Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mardi Gras - Part 3

Some of the most popular attractions during Mardi Gras are the parades. They range from massive professionally organized parades with insane floats, marching bands, and more beads than the human neck can hold, to rednecks on the back of pickup trucks.

Here's one of those crazy professional floats

Here's our necks breaking under all those beads. I promise no tatas were flashed in the catching of these beads.

Here's what we did in between crazy floats and catching beads

Mom Hoyt with a beer!? WHAT!? Mom Hoyt doesn't drink. That's like my hubby telling me it would be ok to flash for beads or us stealing a plastic sword off of some guys shopping cart.
Oh wait...

Just so everyone knows that sword fell off the cart...it was totally fair game. And it came in super handy for snagging those hard to reach beads. Oh that guy on the far right...some drunk dude that jumped in our picture. He was a happy drunk though so we let it slide. It certainly wasn't the last time this happened either. There were A LOT of drunk people.

I have absolutely no idea who this dude is. But the conversation went something like this:

Drunk Dude, "Hey I hope this doesn't show up on Facebook, dude"

Jason, "Drunk Dude, this is so going up on Facebook...Say Cheese."

If anyone is paying close attention to the above picture you will notice we are under the Pat O'brian's sign on Burbon street. You have to visit Bourbon street during Mardi Gras....it's like a law or something. There's plenty of boobies to entertain the guys and even more freaks of nature to entertain everyone who's not looking at the boobies.

Example #1

Can someone please explain to me what rainbow lady is wearing, or why we Hoyt's thought it would be a good idea to get close enough to touch these people? I feel dirty.
Example #2

Honestly people? Men prettier than women. How can you possibly find anything prettier than those three lovely ladies underneath that sign. We just proved you wrong Female Impersonators!
But of course no trip to the French Quarter is complete until you visit Cafe Du Monde. They're famous for their beignets. It's a French word people, for the love of jebus do not pronounce the "g" or the "t". Granted it's a fancy French word for fried dough. I'm sorry New Orlean's natives but you will just have to come to terms with the fact they are indeed little squares of fried doughy goodness covered in a mound of powdered sugar. Anyway, if you're in New Orleans visiting the French Quarter check it out...just make sure you pronounce beignets correctly or face the scorn and ridicule of those around you.

Mmmmmm....fried doughy goodness...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun times at Ft. McCoy

Hello all from beautiful sunny Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin. Though I can't find the font "sarcasm" in the blog options, just pretend that last sentence utilized that font. We have been here for a week and a half now and have yet to go outside w/o wearing our cold weather gear. Leave it to the Army to have us train for the scorching desert environment mere miles from Canada. I mean, I guess when you take into account the lack of options in climate zones because we live in such a small country it only makes sense (sarcasm font here too). But really, for those who know how much I love cold, you can imagine how happy I am.

Anyhow - all is not horrible. At least we are spending our outdoors time shooting plastic bad guys with some pretty kick *ss weaponry. So far we've fired the 4 primary light machine guns the Army uses (240B, 249 SAW, MK-19 and M2). Personally - most of us seriously favor the M2 - more affectionately known as the "Ma - Deuce".

The M2 is a .50 caliber fully automatic machine gun originally built in the 50s and still quite popular today. While quite the heavy weapon at over 100lbs. it will throw chunks of lead half an inch in diameter and about 3 inches long over 2 miles at between 60-100 rounds a minute. The slightly slower rate of fire also gives it a very distinct sound.

While I'm busy showing photos, let me also introduce you to members of my 5 person team. Below is the brand spanking new Lieutenant that I have. She's been out of college and in the Army for all of about 16 months. The role she's filling is supposed to be for a Major with about 15 or so years in the military. This situation could go either way at this point and I'm still forming my opinion. But at least for starters she seems motivated and intelligent. And it appears that someone has explained to her somewhere along the line that even if a Sergeant First Class has to salute you - it doesn't mean that he doesn't know more than you does.

Next on the list is my trusty brand new "buck" Sergeant (three stripes up, none down). He's a really good guy who decided when they raised the enlistment age to 41 that he should go ahead and sign up since they probably wouldn't raise it again. He's definitely older than most soldiers his rank...but most soldiers his rank don't have three degrees, including an engineering degree from Illinois Institute of Technology. He's extremely motivated and highly mature and squared away. I took on two very "new to the Army" soldiers so even though he doesn't have deployment experience, I'm still quite happy to have him on my team.

Oh - two notes: In photo 1 it's fake blood from a medical training event, but I needed something like a decent face shot. In photo two he's assistant gunner (loading bullets) for the private on my team who is firing the 240B Machine gun. Which leads me to.....my Private First Class:

She's also a fairly new soldier in the Army but again intelligent and motivated...just extremely young so there's definitely a maturity curve to work with. Imagine taking a high school freshman to war with you. She graduated High School a semester early and joined the Army Reserves at 17 years old and got her supply specialty. When this came up she volunteered for the deployment and went to CA school on short notice so that she could make the team.

