Posts tagged ‘photography’

Hashin’

Well, thanks to Hensley, I was introduced to a little thing called Hash House Harriers. He was very tight-lipped about it, treating the activity as if it was some secret cult. I knew it involved running, following some sort of marked trail, and drinking. Those happen to be three things I enjoy doing, so my curiosity was piqued. The first run — or Hash, as it is called — I went to in the beginning of September, but I never brought my camera until several weeks later. The Okinawa Hash House Harriers are apparently typical of all Hash House Harrier groups all over the world; they are a strange and eclectic mix of people. The rules are very arbitrary and strict, and the pre- and after festivities are steeped in tradition but must look silly to whoever passes by, or someone who attends for the first time.
The essence of the weekly events are the actual trail, where a ‘Hare’ lays a set of markings with chalk or what appears to be ground-up newspaper (“chad”), and the rest of the group starts off later to follow the trail. There is really no winner, even in the rare instance when someone catches the Hare, and the first person to finish, along with the last person, has to drink for their transgression. That’s about all I can say about it; I might have already said too much. These photos are of one such Hash, but they can only tell a small part of the story.

_MG_5455

_MG_5458

A worn running shoe, and the ‘hash’ or ‘chad’ to mark a trail

_MG_5464

Hydrating myself with the beverage of choice before the Hash begins

_MG_5457

The van used for Hashing, owned by the group, which appears to have been passed down since long ago

_MG_5467

You write your name (or nickname — “Hash name”) in chalk at the finish

_MG_5484

Where the festivities were conducted after this particular Hash, near a waterfall

_MG_5502

The grand master of this group, hitting an offender in the face with fruit punch, in lieu of a beer

_MG_5534

Two individuals getting doused on the occasion of their last Hash

_MG_5516

_MG_5547

Singing one of the many songs I have not been able to memorize yet. Typically well-known tunes with the lyrics replaced by questionable verses

Food

I have had some opportunities to sample the local cuisine, but have never really shared anything on that topic. While sharing much in common with Japanese food, Okinawa still has its own distinct food culture, influenced by not only its tropical island climate and location, but outside influences from other Asian countries, and even from the American presence that has been here since the Second World War.
Seafood is, of course, heavily represented in the Okinawan dishes. Even sushi that is just so-so here is twice as good as the good sushi in America. From the Hispanic Americans came the now classic Okinawan meal called “Taco Rice”. Essentially, just think of everything that goes into a taco shell, except put it on a bed of white rice. Try eating that with chopsticks, it’s not easy.
While I do not have pictures of the delicious sushi or the Mexican-Asian remix of taco rice, I have found a couple that I have taken over the preceding months:

_MG_5292

A sort of BLT, but with fatty pork cut extra thick. I actually feel fatter just looking at it.

_MG_5291

Stanley consuming the above sandwich, at Daisy’s Cafe at Araha Beach.

_MG_5106

A meal of a whole cooked fish, before….

_MG_5107

….and after.

_MG_5108

_MG_4958

Barnes eating what I think is Squid-on-a-stick.

_MG_4653

And Wynn from the Cobra Flightline, eating regular American processed food.

Work Randomness #4

_MG_5115

Two Cobras and a Super Stallion

_MG_5116

Thanks Gunny. Not everybody loves the camera

_MG_5415

I felt like a wildlife photographer taking this picture through the bushes, of a helicopter in the ‘wild’

_MG_5417

Portrait of Russell showing off his close-cropped moustache

_MG_5422

The AMO showing up for the morning maintenance meeting

_MG_5423

FOD walk, while the sun was still low in the sky

_MG_5428

After a rain shower

_MG_5441

I liked the conflicting angles of this view toward the tail

_MG_5439

Rotorheads appearing through the wavy heat rising up from the curve in the flightline

Self-Portrait project

_MG_2129

Staring into the past

_MG_2160

Once you put it on, does it really ever come off?

