Friday, August 5, 2011

Sharana- Roubaix

As an aside that about two other people may understand, what is the obsession with every race that goes on rough roads in the states adding a "Roubaix" to the title to ensure that people understand how epic it is?  Got it, Paris-Roubaix is the queen of the classics, and it is one of the best to ever watch, but by definition it goes from Paris to Roubaix.  Or Compi├Ęgne to Roubaix more properly, but still Roubaix is the endpoint!  The only Roubaix in the US is in South Dakota, and I doubt that any race ends there.  Anyways, back to the blog.

Most mornings start the same for us here, in fact most days are about the same. We get up, curse the dust, get dressed and head out on our cross bikes for our own epic cyclocross adventure.  Being from New England our hearts lie with cyclocross in the wet, damp and cool of the falling leaves and sometimes the freezing snow.  Here it is a bit different.  Here, we ride in the dry, the dust and the rocks.  It is still great, and about the best part of the day other than sleep itself.  Our normal loop takes us around the entire perimeter of Forward Operating Base Sharana.  It is a rough track, in retrospect we probably should have brought 29ers, but we enjoy the challenge of skinny knobby on rough terrain.  Technically we are riding on dirt roads, but calling anything in this country a road is rather optimistic.  There are sections of deep sand, medium sized rocks, washboards for miles and ever-present dust (have I mentioned it is dusty here?) and one short stretch of good pavement right near our quarters.  All of this is at 7400 feet of elevation.  It is wonderful.  Because we work in the TOC, we spend our days inside with the only real views of the outside during meals or by watching feeds from intelligence assets.  Our morning ride is our exception and there is a certain harsh beauty to this country.  Last week there were some nomadic folks grazing their herds of goats and letting their camels wander a couple of hundred meters from the wire.  The hills roll off into the distance where we can see the Himilayas towards the Pakistani border.  One nice thing about the elevation and lack of humidity is you never get sweaty, it evaporates as it forms.

Other than that, our days are pretty much the same non-descript thing every day.  Get up, ride, shower, breakfast, work, lunch, work, dinner, work, shower, sleep.  On Sundays we go crazy and go to church!  It is what it is and it does pay quite well.  Still, we look forward to coming home to the states on leave, and we miss everyone at home, especially our cats. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cha Cha Cha Cha Changes


Okay, hopefully you know the song, otherwise the title is rather lost on you. I do have to admit that I rarely if ever read other people's blog titles, so I think we will live. Changes, this last 3 weeks have been about them. Having said that I now sound like a total toolbag who is going to make some deeply philosophical comment on the ways of the world, so here goes. In the past 3 weeks the following has happened (note, this is allowing for some relativistic shenanigans as I will be writing this as if it happened tomorrow after about 2300):
-Jak turned 25
-Nate joined Jak's unit
-Jak and Nate made Captain
-Jak deployed
-Nate turned 25
-Nate deployed

It is good to have change, but we will miss a lot. We have made family here in Graf, and many are leaving or will be gone to the states or their own deployments when we return. We are no longer the wet behind the ears butter bars we came here as, but instead people who have gained at least some understanding of their own potential and the very scary responsibilities that come with rank and potential. I really cannot look too far back at 25, but 3 years ago we were teaching cadets at Ft Knox, living out of cars and had no real clue what the army would hold for us. Today we have done the following between the two of us (not fully inclusive, just what comes to mind):
-Led 5 different platoons
-Been responsible for more than 400 soldiers
-Helped deploy 2 Companies
-Visited the birth of 9 of our Soldiers' children
-Watched the death of 2 of our Soldiers' child
-Been to the field more than 8 months
-Been in 5 different companies
-Lived in 4 states and 2 countries
-Bought a house
-Paid off our first new car
-Had 3 wonderful cats, one of whom is no longer with us
-Served under 5 different Company Commanders
-Served with 6 different First Sergeants
-Separated more than 12 Soldiers from service
-Re-enlisted more than 20 Soldiers
-Acted as Company Commander for 7 Months
-Been tested in more than 15 Urinalysis (that is mostly Jak, I am more lucky)
-Visited 6 countries
-Seen the World Championships of Cyclocross Twice (Stybar won both times)
-Raced bikes in 5 different countries
-Almost died in 1 country (that was all me!)

