Allie J Is On Her Way
Allie J here with a few words about an incredible experience surrounding The Super Bowl 50 ProTour Productions-Overseas-Military-Tour to Singapore and the island of Diego Garcia. I’ll do my best to detail this once-in-a-lifetime-experience!
A very long day of travel began with a flight from Indy to Chicago, which departed on Monday at 4:10 am. An 8-hour lay over followed but happily, Bri from the Tennessee Titans arrived shortly after and we spent our time eating airport breakfast food and getting to know each other. As the morning rolled on, Lauryn from the Minnesota Vikings and Mandi from the Philadelphia Eagles arrived. We boarded a 777 (biggest plane to grace the skies at 45,000 feet) and met Terrence, our NFL alumni player from the Detroit Lions. I’ve traveled on several team tours over the past five years with the Colts but this is my first time on tour with other NFL clubs and although we may or may not be rivals during the season, our love of the game allowed us as total strangers to become unbelievable travel companions! Our flight path took us over Alaska, Russia and into Asia. Luckily I had a window seat and the seat next to me was empty. It wasn’t long before I put my pillow, blanket and slippers to use as the flight was something like 21 hours non-stop. It was easy to lose track of time especially crossing the International Date Line and seeing the sunrise and set at the same time. I can’t remember how many movies I watched or meals I ate but at one point the airline attendant went around asking if we wanted scrambled eggs OR pasta! We had a nice layover in Hong Kong and it was definitely nice to get off the plane and stretch the stems!
We arrived in Singapore Wednesday at 4 am after flying 25 hours and we were greeted by a chauffeur holding a sign with our names on it. During our van ride to the hotel, driving on the opposite side of the road, we noticed how incredibly clean and flawlessly manicured the city was. The landscaping was pristine! Singapore prides itself on cleanliness and as a matter of fact, chewing gum will land you in jail! Brandy, our ProTour Guide, met us at the Park Hotel. She is a former Atlanta Falcons cheerleader and casting agent in the television industry. We had an instant rapport! Local time is now 5 am and we set our alarms for 8:00 am! Fried shrimp, pot stickers, eggs and sushi was breakfast in Singapore – fine with me! I thought after 26 hours of flying we’d all be zombies but the anticipation of everything ahead gave us all the adrenaline we needed. We finally met the 7th member of our crew, Cam, a current player for the Rams, and it was now time to plan the day, or “explore the Pore” as they say! Sightseeing included the Merlion (essentially Singapore’s mascot). The fish body represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing village and the lion head represents Singapore’s original name – Singapura – meaning “lion city.”We visited the botanical gardens, lush with tropical plants, beautiful native flowers and stunning waterfalls. We lunched on top of the world at the rooftop of the casino hotel. Our next stop was China-town where we saw a fantastic market with authentic foods like squid chips and fish jello. The city was preparing to celebrate the Chinese New Year so everything was exquisite! Good thing I wore extremely uncomfortable sandals and a black dress to walk 21,000 steps in the 95 degree heat and humidity! What was I thinking?! And now it was time to walk back to get ready for dinner and a night on the town… Dinner didn’t happen. Our entire group slept through it and ordered room service. (wrote this journal entry at 5:00 am Singapore time after sleeping for 13 hours straight!
It’s 1:00 am and after a 7-hour flight in a small passenger plane from the Singapore Military base, we’ve arrived on the isolated but beautiful island of Diego Garcia.DG is situated directly in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The island is used as a naval support facility and is inhabited by only the United States Navy and Air Force, members of the British military and foreign contract employees. They have a large fleet of ships known as the United States Marine Pre-positioning Squadron Two. These ships carry equipment and supplies to support a major armed force consisting of tanks, armored personnel carriers, munitions, fuel, spare parts and a mobile field hospital.
We’ve traveled more in the past few days than I ever thought possible. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to lose a day, but our entire group of 7 arose early to explore the island. After a quick breakfast at the base food court, we were off to our first appearance – a briefing by Commanding Officer Craig and his support staff. He welcomed us into his office and his island, gave us a brief history, and thanked us for coming. There’s nothing more humbling than our country’s heroes thanking us for visiting them. At that moment I was overwhelmed with gratitude for these troops who gave up their lives and left their families at home for a year, to ensure my American freedom. We met the British military DG Commanding Officer who educated us on the British island history. A radio spot from the Mass Communications Specialists (media team) followed. Again, emotionally overwhelmed with their appreciation for our visit.
