Thebastidge: Arg. Tired.
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Arg. Tired.

    Traveling here is very exhausting. First, it always entails a lot of standing around waiting for transportation, whether that means a helicopter or a convoy. Then you add in the extra weight: around 35-40 pounds of body armour and a kevlar helmet. Plus whatever baggage you have. This time I only had a couple days change of clothes, but we always have to carry a sleeping bag because of unknow-able sleeping conditions, towels, toiletries (it's not like we stay in hotels that provide these things.) Then there's the invevitable tools of the trade (laptop, multiple cell phones, power adaptors, extra cables for network and serial connections etc.) Flip flops for shower shoes: another tribal custom (of the military community this time) that one never showers barefoot- it's considered dirty. Never mind that thin, open flip flops probably protect neither their wearer nor the other people who use the shower. It's customary. It dfoes serve some purpose in getting to and from the showers though. And at the end of a long day, at least it is not combat boots you're wearing. So figure 40 pounds of miltaristic gear and a duffle bag weighint maybe 30 pounds and a laptop case weighing 15 pounds and a sidearm and ammo weighint 5-10 pounds total- on top of my not-inconsiderable bulk.

    I was standing there waiting for our helo ride home tonight thinking "Man, my feet are getting tired very fast" as I shifted from foot to foot.

    Then when your ride gets there, you lean into the rotor wash as you hurry toward the side of the aircraft (never front or back) with all your crap banging against your side and hop up into the helo, cramming your bags in among everyones else's bags and legs, and straining your turtle-like efforts to grab the four-point harness straps that you can barely reach because the armour is in the way. Then you pull the straps tight and end up with about a 10-15 degree turn capability, wedged in amongst the gear and passengers. In the open window helos, you get beat about the face bit by strap ends and rotor wash for the whole ride, but the last couple have actually had the windows in place when they closed the doors. I got to sit facing forward for the first time tonight. That meant I could see quite a bit more. Not atypically, we popped some flares coming into the IZ. At least this time it didn't startle me like it usually does.

    I literally slept in a palace the last couple nights. Radwaniyeh palace, actually. It's covered in Falcon motifs, marble and jade. The marble and jade on the walls and floor are a waste, because they weren't installed very well. It overlooks a really nice lake- the prettiest place I've seen over here so far, if you can just mentally block out the details and focus on the lake. The palace is kinda run down- poorly constructed in the first place (like everything here), and then not maintained. The coalition has most of it boarded off, just using a couple big rooms for transient billetting, and the bottom floor for a chow hall. The big room where we slept was divided into rooms by plywood dividers- open roofs to the high ceiling. Lights on and folks coming in and out all night, and nothing to block the echoing noise or light reflected off the ceiling. But hey, I slept in a palace! And peed off the balcony. (The only latrines were three floors down and across the street- the ones in the palace don't work and are boarded off.)

    I'll be going out again in a couple days, to a different place. Maybe I'll have a better report from there...


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