I am sure that the list goes on and on, but it really means we have been insanely lucky. This Army thing is tough at times, especially for our Family here and in the States, but I don't think I would have it any other way. Love to you all.
Us

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Welcome to the Rock




Yesterday would have been more awesome if Sean Connery had been walking around with us all day narrating things like that, but in the lack of his presence, we still had a pretty awesome day. For the first time on Vacation, we set an alarm for something other than a nap, and woke up early in order to catch the bus from Marbella to La Linea, which is the last stop on the land border between Spain and Gibraltar.

As a quick aside, there is a stratification of the general talents of drivers from different countries in Europe. At the top of this pantheon in terms of overall success would have to be the Germans. Like them or hate them, or even belong to a group they once tried to eliminate, you have to admit that had the 3rd Reich succeeded, European driving would probably be a totally different experience. Spanish drivers are not near the top. They are not the Italians, no-one is as bad as Italians, even the blue topped old ladies from back home. They drive everything that has an internal combustion engine as if they are in "The Italian Job," but it should be pointed out that if the Italian Job had really taken place in Italy, nothing would have been stolen because everyone would have crashed in the first 10 minutes. Back to Spanish drivers, they score some points for being insanely courteous to people on bikes or crosswalks, but they seem to lack any sort of smoothness or rhythm to their driving. As evidenced by our bus driver, who would accelerate to slam on his brakes while moving 10 meters at a time through traffic. I don't get motion sick, but by the time we reached la Linea, I wanted to vomit.

Given that wonderful driving experience, the day could go nowhere but up, and as you will read, it literally did. (Have I mentioned my love of the comma, and my resulting abuse of it, it is really, you know, cool.) We were expecting some sort of serious border crossing considering the websites all pretty much say IF YOU DON'T BRING YOUR PASSPORT, YOU WILL DIE BY MONKEYS AND BE THROWN INTO THE STRAIGHTS OF GIBRALTAR!!! DIE DIE DIE!!! I suppose on the standards of border crossings in the now quite open EU, it was rather stringent, considering there was actually a man standing there looking at passports or residence cards. I showed him my blockbuster membership and was waved right through. Not really, but I am sure I could have. Even more bizarre than the border was that immediately afterwards you walk across the airport to get into town. Literally across it, there are signs urging you to walk quickly, and to not drop trash as the next time the plane crashes due to FOD, "IT MAY BE YOUR PLANE!" By now we had discovered that Gibraltar is the land of melodramatic warnings, but it was amazing. You walk through lines of fortifications and can look up at the rock to see the gun galleries. We happened upon the old graveyard where many of the wounded from Trafalgar rest in the sun underneath some quite beautiful trees; but eventually we decided that it was time to summit the Rock of Gibraltar.

Now our impending promotions (1JULY!!) and associated pay raises notwithstanding, we are rather cheap. It was going to cost 25 euro per person for the cable car, or 20 euro per for the taxi tour, so we decided to walk. Can you say 50 pence per person at the park gate for walkers! We win. Now admittedly, there was no air conditioning on our route, and the commentary was provided by ourselves, but it was much cooler. Cooler as in more interesting, as cool it was not; after the first 10 minutes we were literally drenched in sweat. Our fees paid to the rather surprised man at the gate (he obviously didn't get too many folks walking up what is, after all, a huge rock) we followed his recommendation to take the Mediterranean stairs to the top. With the enticement of the word "stairs" and the awesome possibilities implied by the "Jew's Gate" along the route, we could hardly resist. The latter was a let down, as the only reference to any Semantic religions at all was some of our cursing to the heat, but the path itself was amazing. It was not really stairs in the traditional regards, but a bare single track that wound its way along the exposed southern face of Gibraltar. The views of Africa were amazing, but by exposed I really mean 12 inch wide path with 300 foot drop to the ocean below. Despite my well known dislike of heights, it was amazing. We saw the most amazing views and would come upon old fortifications at some intervals which allowed us to ensure that the dastardly Spanish were not trying to sneak any fire ships into the British anchorage under the cover of mid day. Our dues to Hornblower thus satisfied, we returned to the task at hand, which by this latter point in the trail was the scaling of truly vertical faces into which steps had been hammered by Soldiers many years before. To say we were sweaty would be like saying at times Gandhi was a bit peckish. We were soaked, but with our savings in pocket (said savings were rather damp now too) we enjoyed every step of the way. Topping out was amazing, the breeze has seldom if ever felt quite so good. The summit houses a battery of 9.2 inch rifles from the mid 1800s that have the rather impressive ability to throw a shot clear across the Straights. It really brought home the impressive historical strategic value of the land we walked on.

