Sunday, January 27, 2008

Welcome Home to Rob!

We are both home now, and it is fabulous to be together again! Rob's ship pulled in Friday morning, and he was at the airport Friday night to greet me. We didn't do anything TOO exciting that night, as we were both pretty exhausted. We came home and ordered pizza for dinner, opened our Christmas presents for each other, drank a lot of wine, and watched a few episodes of Entourage. We also stayed up until almost 2:00AM talking about various things that have happened over the last six months. That's pretty much been the status quo for the weekend...lots of talking and catching up! I can't believe that the weekend is almost over and it's back to work tomorrow! It seems like we should have more time together!

My conference was great, by the way. I attended many valuable sessions and learned a lot. The highlight had to be Thursday night, though. First we went to a networking reception at the Canadian Embassy (which is right across the street from the US Capitol Building), where we got to meet the Premier of the province of Manitoba, Gary Doer. (That's their equivalent of a governor, in case you were wondering.) After the reception we went to dinner with a small group of people from the reception, including the Premier. It was a fascinating evening, as I sat close to the Premier and was able to pick his brain on many topics. He's a very intelligent and down-to-earth man, and even does a great impression of Jesse Ventura! I really enjoyed the evening and was glad that I had not gone back to the hotel to go to bed as I had originally planned!

Rob heads back to work tomorrow as well, but hopefully will have relatively short work days. Unfortunately he has duty next Saturday, and then I'm leaving for California on Sunday for another business trip, so not as much 'together' time as I would hope for! However, we're taking a 10-day vacation to Hungary and Poland starting on Feb. 14, so we have that to look forward to! :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Homecoming on Friday!

Since it was in the newspaper, I guess I can finally talk about it on here...Rob is coming home on Friday! Yes, only a couple more days! The ship is pulling in Friday morning. Ironically enough, I won't be there to greet him as I am leaving Wednesday morning for a conference in Washington DC. I'll be coming back home Friday evening, so in a funny twist of fate, Rob will be picking ME up at the airport that night. Now before you go wagging your finger at me and telling me what a terrible Navy wife I am for not being on the pier to greet him (believe me, I've gotten that speech a few times already), just know that Rob is perfectly OK with it. He agrees with me...why should I have to sacrifice important commitments in MY career just to go greet him when he comes back from HIS work? His job caused us to be apart for 6 months; heaven forbid that my job delay our reunion by another 6 hours. I figure Rob might even enjoy having a little time to come home, take a nap, take a shower, and get reacquainted with the kitties before picking me up. I guess Rob and I just are not overly sentimental about these things. When he left six months ago, I had to just drop him off and say goodbye. I couldn't stick around to see the ship off because I was leaving on a business trip that day, too. Of course, it helped that I was going to see him in two weeks in Italy!

The conference I'm going to is the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) Non-Profit Conference. Not only are there many valuable sessions to attend and networking to be done, my boss is actually speaking in one of the sessions! She'll be talking about engaging and retaining donors. I don't know if she'll let me attend that session, though; I might make her nervous! :-)

In addition to the all the conference stuff during the day, we have a couple of fabulous dinners to attend at night. Wednesday we'll be going to a very fancy dinner hosted by one of our vendors, and Thursday night we're going to be attending a networking reception at the Canadian embassy followed by another fine dinner. I should have been fasting this week to counteract the horrendous amount of calories that are going to be consumed over the next couple days!

I just want to thank everyone for all their support and consideration over the last six months. Both Rob and I are very appreciative of everything our family and friends have done for us during his deployment. Hopefully the next blog post will be a picture of us together again!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Wee Little Bit of Snow

The weather forecasters teased us and said that we might get four inches of snow overnight, but that certainly didn't happen! What a major disappointment. We hardly ever get snow here in coastal Virginia, so I was really looking forward to this "major snow event!" Last night I went to a wine tasting party at a coworker's house in Virginia Beach, and it was snowing most of the evening, but not sticking to the ground. I ended up spending the night there (let's just say that the "wine tasting" party turned into more of a "wine drinking" party!), and this morning when I got up they had just a light dusting of snow on everything. When I got back to Portsmouth, however, there was no snow on the ground at all!

This afternoon I ventured up to Williamsburg to get Rob's Christmas present (yes, I know...I'm pathetic...waiting until the week before he comes home to finish shopping for him!), and they had a decent amount of snow on the ground and gracing the branches of all the trees. It was quite pretty...and very appropriate for my Christmas shopping!

The snow in Williamsburg today.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Last Port Visit

As I mentioned in my last post, Rob is in Malaga, Spain for his LAST port visit of the deployment! When they leave there, there's nothing but an ocean and a couple weeks separating us! Unfortunately, they didn't have much time there at all. The ordeal with the Algerian refugees cost them 10 hours, then Rob had duty yesterday. Today he was able to get off the ship, but he said the weather wasn't good so he wasn't even going to take the camera with him. His one goal: buy some wine! Interestingly enough, I was in Malaga many, many years ago, but I barely remember anything of the town. It's on the southern coast of Spain and is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. I haven't heard anything yet about how his venture into town went, but I'll keep you posted!

