Wednesday, January 06, 2010

On Top of the World!

So, as you may know, maybe because I said so once or twice, or maybe just because you are very intuitive, this year while I've been in England, my husband has been in Greenland. He's in the U.S. Air Force and has been for 10 years and a few months... and he's been lots of places. I've been lots of places, too, but he's been to more places and different places and even got paid to go there. I've never been to South America or the Middle East, but, thanks to the AF, D has. I think this is really unfair, so when he went to Greenland, I was pretty bummed that he was going to another place that I'd never go to. Seriously...if he went to, say, Poland or Florida or something for work, it wouldn't be too upsetting, because I could go there sometime in the future. But Greenland... who in the world goes to Greenland?
Well, *I* did!

We had been talking for quite some time about spending Christmas together at Thule (the base in Greenland)
(If you want to learn more about Thule, see maps, read about the mission, etc. check here.). Because you never know what the weather (and the plane!!) will have in store, D was concerned about having me attempt to fly in on the 24th... if the plane broke, I'd be stuck at the airport in Baltimore all alone for Christmas! So, he got a special approval for me to come on the 17th and stay for 2 weeks! (And it was a good thing, too...because the plane was not able to fly on the 24th and didn't arrive until the 26th!)

What was Greenland like?
Well, I was waaaaay up at the top, just 8 or 900 miles from the North Pole!
(see where all the yellow lines join together?)

It was dark. It was cold. There was snow.
(this is driving me crazy now because my text is centered instead of on the left!)
24 hours of darkness..... it never got light. It was dark at 4 in the afternoon. And noon. And 9 in the morning. On my first full day there, I woke up at a normal time and David was at work. He came to pick me up for lunch at 11, and when I walked outside it was just kind of weird! Because it looked like 11pm, but I was heading out to eat lunch! It was crazy! The moon was out all the time. And we all had reflectors on our coats.

When it's 24 hours of darkness, reflectivity is very important!

David had to work most of the time I was there, so I spent my days reading, watching Oprah 3 times a day (twice on AFN and again on actual ABC!), watching Christmas movies, playing with my pink DS, and eating Christmas cookies! My mom sent some and I had sent some too.

He picked me up for lunch at the chow hall every day and I loved it! It costs $3.30 per meal but you get to eat as much as you want. My favorites were Tuesdays and Wednesdays... Taco-building and stir-fry-to order, respectively. So good. The only downfall to taco & stir-fry day was that I didn't usually have enough room for soup or salad bar!  We walked around the BX (which took about 3 minutes since it's so tiny!) after lunch most days too. I guess that is the routine.

Most nights, we ate at the chow hall for dinner too, but a couple of times a week, we went to the TOW club. That's short for "Top of the World"! Because, well, that's practically where we were. I had a Ruben, a "Security Forces Burger" (pepperoni, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese) and a BLT. One night we shared a Polar Bear Pizza with D's buddy (it wasn't really made of polar had pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon, I think), and we went for wings twice. Wednesday night is wings night. I guess we ate at the club more often than I thought! We also ordered food from the club one night because that's D's Sunday night football routine. We had pizza from the club on the first Friday I was there, because each Friday there is free pizza at game night. Video games mostly, but one Friday we played board games, too!

When D wasn't at work, we spent our time shaking presents, going to the community center for game night or to play Scrabble or watch movies (the theater AND the popcorn are free! We saw The Time Traveler's Wife and The Goods). We also went to the gym. D lifted, I ran on the treadmill and we also played Becsketball (shooting baskets with my own very special scoring system...1 point for hitting the backboard but missing a basket, 2 points for hitting the rim and bouncing off without making a basket, 4 points for making a basket, and 10 points for making a "nothing but net" basket.) and we set up the tennis net and played a little indoor tennis. Neither of us has played in over a year, and usually D is waaaaaaay better than me, but apparently, my rust shakes off more quickly than his does. Or maybe it was all the practice I had been doing playing Top Spin 3 on my pink DS! ;)  One day we went bowling and I can't believe I won the first game! Actually, I'll have to check with David to make sure I'm remembering's so unfathomable that I think I might be making it up. On the nights we went to the club, we usually played pool or darts. Once, I won at 301! I was amazed! I also won at pool, but that's because David cheated for me and moved balls around. The juke box at the club is free! So is playing pool & darts. And so is the cab ride to the club (or to anywhere on base!) One night at the club, I played the slot machine "Enchanted Forest" or something. I picked that one because it had unicorns on it and I love unicorns! Unicorns must love me too, because I won $3.28! Actually, I had put in a dollar to play, so I guess I only won $2.28. And when I went to cash out, I only got 3 dollars because the club doesn't pay out coins. I made history as the lowest cash out ever at the Top of the World Club at Thule Air Base. I wonder if they are going to make a plaque for the wall or something. The guy said that the lowest he had ever seen before that was $40. I blew that record out of the water! David always goes and sings karaoke on Thursdays, but he didn't sing on the first day I was there, so I only got to see him on one karaoke night (because we were stormed in the other Thursday I was there), but that was fun. More on that later. One day we went to the little museum on the base too. It was interesting, lots of old equipment, pictures, etc. And we also went to the Telepost Danish/Greenlandic(?) post office and gift shop. So, basically, I did EVERYTHING there is to do there.  