We were each issued a personal bicycle as our island transportation. Have I mentioned I LOVE BIKES?! That afternoon we hosted a fitness class for the troops including dancing, interval training, stretches and sprints. (Did I secretly enjoy seeing these physically fit specimens catching their breath? Maybe…) Our day of island exploring was topped off with dinner at The Officers Club – stunning views and delicious seafood. I LOVE SEAFOOD?! That evening we met the troops via social spots. One of these is the “Britt Club” a beach spot with pool tables and music where we learned to play a new game – the result of being stationed on an island for 365 days! The rules: passing a hammer around to see who can sink a nail in a tree stump the fastest. Have I mentioned I LOVE GAMES so this was right up my “Allie”! A group took us to watch a singing contest called the “Diego Garcia Idol” where the navy guys and island contractors compete to claim the title of “Best Singer on the island.” Lots of amazing talent!
This morning’s scheduled base entertainment was a real-life version of “Angry Birds” and an oversized slingshot. Participants assembled in the gym and we used a massive slingshot armed with Nerf balls to knock over angry birds stuffed animals lined along the bleachers. It was as hilarious as it sounds and surprisingly difficult! Our next stop was a tour of the security facility! We handled a variety of weapons, were attacked by the military canines and my favorite part, touring the perimeter of the island on the security boats. You all known I’m an adrenaline junkie so I was permitted to climb along the side of the boat during the high-speed ride to the bow of the ship! Exhilarating! Then it was back to the rooms to get ready for the Super Bowl pre-party! We hung out with a ton of Navy personnel, signed hundreds of autographs and played a few games of corn hole. Early bed time as we have a 4:00 am alarm set for “Super Bowl Monday”, ha!
Day 9Our last day in DG. We filled this day with a ton of activities including touring the Lopez ship! It was very surreal to see the naval quarters and the amount of military vehicles and supplies held onboard. We then finished our tour, headed to the beach where I played a little beach volleyball with some awesome guy and then had a huge blow-out farewell party thrown for us at The Officer Club restaurant. It was the start of Mardi Gras so there was live entertainment, a whole lot of dancing and saying goodbye to our new special friends. We boarded the jet at 1:30 am and took off for a final day in Singapore.
A beautiful dinner at the tallest bar in the world and a couple very long plane rides later I am back home in Indy. A special thank you, from the depths of my heart, to The Colts Organization for their generosity in allowing me to participate in this once-in-a-life-time experience, to ProTour Productions for reaching out to the Armed Forces and providing a taste of home to the military personnel at this remote location, to my new NFL friends who made this trip so special, and most of all, to each member of the United States military for their bravery, their dedication and their commitment. I loved meeting all of you. You will remain in my prayers. May God bless you all!
Happy Super Bowl! It’s Monday morning at 4:30 and Super Bowl Sunday back in the US has arrived! By 5:00 am we were watching football with the troops, eating a breakfast buffet and because the commercials don’t air on their server, the cheerleaders provided the entertainment! Prior to the trip, the four of us cheerleaders learned 5 routines – and what an honor to perform for this incredible group of military men and women! I’ve never been more moved during a National Anthem in my entire life. As Lady Gaga performed her incredible version, I looked around the room at these men and women standing at attention, honoring their flag and country. No words to describe. During one of the “entertainment breaks” we were serenaded by a DG idol contestant who sang an a capella love song. Ok, so I kinda had to drag him up on the stage but that’s beside the point. An amazing performance! The room was full of lots Panther fans but myself and a few Colts and Broncos fans sent Peyton all kinds of love. Hard to match watching my former QB win Super Bowl 50 surrounded by this incredible group of people at 5 am in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Absolutely indescribably indescribable! After a very long Super Bowl nap, we headed to the activity field for a punt, pass and kick competition and a good old-fashioned flag football game. Yeah, I scored a touchdown. Don’t act like you didn’t already know. Oh, and I amassed a total of 96 yards at the PPK competition. Just your average day representing Coltsnation…