Malaga is on the southern coast, just to the east of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Excitement in the Med

The ship had some excitement Friday night as they steamed along from Italy to their next port visit in Malaga, Spain. Rob had just gotten off watch that night around 10:00 when the Man Overboard alert sounded. As Rob said, that will get your attention quickly. Apparently one of the lookouts had heard yelling and saw a light in the water. Everyone started running around to make sure all their people are accounted for and they turned the ship around to head back toward the light. The weather was horrible that night, very windy with 7-9 foot seas, so it was hard to see anything. It took a few minutes for them to locate the light again, but when they did they started moving toward it and got their small boat ready to launch. As they got closer, they could see with their night vision devices that it is a small rubber raft with 8 people in it.

They could tell right away of course that they were in trouble and that this raft was not seaworthy. They sent their small boat over and loaded the eight people into it, then sank the raft. They brought the refugees back to the ship, gave them some dry clothes and food, then Rob was responsible for interviewing them with the help of one of the French speakers on board. The men were from Algeria, trying to get to Spain to find work. Unfortunately, Spain wouldn't accept them, so they had to meet up with an Algerian Coast Guard ship and return the refugees to them. It definitely provided some excitement, but it also delayed their arrival in Malaga by 10 hours!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I apologize that it took a little while to post again! Life just gets out of control sometimes. Anyway, it sounds like Rob made the best of his short trip to Rome. They started out in the morning with a tour of the Colosseum, which he said was completely amazing. When I was in Rome, I went into the Colosseum but didn't take a tour; now I wish I had! After the Colosseum they walked through the Forum, then went to the Trevi Fountain. They also stopped at the Pantheon before then going to the Vatican. I didn't go to the Vatican at all when I was there, but luckily Rob only saw a small part of it. Hopefully some day we'll go back together and see all of it! They had to be back to the train station by about 7:30 that evening for their 4 hour train ride back to La Spezia.

Rob had duty the next day, but he did get to spend a little bit of time in La Spezia on their last day in port. Sounds like he and Bo made quite the tour of all the coffee shops in the town (which apparently also double as wine shops!). He said they started off the day with espresso and cappuccino, and finished it with several glasses of wine! He loved the town, saying that it was very walkable and quaint with incredibly friendly people.

The Trevi Fountain. Rob tossed a coin in, which according to legend means that he will return to Rome again in the future. I couldn't get close enough to toss a coin when I was there, so hopefully Rob will take me with when he returns!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Port Visit in Italy

The ship pulled into La Spezia, Italy today. Rob said it would be absolutely beautiful in the summer...your quintessential northern Italian coastal town. However, today it was raining and the visibility was terrible! He mentioned in his first email that he might go on an overnight visit to either Florence or Rome with a couple of the other officers. Since Florence is only 2.5 hours by train, he figured that was where they would end up. Later in the day, though, I got an email saying they were going to go to Rome instead. It's about 4 hours by train. They should have arrived there this evening, then they'll spend tomorrow touring. They'll have to be back to La Spezia and the ship by Monday evening as Rob has duty on Tuesday. I'm not sure how long they'll be there (they might leave on Wednesday), then they'll make one more port visit in the Med, then they're heading home!

La Spezia is on the western coast, to the north just as the coast starts to turn toward France.

Nope, Rob didn't take this pic! I googled for pictures of La Spezia so you could see where they pulled in. It does look lovely, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Rob's Visit to Jerusalem

Rob was lucky enough to go on an all-day tour of Jerusalem yesterday. Although he had been there before when he visited Israel with a previous ship (probably at least 9 years ago…egads!), he said he really appreciated seeing it with the new perspective that comes with maturity and different views.

I’ll post the pictures from his tour along with his own commentary, as that is probably the best way to convey his experiences. By the way, you can view a bigger version of any of the pics by clicking on it.

This is a picture of me at the place where we stopped for lunch. It was definitely a designed tourist stop because it had a big cafeteria-style lunch which was included in the tour and tasted pretty darn good. The beauty of the place is that it had a fantastic panoramic view of Jerusalem. In the picture behind me you can see the gold dome. That is the Dome of the Rock which is at the center of Jerusalem's holy area. It is near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is built where it is believed that Jesus was crucified.

The first place we went after lunch was to King David's tomb. It is a very holy Jewish site because it is built over the area believed to be the family's burial grounds. It is also believed to be in the general vicinity of where the Last Supper took place. I say believed because there is no archeological evidence and the building was built around the time of the crusades as opposed to 2000 years ago.

This is a picture of one of the streets of shops in the Old City. They had a large market area but they forced us to do most of the shopping at one store that was approved by the embassy. It was a nice shop that they closed off to the public while we were looking at its goods. It must be the place the embassy sends all officials for merchandise because the owner had pictures of himself with Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others.

This picture is at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The interesting part of this pictures is the punky kids with machine guns. As I am sure you know, Israeli youth are forced to spend 3 years in the armed services. While they are serving they carry their guns every where. They take them home with them and any time they go out. So it is not like these kids were guarding the entrance of the church. They were just being typical punks lounging around with their M-16s.

This is picture of the Dome of the Rock. It is actually a Mosque that is over the rock where the prophet Mohammad rose to heaven. It is also a place that is important to Christians and Jews, but only Muslims are allowed in. Below the Dome in the picture is the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall. It is the closest point Jews can get to the rock and considered one of the most holy places. There were lots of Jews chanting prayers in font of it.

Rob with the Dome in the background.

This a is picture of all the people praying at the Western Wall. It was very interesting. You can see all the notes with prayers placed in the crevices of the wall.