Monday, October 12, 2009

Sand Storm

Sand storms are an odd experience. For one, the sky changes to a shade of red/orange that makes me think the apocalypse is coming. Then the winds pick up and sand not only blinds you, but absolutely blasts your skin. The plus side is that it does exfoliate.


I’ve often questioned the nutritional value of food that has a longer life expectancy than I do. However, this is the reality for me for the next several months. When we are not mobile, we are served in a cafeteria, just like any other cafeteria-with one exception, it’s still that same non-perishable food, but prepared in mass quantities.

Despite this, I looked forward to several things each day. My milk which says it really is milk, but expires April 2010, and canned fruit.
My most interesting meal was spaghetti and meat balls. I thought I was getting mashed potatoes on my tray until the server plopped a big helping of tomato sauce on it. Sure enough, upon closer inspection, the thick pulverized white substance had elements that looked as if it had once been spaghetti noodles.

The next day, they were serving mashed potatoes and gravy. It was unique, as it was literally gravy mixed into the mashed potatoes giving it the color and texture of canned cat food. What really caught me by surprise was the taste. It tasted exactly like cheap canned catfood. Not that I actually have tasted canned catfood, but I’ve opened enough cans to get the idea. This stuff really brought me back to my childhood because it smelled like Alley Cat canned catfood that we would occasionally by from Buy For Le$$ for our herd of cats. It smelled more like the red can if I recall correctly- Red was beef, blue was chicken, and green was sea food. I had no life as a child.

Dessert was often hit or miss. It really just depended how dried out it was. One day, I was eating a brownie, and my plastic fork broke on it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Until June

A picture from our last day together until we meet next June.

And the countdown begins...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Desert Work

A little of what we did in the desert. We started from nothing. A lot more went into this, but the highlight was our 16x32 structure.

The first wall up

The sun setting a on very long day

We build this 16x32 structure in less than 24 hours-including shingles.

Return from the Mojave

I've decided I don't like sand. This may prove to be a minor issue in the next few months, but I am sure I will learn to deal with it.

So, I spent the last month in the desert and am trying to figure out why anyone would purposely move out there. It started out blazing hot. Wearing a 32lb vest everywhere made for even more fun in the sun. I was drinking gallons of water a day and was pretty sure I was going to have a heat stroke any time I wondered into a port-a-john. This, fortunately, was rare as I would usually sweat out everything I put in. Actually, desert survival tip 132 I learned this month-in the desert you literally dry out from the inside out. You can feel it.

Then, the first day of October there was a sand storm and after that, it was in the 40s every night and I was freezing! There may have been some poor planning on my part since I didn't bring much in the way of warming layers. And somehow, I ended up sleeping outside on the three coldest nights out there.

And of course, some pictures:

The shower had three working shower heads.

No haircuts in the bathroom

Hydration chart

Home sweet home

Monday, September 07, 2009

Back in a Month

Training in the desert until mid October. This will be the biggest challenge I have had to this point.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Beach Weekend

I live within walking distance of the beach (3/4 mile), which is a good thing since I do not have a car out here. After laying in bed half the day trying to get the forget the pain from the amazing hike on Friday, I pulled myself up and went for a walk.

The water was perfect. Usually it's freezing, which makes me think that I was still overheated. I got out and walked the beach for a while. I noticed a few strange looks from others, but shrugged them off. When I got back, I realized why I was getting all the stares. There is a huge bruise down my spine where the weight of my pack sat for my eight mile hike. I knew it hurt, but I didn't think it bruised. There is nice raw spot too. It will make for a great scare.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

8 Miles

We hiked 8 miles on Friday. The weight on our backs was probably close to 50lbs which is a fairly light load. We had some challenging hills on the route, but at mile 6 things were still going well. Then, the temperature jumped up to 95 degrees and within minutes, I was light headed and thought I was going to pass out. I looked around me. I wasn't the only one feeling that way.

Suddenly, we halted and took a 15 minute break. I checked to make sure everyone was okay, but I was really concerned that I wasn't going to be able to finish the hike myself. I kept drinking water and had a couple of Starbursts. When we started again, I could feel myself going internal. It was my job to be constantly checking on everyone else and making sure they weren't falling behind or succombing to the heat and here I was, not even sure I could make it.

I was so worried about falling behind while climbing up a steep hill, I actually over compensated and got ahead of everyone else. We stopped again about half a mile short of our destination to let the stragglers catch up. I was worthless. I went around checking others, but I finally had to sit down and recover for a moment. There was one more hill to climb.

When we finally made it back, we formed up to get accountability of everyone. I did everything I could to not look how I felt. It was all I could do to stand, but I couldn't let the fatigue show. I could not show that I wasn't up for the challenge.

I completed the hike, while 29 others did not (the either were heat casualties or just could not continue-all are fine now), but I still was still disappointed that it was so difficult for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Building Bridges

During the next couple of weeks we are going to be building standard (prefabricated) and non-standard (not-prefabricated) bridges. This week is standard bridging.

Our dry gap

It's sort of like a giant erector set.


Assembling the decking

Success! Now, we take it down...