Having said all that...it makes me think of the argument for a lowered drinking age in the military. I'm taking an 18 year old soldier to a combat zone and expecting her to watch my back just as much as she expects me to lead them in and out of dangerous locations and to have done enough planning to mitigate that threat as much as possible. She's qualified to carry the M-16/M-4 rifle, 9mm pistol, M2 and 240B machine gun, and will likely be our primary driver which would require her to drive under conditions that few who have never been in a combat zone can possibly imagine. However when we go out for a beer at the club on post - all she can have is soda and water. There are plenty of folks over 21 who still can't drink responsibly...but I'm sure that she could.

The last member of our team is still on his way back from Kosovo and will meet up with us later on down the road, most likely next month. The team is a bit short on experience, but then again that's why I have them. Some would refer to it as "performance punishment" for being good at my job...I consider it a privilege and a heavy responsibility at the same time. No one here gets a "dream team" to go over with and each team has it's own individual strengths and weaknesses...just like any other team in the world. But I will say this - inexperience is rapidly compensated for on a deployment because you're immersed in it. Incompetence is not easily remedied and is what usually costs lives - and that's why I feel pretty darn good about my team just the way it is.

Well - sorry for the long post but just wanted to give you an idea of how things are going and introduce you to my team. Now the laundry is done and time to fold and go have a beer. I'll catch up with all of you later.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Newest Family Member

We've already introduced everyone to our happy little family

Mr. Sammy

And Mr. Edgar, the fruitcake

But about three weeks ago we decided to expand our family. I give you Mr. Gus the Pug

He came to us from the Ohio Pug Rescue. The rescue apparently saved him from a puppy mill where he was locked up in a cage and used as a stud dog to breed puppies. This little puggy is the sweetest, happiest, most loving little pug I've ever met. I can't imagine how someone could be so cruel to such an innocent animal.

His foster mommy at the rescue felt the same way...so she gave him lot's of love and lot's of food. So now I have a chunky monkey puggy on my hands.
Jason and I had debated for months before finally deciding to get another dog, and I had always wanted a pug! The decision to go to a rescue was an easy one. Literally millions of animals are surrendered to shelters or dumped on the streets. All three of our doggies were rescued, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a dog.
Granted the first week of Gus being with us was very difficult. He was marking everything in the house, and he was very possessive of his little Ohio State University stuffed bulldog. But pack mentality and patience prevailed, and just three short weeks later he's sitting for his food, sleeping through the night, and pottying outside! I have totally and completely fallen in love with this little dog! He may snore, and he may make a lot of noises when he's happy. Not to mention the bad breath and gas. But his warm little belly and cute tiny puppy paws totally make up for it. So I'll leave you with this parting word of advice from the wonderful Bob Barker, "Help control the pet population; have your pet spayed or neutered."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Planes, Hotels and Automobiles - Mardi Gras Part 2

Ok, so maybe it's been awhile since the last post, there's been a lot going on. But let's get back to the fun that was Mardi Gras.

When we got to New Orleans the rental agency let us choose our own car. I of course took this to mean I should find the ugliest damn thing on the road.

And I give you...The Mardi Gras Party Bus!

Our first night we stayed here

Not a shabby place, but good heavens the other people staying there were loud and obnoxious. Not only could we hear every argument the crazy couple next to us were having, but their 25 children that they stuffed into that one room kept running in and out slamming the door and screaming at each other. So Jason made an executive decision. Since this was his last hurrah and we were on vacation we decided to stay here.

A nice little three star hotel in downtown New Orleans. Granted we had to walk everywhere we went because the streets were closed for the parades, but holy crap that was best nights sleep I ever had. And bonus, no screaming children or their parents.

The Hoyt's took a road trip to a little restaurant north of Lake Pontchartrain. Unfortunatly the Party Bus didn't have that big of a back seat. These are the female Hoyt sardines.

We met up with the rest of the Hoyt clan who partook in a whole lot of raw oysters. I have to admit something. I hate seafood. I hate the smell of seafood, I hate the look of seafood. Being around massive amounts of raw oysters and boiled crawfish turns my stomach. So needless to say being surrounded by the ten other Hoyt's that were slurping down raw, grey, slimy, disgusting-ness wasn't the most pleasant experience in the world. My hubby on the other hand was in freakin' heaven.

Oh yeah.

Gross. Gross. Gross.

But at least the view was beautiful

Aren't we cute?

Next post will be all about the fabulous parade debauchery! Here's a little taste of posts to come. What does a girl have to do for these beads?