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I have ventured through various countries across the globe in my military experiences.  In my combined service I have put boots on the ground in Spain, Italy, Sicily, Crete, Israel, England, Portugal, Singapore, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Thailand, and Australia.  This exposure to far off lands and world culture gave me an insatiable desire for travel!

My oversees adventures began, in early 2000, with a 6 month deployment to Naples, Italy, with FAST Co.  Stationed at a local Naval base, we traveled to neighboring cities and enjoyed the local foods and sites.  I was attached to a security detail that boarded a Merchant Marine ship, providing security as we sailed through the Mediterranean Sea from Augusta Bay, Sicily, to Thessaloniki, Greece.  We stopped for several days in Hania, Crete, along the way and drank cold beer from glass boots.  Later, we took a flight to Tel Aviv, Israel.  We hopped on a bus south for some training in the desert, took tours of Jerusalem and Bethlaham, and rode north to Haifa before departing.  England came next and we were afforded a chance to take in the great city of London.  We trained at the Northern Ireland Training Center in riot control, having petrol-grenades and empty beer cans thrown at us.

After transferring, in early 2001, to the fleet with B Co 1/4, I was part of WestPac ’01-’02 where we set sail in the USS Ogden from San Diego for Hawaii.  We cruised on over to Singapore in time to play some soccer and train on obstacle courses and rock climbing walls used by the local Commandos.  Our journey then continued through the Philippines and up toward the Indian Ocean.  Off the shores of Qatar, our company departed the ship by way of our AAV’s and breached the wakes onto the beach. Over the next few days we underwent joint force training with the local army conducting live fire events in the desert.  Following that adventure, we spent quite a few days out at sea while the Navy performed maneuvers, which at one point found us in a bit of trouble when our ship “bumped” into our Submarine.   That little ordeal bought us some much needed time in dock in Bahrain, while repairs were being made.  Luckily some great margaritas at the local Mexican food joint, cheap drinks at an Irish pub, and some Russian karaoke at a hotel lounge kept us entertained!  We headed south to the peninsula of Thailand and spent 5 days docked in Phuket.  The wild night life filled with copious amounts of drinking, dancing, and bar games met sunny days of site-seeing and open water diving.  Our last stop was in Cairns, Australia, where the snorkeling and boating in the Great Barrier Reef was unimaginable!  A short trip back to Hawaii rounded of that adventure and we returned to port in San Diego.

Since then, in fall of 2004, I embarked on a three and a half month backpacking adventure, with my great friends Ryan and Dan, through the beautiful and historically rich Thailand countryside.  Visiting sites and exploring the culture and native foods of “the land of smiles” from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and down as far as the island of Ko Chang, in the Gulf of Thailand. Fond memories of fellow travelers and vivid local characters (the coconut pancake man, the waffle lady, and the rice nazi!) have etched their place in our minds.  Our exploits even lead us across the border to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia. We met a ton of great people, a few of which have since remained good friends.

In the last days of 2005, I accompanied my brother in a 3 week exploration of Costa Rica. We made our way from the city lights of San Jose down the Caribbean coastline, and through the rainforests and volcanoes of Santa Elena and La Fortuna.  We floated down eco-rich rivers and deltas and hiked up dart frog laden jungle trails and volcanoes, observing the grand gestures that nature delivered.  People, culture, cuisine and sideways tropical rainfall…what a way to bring in the new year!

My latest foreign outing involved a year long deployment with the Oregon Army National Guard to Al Asad, Iraq.  I deployed with B Co 141 CSC (BSB) which was a melding pot of a handful of Guard units.  It began with a few weeks of training in Kuwait before combat landing in the Al Asad airfield.  We embarked on regular convoy security missions, escorting local civilian truckers and their cargoes to various Iraqi locales, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom ’09-10.  During that time I was afforded the opportunity to take Leave for 4 days in Qatar.  That was an amazing 4 days (2 weeks with travel time!) filled with museums, bazaars, camel rides, dune racing, drag races and as much beer and ice cream as the Army would allow!

