Travelogue Chapter Seven

Tuesday, May 28th 12:19 p.m.

Now that I am a little more rested I can continue. Yesterday went rather well. I left only five minutes later than I had planned. My fuel economy, as expected, wasn't quite as good as the 46 mpg I got the day before but all told I did 585 miles in 9 hours and only used 14 gallons of push-water (65 mph/41mpg overall average) That's not too bad considering how heavily loaded the bike was. I even got to partake in a bit of the non-illegal lane sharing that is so popular with many of the riders and few of the drivers out here... Getting into the Los Angeles area right at 1200 as planned, I was on I-210 moving along with traffic (little slower than some, little faster than others) at about 75-80 mph when all of a sudden traffic (all 6 lanes of it) comes to pretty much a stand-still. Not knowing how long the backup was or how much it would delay me I decided to see if I could do it without crashing. As I faded over to the center of two lanes I was absolutely amazed to see the cars in front of me open like the parting of the Red Sea. I have never ridden in the LA area with bad traffic (many times in a car, but not on a bike) and have been told horror stories of lane splitting in LA, so this was the first time I tried lane splitting in that area. As the cars were separating it occurred to me that they were either doing it intentionally to allow me through or they were to busy reloading to pay attention to where they were going. Either way I wasn't going to stick around to find out. I could even see some folks that noticed me coming up behind them in their mirrors go out of their way to get out of *MY* way! Those kind folks I gave a hearty "Shaka, Bra!" wave (to go along with my Hawaii plate) as I went by. I figured if I made the experience even a little as pleasant for them as it was for me they'd be more likely to do it again in the future. For the entire 5 or so miles that the traffic was backed up I had only two folks who were obviously trying to keep me from going around them. That wasn't a big deal because I'd just get in the lane on either side of them and wait until that lane had advanced past them then continue along... I finally got to what had caused the stoppage in the first place. There was a crash investigation in progress that had the left three lanes blocked. About all that was left were a few CHP officers drawing chalk marks on the ground and one vehicle. Everything else had been cleaned up by then. The only thing I can tell you about the vehicle was that it had four wheels and was red. Beyond that I couldn't identify it at all. I couldn't even tell if it was a car or a pickup truck. There just wasn't enough of it still in the shape of a vehicle. For those of you in Guam, I'm sure the police report mentioned that "Speed MAY have been a factor."

I arrived in the San Diego area around 1500. It's been about eleven years since I was last here and as I got closer to the base I started second guessing myself as to whether I actually knew where to go. I ended up going a different way than I had planned (working from memory, I didn't have a map) and it took me a while to figure it all out. Yes, Ron, I *was* correct, but I convinced myself I wasn't and got mixed up after all. I finally made it to the base and got the run-around as to where I was really supposed to be checking in. Fortunately on my third stop I ran into a guy who I knew in Guam and he had already been through the run-around a couple days earlier and knew where to go and who to see so he helped me out from there. Eventually I found myself in a barracks room that I was supposed to be paying $13 a day for (Yup... Paying for barracks) asking myself what the HELL I was doing there. The place was a real dump. It was hot, loud, smelly and filthy. After sending the previous condensed installment of my Travelogue I decided to try to find something to eat. That was easier said than done. With a lot of construction and new security requirements going on it made it difficult to find my way around. It certainly isn't the same as it was eleven years ago when I was last here. So I came back to the barracks even more tired and more hungry and with even less patience than I had before. All I wanted to do was get something to eat, take a shower and get some rest. Well, I figured that two out of three weren't bad so I started prepping to take a shower when I realized my next door neighbor was already using the bathroom. We had to share a bathroom. That was the final straw. I decided I needed to do something about this, post haste. I went back to central billeting and told them the room they put me in was completely unacceptable and that they'd need to find me a different place to live for the next four months. I knew I was taking a gamble. I could end up with something even worse. There's three people in the Navy you do not want to piss off... The disbursing clerk who has control over your paycheck (another problem I am having), the cook who makes your meals, and the billeting officer... Apparently I was just convincing enough without being too overbearing because I am now sitting at my cherry wood table in my own private room with its own private bathroom and gold trim everywhere. This room used to be part of the Bachelor Officer's Quarters and is currently the Chief Petty Officer's Quarters. Apparently there is some construction going on in the E-5/E-6 barracks and they have to put the E-5's and E-6's up in other places. The first place I got was the E-3 and below barracks. Complete with weekly room inspections, shared bathrooms, guest restrictions, and every other little "We gotta keep these kids in check" regulation they could think of... This place is a bit more expensive ($15/day vice $13/day) but I got my own bathroom and maid service. Worth the price, I think.

This morning I went through a bit of an introduction to what I am going to be doing the next 18 weeks. I gotta tell you, being stationed in Guam the last four years almost made me forget that I was in the Military... It really isn't all that obvious when you first get there, you just kind of come upon things now and then that are a little "different" and eventually you grow accustomed to them being the "Norm"... It sure is different here in the "Real Navy". A very small example. I just learned this morning that the belt I was wearing was not the correct one to wear with the uniform I had on... That really sounds stupid. "How could you not know?", right? I bought the uniform and belt in Guam as a set. It matched the uniform in color and material, but apparently isn't the correct one. FOUR years I was wearing that combination and, if they even noticed, nobody ever said a thing. I wasn't here two hours this morning and I was already told by two people I had the wrong belt on....

Over the course of the next 6 weeks I am going to be sitting through a Micro Solder repair class and a Mini Solder repair class. During that time I am going to have to find time to "personalize" my own copy of the Instructor Guide, and create some 60 or 70 "perfect demonstration models" to use while I am teaching. During the last 12 weeks I am going to be real-live teaching real-live students. I have to teach each lesson and perform each demonstration of both Mini and Micro two times. Every class I teach will be evaluated and critiqued by an already certified instructor. If, for some reason, I mess up and do not get a "Sat" on the evaluation I will have to teach it again. The lead instructor said that he hopes we don't have any plans for the next 18 weeks. I am looking forward to the experience. I perform best when under pressure. Speaking of pressure, I've got home work to do and I still need to run to the exchange for incidentals and some snack foods so I'd better close out for now.

On to next chapter