Monday, April 16, 2007

I forget why I wandered in here...

I was surfing around last night. Having fun. Finding places I've been.

Then I found this photo. Lord Byron's graffiti on Poseidon's Temple.

It bummed me the hell out. I had this photo. I took it. It's my new computer wallpaper. Just something to remind how it hurts to loose things. To help me Stop losing things.

Unless you've been iced up and had dual engine failures and seen the altimeter spinning clockwise in a blur (and I sincerely hope you haven't)... Well, then the things that I have managed to lose is incomprehensible.

C'est la vie say the old folks.

Let's try this...

"Marge" (the commenter formally known as Echo November's Mom. Hey, she picked it! LOL!)

Marge asked about other Tales of the Road. I'm going to attempt to tell the first story.

It wont have much impact on anyone that hasn't had a similar experience. I mean, there are no cops, guns or road blocks (OK VERY few), Yeah, there is beer and some Tequila involved but they play very little in the story.

... Let's see...

It was '92. I had been assigned to NAS Dallas for a year. I submitted a transfer request to become a Rover Dog. It was accepted.

I had lived, visited and worked in a few States. My OCONUS experience consisted of a few trips to border towns of Mexico. They don't count for much.

My soon to be new Boss kept telling me, "David I'll keep you in the States until you get used to the drill. Living out of a suit case, hotels, expense reports and running from site to site."

I lost track of the times I heard that spiel.

One week before I was to transfer...

"David, I hate to do this to you but would you mind going to Athens for a week?"
"You know me Boss. Team player and all."

The next Monday morning I hit DFW with a suit case, tool box, brief case and a carry on. (I know that sounds like a lot of stuff but I had no idea when I might be home again.)

DFW to Atlanta Hartsfield (The Entrance to Hell!) TO Frankfurt.

We deplaned on the ramp, not through a Jetway. We walked a phalanx of Police, Soldiers and an APC with the .50 Cal pointed at the stairs.

'Welcome to, "You ain't in Kansas boy!"'.

Uneventful. Layover. Another gate. Another airline and another ride.

I hit Athens... sometime after dark... no idea really.

I gathered my stuff and headed out into the terminal. No familiar faces. No signs for Simpson. No clue how to proceed.

I got some Drachma (Did I spell that right?), dug out the phone numbers that I was given and found a pay phone.

Let me just insert here... Ever heard the phrase, "It's all Greek to me."? THERE IS GOOD REASON FOR THAT!

I plugged coins into the slot. I dialed. I couldn't tell a dial tone from a ring from a busy signal. No answering machine to pick up either.

"HMMmmmm, What the F#&% Over. Now what do I do?"

I didn't have the name of the hotel. The site phone was unanswered. The Rep's home phone was unanswered. I began to wonder just how good an AMEX was.

"Who's asking?"

The Rep and an Avionics Rover had finally narrowed the crowd down to Me.

Then we were off to The Hotel Brazil in Glyfada. Amstel Lights and then off to a small suite.

The Brazil is a small place. The 'room' was an apartment. Marble floors, kitchen, separate bedroom, patio. I was duly albeit easily impressed.

Off to work the next morning. Thank the stars for five years of Dallas traffic. It gave me an intro to REAL traffic!

Lot's of work.

The site was on the military side of the international airport. The office was an old house trailer that even the worst Slum Lord would condemn. The Greek Air force HAD condemned it!!! I don't know it the hangar floor was dirt or just looked like it.

The Avionics Rover was doing a major modification. The Rep had (saved up) a lot of work.

Day one, I was flow checking fuel nozzles. That amounts to pulling a fuel injector out of an engine, connecting it to a pressurized tank full of gas and creating a flammable fog.

A Greek Airman walked up with a lit cigarette. It's clear that there was no explosion but it did flip me the hell out.

Lotta work.

I had an apartment, more or less, so I went to the Grocery store on the corner. Trying to bank some per diem and cook for myself. Holy Cow! Certainly not the worst market I've ever been in. It WAS the First Worst I had ever been in. I got used to it, eventually.

