Thursday, February 26, 2009

Enid, Oklahoma


After leaving Pensacola, Florida, the Navy decided to send me to train with the Air Force at Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma. First off, Enid? What sort of disease was this. Right up there with Gout and Eczema. Second, training with the Air Force is notorious for being an experience on par with being kicked in the crotch repeatedly...which it was. More on the actual training later because this post is dedicated to the magnificent, picturesque monotony of Oklahoma.

I give Oklahoma less credit than it deserves. The air is always fresh and the skies are a nice shade of blue when they aren't black or an ominous green right before a tornado is about to destroy half the town. The people are always friendly and cheerful and made me laugh with their version of the english language. All in all it is a great place to die.

For three hundred bucks a month I lived in a two bedroom, two bathroom, one story house complete with a garage and backyard. They were building me a neighborhood when I moved in. Here's a nice view of the front yard looking East:

And here is looking West:

Isn't it magnificent?! Enid itself is about a 4 x 4 square mile town two hours from any "major" city. There are a few bars, the most popular being a country dance bar called Scooters. The town boasts a Wal Mart, Lowes, and Chili's, and not much else with a local mall having more vacant spots than stores. That's seriously all I can say about Enid. Look!

As you can see there's nothing anywhere except little named dots on the map. I figured out these were mostly ghost towns created when the highways and railroads shifted course. Because there was nothing to do in Enid, most of my time was diverted to exploring these towns. Over the course of the ten months I was stuck here, I explored about twenty five ghost towns. Overall most were pretty lame, but occasionally one would make up for the rest. What was most confusing to me was that a lot of the abandoned homes in these towns were unlocked and still contained a lot of furniture, pictures, toys, clothes, etc. Who knows. It was fun looking through people's lives who may or may not be dead now. One of the homes had a horse outside.

"Hey, nice car!"

The only problem with exploring these locations was that they were so far apart. Easily the most interesting was a town on the Oklahoma-Missouri border known as Picher. Ever see the movie Silent Hill? Supposedly some of the movie was filmed here - here being a lead-infested wasteland riddled with abandoned mine shafts and empty buildings. I continued to explore this place past sunset, finally leaving and winding up on a deserted dirt road in the middle of nowhere...which was exactly where I wanted to be.

The Hornet Spooklight

I glanced at the clock - 1:06 AM. I killed the engine, turned off the lights and waited. Nothing. I felt pretty stupid. I sat there in the blackness and stared straight ahead, now able to make out a large field and a clump of trees off in the distance. Minutes passed and soon I realized I was staring at a dot in the distance, about the size of a pin hole. I held my breath. The dot began snaking its way through the trees, weaving in and out in a figure eight pattern and rhythmically changing colors from white to orange. After watching the light for some time, I turned the car on as quietly as possible. I inched my way along the dirt path never taking my eye off the light, which was now the size of a baseball. The light began to vanish. I raced forward now but the mysterious light was gone.

If you want to know more about this phenomenon you can read this article written by CJ: The Hornet Spooklight I was the "close friend who drove there".

And with that here are some random pictures of Oklahoma.

So Wonderful.

Typical Oklahoma Dirt Road

Perfect Oklahoma Architecture

Driving Back to Enid

Weird Grassland Creature

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

N'Oleans, Louisiana

The weekend began at 4:50 AM for me as I made my way to Jacksonville airport, still half asleep. From there it would be another four hours until I touched down in New Orleans for a few days of almost certain insanity. The Saturday morning rendezvous included Claudio, Kris, Mike, and Erich. Parades had closed a lot of the major streets in the area and getting back to CJ's place was easily the second worst part of the trip (more to come on that topic later). So after dropping off Mike and Kris because CJ drives a Yaris, we headed back to the airport to pick up Erich. The thirty mile roundtrip took three hours with a quick stop at a grocery store to stock up on alcohol. When we finally made it back we walked into CJ's place only to find Mike covered in beads prancing around the house with Kris and a half empty JUG of wine gone. We were all impressed. You are too.

Lunch came with a pitcher of Margarita and after, we made our way back to CJ's just long enough to load a backpack with Jager, Bacardi, and several Monsters we received for free after almost hitting some dumb kid in the street. Next stop was Canal St. and CJ's friend Brendan's place. There was already a parade going on full of oddly colored floats throwing out a deluge of beads, and the occasional stuffed animal. The heavy drinking pretty much began some time around here (5 PM or so) and continued for the next six hours. At 9 PM we were all pretty wasted, at least I was, and only a few things stood out pretty clearly for me still: Mike getting hit on by some fat girl in orange fishnet stockings, and Kris taking a shot of Skyy and chasing it with a mixture of Soco and Jager. At some point we all acquired a ton of beads. CJ and Erich disappeared for an hour or so and returned with more than any of us. That's about all I remember from the first night. Apparently we were the only drunk ones at Brendan's at this point. Go asians!..and Claudio.

Day two started with Mike and Kris sleeping on a flat airbed mattress and me wanting to kill myself (the low point of the trip for me). I guess it had rained on us for a good hour or so as we tried to hail a cab back to CJ's place and I caught the flu. The flu in addition to a hangover felt so amazing I couldn't believe it. We ate lunch at some expensive place Claudio picked but I could only eat salad and drink water. Then I found out if I sit very still it felt like my head was floating away from my body. Drinking began a little after noon with CJ hitting it the hardest. Erich or someone suggested buying fake mustaches which ended up being a hilarious idea.


Half an hour later we were sick of hearing the word "mustache". We made our way to St. Charles street and tried to get as many beads as we could off the floats before meeting up with CJ's friends and going to some house party hosted by Yale. The party had amazing food and an open bar and it was all free. Erich spent a good portion of the time playing with a Woody doll from Toy Story that he found on the ground.

Next was the infamous Bourbon Street. I don't know if any of us took pictures at this point, but imagine a narrow street overlooked by tons of balconies full of drunk people throwing beads and flashing the crowds below. We did our best to weave through the masses without getting smashed while girls and guys were flashing the bead-wielders on the balconies above. It was pretty much exactly how I imagined it would be. Insanity.

So turns out Mike took a bunch of pictures of Bourbon street. The rest of the entry will give you an idea of what we experienced. All photos are courtesy of Michael Tang!

Here's a pretty good example of our view of Bourbon street

Go America!

Erich dancing with the natives

Parade Aftermath

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jacksonville, Florida

The latest location in my epic naval voyage has placed me here in Jacksonville Florida. I live by a man-made lake though which is pretty cool...unfortunately its full of leeches. Hooray! And across the street is Jacksonville's version of Ralphs, known as "Publix". Here's a map:

Publix looks more like an STD.