Saturday, 29 March 2008

Helicopter Tour

We are home...haven't slept since Thursday night - other than 45 min here and there on a plane and in airports. Hawaii is a long way away and I miss the heat.

On Wednesday David and I took a helicopter tour of Oahu. The first 10 min were absolutely fabulous - the sights incredible and my wide angle lens capturing them all. And then I started to feel sick - really sick. I am prone to motion sickness big time, but I do fine on planes and I really wanted the photos from the air...but helicopters do this up and down, sideway swing thing that makes my head spinny just to think about it. So 10 minutes into the flight I handed my camera over to David and focused on the horizon, breathing in my nose out my mouth, bag in hand ready. No I didn't throw up, but it was a very miserable 50 minutes until we landed and a tortuous 45 min drive back to the beach house where I had to lay perfectly still for the next 14 hours as a bout of meniers set in. Those of you who suffer from this will know my misery. But time and gravol and I did recover and managed the long flight home a day later. Here are some of the pictures I managed in the first 10 min and David took after that.

Haunama Bay

Close up of Haunama Bay - best snorkling on Oahu.. That is coral - and lots of people.

Magnum PI was shot on the property below.

South East coast of Oahu

I am smiling but my legs are giving out about now. This is after the flight.

Diamond Head looking south.

Famous Waikiki Beach

Close up of the top of Diamond Head. We climbed to that peak last week - check out my photos from the peak in a previous post.

That white line is the trail heading up to the top of Diamond head. A fun and sweaty hike.

North Shore of Oahu

Leeward (east) side of Oahu

Turtle Bay resort - North Shore.

Northe Shore of Oahu

The North Shore

North Shore looking west.

The Dole plantation - worlds largest maze - nope didn't try it.

Pearl Harbour

It is good to be home and I am looking forward to my own bed tonight. Back to the day to day stuff - work - on Monday.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Operation Plateau - Experience and Confidence

Marks journalling... Before I came to Pakistan I thought that I would leave here having an extremely rewarding experience. As time wore on I began to think more and more that the rewarding experience would escape me. I would do my shift, eat then sleep. As the weeks went on, days would blur, every day being the same as the last except the noticeable difference in sunlight and temperature. I felt disconnected from the people and our work, only escaping camp a few times to go for a brief walk through the small town. My big opportunity finally came for that experience that I wanted so much. I was asked if I would like to join one of the mobile medical teams going up into the mountains. Of course my heart leapt for the idea and I said, “Yah sure, that would be great.” trying not to act too excited. This was my big opportunity! The night before I made sure all my kit was ready to go; preparing as if for a grand adventure. And it was!

The next morning brought some small delays, but none of that dulled my enthusiasm, which I did not hide as well as I would have liked. We made it to the airfield by 10 am and were flying high over Garhi Dupatta 15 minutes later. We were dropped at a village called Toki Shekhan. After the initial welcoming crowd had dispersed, there was a peaceful quiet, one without generators, horns and traffic. Within an hour we had selected a set up spot for our mobile clinic and began seeing people from the local area. I began that morning doing triage of sorts, getting the names, ages, and complaints of the people coming, and moving the serious cases to the beginning of the line. The local mayor was of tremendous help in this regard. He knew every person there by name.

In the afternoon I began to embark on the truly rewarding part of my experiences here. I was helping draw up the vaccinations. Later when I had built up the courage, I was actually vaccinating people. I personally did somewhere from 20-30 in part or whole. I felt bad and discouraged at first when due to my inexperience probably I caused more pain than was necessary to do the job. As the day progressed I grew more confident and competent to do the job. That evening as we enjoyed our humble meal of rations, I felt that I had really accomplished something.