It is now my turn (the female half of the Miller pair) to describe our next adventure, mainly due to my distaste for monkeys. As Alli can attest, I despise monkeys (all except the little golden tamarinds, but those are truly the ONLY exception). After our sweaty hike to the top of the rock we expected to see just one more interesting creature in this odd habitat: monkeys, specifically Barbary Macaques. We had been really lucky to see fledgling seabirds with the bird parents cheering their bird kids on while taking their first flight from the nest. I don't blame them for being a bit timid though, as these birds were learning to fly on a very sheer cliff. We had also been lucky enough to see a Moorish gecko, other rock lizards, and a Gibraltar Hare. Taking the road less traveled certainly pays off, as I doubt any other bus tours saw any such creatures!

I was certainly happy about getting to play as if I was David Attenborough (at least in my own mind) when Nate and I rounded a corner and were confronted with a large, angry looking monkey. We had seen a couple monkeys from afar, but had yet to see any up close. This one looked a bit mad, and very well fed. I really get creeped out by monkeys (little carney hands, you know?), and this guy wasn't helping. We gave it as much room as you could on a narrow one lane road and kept walking. At this point we saw a stopped tour bus. Wondering what they were so intently starring at, we stopped to look with them. Well, there wasn't just one monkey. There were scores of them. They ranged from young babies clinging to their mothers to teenagers to full grown behemoths. The little babies were somewhat cute, and their mothers, although large, seemed too intent on chowing down on fruit to really be much of a threat. Now the energetic teenage monkeys were quite a different story. We were watching them roughhouse with each other when out of no where, a 20 or so lbs. juvenile monkey decided the best way to get away from the chase was to run up the back of an elderly British man and perch itself on his head. Feeling understandably frightened, he attempted to expel the creature from its roost, while the tour guide was yelling something to the effect of, "Just leave it be, if you make it mad it could get ugly." Yeah, okay, I will let that dirty creature just stay there, leaving my head to be its high ground in a monkey battle. No thanks.

The following conversation went like this:
Nate: Jak, do you want to go to the "Apes Den".
Me: No. Plus they are not apes, they are monkeys, just tailless monkeys.
Nate: I know that, that is just what the place is called. It says on the map that there is the highest concentration of monkeys on Gibraltar here.
Me: Most certainly not.
Nate: Why not?
Me: Because I HATE F*****G MONKEYS! THEY ARE NASTY UGLY ANIMALS THAT HURL POO!
Nate: Okay. Want to walk into town for a drink and some fries?
Me: Sure....if you promise there will be no more monkeys.

So that abruptly ended our monkey adventure. If one of them hadn't jumped on the old man, I may have stayed a bit longer, but there was no way I was having one of those things on my head!

Jak overreacts to the monkeys. When she says "evil looking monkey" it is like saying "threatening pugilistic penguin," namely that it really wasn't that scary. They are cute if overfed little guys, and the only threat of death by monkey was a sign warning you not to feed the monkeys. This sign was a bit confusing considering at points throughout the park there are pits into which the park places bags of fruit and vegetables for the monkeys to eat. Do as I say, not as I do. We did decide it was high time for some food and quickly descended into town from the Rock. We were required by our own somewhat strange geekdom to stop at the "Lord Nelson" for refreshments, which were quite good. They even had a certified authentic spike from HMS Victory, which was awesome. (I have just taken a short break from writing to find where to buy one of these, and they really are quite reasonable! Jak's birthday here we come) With time running out, we ran the passport control gauntlet in reverse. The bus driver on the way back was actually a good driver, but the bus company made up for that oversight by making sure that the air conditioning wasn't functioning. The only ventilation was the opened emergency exits, and when we stumbled off the bus into the 88 degree heat, it felt like jumping in at a polar bear swim. All in all, it was a great day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Uphill both ways

So Nate and I have once again embraced the Spanish life style. We wake up late (well, late for us, and my mother can certainly attest, it is not very late), we eat a breakfast of pastries, walk to do our daily shopping, eat lunch (with great local wine, of course), take a siesta, and go for a ride in the mountains, then eat dinner (cue more wine), and go to bed to start it all over again the next day. I have really been appreciating their very laid back life style. Everyone here is just relaxed. We had a fellow who was perfectly happy to drive behind us while we climbed up a mountain pass for a few kilometers, and then waived good naturedly when he finally passed on a more straight section of road. I could stay in Spain forever.