_MG_2171

Are medals made of cloth and brass, or are built from the actions it resulted from

_MG_2184

Fonder memories

_MG_2195

Squadron patches

_MG_2201

I’itoi, the Native American ‘Man in the Maze’. Spontaneous choices lead to meaningful tattoos

_MG_2232

We can’t wait to take the uniform off, but after our duty is finished we yearn to put it back on

A(large)024

Countless hours spent flying and sweating in that helmet

A(large)038

Wonder what’s next

A(large)045a

Sentimental Armor

A(large)062

Well-worn chevrons

A(large)063

Hung up for good, or waiting for me to put it back on

A(large)064

Lone warrior

IMG_2107

Revocation of Flight Orders

Shisa, the Guardian ‘Lion-Dogs’

The Shisa is a staple of Okinawan culture and even more prevalent when considering their architecture. It seems as if nearly every building on the island has two Shisa statues at the entrance, gate, or roof.
A Shisa is a cross between a lion and a dog, and the designs of them are distinctly East Asian. The origin of the symbol came from China hundreds of years ago. The twin Shisa dogs are believed to protect the building from evil spirits. One Shisa is male, and the other; female. Typically, the two Shisa are distinct by their mouths. I cannot remember which gender is which, but one’s mouth is open to scare away the evil spirits, while the other’s is closed to keep good fortune from leaving.

_MG_4595

Shisa at near the aquarium park

_MG_4286

At Shuri Castle.(Is that a soccer ball under his paw?)

_MG_4969

A Shisa fountain near Kokusai Street

_MG_5010

Two, seen at night, in a store window

_MG_4261

One I previously displayed, at Shuri Castle

Naha’s Nighttime Landscape

These photos are from earlier in August, when a group of us went to Kokusai street in Naha for a festival. I had too many pictures to include, especially the ones I captured on our way back to the monorail station after the sun had set. Since I started getting into photography seriously, I have been intrigued by night photos, and particularly those taken with natural night lighting and no camera flash. These are somewhat random, there is no theme. I just like the mood and contrast of colors and artificial light of a city at night.

_MG_4994
Inside a cafe, with the fading daylight

_MG_5003
Canal and monorail track

_MG_5005
Lanterns in front of a restaurant

_MG_5015
The long walk back

_MG_5011
One of the thousands of brightly illuminated drink machines

_MG_5018
Ascending the escalator

_MG_5023
Side street

_MG_5029
Sharing a smoke

_MG_5030
Monorail arrives

_MG_5031
Finding the van in a parking garage

Red Riding Hood Redemption

Bird of Prey rehab

_MG_2429

Piercing stare

_MG_2441

Crib for a Hawk

_MG_2463

An intelligent Raven’s playthings; not unlike a child’s

_MG_2474

Food preparation

_MG_2477

Mending injured talons

The Gray Wolves

_MG_2570

Thumper watching over his pack

_MG_2552

Cochise, the Omega male, the runt of the litter. His softer nature is visible on his face

_MG_2614

Social creatures, second only to humans

_MG_2640

During my presentation, I came to call this photo “Thumper, the kind of man who once tried to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dying Wolf

_MG_2623

_MG_2678

_MG_2709

_MG_2716

_MG_2763

_MG_2758

_MG_2775

Flying Pictures

We have not been doing much flying, so I’ll put some photos up from several weeks before.

_MG_5118
The Kerama Islands

_MG_5120

_MG_5119
Inside the cockpit

_MG_5121
Rocky outcroppings

_MG_5122
Small island settlements

Botanical Gardens

The whole island is a botanical garden, you might think, but the huge footprint of urban and suburban development dominates a large portion of the landscape. The Southeast Botanical Gardens provides a secluded habitat for flora from Okinawa and the rest of the Pacific.
We set out earlier in the morning, but even then, the humidity at the gardens was sweltering. I took an idea from the local Okinawans and walked around with a small towel around my neck to dab the frequent sweat that trickled down my forehead. The air was fresh and the whole scene was green with a lively saturation to it. Near an arching bridge, we stopped to buy fish food and throw the pellets in the pond. Ravenous Coy fish quickly appeared to devour every last bit of food. The final area we went through was a pond completely covered with water-resistant lillies, with long stalks and funny looking brown bulbs on top.

