Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cedar Falls Trail

Cedar Falls Trail in my new favorite state of Arkansas. A trail we hiked when we PCS'd to the East Coast. Our whole PCS road trip was centered around exploring Arkansas and the Smoky Mountains. It was so much more than what we imagined!

Have you ever been to Arkansas? I swear it is the most overlooked state in the country. I was thinking flat plains. Poverty stricken. Nothing as far as the eye could see. Well, it's nothing like that. 

It's green and trees and rivers and waterfalls. Oh, and elevation changes and nature!

We walked along this river until we got to the waterfall. Then we climbed our way around the edge of the rocks to get under the waterfall.

And took a shower. In the waterfall. 
The world needs more waterfalls!

And more people visiting Arkansas!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Jacksonville is one of the most military-esque towns I've ever set foot in. I will admit they are few but this town just exudes Marine Corps. It's like 7 degrees of Marine Corps instead of Kevin Bacon here. Everyone is either a Marine, is married to one, or a child of one. And therefore, this town has a bad wrap. Damn Marines!

Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune have been growing on me. Sure, the town is spread out and there is no rhyme or reason to its organization. Transplanting here from California, the state that specializes in city planning, haphazard neighborhoods are annoying. Jacksonville is also a little dirty, not just 'not clean' kind of dirty, but rundown hotels, strip clubs, tattoo parlors, and ecetera kind of dirty. On the other hand, there are little pockets of greatness that I find endearing about our new home.

Lejeune Memorial Gardens is one of those pleasant surprises that I could spend more time in often. It's an urban garden with several military monuments honoring service members from Vietnam, Beirut, and public service passing in 9/11. The whole place is paved walkways, trees canopies, and strategically placed benches. An cool oasis we happened upon on one of our Yelp coffee finds.

I am really impressed the city would designate this 15,000 acre park to honor fallen service members.   I find it such an incredible honor to our military. I think this place surpasses military friendly. 

I learned the Montford Point Marines was the segregated training camp located on Camp Lejeune. Prior to 1948(9), African Americans who voluntarily joined the Marine were trained a separate camp. I found that really interesting and something I did not know. 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

9/11 Memorial

One of the highlights around Camp Lejeune and New River. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Twas The Night Before The Big Day

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring...except for the military spouse :) Yep, you knew I was going to do it! This is what happens when you have nothing but time on your hands and no adults to talk to in the house. You start modifying children's rhymes to fit your military lifestyle. It happens. Less than 24 hours before we said 'see you later', I was just a mess. All I could do was lay in bed and toss and turn. Thinking about how the hell I'm going to manage this again as the spouse. I just started writing...

Old picture but same situation

It's so strange to me the number of times we have been through the deployment cycle and specifically the pre-deployment stage, this pre-deployment has been unlike any other. I think we are on #5 and this is my most emotional. In a sense, I am happy because the feelings are being released. On the other hand, I'm a crazy basket case most days. I think back on so many pre-deployment days and I know my coping style has been avoidance. I hold onto this unrealistic hope that deployment will be cancelled. For the record, deployment has NEVER been cancelled. Another stark contrast is the current waterworks. Typically crying  doesn't happen until week 3 for me. No tears at the drop off...ever. This time I've pretty much been crying since May.

Bright and early we are going to get this party started. Everybody will load up in the van with their pjs, blankets, and pillows. Get in one last kiss, hug, and "see you later" before things change for awhile. I'm ready to start this countdown. I've been more ready this time than any other. Every time I look at him I'm just reminded that he won't be here for a lot of stuff. And that makes me sad. So, I'd really like to stop being reminded. And start looking forward to the happy stuff. I guess I'm "finally" getting my wish. 

Well, surprise, famous last words and all the cliches. He was delayed. He got the call bright and early the morning of to say...Delayed. So we got to do it all over again the following night. But now everything has worked itself out and everyone is safely where they are suppose to be and we are T minus one on our countdown. Yay us! It is what it is. I have found my perfect little spot in deployment stage one where everyone annoys me and I don't want to see or talk to happy well adjusted people :) I'm just going to bunker down and wait it out for stage 2 where I turn into a bad ass and rock life! 

I'll be sure to let you know when I'm there but you will probably start to figure it out on Instagram :)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

New River Aviation Memorial

It would seem this post would not be about Pokemon Go but that is where you are wrong. I have learned I can get my kids to go anywhere and do anything with Pokemon lurking everywhere. 

This little display of Marine aviation is at the front gate of New River Air Station. I've been wanting to stop and take pictures since we got to North Carolina. There is always a reason not to. Pokemon to save the day! There just happens to be a "gym" behind the Osprey, so the kids fully supported a pit stop at the memorial. 

There is just something about military aircraft that elicits a 'Wow' from me after all these years. I'm always stopped in my tracks when I see jets, planes, or helicopters flying around base. When we lived at NAF Atsugi Japan it was the F-18s. On Camp Pendleton, it's helicopter formations. As of late, the Osprey gets me because it is the craziest thing I've ever seen flying around. If you aren't familiar, they are new aircraft that can fly as a plane and helicopter by rotating its rotors.

