Friday, August 31, 2007

Visiting Rob in Italy

OK, I'm going to seriously try to keep this up to date now. August was a crazy, hectic month for me, too, so I didn't post things to the blog like I wanted to! But I'm going to try to do better!

It's funny, the day Rob left (Aug. 1), I was also leaving. I was going to Hagerstown, Maryland with my boss for 3 days to implement a new program with the company that processes Operation Smile's donations. So I literally dropped Rob off at the pier and left immediately for Maryland. I guess that was good because it kept me occupied during those first few rough days, but I also didn't have time to see the ship off and wave goodbye and all those corny things.

It wasn't long before I left for Italy, though, to visit Rob on his first port visit. He was scheduled to pull into Sicily in the middle of August, so I planned on leaving on August 10 and going to Rome for a few days before joining Rob in Sicily.

On the morning of the 10th (a few hours before heading to the airport), I got an email from Rob saying that they might NOT be pulling into Sicily after all due to a national holiday. Big problem! I headed to the airport anyway, figuring that at worst I would just spend a week in Rome if all else fails. Upon getting to the airport I find that my flight out of Norfolk is cancelled and I couldn't get out until the next afternoon! At this point I was feeling like this trip was just not meant to be. So I came home in tears, but determined to still try to make it work.

I was able to leave the next day and arrived in Rome on Sunday afternoon (the 12th). I only had two full days there due to the flight problem, which is disappointing because Rome was fabulous! The weather was fantastic and I was completely enthralled by all the ancient ruins. I walked everywhere, to the point of having huge blisters on my feet and shin splits like I've never experienced. With my limited time I concentrated on the ancient Roman sites, like the Colosseum and the Forum. I didn't make it to the Vatican, but I'm sure Rob and I will go back some time.

In the meantime, I heard from Rob and found out that they would be pulling into Sicily, but the OTHER side of the island. flight was into Palermo (their original destination), and they were pulling into Augusta Bay. I still went to Palermo and managed to get to my hotel, and Rob rented a car (yes, he is crazy) and drove the 2+ hours to get to me. The drive wasn't TOO bad until he got to Palermo. It's actually the 4th biggest city in Italy, and driving there is absolutely ridiculous. He didn't have good directions and it took an hour for him to find the hotel. He was completely spent by the time he got there!

The next day we left and drove along the northern coast of the island for a while, then headed toward the city of Catania, which was the major city near where the ship pulled in. We spent two days there. We did a lot of shopping (window shopping, actually; not too many purchases unfortunately!) and a lot of eating! Our hotel had a fantastic rooftop restaurant that overlooked the city and Mt. Etna. (The picture below of Rob is at the restaurant with Mt. Etna in the background). The first day we were there was a holiday of some sort, so they also had fireworks that we were able to watch from the rooftop during dinner. It was amazing. As was the food and wine!

On our last full day in Sicily we drove up to Mt. Etna and then headed back to Palermo where we'd spend the night before my flight early the next morning. We only had 3 full days together, but it was great to see him. We were so stressed before he left that we really weren't able to enjoy each others company for the last week or so. This was a nice, stress-free time together!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Rob's Deployment Begins

Rob left on Wednesday, August 1, for a 6-month deployment with the Navy. Even though we've known this was coming for over a year, it still managed to sneak up on us. Perhaps we were in denial; if we ignored this eminent fate and did nothing to prepare for it, maybe it would never come to fruition. Alas, the Navy is annoyingly precise about these things. In the last month we had to scramble to do all the things that we wanted to get done before he left. We finished re-doing the downstairs bathroom and other little projects around the house. We bought a new car. We took a trip to Vegas. But there was so much more to do and just not enough time.

Due to the time difference, I get maybe one email a day from him; two emails on a lucky day. He's so busy and sleep-deprived that I know he hasn't had time to write to many other people. So I thought that perhaps a blog would be the best way to keep the rest of the family up to date on what's going on with him (and me, too...I know I'm not the greatest at keeping in touch!)

Be sure to send him emails, even if he doesn't write back much! I know he enjoys any communication he gets!