This morning Nate and I woke at the late hour of 0800 and headed out to do the shopping for the day as well as get breakfast and pick up a new cassette with slightly more gentle gearing for me. Being an idiot, I forgot to check my gearing and still had on a cassette that deals well with the rolling hills of Germany, but was killer on the mountains that surround Marbella. The guys at this great shop had a Campy 12-25 cassette that I was looking for, as well as a ton of super high end bikes that I was not. Having satisfied our need for bike things, we satisfied our need for chocolate with three large chocolate pastries. We walked back to our flat, ate some of the night before's "Vlad" pasta (so called as we got it from a Russian specialty store, and it was called "Putini" after Vladimir Putin and read until we fell asleep for Siesta (which, yes, they actually do here!). After waking up from our naps, we got kitted up to head out for a ride.

Nate and I started our ride with a hellish climb out of Marbella, as all of our rides have started. Once out of the city, we climbed into the mountains for what seemed like ages. We were passed by a couple of guys on one of the local teams, who climbed like mountain goats and looked like wonderful tanned Spanish gods. Needless to say we didn't try to keep up. We climbed into picturesque towns, and even found our way into some little caves. All in all it was a great ride, followed by a dip in the pool, and some grilled veggies, aged cheddar, fresh bread, and yes, more wine for dinner. I hope you all have enjoyed my random post, but I have had a hard time concentrating thanks to Nate looking through a Jamie Oliver cook book and exclaiming, "Oooohh that looks so good, we should make that," about every 10 seconds. We will hopefully post again tomorrow. Good-bye for tonight!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bienvenidos A Espana!



After a strenuous 4 days of work, it was time for another vacation! In our defense, this one had been planned for a while and we really did want to have a longer bit of relaxation prior to going to Afghanistan. We rented an apartment in Marbella, Spain as we had been to the Costa del Sol in college and had always wanted to return to relax and ride our bikes. Let me say, that when it comes to travel, Jak and I tend to be rather neurotic, worrying about darn near everything in our quest to make sure everything goes just how we want. This has been the least neurotic start to a vacation ever thanks to the people on the Spanish end. It turns out that the place we are renting belongs to one of the large group of British ex-pats that live in the area. They took care of everything, even finding their friend Garry with a large enough vehicle to pick us and the bikes up at the airport for the drive here late at night so that we wouldn't have to figure out the bus at 1000 at night. The owner even was waiting here to great us, and gave us the grand tour of her wonderfully quirky apartment before saying goodnight. Stress free travel to the max! We were momentarily transfered back to Grafenwoehr when we heard loud explosions last night, but quickly realized that they were in fact a fireworks display, which we sat on the balcony and watched. We appreciate that the locals recognize the truly amazing people who have just arrived, though we hope the Afghanis will not follow their pyrotechnic welcoming techniques. We are looking forward to 10 days of serious relaxation, and will probably update here pretty regularly.
As an aside, before we came here we spent the weekend enjoying Graf's 650th birthday party! It was really cool, with a fest, medieval demonstrations, concerts and general good times by all.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Anniversary?


So a bit more than a week ago now, Nate got a call to this effect, "Hey LT Miller, you're deploying. Get your shit straight and be ready to go with the main body." Okay. Well that was a bit unexpected. We have known for some time that I was getting lucky enough to be going to a wonderful mountainous region that no one wants to go to for some strange reason....oh yeah, because of the terrorists. Go figure. So the hubby and I spent the last week or so just scrambling to get our wills in order, powers of attorney completed and other arrangements made. The biggest issue of course was finding someone to watch our furry boys, Tom and Frank. Luckily thanks to Auntie Joni, they will be having an extended sleepover with their diminutive Auntie Dog (Dog is a cat). To make ready for their departure, we went to legal to have a power of attorney done up for them. Apparently it is an odd request to have one drafted for cats. Luckily the lawyer we saw was a good sport and simply took the template that one uses for children and replaced ever time it said "child" with "cat." Since their micro chips are registered to us, we thought it was best, just in case, to have Auntie named as their legal guardian while we are deployed. Okay, well that is taken care of. Now for the tough part: shipping them. Firstly, let me say, thank God for PetAir. Those people are saints, over charging saints, but saints nonetheless. More on that to follow.