The first Sunday I was there, we went into storm condition Charlie right after brunch. When we were in Bravo, D said that we'd better get to the chow hall and hope we could get through our meal before they "called Charlie". Charlie means you're stuck in your residence until the commander decides it's safe enough to start driving around again. (Weekend brunch, by the way, was fab...omelets, eggs & pancakes to order as well as assorted meats and fresh fruit). Anyway, even when we weren't in Charlie, we spent some time in the room (because as you read about in the paragraph above, there wasn't too terribly much else to do) and we played games (Phase 10, Scattergories, Risk, Jenga), watched movies, played Rock Band, read, and played Jeopardy. I'm still the Champ. On Sunday, David was really hoping NOT to go into Charlie, because he likes going to the other building to watch football.

One day, we drove off of the main base toward another part of base that's up on the mountain. Apparently that's where the stuff that the base is there to support is. That's when I really got a sense of just how dark it is there! Because we were away from the lit-up buildings and then D turned off the headlights so I could see! He was trying to help me make out the outlines of things along the way, but it was really hard...mountains, islands, and the Greenlandic Ice Cap. We also saw the AF tug boat (that I could see) but even right by the boat, it was really hard to see the water. I didn't like being by the boat, because 1. I think it's old and kind of creepy looking, 2. I was scared that we might get eaten by a polar bear or a giant pack of Archies (Arctic foxes) and 3. I thought, "If there were a Lifetime Movie set at Thule, this is exactly where the husband  would take the wife to murder her." Oh, and 4. I was freezing!
On my last day at Thule, after breakfast, the full moon was bright and the skies were clear since a storm had blown through, so I could finally see Mount Dundas which was huge (but I never even saw it there until that day!), and the water and island in the bay.

I liked being there and having nothing to do but spend time together! I'm so glad that I got the chance to go there......there aren't many people who will, not that many spouses even visit, and they certainly don't get to spend as much time as I did there. The whole time I was there, I kept having moments where I just felt in awe, that a place like that exists in the world, that I was there, etc. And I'm glad that I got to see where David has spent his year. He had told me about it, of course, but I don't think words or pictures are enough to describe the experience to anyone. And now, the final countdown begins...D will be coming home "next month"! It's so fun to say that!


Dogeared said...

Yay for D. coming home soon! And for you getting to see his world/life up in Greenland. I can't understand why more people don't visit their family who are posted there - what an opportunity! I'm sure D. loved having you there, and showing it all to you.

I love reading the AF stories and seeing a glimpse into the life there. To an outsider, it's interesting!

Amy said...

Oh my goodness, what a holiday you had! Wow! I thought places like that got light for at least an hour every day, I had no idea it was constantly dark in the winter... and then can you imagine the summer? But still, it sounds so lovely to spend that much time with your hubby. I would hate for mine to be gone all the time. That would be so hard! You are a strong woman.

uncle bill said...

You didn't fear that it was "30 Days of Night"? I have dibs on David if he ever goes to Antarctica! I want to see my pen-ga-wins!

Krista Lund said...

lucky lucky you! i love reading all about your adventures and can't wait to play with you at the VC!!!!

Rachael said...

What a cool experience! That sounds like a once in a lifetime kind of chance, I'm glad that you got to take it!

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