G is for Galveston- #AtoZChallenge

G” is for Galveston. It’s the closest city of any size to me. I consider the Houston/Galveston/Freeport area my stomping grounds now a days.

When I first moved to Texas (almost 40 years ago), I used to really enjoy just wandering around. I moved here to go to college, so I had a bunch of friends I met in class to hang out with. We were all in the Ocean Marine Technology program (except a couple of outlier art students). So we all had an interest in boats.

We used to go up to Galveston all the time. For SCUBA class, for RADAR class, to the US Coast Guard office there. We always used to enjoy trying out new bars and restaurants on the way home.

I don’t get around anywhere near as much as I used to. Last time I went up to Galveston was with those 2 old artist friends from school. 🙂 We wanted to check out the art galleries and take a look around the Strand.

We found a couple of really neat artists, had a nice lunch, checked out all the interesting shops on the Strand, and avoided spending a fortune on some of the really cool nautical ‘junk’ I saw (or even more beautiful art- of which I already have a house full of).

Funny, but with all the changes around here, Galveston and especially the Strand still seems pretty much the same as it was when I first saw it.

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Capt Jills Year In Review

I got that cool ‘Year in Review’ email from WordPress about my blog. I see in my reader that a lot of other people are posting about how their blogs did through the year. I’ll probably make a post like that too. I thought it might be a good idea to post a review about some of the things I did this last year and what I’m hoping to do next year.

I got off the DS-5 Jan 9 and had a couple of weeks at home. As usual, I spent most of my time at home catching up with paperwork and projects around the house. I also had to take care of some medical things.

I had recently signed up as an ‘energy consultant’ with Ambit Energy (I’m always trying to find SOME way to earn a living without having to spend time at work), so I went for some training in Houston with my friend and sponsor. I still haven’t managed to actually sign anybody up myself yet (I don’t know many people who live in Texas that I can talk to about it and I usually forget to bring it up til it’s too late). Contact me if you’re in Texas and want to save on your electric bill! 😉

Ensco DS-5 (ex: Deep Ocean Mendocino)

Ensco DS-5 (ex: Deep Ocean Mendocino)

I got to relax a little bit and visit with some friends but then it was time to get ready to go back to work. I left for the DS-3 on Jan 29. I got off there earlier than planned (more on that in another post later) and got to go home for 1 night. Left the next day to join the Ocean Alliance.

Ocean Alliance

Ocean Alliance

That was nice. I got to see a lot of old friends from when I used to work direct for Oceaneering on the Performer. I wrote a little bit about that hitch earlier. I really loved that job and the people there. I wish they would have kept us all overseas. We really were like one big happy family.

When I got off, I had almost 3 weeks at home. I made good use of it. Besides the usual catching up on paperwork and household issues (restock groceries, pay bills, fix sink, fix toilet, etc.), I got to go to a few interesting events. Other than my usual Tuesday night Campaign for Liberty meetings,  I went to a Sail La Vie meeting and then went out sailing with them the next weekend. I made it to the Houston Rodeo. I found the Houston Maritime Museum the next morning. It’s small, but definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

We dealt with the rain at Surfsides St Patricks’ Day Parade. Everybody got soaked but we all had a good time anyway. Plenty of green beer and Irish whiskey helped out with that! Texas A & M in Galveston had a WISTA meeting where they had a nice presentation and the cadets were full of questions about working with DP. I stayed in Galveston overnight and went to Moody Gardens before heading home the next day.

I was aboard the Deepwater Pathfinder March 26th- April 7th. Then home a few days to get ready for my trip to Korea for another travel writing and photography workshop (with GEP).

That was a fantastic trip! I met so many wonderful, interesting people. In the workshop and before, when I was wandering around on my own from Incheon to Busan to Geoji to Seoul. The only thing that could have improved the trip was if the Sewol disaster had never happened. It was a very sad time for everyone in Korea.

I got home from Korea May 15th and immediately started getting ready to go to work for Ocean Rig. I really preferred working for the agencies as I had been for the last few years, but with Obamacare fixin’ to screw me royally if I didn’t bow down and buy into that humongous scam, I had to suck it up and take a regular job. I’m still not sure I did the right thing. I just hope I can find a way to move out of the US SOON, so I can escape that trap!