With our anniversary weekend coming up, which I had booked a romantic vacation in Edinburgh, Scotland, we made sure that all was in order before we left. Nate and I had a great time in Scotland. Although Alli and I had made quite a mark on the city six or so years back (me scuzi!), Nate had never been to the land of my ancestors. Now let me preface this next bit with some explanation. The UK is very expensive. The pound is much stronger than the dollar, so as this was an impromptu holiday, I wanted to make our dollars stretch as far as they could, so I booked a hotel in a seaside town outside of the city in the Portobello district (no mushrooms, go figure). After flying from Memmingen Airport on Friday we arrived in Edinburgh in the early afternoon. We boarded the bus to get to the city center to get a connecting bus to our hotel. I must say that Edinburgh has some of the nicest, cleanest, and timeliest buses that I have ever had the privileged of using. Their public transport is not government owned or funded, so the competition between bus companies forces the system to run very smoothly.

We took the bus to our stop and stepped out into a quiet seaside area. The ocean looked very chilly, but was really beautiful. We walked down some streets with classically Victorian architecture standard to what you would see in most seaside towns that reached their height of popularity in the Victorian era. We got to our guest house with no directional issues and were ready for a change of clothes and a shower. I had warned Nate in advance that this was a small place, and that bathrooms would most likely be shared with other guests. This is common in Europe, so he was not too surprised with this. Once at the door, we rang the bell to be admitted. This is when Nate look at me and glared the, "You have got to be kidding me," glare. So it was a bit small. Okay, so I could touch all walls and every piece of furniture at the same time. And yes, the bathroom was shared. And it was owned by some Pakistani brothers whose grasp of English was minimal. It was very clean though, and although English impaired, our hosts were friendly and helpful. All in all, not too bad. We found a great pub for dinner (I had the best mussels!) and turned in for an early night while watching bad British sitcoms on the BBC.

The next day Nate and I took an early bus into the city. It was blustery and alternated between squalls of rain and bright sunshine. The weather didn't bother us, but kept many other tourists inside so we took advantage of this to see the Edinburgh castle. It was very impressive (and quite a hike up to it, I must say!). We visited the areas where they held American POWs during the revolutionary war and saw the Scottish Military History Museum. We also viewed the memorials to WWI and WWII. After that, we walked over to the National Gallery and then on to the Royal Museum of Scotland. While there we saw some amazing displays on vikings and the Picts. We also viewed a very large working steam engine as well as Dolly the sheep (taxidermied of course). We ate at another pub for dinner (passing the coffee shop where Harry Potter was written!) and took the bus back to our closet for some rest.

The next day was an early start for us. We got together our trekking gear and headed out to the Pentland Hills for some hiking. The winds were blowing steady at over 30 mph and gusting at over 60 mph. Add in some dramatic rain squalls and bright sunshine and you can picture our day. We hiked three main peaks, including the highest in the Pentland Hills. It was probably the most rewarding and beautiful hike I have ever been on. We passed pasturing sheep, miles of peat and heather bogs, and a wonderful waterfall. The weather certainly kept other hikers inside. We saw probably about 15 others hiking. Only two of which were men. I assume all the men in Scotland were drowning their sorrows from the Manchester United loss from the night prior. Enough said on the hike though, as I will let the photos speak for themselves.

