Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Two weeks ago I left home with my little fur kid Sophie and headed to my friend’s house so that she could take care of her while I was deployed to the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Brunswick, Georgia.

FLETC is a 1600 acre facility located on what was formerly known as the Glynco Naval Base.  According to the student handbook, FLETC was originally intended to be headquartered in Washington, DC but moved to Brunswick after being transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Homeland Security in March of 2003.  The Federal Law Enforcement Center has grown over the years to include facilities in Artesia, NM, Charleston, SC, Cheltenham, MD and Gabarone, Botswana.

I arrived there at 3:00PM just as I was instructed to, but when I reported to the dorm that I had been assigned to, I was informed that there were no rooms available and was moved to a dorm on the opposite side of the training center.  The next day, Monday, I returned to my room after my first day of training to learn that I was being moved back to the original dormitory.

I was glad of that because I was now housed with others from my agency.  However, the room was just as small as the one I had the night before.  The bed was short and lumpy and the springs poked at my ribs for two weeks.  The TV was about the size of a postage stamp and the reception sucked.  The cell phone reception was sketchy as well.

I got up every day at 05:00, left my dorm, loaded onto a bus and was transported to the chow hall that brags about serving more than 4,000 meals a day.  The food was oh so yummy.  Everything was boiled or baked.  You’d better like broccoli, cauliflower, bland string beans, powdered eggs, powdered potatoes and either Thousand Island, Bleu Cheese or Sesame dressing on your salad.  If having chicken with every meal didn’t appeal to you there were turkey burgers or veggie burgers.  YUM.

The best part of the chow hall experience was the ice cream freezer.  You dipped out your own ice cream and there was no limit to how many servings you could get.

The heat was brutal and in the early morning waiting for the bus, there were swarms of biting gnats.

All of our instructors stressed the importance of taking advantage of the recreational activities that were available.  They knew that staying on “campus” was not mentally healthy, so I signed up to go shark fishing on Friday, August 2nd.

Eighteen of us signed up.  We were bused to Jekyll Island to board at 41-foot fishing boat. 

The area surrounding Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island is known to be one of the largest breeding grounds for sharks, mostly Black Tip and Spinner.

Here's my sharky-shark shark
The adventure began at 1800 hours and concluded around 2300.  We traveled out past the barrier islands to a spot that the captain said was good.  The seas were choppy and when we dropped anchor the boat rocked and rolled violently.

The deck hands baited our hooks and we cast our lines and for about 20 minutes nothing happened.  The captain informed us we would pull up anchor and head to another spot.

When we dropped anchor again, it seemed like the moment we cast our lines the sharks hit the bait and we were off to the races.  Nearly everyone caught a shark.  Most were one to two feet.  Others were larger.  I caught a 4-foot Black Tip.  Everything was catch and release.  One guy even caught a stingray.

St. Simons Island Lighthouse and photobombing pelican
The next day, I drove my car to St. Simons Island.  Georgia’s Golden Isles include Sea Island, Jekyll Island and the privately owned Little St. Simons Island.  I visited the lighthouse which has been working since 1872 and poked around in the quaint shops and outdoor bistros.  I also saw many of the “tree spirits” that were carved by Keith Jennings.  Everywhere you looked the trees were draped in Spanish moss.

Tree spirit
On Sunday, I got an early start and hit the laundry room.  I went to the FLETC store and bought some snacks and sodas and headed back to my dorm.  I caught a power nap and made my way over to the chow hall.  I had some tacos, a really big salad and some ice cream.

On Monday, August 5th, it was back to class for another week.  I started counting the hours until I would be freed from this “prison” and could be on the road and back to a “normal” life.

Friday was a short day.  We were dismissed at 10:00 hours.  I had already packed everything the night before.  So, all I had to do was change from my uniform into my civvies and hit the road.  

My route home included a section of I95 in South Carolina which is part of the honorary system of roads, highways and bridges known as the Purple Heart Trail that gives tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart.

I saw a sign that indicated that in Walterboro, SC you would find The Tuskegee Airmen Museum located at the Walterboro Airfield.  The museum is a part of the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor.
Tuskegee Airmen Memorial

After a brief stop there, I was just about an hour-and-a-half away from my friend’s house where I could be reunited with my little Sophie.  Never have I been more glad to see my little fur kid.

I spent Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday with my friend and left around one o’clock Monday headed for home.  I pulled up in my driveway around 4:45PM.

It’s good to be home; to put my head on my own pillows and sleep on a bed where my feet don’t hang over the edge or have springs poking you in the ribs.

I missed not being able to post anything over these last two weeks and I thank all of you who left comments wishing me well.  You guys are the greatest.

Hopefully, I’ll get back in the groove shortly and have something worth posting.

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