_MG_5258
The entrance

_MG_5259
Rows of palm trees

_MG_5265
Just a purple flower, couldn’t tell you the name

_MG_5270
Looking up

_MG_5275
Feeding the local fish

_MG_5272
Bridge underside

_MG_5281
Lilly-covered pond

_MG_5284
Taking a break in the shade

Return to ‘Secret Beach’ on Ikei Island

Several weeks prior I described how we found this somewhat isolated beach on Ikei Island, a small island connected to Okinawa by a bridge. Now ┬áthat we knew where it was, several of the guys from Flightline and I we prepared and packed up our snorkeling gear. The last time I was here, it was late in the evening during the fading sunlight. We left early and it afforded us ample opportunity to explore the underwater landscape stretching out from the rocky beach. Past thick seaweed fields were 10 to 20 foot deep coral environments, brimming with fish. Stanley and Medlicott didn’t come out of the water for about 3 hours straight, they were so involved in trying to catch fish with their spearguns. Stanley actually caught several colorful fish, his first and only other catch was months ago. Russell laid on the beach the entire time and despite my warnings, put only tanning oil on his lighter skin. We all laughed when his thighs looked like a lobster the next day at work.

_MG_5229

View of the beach once you make your way through the jungle path

_MG_5230

Walking to a spot to drop our gear

_MG_5254

Thick tropical growth that hides the beach

_MG_5247

Clinger searches for unique shells, (note the extremely short tan Navy diver shorts)

_MG_5233

Hermit Crab

_MG_5256

Stanley cleaning and gutting his catch of the day

_MG_5257

The vibrantly colored fish that met the wrong end of the speargun

The Bullfights of Uruma

Ah, getting back to my Spanish heritage with bullfights. Medlicott and I had heard or read about the bullfights and decided to see what the spectacle had to offer. We picked up a couple of our guys and went north along the Pacific side to Uruma city, where the bull ring lies. This was no Spanish-esque bullfight though. No matadors here. Bullfighting on Okinawa literally means bulls dueling each other. This is still PG rated for the kids, though, since it’s more of a shoving match for dominance. The bulls horns are dulled and they do not charge at their competition, they simply lock horns and push against the other with their heads until one gives up. The winning bovine is presented with an extra large bottle of Orion beer (like champagne at a race). Each bull is supported by a team, that is best thought of as a pit crew is to a race car; they all wear matching clothes and tend to the animal like one would a race-prepared vehicle.
I enjoyed it, despite the fact that during two of the three matched we caught, no fight occurred when the second bull chickened out shortly upon entering the ring. I also like the experience of being some of the very few Americans there. I appreciate immersing myself in what the locals do.

_MG_5145
Wolf and McClernon looking out-of-place in the bull waiting area

_MG_5148
Tending to the horns

_MG_5150
I wish I was given this much attention by someone

_MG_5153
The bullfighting arena — exterior

_MG_5157
The bullfighting arena — interior

_MG_5161
Tiered spectators

_MG_5169
The struggle begins

_MG_5178
‘Coaching’ his bull on

_MG_5184
The victor

_MG_5204

Araha Beach

Just a few short miles north of Futenma is Araha beach. It’s convenient, but the swimming area is microscopic, due to roping it off for jellyfish. And Araha beach is even closer to another base, Camp Foster, so on some occasions it can be more than half Americans, which is OK unless you want to get away from that kind of thing on the weekends, like myself and most other guys from my shop. Also, with the swimming area so small and typically crowded with children, I wonder how many people are peeing in there?
I did try this amazing Thai green curry at a local beach restaurant/bar that was nearby.