My bride has decided that I may be able to tell the next part of our misadventures to the maximum amusement, so here goes. The trip back from Scotland was uneventful, and we returned to prepare the boys for their trip. Before we get into the details, allow me to advance to the scientific world Miller's Theory of Feline Selective Hearing. We all know selective hearing, it is what allows spousal units to not hear each other while in the same room, but up until recently it has not been observed in any other species. Well, Tom our fat (well, the vet did say he had a large bone structure) cat has been the proof positive that the scientific world has been awaiting all these years. Tell him to not torment his brother, nothing; tell him to leave the laundry alone, nothing; tell him that he will never catch that bird through the window, nothing; talk about preparing him for a trip to the States and he knows instantly. We tried to trick him (Frank is too stupid to require tricking) with a combination of medication and doing all preparations in the front yard out of his sight. We even got up at 0400 to ensure that he would not be on his toes. We didn't take into account that when you have 20 toes, you are seldom off them for long. With preparations complete, we decided to be all sneaky and not put him in his hated small cage for transfer to the large kennel we had purchased to bring him to Frankfurt. Dad picked him up as always, and Tom realized the time had come. To flash back to Scotland for a moment, everyone has heard of bagpipes described as a man biting the tail of a screaming cat, let me tell you the sounds are nothing similar, the bagpipe is in fact much more melodious. Long story short, with a lot of swearing and sweating he was ensconsed in the travel cage, and Frank took about the effort to mop ones' brow to place alongside his brother. If only we had known what was to follow, we would have paid the extra $500 to have him driven to Frankfurt. We listen to books on tape when we drive, and let me tell you, the DaVinci code is not meant to be listened to with a bloodcurdling yowl every 1.5 seconds. Once you get used to it, it only is slightly maddening, until you reach the half hour mark, and a mysterious scent enters the vehicle. Cow poo? Nope, slightly more, OH GOD PULL OVER! Yes, defecation incident number one occurred, precipitating a stop in a farmers field for emergency application of baby wipes and tossing of poo. By tossing of poo, I mean that the carpet piece, the poo, the newspaper and tissues that had been contaminated were tossed into the crops (note to self, don't eat the corn) and we tore off before anyone could note our license plate. Autobahn was entered with the now harmonious sounds of yowls as Frank now felt left out of the commotion and tried to impart some Simon and Garfunkel action to the proceedings. 45 minutes later, a no longer mysterious smell enters the car, windows come open at 95 miles an hour and a rest stop is found in short order for defecation incident two. This one was in the litter box, so removal was easier. Frankfurt is in sight when the most horrible smell comes perfectly timed with a complete stop in a Stau. Poo excavation mid-autobahn is considered and abandoned, and some Sour Krauts are made as we cut our way across to an exit to remove the poo. After we complete that, Jak points out that I have poo on my sleeve, and helpfully begins to dab at it with a baby wipe. I helpfully point out that she has poo on her chin, and return the favor. The harmony continues all the way to the airline office, where money paid, the cats ignore any attempts of Mom and Dad to show affection before their boys are whisked away to Auntie land. 7.5 hours later we reach home, shower, and cry. Words really cannot describe today, other than what an anniversary!
Some less horrific items to note:
Breakfast before our flight back was a full Scottish with a pint of beer for each of us (and I even liked the blood pudding).
We bought 5 Finger shoes (shouldn't they be 5 toe?) and hiked in them to the great enjoyment of ourselves and every observant Scot we met.
Our cats currently hate us.
We have been married for 3 years, and Jak hasn't once attempted to choke me as I so richly deserve.

That is all for now, we are off to Spain next week, and will murder without hesitation the person and families of said person, and neighbors and mild acquaintances of said person should they interrupt our vacation.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

So I just drank about a half gallon of iced tea. I have "Magic Dance" from Labrynth cranked (mmmmmm....David Bowie!). I am in a sun dress. I have pronounced bike tan lines. I am wicked tired. This is all directly related to my biking adventure of the the day! Well, maybe not the Bowie, but the rest of it is!

Alright, so today started off normally. I woke up, finished "Cold Mountain" (great book!), ate some cereal and did my grocery shopping. By the time I took the groceries out of the Landy, it was pushing 70 beautiful degrees and I promptly threw the perishables into the fridge and got my kit on. In Germany, you never know when the weather is going to turn, so I had to take advantage of it, at the expense of leaving all the dry goods on the counter to put away later. After grabbing a couple of bottles and throwing in some quick electrolyte sports powder into one of them I was out of door. Some chain lube and air and the tires, and I was ready for my adventure.

It all started out normally. I headed down the usual "get me out of Graf. as quickly as possible" route towards Pressath. I rode past all of the beautiful rapeseed fields to get onto the plateau. It is quite a climb, but certainly worth it! The views were just perfect today.

Anyway, cue the Dropkick Murphys. Why, you may ask. Oh, for no reason, it is just what iTunes decided to play while I write. Okay, back to the adventure. So I crested the climb and headed off to Erbendorf. See two massive climbs that last for miles and top out with a stretch of 300 meters of %20.

It ripped my legs off. Luckily, I was able reattach them with little difficulty and I was back on my way. I descended into Erbendorf and decided to take a road that I had never noticed before. Well, let me explain. There is certainly a reason I had never noticed it before. It isn't much of a road. It started out fine. I saw it meander its way up into the hills. I should have been worried when I didn't see it emerge anywhere on the hill that it climbed. Oddly enough, my better judgment had left for the day, so I went up anyway.