I found an English Style Pub within walking distance. It was full of Ex-Pats from all over the world. More Amstel Lights. English speaking folks. Darts. An oasis on the Aegean.

I'd wander the streets of Glyfada and wind up in the Pub. Hang out for a while then wander the streets until I'd end up back at the hotel.

I met a regular at the Pub named Peter. He was half Greek and half Russian.

I don't recall what started what became a tradition for me... I bought a round of tequila. Tequila and darts became a 'thing'.

I was extended for a week. The Saturday that I had been scheduled to leave I took the renta-car and headed out for Poseidon's Temple after a few conversations that went like,
"How do I get there?"
"Just take this highway and keep the sea to your right. You'll know when you get there."

Sure enough. I did. The drive was glorious. Winding mountain road full of sport bikes racing up the hill. The blue sea to my right.

Then, there it was. I can see it tonight in my mind. I can almost feel that same sense of discovery and exploration.

To stand atop that mountain, to stand between the pillars, to stare out at the sea. I wondered how many sailors had broken through the mist to see that temple and say, "I made it. I'm almost home."

I went with the Avionics Rover and his wife to the Acropolis the next day. I did bring back a piece of the Parthenon for the Architect. I hope I gave it to him. That cradle of the world did not compare to the solo trip to Poseidon's.

The next week I was off to Delaware.
Then to Andrews AFB...
Then to...???

Did I have anything to say? Do I? Not really.

I guess that's why it's a Whole Lotta Nada.

Copying a Johnny Cash CD. Very cool. I guess I'll send the disc home to it's rightful owner on the next thing smokin'.

We had another S.A., TX guy show up today. One left. One leaves Thursday. One goes Friday but is talking about extending. Me, I'm here for another week at least. May extend.

Weather is breaking. Not Texas quality but warming.

I'm on track for another week with 80 total hours. It will make for a fat check. Is it worth being away for an extra week or more? LOL! Ask me when that check hits the bank!

Trouble is, if I can extend to three weeks I'll have to ask and make arrangements BEFORE the check gets deposited.

Again, it comes down to money. This is the first real overtime I've seen since Christmas or before. I have no way of knowing when the next opportunity will roll around.

A sweet dream is for this outfit to have Rover Dogs. Roving from site to site. Busting hump for a few days or weeks then home until the next fire breaks out.

Switching to Bob Dylan. Blood on the Tracks. "Tangled Up In Blues" is one of my all-time favorites. One problem with my new toy. Damn thing wont crank up loud enough!!!!!!!!!

Another reason to go home!

{This post is jumbled. Just worked out that way. Oops.}

"... now I'm going back again. Got to get to her somehow. All the people we used to know, their an illusion to me now..." BD "Tangled Up In Blues"

"... and if I pass this way again I'll always do my best for her. On that you can rest assured..." BD " Shelter From The Storm"


Bob Barbanes said...

Okay, um, one very small correction: If you've had the dreaded dual flame-out your altimeter will be spinning counter-clockwise. If it's doing the reverse, you've probaby hit the ground pretty hard already and are on your way to a meeting with a guy named Peter - and not the one from that bar in Glyfada either (P.S. hope for the best!).

What a wonderful story. I love these things! I've never been to Greece, but stories like these make me wanna go, bad. Must've been a blast. Other than this little sojourn to Honduras, I've never been out of the U.S. much. The 3rd world is not so bad. At least there is still music in the cafes at night, but no revolution in the air anymore.

And why does society demonize alcohol so? Seems to me it plays a part (however small) in just about every good adventure story. Why, just recently I was up at Graham's. The crowd had thinned out and I was just about to do the same, when... ah, I don't want to get tangled up in that. It's a story for *my* blog!

Life can be such an adventure, huh? If you let it be, that is. If you actually take the wierd job assignments. There are those who stand against the wall and watch, and there are others who get out there and dance! Good thing you're a dancer, man.

Me? I just shrug and go, "C'est la vie. It goes to show you never can tell." Hope that doesn't mean I'm becoming one of the old folks.

Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

That'a a negative on the receipt of the parthenon piece. -Architect