Wednesday, July 20, 1994

Army Reserves - 2 Week Annual Training

Well, we are back at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia this year to practice what we learned here in school last year. I started out as a "44 Bravo" in the Army which is a Welder. When my Army Reserve Company switched from the 728th Amphibious Vehicle Unit into the 478th Transportation Company we all had to learn new a MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). For the majority of us in our new company, that was "88 Hotel", a Cargo Specialist.

Noah Unsworth on the deck of an Army training ship
As Cargo Specialists, we had to learn how to operate cranes and forklifts to load and unload cargo and vehicles onto ships and trains. It was pretty interesting, especially when we got to operate one of those 10-story tall cranes to practice removing the huge hatch covers from the hold of a merchant marine ship. Now that we are back in Fort Eustis, we are doing a training exercise to show off our new abilities.

Noah Unsworth driving a forklift at Ft. Eustis
This year's training didn't start out great because I had received a bad sunburn at the beach a day before we before we flew out here. I was amazed to find out that that could technically get me an "Article 15" for damaging military property. That meant that even though it was torture to stand out in the blazing sun, I had to make sure the sunburn didn't effect my work. I think that it is even hotter here in Virginia than it was last year, and the humidity is off the charts. This is bug heaven as well and they all love to bite. I don't know what is worse, the mosquitoes, ticks, clouds of gnats or the microscopic chiggers that leave a red rash.

Noah Unsworth standing outside during a hurricane warning
We worked pretty hard this year with no time off at the end of the day or on the weekends. The weather started to get a little rough near the end of the exercise and we received a hurricane warning while we were out in the field. It was actually a relief because the strong winds help cut down on the heat and insects and allowed us to head back to the barracks a little earlier and relax.

Our Army barracks at Fort Eustis

Saturday, January 22, 1994

Seattle Cabin / Ski Trip

This year instead of our usual cabin trip to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, northeast of LA, we decided to go somewhere different. We got a nice cabin in the little town of Skykomish, directly east of Seattle. I flew up with Jeremy, Shauna, Greg, Pete, Scott & Savannah to Seattle where we got a rental van and drove out to our new place. The cabin was right on the South Fork of Skykomish River which rushed right through the backyard. It was a beautiful spot but it was raining with no snow on the ground anywhere.

A few of Jeremy's cousins lived nearby and went with us to Stevens Pass Ski Resort to go skiing. Stevens Pass was in the Cascade Range, 78 miles east of Seattle on Highway 2. We had been told that there was snow a little higher up at the resort, but we were pretty worried by the fact that it was raining for most of the drive to the ski area, but just like magic the rain turned into snow right at the last turn before pulling into the parking lot. The good news was that it was snow. The bad news was that it was very wet snow.

Stevens Pass Trail Map
Stevens Pass is pretty big compared to Big Bear and it also had several runs going down the backside of the mountain into Mill Valley. We all decided to try snowboarding for the first time. It took me and the rest of the guys about two runs down the beginner slopes before we felt comfortable to take a lift to the top of the mountain. Snowboarding is great in that it really feels like surfing or skateboarding. It felt really nice to not have to worry about my knees but I soon found out about the perils of catching an edge and smacking my head against the ground. Having to sit down in the wet snow all the time with the snowboard, we were soon soaked to the skin. Jeremy, Pete and I stayed for the night skiing after everyone else went home to the cabin when the sun went down.

The next day we made a trip into Seattle to give our muscles a rest from all the snowboarding. We were all groaning from how stiff we all felt. In Seattle, we first checked out the Pike Place Market, the highlight was watching the fish mongers fling the large fish back and forth to each other at high speeds and visiting a small S&M shop. Afterwards, we went to the Aquarium, rode the little Monorail over to the Space Needle and visited some coffee houses for which the city is famous.

Portrait of Noah drawn at base of Space Needle
Jeremy's cousin, John, had told us that he had found some mushrooms growing in front of the town hall which he claimed were magic mushrooms. So one night in the cabin we made some mushroom soup, really bad tasting mushroom soup. I could barely choke it down. Most of us felt nothing but a bad taste in our mouths, but I think it had a placebo effect on a couple who swore they could feel something. I can't believe we ended up doing that, the mushrooms could have been poisonous or something.

After a few days in the wet snow of Stevens Pass, we decided to make a day trip up to the Whistler Ski Resort in Canada. We had to get up really early and leave around 4am so we could get to the mountain with a decent amount of time to ski. It was a long drive, but very scenic along the Sea to Ski Highway outside of Vancouver. Jeremy, Pete and I were the only ones who bought lift passes and we explored both the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains while the rest decided to stay at the base and explore Whistler Village.

Whistler Blackcomb Trail Map
Jeremy, Pete and I were amazed by the size of the place and the length of the runs. The best part was skiing on the glacier atop Blackcomb, but we were disappointed that the mountain closed so early at 3pm before we had a chance to fully explore it and swore we would be back. When we got picked up by the rest of the gang afterwards, we found out that they had had a horrible day. The van had been towed to an impound lot for parking in a illegal spot and they had spent the rest of the time trying to get it back before coming to get us. That sucked.

On January 17th, a large earthquake struck Los Angeles, but we missed it because we were still up in Washington. It was our last day of the trip, but it was on the news everywhere at the airport. The epicenter of the quake was in Northridge where Greg's father lives, we were happy to hear he was unhurt.