Monday, January 25, 2010

let's try this again...

and again... I've tried to post an update a few times lately, but I've had internet issues that kept it from going through.  Let's face it, the internet is just not as fast or reliable as it is back home.  (and it's expensive!)
So, this is gonna be short, just to let you know everything's going fine out here.  Tomorrow is my change of command when I take over as OIC of the detachment.  And I'm looking at easier ways to post photos here (I've been taking a ton, but only posted a few), so let's see if this link to a Picasa Web Album works:  I'm thinking of uploading lots of pics to Picasa, then just post a link here in updates, we'll see how this works. 

Oh, and for those of you that asked for my mailing address, please email me again and I'll send it to you, I don't think I'll post it here.

Keep in touch!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

To the Bat Cave!

You'd probably never guess, but that 'adope teepee looking thing' is a bat cave... I don't have the full story yet, but aparantly there were bats around here, living somewhere that was somehow disturbed by the shooting/bombing, so we built this thing so they'd have a place to live. But I guess they didn't like it, and never moved in. Pretty strange.

The next shot is another look down one of the "lanes" between rows of Chus. The concrete blast protection is called "T-wall" (if you could turn one of the 12 foot high things upside down, it would look like a "T").
All of the Chus are surrounded by T-wall, each building, then the entire complex, it's quite a maze of concrete and gravel. The ground everywhere is covered in gravel - it's kinda difficult to walk around, but when it rains it's more than worth it, without the gravel it turns into a really nasty mud pit (I haven't seen that yet, but have heard stories).

The 3rd pic is taken from me sitting in my bed, looking across my room, at my new (used) tv! Big ol' blank wall with a little 13" tv sitting on a box on the floor - it's a far cry from my usual tv set up at home! I'm going to get more furniture, and spend the next few months pimping out my Chu. (the Taj-Ma-Tent comes to mind, for any of you that get that reference ;)

I just got back from my first run around the base, it was only 2-3 miles, but was nice to get out and start to see the place on foot.
Timed to get cleaned up, and hit the DFAC (Dining FACility) for dinner.
More later!

(if you have Skype, call me sometime! "Bultar2020")
(if you don't have it, it's great, give it a try!)

Posted by Picasa

view from palace roof

looking down at outdoor gym and pool (never has water in it)

visiting VIP quarters across the water

lots of stuff up on the roof

more across the water
Posted by Picasa

more palace pics

one of my guys inside the top of the chandelier

one of the hallways

long chandelier down 3 flights of stairs

me in the "photo op" chair

Posted by Picasa

the main palace chandelier

bottom part


inside the top, inside the dome

me inside the top of the chandelier

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

and more pics...

Posted by Picasa

more pics...

Posted by Picasa

some pics here...

Posted by Picasa

I'm here, let's catch up a little...

I know, I know!  I haven't posted much of anything lately!  So shoot me!  (no wait, I take that back, wrong thing to say around here... ;-)
Seriously, it's really safe where I am here at Camp Victory.  I got here yesterday morning, about 0900.  That was Tuesday... I left China Lake, CA last Saturday morning, about 0500... so "only" about 3 days.  Looking back I guess that's not too bad, but it seemed a lot worse at the time!