The views up this "road" were spectacular. When the road turned from pavement to gravel, I kept going, thinking, "No worries, they must be making improvements to this portion. Not so much. From a gravel road it quickly progressed to hard pack double track.By this point I was thinking I should turn around, but being miles in, I was already invested. From double track it turned into some of the more burly single tracks I have seen in some time. And please, dear reader, keep in mind that I am on my road bike, on rims that do not even have a brake track to save weight. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. That is really all I have to day to explain my feelings on that right now.


Although I knew that I would be screwed beyond screwed if I were to flat (I only have one extra tubie on me, and so one flat would make for a long walk, but in what direction, who knows!). I had taken many turns by this point, so was a bit *cough, *cough, disoriented. Eventually, after close to an hour, I saw an opening in the trees and saw a house. "I'm saved," I said to myself. I was thinking that I would simply knock on the door and ask the inhabitants where in God's green earth I was. Well I passed by some lovely, yet somewhat overgrown apple orchards. As I reached the house, I saw that it certainly had not been inhabited since the war. Oh well. So I kept riding, making up songs to make me feel better that all had the following lyrics: "Oh dear, I am lost today! Don't worry I will find my way!"


After a few more miles of praying that my old tubies would not flat, I saw pavement ahead. Luckily I was spit out onto a road. After using the scientific method of eenie, meenie to decide which way to go, I turned right and found a town whose name was familiar. Long story short, I made it back home. Barely. I was so hungry when I got home that I didn't even look at Frank as I doused hot sauce on a a tortilla and stuffed it into my mouth whole. When I finally looked down at my poor blond cat, he was generously sprinkled with a fair share of Tabasco. Poor guy. I was still so hungry, I considered licking it off of him. That would have been a bit furry, so I decided that was not a great plan, so instead I ate a still frozen ego. Any riding can relate to this need for instant calories, so it isn't as odd as it sounds. Well, maybe it is.

A bath and more food put me into a much better mood. I am off to a fest now with a couple of friends. I think I deserve the liter beer I will soon be drinking after today's adventure!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April showers bring what?


So I don't buy the old adage, "April showers bring May flowers," As of yet, April was mostly shower free, but yet May has started with some less than perfect weather. It always seems to be like that. Having spent the first half of April in the field, where I was stuck behind a computer the whole time, the weather was just perfect. Now, when Nate is in the field and is stuck mostly in the open, the weather is pretty miserable. I am not sure how that works!

Despite the very windy and rainy weather we have been subjected to, I has been quite productive with the hubby in the field. Although I miss his company, the house has been very tidy! I have found this wonderful new running route with which I was so enamored, I ran it three times this week! It is a long climb on a running path, a few miles through the woods, and then a short bit through the old part of town back to post. All told it is about 7 miles, so it isn't too shabby of a run! I have been watching "Life in the Undergrowth," by David Attenborough and have learned quite a bit about our slimy friends without backbones (aka slugs and snails). As it is often moist on this trail, I have been able to study the things I have learned about in the series in real life. I never though invertebrates would be endearing, but they certainly are interesting creatures as a whole!

On an entirely different note, I have been following all the Royal Wedding plans and things very closely these past few months. It was exciting to finally see it all come together. Luckily, I was able to stream the wedding on my work computer from the BBC website. I am sure my NCOIC got sick of me turning the monitor towards him, or have me pulling on his sleeve say "Oooooo, look at her dress...what a terrible hat!" He certainly was a good sport though by occasionally saying , "Hmmm, yes certainly lovely." and "I agree, what a terrible hat." Thank God for tolerant NCOs that put up with the quirks of their officers! The Duchess of Cambridge was just beautiful! I loved the music they chose for the ceremony, the dress, the uniforms, everything! I got so jealous of Kate's jewelry, that I have been dropping hints via blackberry for a sapphire ring like hers...you know Nate, with our anniversary coming up.....*cough, *cough. I think he got the idea. He was talking about having jewelry conversations with his female Soldiers. As they are all fashionable girls, I hope he took their advice!

Things around here have been a bit dull (but dull is good!). We had a quiet Easter spent with our friend, Cat. We had a great night ride on the mountain bikes with him, where a small weasel type creature almost took us all out! I have been getting in some great reading as well. I just recently finished Bill Bryson's Shakespeare. It was just fantastic, as is everything Bill Bryson writes. Time for my run, so I must jet!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Musings


So we are lucky. As my time in Germany (at least for the next year or so) comes to a close, I have realized just how lucky we are. In general, we are lucky people. Nate and I have a great relationship, wonderful family and friends, two great cats, and steady jobs. Although our jobs may not be our dream jobs, and our house may be former Nazi officer quarters, we get paid twice a month, and have a roof over our heads (even if that roof may have covered the heads of war criminals). We are also lucky, as the place we live is a place that we can exercise the love of our favorite sports. We ski and hike in the Alps, and ride just about every where.