So…the next big adventure is still in the brewing – placed on pause while the rest of life happens.  Perhaps, a trip to run with the bulls in Spain?  A trek through the Andes in search of the ancient ruins of Peru?  A venture to the brightly colored, people-filled streets of India or Nepal?  Or, just maybe, explore the great frontier that is “America” and all its diversity laid out right beneath my nose…any thoughts?

Until then, the works of Bill Bryson, Tim Cahill, and Chuck Thompson will have to tame the appetite.

  1. Christi Z says:

    By accident I came upon the chance opportunity to experience an “ecology campsite” in Northern California named Prairie Creek, it’s an Elk reserve and a bit of a hike thru the forest to pitch a tent. However the unexpected high pitch song of the Elk, the lite sounds of the crickets next to the babbling brook, and the clarity of the brilliant stars. The beach just minutes below the forest, occupied by the masses, this secluded site is definately fantastic! The quiet solitude experience alone or with a small party is fabulous, with each lush overgrown space scarcely visible.
    Upstate New York is breathtaking in September as well, and the “Gone With the Wind” scenery thru Mississippi is at it’s peak in October.
    Soon after the cactus’ begin blooming thru Texas and the Arizona desert , bringing the vast plains to life. All these just to name a very few. 🙂
    Although the feeling from the top of the George Washington bridge stopped in rush hour traffic, with the view of our Statue of Liberty and the waters below is undescribable.
    The best journey is one taken 🙂 Happy trails.

    • Aron Cavette says:

      Thank you for sharing some of your amazing experiences and ideas! I one day hope to see every one of these destinations. We have such a beautiful countryside so full of diversity – I may need to start practicing the art of ubiquity if I’m every going to see it all!!!

  2. Michael C says:

    Living at Beaver Creek Campground (about 26 miles from Yreka) for several months while building a reinforced concrete box girder bridge to replace the old Walker Bridge, a Pennsylvania Petit steel design installed in 1931, I was largely alone and enjoyed the quiet sounds of the forest,
    One night arriving after work, I saw that two men were camped at the farthest site from the entrance. All quiet as night fell, I turned in as darkness came, exhausted.
    Around 11:00 I was startled awake as one of the men, obviously whiskey drunk, let out a very loud catcall, “HEE-HAW!” I chuckled inside to myself and I tried to go back to sleep.
    “REE-NEE-NEE!” erupted violently, jumping the entire forest to life a half-hour later, the whirring of the chainsaw slicing all peace thoroughly as I leaped out of my sleeping bag, then several slices dropped from their propped up log, followed by axe sounds for five minutes.
    Their fire crackled wildly, the popping lighting the whole campground; it’s flames licking the air as high as a basketball hoop above the wood of the bonfire.
    All grew quiet again. Once my blood pressure calmed back to normal and the sounds of the forest returned, I dove back into my sleeping bag hoping to gain some sleep before the travel alarm sounded to begin the next day.
    They weren’t done.
    Suddenly I was standing, sleeping bag closed about my body, forcibly awake and hyper-vigilantly staring at the zipper of my tent entrance, knife in hand, bewilderment blasting my mind and muscles tight as steel; yet I had no idea why.
    A moment later, reason spoke the cause…gravel exploding as the sound of an engine racing screamed, tires ripping across the dirt/gravel car trail; rocks echoed violently from the undercarriage of the full-size four-wheel drive truck with noticeably jacked-up suspension.
    The driver tore through the campground, shooting pebbles everywhere and raising a cloud thirty feet high; flinging wildly against my tent, accompanied by pings as the rocks bounced off my little 1974 Toyota DeLux Pickup, solidly striking the picnic table and four-foot high iron cooking grate.
    Sleep impossible now, rage shook my brain in convulsive wave after wave, sparking a distrust of safety requiring the next two hours to dissipate, anticipation of the next disruptive assault at any second.
    Body, mind and spirit subsiding extremely slow from fright or flight syndrome, chain smoking one cigar after another, finally my body calmed as nothing further occurred…eventually yielding sleep for a couple of hours before daybreak.
    Luckily, the two men were gone when I returned after work that day,
    Yet, I cannot thank those men enough for bringing me one of the most exciting experiences I ever lived — the night that, for a few hours, I actually entered the twilight zone!

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