On long bike rides I usually enjoy the conversation that takes my mind off the tedium. But 10 miles still passed almost unnoticed last Sunday as I rode among a pack of Korea bikers, even though I couldn’t understand a word they said. We rode along the inlet north of Kunsan to a ridge that climbed 1.5 miles then became rolling hills for the next 5. At the top of the first climb, we stopped for some Pokari Sweat and Korean cake. The Pokari is like sweet Gatoraide, and was far better than the opaque carbonated rice drink later on in the journey. As for Korean “cake” – it was a flat, dark green slab of indescribable flavor whose the gummy-bear texture was almost too much for me. However, in effort to be polite, I finished it while considering how my stomach would respond as I continued the ride. We stopped at a roadside convenience shack where the Koreans fed me tomatoes and monkey bananas. I pondered that life has sure taken me to some unusual situations, then split off early from the group to make it to church in a packed upstairs meeting room where I felt slightly out of place in my sweaty bike clothes among the well dressed Koreans and Americans. I smile that Pastor Bill had the grace to call it “a good testimony” that I’d bike for 3 hours then show up all sweaty at church! I sometimes wonder what it’s like to live a “normal” life, if there is such a thing.
Yesterday they gave me 4 F-117s and 3 other folks to fly them and kicked us out the squadron door to go fly. We meandered around the skies near Korea, peering at various towns and islands through our infrared sensors. But the greatest victory of the day was making it back to the field with all 4 of us still together and not rapidly running out of gas. Normally this would be standard operations, but with quiet hours (times when take-offs and landings are prohibited for noise reasons) and more F-16s than normal flying from our host airbase, there was usually a crowd milling around, stacked at different altitudes and holding a different points in space, waiting their turn to land while anxiously comparing their amount of fuel remaining with the sound of the situation on the radios. We came back early to get a place in the front of the line and still were lower than ideal on gas, but unlike the other 5 four-ships that had tried, we made it over the field with all 4 together. That still brings a smile to my face. The little things.