An hour flight to LAX, 3 hours layover, 4 hour or so flight to Washington Dulles, about 6 hours layover, then an over 13 hour fight to Kuwait International.  I slept a few hours on the long leg, but I was pretty beat when we got to KWI.  Then we stand around waiting for bags - until the baggage claim belt stopped moving, and there were no more bags... yep, mine was lost.  Great.  There were 3 of us traveling together (2 of the guys on my team were with me, one more will show up in a month or 2).  Only one guy got his bags, the other 2 of us were out of luck.
We filled out the lost bag claim, but I didn't have a lot of confidence that I'd ever see it again based on a little language barrier, and way they do things... then off to the bus to the military side of the airport (the APOD), to catch another bus to Ali Al Salem air base, for the military flight up to Baghdad... (yes, there is a lot involved in getting here).  But since it took a while to file the baggage claim, we missed the bus with the rest of the folks on our flight.  Great.  A couple of hours later (after a few more folks joined us in the wait), the next bus shows us, and we're off.
At KWI we get on little busses (seats about 20, or 25 if you fold down the little jump seats in the isle), and convoy around to the other side of the base.  It's probably only about a mile away as the crow flies, but you have to go off the airfield, around, and back into the base side, through security, so it takes about 20-30 min.  At the APOD, we unload with our bags, and wait for another bus (full size ones) to take us up to Ali air base.  That is about an hour and a half ride...
Once at the LSA there, you check in at one place, go wait about an hour at another desk for the Navy LNO to come back, and they help you figure out what to do next.  Since our baggage didn't arrive, we couldn't get manifested on a flight up to BIAP (Baghdad International Airport), which meant checking into billeting, and getting something to eat.
By now it was about 0200, and we'd been up for about 36 hours (with a couple of naps), and hadn't showered... (I made the mistake of not bringing change of underwear and basic toiletries with me in my carry on bag.)  So we walk over to the PX to buy a few things and get cleaned up, and get some sleep... not so fast!  The PX had just closed at midnight (normally everything is open 24/7) for inventory.  Great.  But it will re-open at midnight the next night.
I walk in the USO, and one of the wildcard playoff games is on, so I watch some of that, then head for my rack, in a tent with about 6 or 8 other folks.  It's pitch black in there, but  I just get undressed and get in bed, then I'm scared ---less by the HVAC that blows hot air (it's cold at night) in through a canvas like tube from the hardware outside, and makes a huge racket as that tube inflates!  Well, that happens about every 20 min as it cycles off/on... so I pretty much didn't get to sleep until it quit running in the morning when it starts to warm up.  I think I slept for 2-3 hours before I woke up sweating (it's hot in the day!)  Great.  So I call to check on my bag - no news.  Grab something to eat, walk around explore a bit.  We decided to just take the bus back to the airport to meet the flight (ours, but next day) in hopes that our bags would be on it.  So, we go through the whole bus routine in reverse (with a longer wait at the APOD this time), get to KWI right after the plane landed, go to look for our bags - but we can't go to baggage claim ourselves, we have to wait for the folks there to look for them... stand over there and wait for about 30 minutes... great.
But eventually our bags came rolling out with a porter!!  Yea!  Let's get back on the bus and go through that routine again.  But wait, the busses have already gone, we missed them while waiting for our bags to come out.  Great.  An hour or so later, next busses are here, and we're off.  This time, an even longer wait at the APOD for big busses to Ali.  That's ok, I have my stuff, and sooner or later I'm going to get a shower!
We got back to the LSA around midnight I guess.  I checked on the flights up to Baghdad, and sure enough there's one scheduled for check-in at 0330.  Perfect, time for a shower and dinner, then try to get out of there.  So we walk over to the PX to get soap, a towel, etc., - and it's still closed, they delayed the opening for another day.  Great.
That's ok, it's been about 60 hours of traveling, and I take a shower!  The showerhead was horrible, but it was one of the best showers I've ever had!  There's really not enough time to try to get some sleep, so I check out of my tent, get my body armor and helmet, grab a cheeseburger at McDonalds, and go wait for the flight.  The 0330 roll call finally happens about 0430, but we're on the flight!  Take your bags out to get palletized, and be back for 0545 muster.  At 0600 we're mustered for the flight and get on a bus to the flight line.  At 0725 we're airborne in an USAF C-130, on the way to BIAP.  At about 0845 we're on deck, and after a quick check in (O-5's and up get a little special treatment, so we were through there in no time).
The current OIC picked us up, drove us over to get our badges, checked into billeting, and some lunch (the DFAC is amazing, more on that later), and I was in my room ready to pass out a little after noon.  I made a quick Skype call to my wife (that was great to see her!), and I was ready for a long winter's nap.  It had been a little over 3 days, with only a couple of short naps, and I was out.  I slept about 8 hours.  I woke up to go to the bathroom (more on that later too), decided I really needed another pillow, so walked over to the PX, but they were out of them...  I did get a few things, went back, fell asleep again and slept another 8+ hours (except for bathroom break).
I haven't taken a lot of pics yet, but I'll post some in a minute, and I'll be taking a lot more.
Gotta run right now, more soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm here!

In Baghdad, at Camp Victory... no time to really post now, but I'll update soon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

BOG counter starts tomorrow...

Well, I guess it will start day after tomorrow since it takes over a day to get there...  But we leave early in the morning on our flight to Kuwait and we'll get there the next evening (I'll have several hours layover at LAX and IAD on the way).  Oh, and BOG stands for "boots on ground", that starts my counter for days in theater. 
I first found out about my mobilization on Sep 3rd, a little over 4 months ago, and now I'm about to get started on the actual work of this deployment.  Those 4 months have gone by pretty fast, so the good news is that I imagine that the next 4, and 4 or 5 after that, will also go by pretty fast - so I'll be back home again before I know it!! 
I'd better get to sleep, it's an early go tomorrow morning...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Now it's really hitting home...

After about 3 weeks at home (over the holidays), now I'm flying to China Lake, on the way to Baghdad in a fees days...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone