Thursday, 29 December 2011

A trip to the place we call home.

Oops! So I'm a little behind. Let me jump from the last post to the holidays. Then I'll try to fill you in on all the adventures that I skipped.

October brought Ryan a TDY (temporary duty) in China Lake, CA where he attended well drilling school. Since he made it back to the mainland complements of the military, we decided to take advantage of a trip back to NC. I headed that way October 25. Departing Guam at 6:30 Tuesday morning and arriving in Asheville at 5:45 pm Tuesday evening reminded me why people don't make that trip too often. 24 hours and 18 minutes of travel... requires you say a while. Ryan joined me in Asheville November 11 and we proceeded to catch up with friends, visit with family and enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving in the mountains.

A few things that caught our attention and reminded us of why we love Asheville:

I made it home just in time to see the beautiful Autumn leaves. 
Ryan had his very own welcome home banner complete with excited parents and a delayed flight.

We took a little time to be tourists when Kathy Lombardo came to visit. Enjoy some of the snap shots and see why I love Asheville. Delicious food, unique people, beautiful weather, and breath taking views.

Pritchard Park Chess
Woolworth's soda counter
Outside Garage 34
When Thanksgiving finally arrived we engaged is a few time tested traditions. Wednesday night took us to Fuddruckers for dinner and on to The Grove Park Inn to see the Christmas trees and gingerbread houses. I have to say I can't remember a year that I didn't go see the National Gingerbread House Competition. It is truly an outing that brings back scores of childhood memories. For those of you who have never been, you have to check these out. Start a new family tradition next year, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Food Truck!
Photo op in front of the huge fire place.
yep, that's all edible.
Looks like it could be placed under a tree!
Intense game of made up 'coin chess'.  Don't they look deep in thought. 
Thursday we headed up to Little Switzerland to celebrate with Ryan's family. What a surprise, just last year we said we wouldn't be there this year! Then we headed back to Asheville for dinner and the annual Thanksgiving night movie with my family. Even thought we were missing a few cousins it was wonderful to have family around. The Pless family has been growing annually for the past several years making each holiday get together that much more of a blessing.
The view for Thanksgiving lunch.
Ryan and Hunter colored their own placemats. 
The girls watching Cinderella. "The sisters tore her dress... again" ~ Anna Claire
The newest member of the Bowman family... Murphy.
Let's not forget HOOPLA, long chats with cousins, lunch dates at Mosaic Cafe, Early Girl Eatery, Panera, and Doc Chey's with friends, catching up with old friends in Fayetteville, spending a couple of nights with the Thompsons, lunch with the Garlands, Bennett's Birthday, bike ride in Traveler's Rest, Thursday morning breakfast with Memaw and Pops and several of their friends, dinner with the Wrights and Culbertsons, and hanging out with Grant. Needless to say we stayed busy and loved every moment we had in the town we call home.

Up next: Christmas on our rock in the middle of the Pacific.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

what we've been up to pt. 1

Let me take you through a crash course of what we've been up to....

In no particular order:


Ann Marie and I went on an adventure to Ritidian Beach. This is the most northern tip of the Island and is a secluded are. The isolation offers a spectacular view of the true beauty of Guam. The beach is a long stretch of white powder sand and crystal clear waters. The drive to Ritidian is through part of the most rural area of Guam. It is a paved road that runs, for a stretch, along the perimeter of Andersen AFB. However, the road has not been kept up so watch out for potholes. When you arrive at the beach you won't be able to see it at first, walk down one of the trails between the trees and tall grass to take in the breath taking views.

The beach was pretty much abandoned. As you walk south down the water line you round a bend where the remainder of the island becomes visible. (See above picture) The cliffs sore just 40 meters from the water line.

The cliffs provide numerous caves and stalagmites to explore and examine. Exposed coral litters the beach. And you realize, it's just you, the waves, and God enjoying his beautiful creation.