Anyway, I got put on the payroll May 26th and then started running around with more errands for work. I had to do some things before they’d allow me to actually go to work for them. Shots, paperwork, photos, more paperwork, etc.

They sent me to the Basic Safety Training course (again!!- I’ve been certified to teach that course) and wouldn’t listen at all when I told them it was NOT required and they were wasting their money and my time. Since I hadn’t even stepped aboard one of their ships yet, I figured I had better just suck it up and go to the class AGAIN. USELESS! AS ALWAYS!!

A total waste of their money and my time, just as expected. But, I figured I should at least give them a TRY before I quit. So, I had to suffer through one MORE class that I’ve had (more than once) that was totally un-necessary. They sent me all the way to Aberdeen Scotland to take the lifeboat course. I’ve been a lifeboatman since 1979! NO need to re-take that course, but they insist. In fact, I’ve found out that they insist that we all re-take these courses every 2 YEARS!

I’m wondering just when, exactly, are we EVER going to get the time off we are all working offshore to earn?

So I left for Aberdeen on June 28 and went straight to my first Ocean Rig vessel as soon as the course was over. After a couple of days on the plane, I made it to Luanda and then flew right offshore to my ship. They sent me home on my birthday, so that was a nice present. 🙂

I got home July 31 and left again for another ship Aug 12! Not much time to even catch up on sleep, but that’s pretty much all I tried to do that time. I did make Shark Night at Moody Gardens and my Tuesday night political meetings. 🙂

Skyros from Aug 12-Sept 12. Not a bad hitch. Nice ship, nice crew. I was still glad to get off tho. 😉

I got home from the Skros Aug 12 and since I was due to have approx 28 days off, I scheduled a couple of things. I finally got to work on one of my rental houses. We’ve been trying to get the rotten wood and siding changed out for about 2 years now. Termite damage. I’ll have to tell you about the major project that’s become! I spent a week with my maintenance gal and another helper cutting out the damaged wood and replacing it with new. Now there’s only 1 more side of the house to do and it will be finished. At least that part of it. 😉

When that job was done, I left for the Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas conference in Las Vegas. I left a little early so I could have an actual vacation for a couple of days before the conference started. I love to learn all they have to teach us about how to move and live overseas, but it does get a little overwhelming sometimes. I like to have a little time to just chill out, hang out at the pool, play the slots, etc.

I got home Oct 6th and due to dept for the Olympia Oct 7th. I was ready to go (barely) but for once the gods smiled on me and my visa was delayed for days. Yes, I was ‘on call’ and checking my email constantly, but I got to spend a whole extra week at home! 🙂

I left for the Olympia Oct 14 and spent the next month aboard. I got home Nov 7th and spent the next few days arranging appointments I needed to renew my USCG documents. Then I had to go to the fast rescue course required by my company, so I spent a couple of days in Galveston. Hit the eye doctor, dentist and hairdresser before the weekend so I could leave again Sunday for another course.

I spent the week of Nov 16-21 in Baltimore at MITAGS for the Leadership course. It’s newly required by the USCG to keep my license due to STCW 2010 amendments. It wasn’t a bad week, it just gets old spending so much of what is SUPPOSED to be my vacation time taking redundant (VERY expensive) courses that never actually teach anything useful.

I got home again about 0300 Saturday morning but too tired to do anything that entire weekend but hang around the house and catch up on mail and email. I was hoping to be able to go sailing, but just couldn’t motivate myself enough to get out of the house that day. 😦

I heard from work that I was requested again on the Poseidon, so I got a little extra time off. I used it to go to New Orleans for the Workboat Show. I was in New Orleans from Dec 2-7. I got home after midnight Sunday and so had to catch up on sleep again on Monday. I had that whole week to just hang out around the house and rest before leaving on the 15th for the Poseidon. I’ve been here ever since. 🙂

So, now you’ve got a pretty good idea of how I spend my time. At least, the kinds of things I do when I’m not at home. Which is most of the time, as you can see from this post. 😉