Alaskan Adventures

I am half way through my temporary duty here at Eielson AFB in Alaska! I arrived on a jet with about one-hundred other troops a week ago. I woke up at 0100 to catch the plane, and said goodbye to Larry for ten months in the groggy process. So why am I in Alaska? The Air Base here is hosting Red Flag, a simulation of war games to sharpen the Air Force’s talents. It’s pretty humbling to consider the greatest aviators in the world are all gathered here. We also have friends from Canada and the UK joining us. We fly these complicated, integrated air missions a couple times each day. The base here stations fighter jets, but to be honest, I think the B-52 bomber crews are the most numerous! I think we have about forty people here! It’s great to see the different “personalities” from each airframe community, with the bombers being the most laid back and most exceptional at mission planning and weapons knowledge. We’re so laid back that we showed up at the parties first and are the last to leave. Not quite like a class reunion, but it’s cool to see faces both new and old. After speaking to my commander, I leave next Friday flying a B-52 back so I can see Larry one last time before he leaves the following Saturday morning. My parents also roll into town that same day.

As for Alaska, it reminds me quite a bit of my parents’ home in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee. There are so many trees, rivers and scads of wildlife here and the air smells like campfire. The people are friendly and Alaskans are such interesting, active people. Everyone hunts, fishes, kayaks, gardens, and revels in outdoor activities. They also take care of the beautiful land they have. I don’t care what anyone says about the Alaskan Pipeline (which I’ve seen a few times here), Alaska is very aware of conservation. There isn’t a strip shopping center or paved over parking lot in sight.

Last weekend I visited a natural phenomenon called the Chena Hot Springs. I went with a group of B-52 buddies, and a couple that I hadn’t even met before. As it was a bit chilly and overcast, it was really something to climb into a steamy natural sulphur spring to enjoy the very quick warmup! I saw people from all over the world there: Japanese, Russians, and of course, Air Force personnel from bases in Japan to Florida. Very diverse! After the springs, we stopped by a local brewery/restaurant to indulge in some delicious seafood. Now, being completely landlocked in the dead center of the North American continent, Minot inhabitants don’t get a whole lot of fresh, tasty seafood. While I’ve been here I’ve pretty much eaten my weight in salmon! And why not – I’ll have to wait until my deployment to Guam this winter to have it again!

Overall, so far, so good here in Fairbanks, Alaska. I’ve yet to see a moose, but my fingers are still crossed. As for Larry, he’s in Washington D.C. attending pre-deployment classes. I think the capital might be one of his favorite places in the world – he sounds very happy when we talk in the evenings, regardless of the four-hour time difference. He has also taken some beautiful photos of capital charms. I fly again tomorrow and mission plan Friday. The weekend is so close!

Lastly, I submitted a piece I wrote to both BUST and Bitch magazines. I wrote about the over saturation of digital media in our lives. In fact, Larry and I are both switching to Jitterbugs (yes, the old person phone) at fifty minutes a month. We are getting a digital land line and scaling back on the amount we let constant communication infiltrate all of our free moments. When I hear back from them, if it’s not going to be published, I’ll publish it here. JITTERBUG!

Posted in TDY

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