The beautiful terrain that was before us only exemplified the feeling of accomplishment; huge mountains falling down to deep crevices illuminated with the remnants of dieing sun’s last rays. As night fell, we received a surprise; the locals had shown up with a huge meal of brotta (a flat bread fried in grease), rice and chicken with broth. I was a little hesitant to join in at first. We were told right from the start of this mission what kinds of illnesses we could receive from eating local food. However after seeing some of the medics join in on the meal, and with some urging, I dove in. It was by far the best meal I had in weeks, and was complemented by a nice brew of Chi tea. After this feast, we enjoyed the rest of the evening sitting around the campfire talking with the locals. It doesn’t get any better than that ~ sitting around campfire in the Himalayan Mountains, enjoying local cuisine, and talking with people who don’t even speak the same language as you.

The next morning we continued with our work, finishing up around noon. The village we were placed in was not checked out before we arrived so many of the sick and injured had left for treatment already. It was impractical to move our location for another day at this point in time so the decision was made to go back to camp early. While we waited for the helicopter to pick us up we were thanked many times over by the locals. They were very appreciative of the work we did there. I must have received dozens of handshakes and words of appreciation.

The helicopter arrived in a windstorm of dirt and leaves, we piled in, leaving as quickly as we came. I do not remember the names of the people we left behind there, and I will probably never see them again, but I will never forget their faces and how thankful they were for what we brought them.

This is why we scrapbook! Keeping memories alive for our children and grandchildren. Showing them who we are/were and what we valued - what really was important in our lives. It has nothing to do with material possessions.

For more military pages please click here.

Thanks for looking. Leave a comment. Your thoughts on Canada's military presence in Afghanistan?

Monday, 24 March 2008

Waikiki Beach

More pictures from a day at Waikiki...

Signals Operator and R.O.W.P.U.

Taking a short break from Hawaii pictures to post some pages - having requests for military a few more..

Journalling reads...I started my military career at 737 Communication Squadron in Saskatoon, but I have been posted to CFJSR in Kingston since March. I am a signal operator, and on missions such as Operation Plateau my job is not very glamorous or fun. I answer the phones on camp here in Garhi Dupatta. Some of my secondary duties include running welfare phones for the team, and handing out satellite phones to personal that leave camp.

Most people out side of the camp do not even know that we, the signalers, exist. Any reporter or VIP will always walk by the little corner of the camp we call home. Our job may not be in the spotlight but is nonetheless still important.

Spirits are high here as we slowly pass the time thinking of the Christmas season coming up, a time when we will be able to enjoy the company of our loved ones once again. Those who are without a significant other, like myself, like to think about Mom’s home cooked meals. Despite the fact that sometimes we think about what we do not have, all we need is a quick look around at the destruction before us to be reminded that we still have much more than the people we are helping.

Yes, Mark got the works for Christmas dinner - I made all his favorites when he got home.

Reverse Osmosis Water Purification System. What this means is that Canada has the capability to set up a water purification system using the dirtiest of water (like dead cows floating down the river) and within 24 hrs of arriving at a site they can set up and start offering water that is cleaner than any Canadian city's water. Very impressive. The people in the remote areas of Pakistan had their water contaminated by so much death and debris being dumped into their water systems after the earthquake, that disease was inevitable if clean water was not made available. That and offering medical assistance, was what Canada did for the people of northern Pakistan.

For more military pages click here.



Saturday, 22 March 2008

Diamond Head

Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head. Worth the sweat to get up here! It ws very hot today!

99 steps!

What a work out!!

Off to the Flee Market today - it is supposed to be HUGE! Then the Dole Pinapple plantation and hopefully home for some time in the sun!


Fun Day, Powerful Pacific Ocean

Will try to post our Diamond Head climb pictures next. My laptop and/or Blogger are giving me grief.

Friday, 21 March 2008


The guys 5am Wed morning - Saskatoon airport. Are we tired??

Thursday 5pm - does anyone remember how long it takes to get briquettes hot?
Check out that ocean!

We ate a fabulous pork dinner at about 7:30 pm. :)

last night's sunset

Today we are off early to climb the Diamond Head volcano. Then as a reward for this feat we will head to Buzz's for lunch and hang out on the famous Kailua Beach for the day. I will try to post those photos tomorrow morning.