Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 9: The Flight and Arrival

Dear Family-

It is time for another catch up post. When I last posted, I was getting ready to fly out of Fort Benning and on to Kuwait. In typical military fashion, the process was a lot more than just pack your bags and get on a plane. From beginning to end, the process took us about 8 hours to wheels up. Along the way there were numerous bag checks to make sure that you were not trying to slip a bag in that was too big. If I had it to do over again, I would have just purchased a military style duffle bag and been done with it. The fact of the matter is that even though they give you guide lines for other bag types; they really have no intention of taking anything other than military duffel bags on the flight. One way or another they will find a problem with what you are trying to take. The screening was very thorough and included the use of Military Police dogs looking for contraband, explosives, etc. Everything was weighed including all personnel and their carry-on bags. Here is me before we boarded the flight.

No Bandwidth will post later!

The flight was aboard a DC-10 which is a wide body jet so there was ample space. This was a good thing considering that we would be living on it for the next 22 hours or so. We left at about 2:30 PM on Friday bound for Bangor, Maine. Along the way I was introduced to a person who has to be one of the foulest people on earth. Let paint a picture for you….This guy made one of three noises over and over again. The first noise was the nose loogie. This sound is the one that is made when you have a bunch of snot in your nose and snort it to spit it out. The second sound was the throat loogie. This sound is the one made when you are trying to get phlegm out of your throat and spit it out. The third sound is a loud grunting noise. Use your imagination on this one and you won’t be far off. I and the other passengers around this guy were treated to a symphony of these sounds for over 22 hours. About every 10 minutes, you would get one or a combination of sounds. This is even when he was sleeping. Thank fully he never spit anything out, but it begs the question of where it all was going. I was convinced he would be dead before we got there.

When we reached Maine, we were greeted by the “Maine Military Greeters”. This was a senior citizens group that wanted to shake the hand of everyone on the flight, including the civilians. I felt a little awkward with this as I did not feel deserving of the thanks. I do not see myself in harm’s way like the military folks. I am weird, I know. The stop in Maine was pretty uneventful and lasted only about 90 minutes. From there, we were headed for Germany. This was going to be the longest leg of the flight and I hoped to get some sleep, but the noise guy seemed to get even louder. I watched the movie being played which was the Surrogate with Bruce Willis. It was a Sci-Fi movie in which people lived their lives through the use robotic surrogates. Pretty good movie, but just a little predictable at times. The flight was overall fabulous. Great food and great service that included hot towels. It felt like first class.

It was pretty cold when we arrived in Germany and we unfortunately had to use stairs to exit the plane. I was on the second group exiting the plane when a guy near the bottom lost his balance and fell down the last five steps. He ended up with a pretty big knot on his knee and was kind of embarrassed as you can imagine. It did not help that he was a Special Forces soldier. Even tough guys fall down stairs I guess. We made our way to the terminal and by this time I was hungry again. So, for breakfast I had an All-American meal: A coke, a roll and a brat. Good stuff as you can see below.

The only sad thing was that there was a T-shirt I wanted to get for Buttercup that I had to put back. I could not bring myself to spend $42 dollars for a t-shirt. It was pink and said Berlin on it. Sorry Buttercup, I will find you something else along the way. After a two hour wait, we were on our way again. By this time, I was really tired. Thanks to the ear plugs I purchased in Germany, I managed to fall asleep for most of the trip to Kuwait. I woke up about 45 minutes before landing and got a pretty good view from the air. The coast line is heavily populated and looks like any other coastal city from the air. The only real difference is that it appears more subdued. There is not tons of gaudy neon and flashing signs everywhere. Once you cross the coastline it can best be described as the approach to Ontario airport. You are flying over non-descript buildings with kind of a high desert landscape.

After we landed, we boarded buses for the trip to Ali Al Salem air base and hour or so away. With all of the military protocol inserted for fun the trip took us almost 3 ½. Along the way, you would swear that you were driving to Palm Springs if it were not for the Arabic road signs. By the way, all of the road signs also had English so getting around won’t be too hard. We finally got to the base and started processing at about 10 PM. By the time we got done and assigned a tent it was about mid-night. Most people went off to explore, but a few of us stayed back to get organized and to get some sleep. We need to start getting on Kuwait time as soon as possible. Staying out all night is not going to get it done. No, I am not a party pooper, but on Tuesday we will be spending 10 hours watching more Powerpoint presentations. It will take a lot of rest to make it through another one of those things. Overall, this really rocks so far!


Erin said...

Thanks for NOT buying the girl a $42 t-shirt! Sounds exciting all around.

Clark said...

It was a really cute shirt, but there will be others!