I realize how blind I have been to take this all for granted. Nate and I have ridden the same roads that the legends that won Milan- San Remo have ridden. We rode over the names of Marco Pantani, Ivan Basso, and Miguel Indurain painted on the ground of the pass on the Mortirolo. We have seen two awesome Cyclocross World Championships, and raced with those same pros we watch cross the line on the world cups. We have ridden and raced in all the great cycling nations of Europe. We have torn up some of the greatest trails in the world. As my time here come to an end for a while, I realize just how much I am going to miss this.

Now be assured, I am taking a bike with me down range. Thanks to a great husband/ mechanic, I have a new Kona Jake the Snake waiting for some Afghan adventures, albeit ones that are contained within an area limited by concertina wire and fences. As the count down begins, I am trying to slow time down and appreciate what I have been blessed with. Well, must go do some errands for work for now, but rest assured, to get maximum time on the bike, I am taking my pink fixie to do them!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Long Time No Write


So it seems that the posts in this blog have a theme, namely us being to busy to write them!
As an update, things are going well, vacation was amazing and much needed, and in true fashion when we came back we went from zero to a million miles an hour in no time. Jak has started her new job and faces a shop that has not existed in a year (despite being rather vital to a BCT's existence) but is having a blast. Through an interesting series of events that are rather secret, I find myself as not only the Executive Officer and Operations Officer as normal, but also the Company Commander for anywhere from the next month to possibly the next six months. It is a rather backhanded compliment that none of my higher seems too concerned by this turn of events, but it does make life exciting. I do relish the ability to effect the changes that I think are needed, but that is a story for another day.
In more relaxing news, spring has come to Bavaria at last. After one hell of a winter, this past weekend saw us riding through the rolling hills and dales in shorts!! (Forgot to mention, we have had strep for 3 weeks, so riding was very very very slow) It helps the body and soul (despite coughs to get rid of the last items mentioned in parenthesis) and was wonderful. We wandered on routes we had not taken before, and had rides on Saturday and Sunday that make you forget that on Monday your phone will not stop ringing.
Quick aside, that is not metaphorical, at one point today while on my office phone, the other line rang, the other office phone rang and my cell phone rang. Amazing!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quick Update

So this may not be the most thrilling, but I think it is neat. As we get closer to coming home on leave, I remembered when we were last home, there was a little article mentioning how NH Fish and Game had put their topo maps for free online. Being a map dork, who loves having too much information at any given time, I think this is neat, as well as being a good resource for the north country. Check it out here! http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/maps/topo.html

Monday, January 10, 2011

Work? (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

As you can tell from the whole (UNCLASSIFIED) thing, I am writing this from work using the nifty thing that allows me to email and have it turn it into a blog post.  I do love technology.  The New Year has started off better than our New Years Eve ski adventure would have led us to expect.  Realistically this will not be the more coherent blog post, so allow me to mention some awesome things.

1.        Jak and I have actually sold some bikes.  I know, friends and family probably believe that this is impossible, but we have downsized the fleet somewhat.  Though in all honesty, we have pretty much cleared out the bikes we never rode in order to get new ones.  We have a disease.

2.       We worked on the Land Rover yesterday.  Our adventure pulling out the stuck German lady had left Jesus with a Landy black eye, namely his left headlight and headlight surround was banged up along with the body panel from a close encounter with a  tree.  Fortunately, I brought all of tools and talent to do body work with me.  In the case of Landy, that involves hitting the bulged out part with a  rubber mallet until it is back to new!  A little rustoleum and a new surround and we will be 100% good to go. 

3.       It is actually sunny out. We have not seen the Bavarian sun in ages.  It does, however, come hand in hand with the torrential rain of the past several days and heat wave which means all of our snow is gone!

That is all for now, I need to do at least some work.

 

V/R

 

1LT Miller, N

23rd ORD

Executive Officer

Dawg 5

475-8201

"They didn't want it good, they wanted it Wednesday."  -R. Heinlein

 

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE