Friday, July 06, 2012

The Derecho, The Zoo, & The Fireworks

I remember when DH and I bought our house in San Marcos in 2007. He was still in Hawaii waiting to get out of his first enlistment so I was there in our new house all alone setting everything up.  In that first week we had a storm that was so scary and intense I remember being huddled in the corner of the dining room with my dog praying that the roof was not going to fly off.  Fast forward a few uneventful years (weather wise) and a few thousand miles to Camp Lejeune in 2011.  April 16th we had a tornado destroy our neighborhood -- leveling houses just a few blocks away (living in Tornado Ally growing up, I never would have thought I would experience my first CLOSE tornado on the east coast), August 23 I felt my first earthquake (again- being on the east coast, I would have never thought that would happen), and then a few days later on August 27th Hurricane Irene ripped though Jacksonville.  Now fast forward to last Friday and a few hundred miles north of Camp Lejeune and here we are at another weather first for me -- for all of us really -- a derecho.  We had moved into our apartment 2 days before, so I still wasn't sure of all the nighttime noises that go on around here, so any time I would hear something, I would go over to the window and peak though the blinds to identify whatever noise I had heard.  At about 11pm, I heard what I though was a sudden downpour of rain.  I looked out the blinds down at my car and saw that it was still dry outside -- no rain in sight -- but when I looked over at the trees at the end of the parking lot, I saw them whipping around like pieces of ribbon.  I instantly got that bad weather pit in the bottom of my stomach and was so scared that something really devistating was about to happen.  I have never seen winds that strong without being accompanied by either a hurricane or a tornado.  It was scary.  We were very lucky to only get buckets of rain and a few scattered small branches in the roads when I know that so many people lost power for days and some even lost their lives.  There were several times when I thought our power was about to go out, but it stayed on.  I always knew I would have new experiences being a Marine Corps wife, but I never thought that the majority would be weather related! :)

Well, by this past Tuesday, we were all pretty sick of unpacking so we decided to take a trip into DC to visit the zoo.  We knew that it would be pretty hard to get a parking space unless we left super early, so we opted to take the Metro.  There is a station not too terribly far from our house with a parking garage, so left around 10am and went for a ride on the rails.  I was a little apprenhensive about what it would be like because it seems that all I hear about the Metro are horror stories, but it honestly was not bad at all.  It was quite nice actually (besides the fact that the A/C was broken on the first train, so it was a little toasty).  I think we will definitely be utilizing that more often when we want to make day trips into DC.  When we got off at the stop for the zoo, we took the longest esclator back up to the surface that I have ever seen.  It took us like 5 mins to get to the top! (I took this pic when we were about half way to the top)

We had a ton of fun once we got to the zoo.  Some of the animals were hiding out because of the oppresive heat, but we had a good show for the most part! Their main male lion decided to "talk" up a storm for us, it was so cool to actually hear a lion rawr in real life, they are so loud! He was laying down in the shade with a lioness when he got up and decided he had something to say.  We joked that he was saying "Hey, we're trying to take a nap here, and yous guys are not helpin' with all the racket! Eh...I tried, but they don't seem to hear so good." What made it even funnier is that once the male lion laid back down, the female sat up and started "talking" too, like she was "Geez, I have to do everything myself.  Get lost!" Then she laid back down.  Other than the show the lions put on (that Little Man was totally enthralled in), the otters were out playing in the water, and one of the oranutans was right up against the glass in their enclosure so I was able to get a picture of Little Man right next to her. 

Needless to say, Little Man fell asleep in his stroller on the Metro ride home.  He had a lot of fun.

On the 4th, we had originally wanted to go into DC to the National Mall to see the fireworks, but ultimately decided that it was just going to be much to busy and hard to navigate to be enjoyable.  Quantico was not having any of their own fireworks, so we headed to Fort Belvoir. I was impressed with their show, and I liked how close it was to us (compaired to how far we would have had to go to see the National Mall fireworks).  Trying to find the "designated parking areas" was a trip though.  It seemed like every road we went down, they had blocked off, but we could see the parking area just a little bit past the barriers.  We eventually made it though.  Here's the finale, it was pretty impressive, especially in person.  How was everyone else's 4th?

Monday, July 02, 2012

We're Still Alive!

WE'RE STILL ALIVE!!! Well it has been an insanely stressful two weeks, but we are finally in our new apartment while we are on the waitlist to get into base housing on Quantico.  I know for a fact that all of our nerves have been warn down to the bone and we have all hated each other at some point, but most of the unpacking is done.

My mom got to Jacksonville on the 22nd and she was in full go mode from the moment she touched down, even though she had had an extremely long and tiring trip.  She helped us pack and clean and paint some of the last things that needed to be done.  While DH and I were running around trying to get everything wrapped up on base she was back at the house either watching Little Man or cleaning.  I honestly don't know where she gets her drive or energy from.  There are a lot of times when I think "there is no way I could have done the amount she has accomplished," seriously -  she's amazing.  There have been many times -- especially recently -- where I haven't made my appriciation of her fully known or have screwed up on one thing or another, which I feel truely terrible for (I'm sorry Mom).  But she is the one woman I look up to and try to aspire to be like but I know that I will never ever be able to match her.  The amount of time and energy she spends on me I can never repay her for, except for by letting her know that I love her and that I am sorry for any times when she has felt anything less from me. I am lucky to have her has my mom and I wouldn't have it any other way though the bad times and the good, honestly. 

The day before our move out inspection, we had some wonderful friends help us by taking Little Man to play with their kids for the day while the husband stayed and helped us pack up the Uhaul.  First lesson we learned: Even though the Uhaul website says their new 20' trucks are "perfect for homes up to 3 bedrooms," they are not.  We had a 2 bedroom house on Camp Lejeune mind you.  We stuffed full the following (and when I say stuffed full, I seriously mean we used every single centimeter of space we could): a 20' truck, a 12'x6' trailer hooked up to the back of our Silverado, the bed of the Silverado, my Traverse that we had to haul on a car dolly hooked up to the Uhaul truck, the passenger seat and passenger floor board of the Uhaul truck, and part of the back seat of the Silverado, and we STILL had to go rent a storage unit in Jacksonville for all of the stuff we just couldn't get to fit anywhere. So that means that we will have to rent another trailer at some point and go get everything we left behind in Jville.  I always knew the old saying "You never realize how much you have until you move" was true, but holy cow!!

I think we finished cleaning the house about 30 mins before the AMCC rep came by for our inspection.  We were all beyond exhasted at this point but we still had to drive up to Roanoke Rapids to be able to stay on schedule with when we had to return the Uhaul.  We all slept like rocks that night.  Unfortunately between the truck and our hotel room I lost the keys to my car with my favorite lanyard on them. :( I realized I had lost them after we were on the road the next morning and when I called the hotel to see if they had found them, they had not. :(  Once we got to Quantico, we had to weight the trucks since we wern't able to do that when we left Camp Lejeune, that was an adventure haha.  We had to take the car dolly off of the back of the Uhaul truck to get the trucks weight, and let me tell you, backing that thing up perfectly back onto the car dolly was interesting.  I am totally amazed by DH's backing-up-with-a-trailor abilities.  Some of the places he was able to back out of, I could have never ever gotten out of.  One bright spot in the traveling up to Woodbridge (which is the town our apartment is in) was the hotel we stayed at the night we got here.  We stayed at the Spring Hill Suites (which is owned by Marriott) and they totally rolled out the red capret for us.  They were awesome, they gave us a room upgrade and a huge military discount.  The hotel is situated around 2 other Marriott owned hotels and a shopping center that has a Chipotle in it.  We definitely ate good that night! It had been forever since I've had Chipotle! Also, when we asked if they had a hottub so we could soak our sore muscles, they said no, but they called one of the other hotels and had them make us a special guest key card so that we could access their hottub anytime we wanted while we were staying there.  How awesome is that!? The next morning we were refreshed needless to say, and we were able to move into our apt that afternoon.  Instead of unpacking the truck all by ourselves (our apt is on the second floor and we have 2 leather couches that are heavy beyond belief) we utilized Uhauls Moving Helpers and hired a company to send out 2 guys for 2 hours.  Best spend money of the move by far! If any of our friends ever move to Quantico, I highly suggest using the loading/unloading company called Freedom Movers (they contract though Uhaul, but are their own independent company also).  They had that entire 20' truck unloaded (except for the things that were not going to fit that we were going to have to put into storage up here in Woodbridge) plus the trailer, and my car within their 2 hour time frame (it took us two days to pack all of that!). 

The next morning we went by the Uhaul place to ask if we could keep the truck and trailer just a little longer so we could get the rest of the stuff into storage and then weigh them empty (since thats the TMO procedure).  They were awesome and said yes, the manager even made sure that we didn't owe anything after we got done with the weighing and had put everything in a storage unit. 

We went to the National Museum of the Marine Corps the next day to take a break, it was a nice change of pace.  It was my moms first time to go, so we were excited to take her and show her how amazing it is.  The past few days we have been slowly unpacking and tomorrow we plan on going to the Zoo in Washington, hopefully Little Man will cooperate and we will all have fun!