Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guam: The Flight and the View (Part 1 of 3)

We went to Guam mainly to go scuba diving, and it was a big success. We're already planning things to do on our next trip.

Flights: The Same But Different
We flew via space-A (space available) flights, which is open only to military personnel and dependents. It's essentially hitchhiking with a military plane if there is room for passengers. Provided your schedule is flexible enough to be able to handle flights canceled with no notice (read: sitting at the terminal with all luggage in hand), it's an interesting way to travel and is both like and unlike commercial flying.

From Japan to Guam, we flew on a C-17. They weren't really carrying anything other than passengers, and the flight crew was nice enough to allow me to take pictures of the inside of the plane. I previously did not know what a plane looked like naked with all the ducts, hoses, cables, and pipes exposed. We also had fold-down net seats along the side of the plane instead of the usual rows of seats with tray tables I'm used to. No overhead luggage, no reading lights or air vents, and everyone was given ear plugs to block out the sound of the engines.
This plane is naked on the inside.
It's huge and empty, too.

A video sweep of the inside, you may want to turn the sound down.

Our checked baggage was strapped to the floor in front of us. There's something comforting about being able to see your stuff and know it's actually on the plane where it's supposed to be.
Yep, that's our stuff. Right where it should be.


You know all that extra gravity you feel when the plane rushes forward for takeoff? It's peculiar to feel that sideways.

Once we reached cruising altitude, we could get up and walk around. Husband and I strolled the length of the plane and he answered my zillion questions about what all the little boxes and doohickeys are for (side note: my spellcheck just corrected "doohickeys." I had no idea that was in the dictionary. Good for you, Firefox.). Other people laid across several seats and went to sleep, one kid had a foam yoga mat and a portable DVD player and spread out in the middle of the cargo area.

At check-in, we could order (for about $5), an in-flight meal (even though it was only a 3-hour flight). There was a vegetarian option, which made me happy, and it was obviously assembled by a person instead of a factory machine. It was nothing special by culinary standards, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a small array of snacks for side dishes and dessert, but it was the best in-flight meal I've had.

Seriously, best in-flight meal ever.
On the return flight we were in a normal-looking charter plane and then a plane that was half regular airline seats and half cargo bay with net seats. Like I said earlier, an interesting way to travel.

The View
Scenery in Guam is about what you'd expect from a tropical island.

A video of our drive along the coast (sound isn't important, all you can hear is ambient noise and the radio):

Bright blue water, palm trees...

vast ocean and beach...
The ocean, nearing sunset on a cloudy day.

Scuba divers entering the water for a night dive.

This is actually part of a bar that I'll talk about later.

 magnificent skies...

and rainbows.

Okay, the view from our hotel window wasn't quite as breathtaking, but you can't win 'em all.

This next part is going to be long, so I'm going to cut this off here and continue later. Stay tuned!

Link to Part 2
Link to Part 3

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