Well, you're almost alone. The boys were at work and Ann Marie and I were up for an adventure. As we walked along the beach we came across a few local critters enjoying an afternoon snack from the coconut. Look close and you can see the pinchers of a slightly larger crab under the coconut. After we tried to uncover it, he decided to come after us. We picked up our pace a bit and made it home with all our toes.


Tucked in the ravine of the Fonte River is the old Fonte Dam. It was originally constructed under the orders of President Taft in 1910 to provide water to the village of Hagatna. A picturesque spill way overflows against imported red brick amongst a back drop of lush wild jungle. Imagine how strange it must seem to be trekking through natural jungle growth until suddenly a vast man made structure appears before you in the midst of what seems a completely uncivilized area. 

Nate, Ann Marie, Ryan and I headed south on our adventure on Saturday morning. We were prepared for whatever we may encounter. Cameras- check. Hiking/water shoes- check. Snacks- check. Machete- check. Cell phone (in case of emergency)- check. Nothing was coming between us and our destination. 

The boys were on a mission and Ann Marie and I were enjoying our stroll through the jungle. We took advantage of all the photo ops. Examined the unusual plants and hurried by the elaborately spun spider webs. As you can see hiking her is a group effort. It is nearly impossible to make it down the slick rocks. Just know that everyone in your group will bust their bootie at some point during the journey. 

With beautiful blue skies above us and green grass leading us to the trail head we could not have asked for anything better. We reached the trail marker (see above) and turned left into the jungle. The grass quickly gave way to dirt. The dirt quickly began to show signs of a near stream or river. Before long we gave up jumping puddles and began to stomp right through them. 

The dam did not disappoint. It was elaborately constructed in beautiful red brick. (You don't see brick here. Everything is rebar and concrete.) The water was cool. Remarkably cool actually. It seemed more like a rive in NC than the warm water we usually find on our tropical island. Needless to saw, we still managed to make it into the water. It wasn't the most graceful climb to arrive at the base of the dam. But it did offer a chance to wash off our feet and get a good laugh. 

It wasn't long till we decided to explore up the mountain on the opposite side of the river. The journey to the top wasn't any longer than half a mile, but it covered some significant vertical distance. Once we reached the top the view made it worth the effort. The breeze cooled us off, the sun was hidden behind some non-threatening clouds, and we examined our next option for adventure. With in minutes of our arrival the peaceful silence was broken by the hum, then the roar of the arriving rain. 

No problem, we aren't going to melt. But, in the sudden down pour my cell phone (in case of emergency) learned that it can not swim, Ryan slid down the red clay hill on his butt, the four of us became SOAKED, we made it back across the river and headed back up the trail and we began to loose shoes that became stuck in the mud. Sunscreen was running down our faces, everything we had with us was water logged, and all 4 of us looked like drown rats. 

Bonus: After the hike, we didn't need showers.... off to the next adventure! Mt. Lam Lam sno cones.... here we come. 


Sometimes you need a great place to eat, out of town. On the south side of the Island, past Big Navy and up Rt 2, is a restaurant that sits just on the edge of a marina. If you ever make it to Guam, with or with out us, you have to head there for their pancakes. $3 will get you the most enormously gigantic pancake you will ever see. Choose from plain, banana, or blueberry. No matter your choice it will be delicious.  

Between the 6 of us we had 4 pancakes this size. I'm pretty confident we could have all eaten off one. They also serve one of the best burgers on island. The special includes the catch of the day served almost any way you can imagine. Even for breakfast you can have the catch with your eggs and toast. Just ask Ryan. He will tell you it was delicious. 

After breakfast, Ryan, Nate, Ann Marie and myself head towards Big Navy. Per the girls request we made a few pit stops along the way to capture some beautiful sights along our journey. More on that next time.... from our rock in the middle of the pacific. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Boonie Stomp'n Expedition #2

Wow! I am so far behind.... A few weeks ago Ryan and I set off with our friends, Nathan and Ann Marie Wilson, to explore Marboro Cave and coast line. It  was a very simple walk down to the coast. The cliffs stretched on as far as we could see. The seclusion of the area is peaceful and thought provoking. Standing on the edge of the cliff and seeing the vastness of the ocean truly puts God's magnitude in perspective. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below became deafening at some points. The passage found in Psalm 42:7-8 came to mind, "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me- a prayer to the God of my life." Growing up in Asheville, it is easy to take advantage of the magnitude of God's creation. But is is also easy for my breath to be taken away by the power of the waves. Knowing that his hand orchestrates the flow of the water, his words command the waves to crash comforts me in the reminder that he has orchestrated every detail of my life. He has paved the path I will walk. He has provided for all my needs.

Often, those needs require a sense of humor. Often, they require the company of great friends. Often they require the need for a gifted eye and quick finger photographer. That need has been met by our friend Ann Marie. While standing on the edge of the cliff, Ann Marie saw waves splashing behind Ryan. "What a cool picture! Emily go stand by Ryan!" I climbed across some rocks and slid in beside Ryan. At that moment this picture was snapped:

Then, like it was in slow motion... Ann Marie threw her arms in the air, her mouth opened wide... and before we knew it, that wave that God commanded to crash, crashed right on top of us. I mean it was win $10,000 on America's Funniest Home Video good.

The four of us doubled over laughing. You could not have timed that "really cool picture" any better. No one thought the wave would have crashed that high. We were standing about 15 feet above the ocean.

We continued to explore the caves and cliffs around the area. Tons of crabs climbing on the rocks below, the cliffs twisted and climbed out across the water. The solitude was intoxicating, until the peacefulness was interrupted by a rumble of thunder.

looks pretty intense huh?

Nathan and Ann Marie

We headed back to the cave and swimming hole. It is fed by an underground freshwater stream. Ryan and I discussed how it felt like the Davidson River in NC. Please note the 'rope swing' in the picture below.

The cave proved to be good cover from the rain. Offered a place to cool off and rinse off the salt water. We have heard there are 3 different caves, 2 you have to swim under the rocks to get too. We were able to find 1 of the hidden caves. It was barely big enough for the 4 of us to get in. The water ranged from waste deep to at least 15 feet. Ryan tried to touch the bottom but to no avail. On once side of the cave the rock provided a place to jump into the pool below. Hang on tight or you may be sliding down the algae covered rock. But duck when you jump your your head will hit the top of the cave.  The water was crystal clear and the rocks were stained with the slightest shades of red, purple, green, and blue. The pictures do no justice. 

Needless to say we are still having a wonderful time. Until our next adventure from our rock in the middle of the Pacific..... 

Saturday, 30 July 2011

67th Liberation Day

On December 10, 1941, Guam surrendered to the Japanese South Seas detachment forces after a valiant defensive struggle by the island's Insular Force Guard and a limited number of U.S. marines. Guam became the only populated U.S. soil to be occupied by another country in World War II. Guam was renamed "Omiya Jima" and for 31 months, her people of were forcibly subjected to intolerable hardships administered by the Japanese military. Although some measure of religious practice and business activities were permitted, atrocities, grenade slaughters and rapes were common. Concentration camps were established by the 29th Division of Japan's Kwantung Army and approximately 600 Chamorro's were executed. Some Chamorro's were beheaded when the Japanese learned of the 3-year humanitarian effort to successfully feed and hide U.S. Navy radioman George Tweed who escaped in the initial invasion. 

On the morning of July 21, 1944, after one of the longest and heaviest pre-assault naval bombardments of the war, the American recapture of Guam began, with simultaneous landings at Asan and Agat. About 55,000 men of the 3rd Marine Division, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and 305th Regimental Combat Team of the 77th Army Infantry Division, storm the beaches. By day's end, both beaches are secured.In the three weeks that followed, Americans cleared Orote Peninsula and secured Fonte Plateau. They then move north toward Hagania, Barrigada, Mount Santa Rosa and on to Ritidian Point, at which point the island is declared secure. 