_MG_5123
Not exactly beach weather that day

_MG_5127
Araha beach boardwalk

_MG_5124
Sometimes I wish I could do that

_MG_5133
Jones was very, very proud of his fanny pack

_MG_5137
Some sun through the clouds

From (Red) Lions to Tigers

So, the last remaining CH-46 squadron here, HMM-262, the Flying Tigers, was slated to turn into an Osprey squadron not long after our arrival, and one morning in mid-August a large gaggle of the ungainly-looking helicopters flew in. I expected the Ospreys sooner or later, but what shocked me was the squadron that the aircraft and people came from.
I quickly recognized the lion’s head emblazoned on the tail fins and the “Y Z” tail code, and written on the fuselages was VMM-363. It was kind of like a swift kick in the nuts to my psyche, seeing these aircraft I’m not very fond of with my old unit’s designation. Not that it’s the same as my 363, HMH-363, since it turned into a unit with completely different people and aircraft in a different location, but sucked nonetheless. Of course, I also received the expected jokes from some of the other more senior guys here since they knew I was a Red Lion, and I had recently put a Red Lion patch on the front of my cranial. “I didn’t know you were a V-22 guy” was probably the most common one I heard the first few days, among some others.
Of course they won’t stay as 363 and once the 262 redesignation takes place, these Ospreys will be marked as VMM-262, with all the other Flying Tigers logos and such.

_MG_5114

_MG_4492
Sucks to see these old aircraft go

IMG_0201
A proper Red Lion aircraft (January 2011, ‘Lava Viper’ at PTA, Hawaii)

Torii Beach Cookout

As the only two shops that seem to have people interested in having any fun, Airframes and Flightline, with a few others included, got together and had a little barbecue party at the Army-owned Torii beach.
What’s not to love about burgers, volleyball, and beer, all within mere yards of the ocean and a short swim away from areas to snorkel at. The many sets of volleyball were of course complete with the usual shit-talking and minor sports injuries. The funniest part is when everyone starts to lose count of the points and I realize I hear the same score three times in a row after points were scored, or one team mysteriously loses or gains several.
The sky threatened rain for most of the day, but fortunately it cleared up somewhat to offer an unrestricted view of the rich sunset.

_MG_5052
Miller Lite should really pay me for this

_MG_5060
Demonstrating the Japanese pose for photos

_MG_5055
Game on

_MG_5056
Chad Jones down

_MG_5057
Hensley, Clinger, and Burroughs taking midday naps

_MG_5065
Going for the spike

_MG_5085
Sunset water play

_MG_5080

_MG_5094

_MG_5097
For once, I’m not the only one taking pictures

_MG_5101

First Flight

Long delayed (it has been 2 months, not going to get into details) our squadrons first CH-53E flight occurred. I could only help out testing the planes from the ground so this was my first taste of soaring past the island from above. Only a couple photographs were taken since I was preoccupied with getting ‘back in the saddle’ as far as flying was concerned. These were taken not over Okinawa itself, but near one of the small outlying islands.

_MG_5037

_MG_5039

_MG_5042

10,000 Eisa Dancers Festival in Naha

Despite my title for this entry, there are no pictures of dancers nor did we see any. Our intention was to see them, anyway.

Every year in August, 10,000 dancers march down Kokusai street in the capitol city of Naha performing the traditional Okinawan dance known as Eisa. We missed the first half since instead of parking and walking to Kokusai street, we parked farther away just so we could get the ‘experience’ of riding the monorail in Naha. Once we entered the crowded foot traffic on Kokusai street, it was seemingly intermission, so we decided to eat and have a beer. At some point during our meal, the rest of the dancers entertained onlookers while my group obliviously chowed down. I think I heard some large drum beats from my seat, but I guess I found the ice cold Orion beer more interesting at the time.

Upon leaving, it was still more crowded than normal, but the parade had disappeared down the street. We decided to just do our typical wandering around as we did 6 or 7 weeks before when we toured Kokusai street the first time.

_MG_4944
The monorail arrives (somehow Stanley always manages to make it into most of my photos)

_MG_4945
Make sure those crab claws don’t get caught in the closing doors

_MG_4947
Okinawa’s only monorail system

_MG_4951
The crowded scene on Kokusai street

_MG_4955
McClernon demonstrates why we missed the show

_MG_4960
No more Eisa dancers

_MG_4962
Paused in a stairwell while trying to find an interesting place

_MG_4971
Yummm…. Okinawan style Desperado, a shot of awamori into a glass of Orion beer

_MG_4982 _MG_4983
Stopped at a Mexican cafe in the area for a taco and a Corona