’t mind going to see it with me again and I was so happy she would do that for me!
At the end of my time in Newport and after some tearful goodbyes (which is always common in the Navy because people are always leaving) the Navy sent me to Hawaii for a one week class which you can never say no to, right!
There’s a great perk the Navy also called COT Continued Overseas Tour in which they will pay for the ticket to your home of record for your leave if you are going from Overseas to Overseas for duty.
Since I was leaving Japan and heading to Italy, the Navy paid for the plane ticket from Hawaii to Pittsburgh for my leave. Woo! Since I was able to pick the days I decided to tack on a couple of days in Hawaii and beg my other best friend to join me. She finally gave in and we gallivanted across the Big Island and I got to try gliding, as an added perk, before I headed back to Pittsburgh.
Finally I was going to see my Family after 19 months away from home! From Hawaii to Texas and then to Pittsburgh I was finally home! And in a state of exhaustion because as always, no rest for this girl, its a go go GO situation. haha. After a solid 14 hours of sleep (that hasn’t happened in more than 2 years) I felt rejuvenated and was ready for the next plan.
It was time to see my youngest sister! The next day I drove up to IUP to my sister’s college and she reminded me what it was like to be in college all over again. We played dress up to make me look younger and more collegesque and we rushed out to the bar for early arrival (no cover charge) and .35 cent drinks.
She even yelled at me for telling people that I was well past my college days because she said our deception was working, but I didn’t really believe it to be true. Can you tell we’re sisters?!
While at home I couldn’t ignore one of my favorite things about Pittsburgh, the Sports!
Before heading home I did a few shady Craigslist deals to ensure there was a Penguins Game scheduled with Dad. Second to last game of regular season, Penguins vs. Flyers. We didn’t win but they gave them a run for their money taking the game to overtime and wowing the crowd!
Then of course Baseball has just begun and I couldn’t miss a Pirates game! && one with fireworks at that. It was one of the best tailgates I’ve been to in the last 2 years… there really was NO competition in Japan. haha.
I was shipping my car off to Italy courtesy of the United States Navy and the closest place to do it was Baltimore Maryland so I drove on down, dropped off Cammy the Camry and took a train from Penn Station to D.C. In case you are wondering you can take a train up and down the entire east coast all the way to Florida from Baltimore via Amtrack.
I had no idea! In D.C. I went to a happy hour with M and all of her government friends and even saw some awesome WVU friends. It was a great night with lots of Sangria and M’s almond cupcakes, thanks pinterest!
We can’t forget good’ ol Morgantown. I asked my dad to bust out the 1979 Imperial Convertible and “Take Me Home Country Roads” and he was happy to oblige, so M drove us back from D.C. and we waited on my sister and piled into the convertible with mom and dad and headed back to our old stomping grounds. It was great to reminisce and take pictures, I haven’t been back in so long.
At this point my leave was steadily ticking to its end, and I had one last epic trip planned. Off to see E in California and drive with her to Las Vegas for my cousin’s wedding!! In LA she had to work the first day so I galavanted around on my own and spent the day in Santa Monica, Malibu, and Marina Del Ray area soaking up some sun.
The next morning we dropped off her final paperwork, [she’ll be a Doctor of Physical Therapy in just a week]!! and headed over to Marina Del Ray to try our hand at Paddle-boarding (we used a group-on and it was only $12 to rent a paddle board for an hour).
Then we were off to San Diego to see a bunch of Officer’s I know from Japan and one from my first ship in Virginia. It was an excellent night filled with laughter and old stories.
We stayed with K, a friend from Japan! and the next morning we were up and out the door because we had a 5 hour drive to Vegas. Woo! My first time to both California and Vegas, can you believe it!? Upon arrival we checked into our hotel at the Aria and went to find my extended FAMILY.
There wasn’t much sleep over the next few days, my sister arrived later that night and after a cocktail party in the room we headed to the casino with a friend who had also drove up from San Diego to provide him an escort and cheer him on at craps. We partied into the wee hours of the morning and then it was time for an exhaustive nap.
Wedding Day! I went with my cousins to have our hair and make-up done and my cousin was dazzling, absolutely stunning on her big day! She was married overlooking all of Vegas at sunset and again the party went well into the night. I
had a feeling it would be this way so my sister and I checked out of our room that morning and decided to do it live (have you noticed a theme to the past 2 months yet?) and stayed up the entire night, at which point I picked up my bag at my aunt’s room and was off to the airport early in the morning.
I arrived back in Pittsburgh late that night, just in time for Malkin’s hat trick in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and after one more exhaustive night I was up the next morning and headed back to the airport with my mom and dad. It was time for me to be off to Italy.
After some teary goodbyes and a promise for them to come visit, I headed from Pittsburgh to D.C., D.C. to Norfolk (after some nerve racking delays due to the tornado weather down South), and I caught my first MAC (military aircraft flight) out of Norfolk at 0100 that morning bound for the Azores Portugal, Naples Italy, Souda Bay Greece, Bahrain, and Diego Garcia.
Thank the lord I was the second stop because that was over 12 hours to begin with and at this point I was totally dead from all of my poor decisions to stay up all night and get onto a plane the next morning 3 days and counting!
In the end I’ve successfully made it to Naples (Napoli) Italy and this week has been one of the worst as far as jet lag goes, I haven’t been able to right my body just yet and I’ve felt like a walking zombie probably due to the fact that I don’t drink any caffeine drinks.
Which is where I’ll leave you now because this has turned into quite a book. Thanks to everyone who made my time at home so freaking AWESOME. Love you Family!
I’m just wondering if anyone out there can top this crazy amount of traveling with a story of their own, even if it was just a flight that took more than 2 days, I’d love to hear about it. Its good to know there are people out there sharing the same travel pains and I’m not the only one who makes ridiculous decisions to do it all.
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