Thursday, May 14, 2009

Finally a post... an update from the US of A!

Before I make someone else's list of failed and dead blogs, I need to post an update. The problem this last month is that a lot of actually living life has been happening and has kept me somewhat off the computer... well, at least not as much time by myself in a shipping container... Anyways...

Flew some missions... some training... eventually that was done...

So I said good by to my guys. It was a bit sadder experience than I would have expected. They put together a sort of special lunch up in "the babe's" office. I was advocating the classroom for more space but the former warlord turned general rank wearing Lieutenant Colonel squadron commander wanted to have the going away thing in his office. So, that is what we did. Who doesn't want to put twenty guys in a room the size of a walk in closet along with kebabs, roast chickens, and crazy amounts of bananas?

I would have pictures, but I gave my camera away to one of my pilots. That guy probably took about a third of all the pictures on that camera anyways. Any time we went somewhere and I wanted to get pictures, but didn't want to take them myself, I would just give the camera to him and would have about 300 pictures almost instantly. I am pretty sure that there is some shutterbug gene that some people have. He even makes my mom seem like she takes a reasonable amount of pictures. (Those of you who have suffered photo taking experiences with my mom can appreciate that comment.)

So, no pictures.

But I can make the very carefully worded claim that, "None of the guys who I trained died, got hit by any enemy fire, or destroyed an aircraft after I began training them!" That is probably what I am happiest about and can not be said by all who are over there. Obviously I needed to leave because time and statistics were probably going to catch up soon!

So, I gave the keys to my motorcycle to a guy who was going to give them to my replacement... put everything I had that was legal to send in the mail, and hopped a flight up to Kyrgistan to catch my rotator home.

We have a base up in Bishkek, Kyrgistan. It is sort of a train station/bus stop of a base. Everyone on their way in and out of Afghanistan goes through that there. On the base are a few hanger sized tents filled with dudes waiting to go somewhere and the smell of dirty socks. They also have a chow hall and a bar. At the bar is where you get your two drink ration! Yes, so I had my first legal drinks in theater in a year! While I was there I was surprised how many people I knew. It seems that everyone who is anybody eventually goes through the bar at that base. I ran into people from school, pilot training, old squadrons... etc. It seems to be one of those places on the planet that if you wait there long enough, you will see everyone you would ever need to run into eventually.

As a side note, two beers was enough to completely knock me out of my brain! Granted they were some crazy burly russian beer that only go by the the name "number 9"... but still... I am out of practice! For all those of you that have ever wanted to out drink me, this is your chance! You have about two months. I am training and should be back up to my old competition standards in that time! Though being there and buzzing after two beers, I see why they don't allow that in combat areas... mostly because everyone would tell their bosses how idiotic everything that is going on and they might have to call off the war for lack of interest and beer induced rational thought!

Eventually the land of two beers slips into the past and I find myself landing in Baltimore at midnight. I have to check in at 0415 in the morning. I had no interest in going to a hotel for that short of time, so I sit down at the USO and turn on my cell phone for the first time in a year. My texting skills were rusty, but they have come back quickly.

About then I find out that a few of the hotels near the airport let returning GI's take showers in their staff locker rooms. Excellent! After three days of no sleep and riding in government airplanes I was in the mood for a shower. I stowed my equipment in an empty room at the USO, took my weapons in their case, (can't leave them unattended) and brought my toothbrush and a change of underwear to the hotel to take a shower. Turns out the hotel had a bar! Of course! So me, my weapons, my change of underwear, and my tooth brush in the pen pocket of my flight suit went into the hotel bar! I was not the first off that plane coming back from afghanistan to discover that hotel bar. The place was filled with us. The Marines were hitting on some chicks from a wedding party, some other helicopter pilots were devoting themselves to scotch, and there were some under 21 year old types still in uniform pretending they were older and seeing what they could get away with. I joined the other pilots. I would have joined the marines crashing the dressed up wedding chicks, but they were making territorial body language gestures and it seemed like to much work.

Eventually the bar closed, and we got around to taking showers in the hotel staff locker room. It was amazing! The hot water lasted FOREVER! Ever better than that, the shower drained! Showers are much more cleansing experiences when you aren't ankle deep in dirty water, piss, and hair... and maybe some other fluids... YECK!

Eventually I made it back out to Montana for a low key week of in-processing and hanging out with R^2. They made me give back all my weapons and cool equipment. Damn!

HOLLYWOOD: Dude, I don't know how you endured this change. The 40th has become a haven for babies and boredom! It wasn't that long ago that we were a marauding band of vikings slashing our way through he Great Falls social scene with free drinks and skanky mustache rides! Now the place is a get up early Saturday to cut the grass and pick your next assignment based on comparisons between school districts! Either way a girl still can't go near the 40th HS without worrying about getting pregnant... but for entirely different reasons now!

Right now I am in Gladstone. It is pretty much the same... I always expect this place will be different when I come back but it never is. They built a skate park in the park... that is about it.

For those of you that are interested, I took the Fiat out of storage. It started right up! It seems my mom thinks I drive it to fast. This is how that conversation went.

(She was in the car, I thought she would appreciate the mechanical capabilities and driving skills of her son.)

Mom: Nicholas! DO NOT SCARE ME!
Me: We aren't even going faster than the speed limit! (Points to speedometer indicating less than 35 MPH)
Mom: Dear...... Don't drive like an idiot!

Apparently staying under the speed limit doesn't count when you are doing it going sideways through a residential intersection with smoke coming off your tires... I didn't know that.

Tomorrow I will be headed down to Detroit and Ohio.

(The high school should be getting out about now... maybe I can go impress some High School chicks by doing doughnuts in the school parking lot as they get on the busses!) Obviously I have to go now.