Living at Macy’s

Over my years of contract work, I’ve developed a system which gives structure to that initial period of chaos and uncertainty in a new town.  Typically I’d arrive 1-2 days before the job starts and I’d find home, then work and food sources.  In the pre-internet-noone-has-a-smartphone-days, the next tier of adjustment would be to hit the pavement to seek out fun local activities or tourist sites.

If none is likely, then it was a library card, video card, and a gym membership.  I’m looking at you, winter in Parkersburg, WV.  There I read the first 5 Harry Potter books, watched the 80’s TV series North and South and the two followup series all on VCR tape, in addition to surfing though 200 TV channels.   But then there was Alaska where  I looked forward to returning to work on Monday, just so I could get some rest from the weekend activities.

Here on Kwaj, as they call it, I’m hoping for a bit of a balance but still full of interesting activities.  I’ve found my home, work and food source thanks to Craig, my boss and medical director at the hospital, and my friend, Micki.  Micki also was the first one to greet me when I arrived in my first season of McMurdo!  (She didn’t even remember that.)  If you followed my blogs during my first season there, you’ll recall my accommodations.  Does “six woman room, top bunk, under the pool table” ring a bell?  It was Micki who first greeted me on station and delivered me there (not her fault). Craig and Micki gave me a quick tour of downtown Kwaj by golf cart after picking me and my luggage up from the airfield.  I secured my room, had some lunch and was introduced to many people at the hospital none of which I remember right now.

Due to my short contract and single status, my housing is in one of the buildings called Bachelor’s Quarters (BQ’s). There are different types of BQ’s, I hear, and I’ve been put in one called Macy’s.  No, not between the Clinique counter and the shoe department, but a building nicknamed this because of the shops on the first floor. Like at McMurdo, buildings have a number, an official name, then often a nickname. My room is an air-conditioned hotel room with a kitchenette (mini fridge, microwave, sink, coffee pot) two twin beds, TV (16 channels through the Air Force Network), a bathroom, and coin-op laundry down the hall. And no roommate!  And there’s even housekeeping who comes in every day to make my bed and lightly clean, with towel/bedsheet changes and more cleaning every few days!  A big difference from McMurdo, huh?

Micki has suggested that I not settle in yet in case I want to move in to a quieter building with better wifi access.  They are doing construction on this one, but I’m told they work the same hours as I, so it shouldn’t be noisy during my off time. And although I don’t mind sitting on the floor outside my bathroom to reach a usable wifi signal, I may consider a move (#firstworldproblems).  Macy’s is convenient to food and work, but I may check on availability in Kwaj Lodge.  If I can remember where that housing office is again.



The back of Macy’s.  If I showed you the front you’d think I was living in post war Beirut.


The local watering hole across from Macy’s.



10 thoughts on “Living at Macy’s

  1. How does the island smell? Have you seen the Pacific? Are you cooking your own food or using a dining hall? What does Micki do there? Pictures?
    Reading your blog is a lovely way to end a Friday spent shoveling out my pond. The drought has has exposed most of the ledge so I can collect the slime for gardens.

    • Great questions. Stay tuned for some of those answers! Check out the pictures in this post (at the bottom, not from the email if you received it that way). You will see the ocean is across the street from my housing. Happy slime collecting!

  2. My Family enjoyed living on Kwaj. For 7 years. Your accommodations are far better than what was offered in the 60’s, 70’s, and part of 80’s. Appreciate.

    • Oh my, that does sound crowded! I’m told there is roughly 1200 or so here now. I’ve lived in shared housing elsewhere so I’m feeling spoiled now. Thanks for sharing, Steve.

  3. Kwaj grads gather all over the US and reminisce about growing up on this Army Base called Kwajalein with no TV! FYI-There were only 25 of us in the class of 1968 and there seriously were 5,000 on the island at that time! Enjoy the sunsets, bike riding, snorkling, boating, in the few weeks you have on this 3 mile by half mile island!

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