Looking at this small static display here, you get a feel for how bad ass our US military is. It's pretty comforting and make you feel grateful that there are people out there brave enough to protect our rights and freedoms.  


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pre Deployment Thoughts

Sleep is just not happening tonight. I think I tossed and turned for two hours thinking about that damn D word. I started counting the days until he leaves. I'm still not sure how time passed so quickly from when we realized deployment was around the corner to wishing it would never come. I try to recall if we've prepped for all the possibilities and requirements of deployment. Everything feels so messy. Different. I know 100% of those feelings come from our recent move. I haven't even properly sorted out the cross country move in my brain. I'm still missing California every day and not connecting with North Carolina. Deployment is just another thing I need to process.

I am terrible at deployment. I have this bad habit of stuffing my pre deployment emotions down until my body can't handle it. Those stuffed emotions usually manifest as anxiety attacks. After a particularly scary incident (last deployment), I've learned to just feel the feels as they come. Which really means cry it out. And I do every day. And it's ok to cry and be sad. I think it is very normal to miss your husband and to have the worries and concerns military spouses have. (It took me a long time to allow myself that grace :)

I've been considering how this deployment will be for the kids too. Everybody struggles. Yes, even the teenager, Miss Independent will miss her dad. She doesn't realize it yet. The boys, I can't even. Pray for us! Our last deployments were only a few months. Honestly, short deployments are manageable. Long deployments require more...everything. I'm going to have to step up my boy mom game.

This to shall pass.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mini Golf in Myrtle Beach

I read that Myrtle Beach is the 'miniature golf capital of the world". I'm not quite sure what constitutes a mini golf capital but if is the sheer number Myrtle Beach must be a top contender! 
 There are no less than 20 miniature golf courses in this South Carolina family destination and the courses are not your run of the mill golf courses!

To find the best, we consulted Yelp for the top rated mini golf course in Myrtle Beach. Currently, the course if Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf. I'm probably not the best to rate mini golf courses, so I'll take it from my kids. They loved it. There were views from the top, walks along the "stream", caves, and a train ride as well. I didn't get too many pictures but it gives you an idea.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Boardwalk By The Beach

As a child of the 90s, Myrtle Beach will forever be a MTV spring break destination. Do you remember MTV spring break editions? My whole motivation for attending college. But then I grew up and realized, eww. So glad that never happened! And now Myrtle Beach is a family destination. I think.

We had to investigate for ourselves. We have this running list of places to visit. Some are day trips and others long weekends. I must admit being centrally located on the East Coast has its advantages in the travel department. From the tip of Maine to the tip of Florida, nothing is more than a half day drive away from our home. And the landscape isn't so daunting that I wouldn't drive it myself. The deserts and mountains always prevented me from traveling alone in California. I didn't want to get stuck somewhere I wouldn't have phone service or access to a nearby town. So, I didn't travel outside the cities. I hope to have a different experience here.

Myrtle Beach was a likely choice for family time. At the very least, there is the beach. And from what I had been told MB was the place to be for mini-golf. We just happen to have some mini golf fans in our family! I also wanted to experience some family amusement stuff which led us to Boardwalk by the Beach. This is Myrtle Beach's mecca of family entertainment. Restaurants, stores, and entertainment galore situated around a man made lake. Without much research, I needed a one stop shop to give us a general idea of what this town is about.

We got our one gallon cup of lemonade and walked the 1.5 mile loop. We hopped in air conditioning speciality stores and got suckered into overpriced attractions. We had fun. Most importantly, the kids had fun. We got to have our family time and realize Myrtle Beach is probably not the best place for us. Then we headed out to find the best mini golf course in town--Professor Hacker Lost Treasure Mini Golf Course--according to Yelp :) And almost died of heat exhaustion. Californians are not built for extreme weather!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a gem in this big coastal state. I can't say enough positive things about this NC museum. We have visited twice since our recent move and we still haven't seen it all!

The museum is devoted to all things natural and North Carolinian. It is a great introduction to what this state is about and why things are the way they are here. I feel like I have a better understanding of the state and can appreciate a little more of what North Carolina has to offer. I might dare say I don't quite feel such a stranger to my new home. 

Walking into the room you see above, you are introduced to many animals, flora, and fauna native to this state. No, I don't usually say flora and fauna but when you have the opportunity... seize it! 

Wandering through the three levels of exhibits you find out what is in the waters, forests, and underground. From East to West and North to South, you get a good feel for what is out there. A little creepy when it comes to the water...sharks and whales! And even, the crazy weather stirring out in the ocean known as hurricanes :(

In a second building, there are more interactive and technology driven exhibits. You can conduct science experiments and test out computer programs. There are labs where you can see real scientists at work.

There really are no other words than AMAZING. This museum is right in the middle of downtown Raleigh next door to the North Carolina Museum of History (affiliate of Smithsonian Museum), and across the street from the State Capital building. Plus, there is a bonus... FREE admission to all. Oh and free parking on weekends. Winning! If you are traveling in North Carolina, this must be on your MUST SEE list! Just make sure you have a day to spare! This place is too cool to not spend the time. I promise!

(Museum of History on the left, Museum of Natural Sciences on the right, and State Capitol building behind the trees)