The island made of flowers.
Liberation day is a holiday unique to Guam. It is the most celebrated day of the year and is framed by a series of fiestas, carnivals, memorials and tributes to honor those who gave their all during the Japanese occupation. To culminate the month long celebration, the annual parade closes down Marine Drive and invites families to camp out in attempt to secure the best seat. Chamorro families often set up tents, haul coolers and bbqs, cook food and celebrate, often for days after the parade, in recognition of Guam's liberation during World War II. 

Guam's Rockettes
With the days leading up to the parade we heard over and over, "you have to go once". So we did. With the parade as an "alternative duty location" for Ryan, we packed our backpack with sunscreen, water, snacks, and a towel to sit on and ventured down to the parade route. Arriving at 8:00 we tracked down our friend Ann Marie, staked out our spots and settled in for a day at the parade. Directly across the street was the grand stand. I was thrilled, thinking "if this is anything like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, we have perfect seats. The rockettes will perform right there, the music acts are with in arms reach. Where else would we want to sit?" Okay, it wasn't the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, but we were entertained. 

About an hour and half after our arrival the parade kicked off with a brigade of motorcycles. The roar was deafening. Quickly there after was a fly over by a B-52 and 2 helicopters. 19 classic cars followed delivering the 19 grand marshalls, all of whom were survivors of WWII. Troops from the Guam National Guard, Navy fleets, Guam Air Guard, Air Force, and Army marched. The Marine Corps Band played the Guam Hymn and National Anthem. Floats representing everything Miss Guam to the Corrections Department followed. Ann Marie's husband, Nate, was on the REDHORSE float so our plan was to wait for his arrival before leaving. We waited and waited, at 12:40 the REDHORSE crew finally made it. 

You do the math, that was 4 hours and 40 minutes that we 'watched' the parade. One might think, "You're only sitting there" but that was not the case. About 5 minutes into the parade, Ann Marie and I realized we are going to be running from our curb to the median over and over to get the best pictures. (We were sitting on the south bound curb, the parade was in the north bound lanes.) To solve the problem, we moved. Ann Marie, Ryan and myself hunkered down on the grassy median along with the half dozen other media personnel. With our perfect vantage point, the parade passed just inches from our feet. 

With every brilliant idea there was a down fall, we were in the middle of the road, with ABSOLUTELY NO cover from the inevitable Guam rain. We are laughing, waving at the parade participants and enjoying the candy that was tossed out when Ryan looks north up the road and barely has time to say, "we are about to get wet" before the sky opens up. The three of us grab our stuff, run back to our original side of the road and find an over hang to stand under. 

If you ever visit Guam, the first thing you notice is the rain comes and goes quicker than you thought possible. With the sun back out we reclaim our spot and continue the celebration. Not 20 minutes later the next rain cloud ventures towards us. We decide to stay in our spot and wait it out. Great idea, we thought. As we are dripping wet, and the 10 minute rain is not even starting to let up, the media people begin to laugh. As we look around we realize we are the only ones with out an umbrella. One photographer walked towards us and while chuckling he asked 'is this your first liberation day?" "Yes" we responded. He smiled and simply advised us, "bring an umbrella next year, it always rains". Awesome. We're the new kids on the block.... you live and learn. Before we dried from the rain, a seemingly random chamorro

I'll post a few picture and the best explanation I can just to give you a taste of the celebration and gratitude the chamorro people still have for the sacrifice of the men who delivered their land from Japanese occupation. 
need we say more?

transformer car (maybe)

They were really cooking the pig.

Random Bag Piper

The crowds cheer as every formation of service personnel passed.
The pride is something I have never seen in the States. 

The Chammoros are very proud of their land of the US Troops.

For all our Asheville friends we hope you enjoyed Bele Cher weekend. Have a great rest of your summer. See you next time from our rock in the middle of the Pacific.