Well, I made it to Leatherneck, but still traveling

I was told that Leatherneck would be my final destination, but it turns out I will be at a much smaller base. That can be good and bad, no biggie. I am going to Camp Dwyer, and leave tomorrow.

My new address will be:

Rushing, Steven M SWAN/WPPL FSR
RCT-1 HQ Co. S6/COMM
UNIT 40145
FPO, AP 96427-0145

And a phone number where you can catch me if I am on Skype or leave me a message if I am not:

(254) 231-4269

Will update when I get to my final destination and a more reliable connection.

Sitting in a terminal in Ali Al Salem

I have had three fights cancelled so far, one to Bastian and two to Kandahar. For now I am stuck in Kuwait waiting to get to Camp Leatherneck via military transport.

Has anyone seen the Neverending Story? Remember toward the end when the Child-like Empress is pleading with Bastian to help them by making a wish or something like that?

I know, it’s creepy, me being 30 years old, but the Child-like Empress was something of a first love to me as a 6 or 7 year old. This scene always moved me, and when she calls him Bastian, she says his name funny, Bast EE an, rather than Baschan, the typical American pronunciation. So I pronounce Camp Bastian the way she did, just to throw people off. =)

I just found out I made the flight to Kandahar, so I need to pack up and take off. Have fun!

Leaving tomorrow for Kuwait

So training went well enough. I learned more than I should have been able to about satellite stuff. I feel a bit under-qualified. This last week I have been at Blackwater qualifying with medical and such. Best part was a video introduced as “brought to you by PETA” that showed pigs (properly anesthetized) shot with Kalishnikovs and then worked on by military medics/corpsmen and other troops. Apparently the pig upper body (lungs, heart, etc) are incredibly similar to human upper torsos. They were properly euthanized afterwards as well. Actually, the video was kinda disturbing, I just liked that they introed it as “brought to you by PETA”.

I leave tomorrow night for Kuwait out of Norfolk. I get to Kuwait Monday night, Kuwait time. The longest stretch in the air is DC to Qatar, just shy of 13 hours straight. Wish me luck and long life to my batteries. =)

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Korean War Memorial

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Lincoln Memorial

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Addendum to things I missed about the mainland:

Squirrels! They are so cute and fun to feed. They are little furry personalities and I know my little girls would love them.
Billboards! There aren’t any in Hawaii and I just saw my first “the end of the world is coming in May!” billboard yesterday. “We buy ugly houses” is fun too.

Last thing: I took some panoramas while I was there, hope you like them!

WWII Memorial

In front of the Washington Monument. Look west to see the Monument, and east to see the Capitol. You can zoom out with your mouse wheel to see the whole of the monument.

Emancipation Hall, US Capitol visitors center.

The center of the Mall. Again, W to see the Monument, and E to see the Capitol.

Things I didn’t realize I missed about the mainland

Some of these things will be about the mainland, and some are Georgia specific:

  1. Parking spots are huge! I can park and hardly worry about opening my door and dinging the car next to me. Space is so precious in Hawaii that they put very little space between parking spots.
  2. I can drive and drive forever. I visited with Russ (Märia’s dad) yesterday. We met in Augusta, which was roughly halfway. He bought dinner and we saw Pirates of the Caribbean, and we had a very nice visit. I actually drove down using all back roads and drove through a national forrest and it was quite pretty.
  3. The trees are taller and greener here than in Hawaii, although there is far less botanical diversity. As I mentioned, driving through the forrest was very fun.
  4. You can drive fast! Ok, I don’t mean that fast… The highest speed limit on O’ahu is 55mph and I can drive 63mph reliably without getting pulled over. The speed limit towards Russ was 70 and I was doing 80 and getting passed!
  5. They sing like angels in church here. I think this might just be Georgia because the singing wasn’t as nice in Washington or Texas. Seriously, you have to visit Georgia just to here the singing in church. Today they focused on seminary graduates and graduation (basically just the end of high school for you non Mormon folk =) today, so lots of youth speakers. When the congregation joined the organ, it was more than worthy of the organ. The singing in Hawaii (and most other places I have been) is really kind of sad. You have 1% of the congregation who are showing off (whether they have something to show off or not) and maybe 10% who are singing from their heart and then just a lot of mumblers (thats me!). Today it seemed as if everyone was singing from their heart and everyone had a voice worthy of showcasing. The difference was stark. And then it got better when the youth choir sang.
  6. Waffle House, Huddle House, The Olive Garden, Sonic, late-night Chinese delivery, etc. There are so many restaurants here that haven’t made the jump over the pond.
  7. The stars! There are no stars to see on O’ahu because of the incredible night pollution. I can go out any night, drive 10 minutes out of town and see the clear band that is the Milky Way. It makes me wonder and a little sad because my telescope is at home.

So yeah, there are probably a few more that I am just not remembering right now. I miss my wonderful wife and little ones at home. I get to video chat with them, and sometimes it is great but today it was a bad picture and that makes me a little sad too.

Off to work tomorrow though! I hope to head off to Kuwait in a week. More on that next time.

Medical and Training

Tuesday was immunizations and dental. I received 5 immunizations and the PPD test. One guy who just came back from Iraq had lost his records and got 12 shots and the PPD. I got a clean bill of health at dental, but some of the other guys have to have major work done before they head off.

Wednesday was “training”.

Today I got my physical and was again given a clean bill of health. Fasting blood draws, exam and turn and cough, the whole deal.

Can you tell I am tired and don’t care to write much or well? =)

First Day of Work

So I got up at 7am, shaved and showered and came on down to Telecommunication Systems, Inc. Once I was sure I knew where I was, I stopped at a local Waffle House to eat some breakfast. I miss the Waffle House; Denny’s is the closest we have to it in Hawaii.

Not much has happened so far, just lots of paperwork for benefits and such. Here are some pictures.

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On the ground in Phoenix

And I have a 3 hour layover. I am totally paranoid about being late, so I always have to be way early, pretty much everywhere. This drives Märia nuts, but she mostly puts up with me. =) I remember when my dad dropped me off for my ski trip at the church when I was in high school, I had to be over an hour early, and this was oh-dark-thirty in the morning. Dad put up with me too.

One nice thing about planes is that you get way up above the clouds and air/light pollution to really see the stars. I miss seeing the stars in Hawaii, as the light pollution is horrible. I think you can count the stars you can see from my house and not hit 100, it really is that bad. Märia and I and the girls were out the other day though and Märia and I saw a satellite shooting through the sky. I never looked it up, but it was too high over the horizon to have been the ISS. It was nice.

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A picture of the Phoenix air traffic control tower, shamelessly stolen from the internet. I just thought it looked nice. Futuristic and representative of the “valley of the sun”.