Wednesday, April 11, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

Training in Kansas provides many opportunities to think of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, in fact the Wizard of Oz museum is located not far from Fort Riley. I, unfortunately, did not get a chance to visit this fine tourist attraction although there were many times I felt like I was in the land of Oz with the wonderful wizard at the controls. We had some relatively calm and slow days for our final week at Fort Riley. Our time was devoted to cleaning weapons, cleaning up our spaces, packing and turning in some of the training gear we had been issued. We also scrambled to change airline flights as we found out that we were given a couple extra days of time off before we ship out to Afghanistan. We ended our week with a small graduation ceremony and said our short "see ya laters", (we were going to be back in a week and see each other again, so no need for tears, besides which there is no crying in the Narmy!)

So after graduation, I clicked the heels of my desert boots together and said my lines just like Dorothy, "There's No Place Like Home." A short 12 hours later I was home in San Diego after waiting around the airport and experiencing a short delay in my flight. I did manage to get a direct flight from Kansas City to San Diego on Southwest Airlines so that saved some time. For those who have flown on Southwest you know they have open seating and have a letter code for boarding. You can either be an "A" and be the first group and be excited at getting a good seat, have B and hope for the best, or be in the "C" group and be assured of getting a crappy middle seat. Since I had purchased my ticket with a military discount (which was still $450 because of the late booking), Southwest required that I check in at the airport instead of using the on-line check in 24 hours before my flight. I was pleasantly surprised to get a "B" as my boarding assignment and thought I had a chance to at least get an aisle in the way back of the plane. As everyone was standing in their assigned lines (an hour early of course, because everybody wants to make sure they get a good spot) I began to notice there was nobody in the "C" line and I was at the end of the "B" line. I started to realize that my odds were not good and I was going to be squished into a middle seat. I was sadly correct, and wedged myself into my middle seat for my flight home. I did not care much as I was going home. As I flew home, I thought about that very clear lack of "C" boarding assignments. Was the airline trying to create a sense of false hope by not giving anyone the dreaded "C" boarding pass? Did people actually feel better when they got a "B" instead of a "C". I know I did for a moment. Perhaps Southwest felt that giving people hope was part of their duty and having that hope ripped away at the gate was merely a circumstance beyond their control. Kind of like when the Navy sent me a notice confirming my 20 years would be completed in May 2007...

As I was saying, there's no place like home. I was very fortunate to spend some great time with Rebecca, Thomas and Madigan. Whether we were playing a game together or just having a meal with each other it was great just being with them. Rebecca asked me what food I missed the most and I said "sushi", so we went to lunch together at our little sushi place at the shopping center, Sushiyama, and enjoyed some great fish. Not too much sushi in Kansas, and I doubt there is any in Afghanistan.

We had a wonderful Easter holiday and the Easter Bunny hid lots of eggs and two very nice baskets for the kids. He snubbed me as usual and left a big mess of the carrots we left out. I will have to talk to him next year; I wonder if you can send letters to the Easter Bunny? I also had a nice time with Thomas and Madigan shooting off rockets at the park. Pretty amazing how high and far those things go. In fact one went so high and so far that we lost it. After about a half hour of searching we called off the search party and decided it would be easier to buy another rocket. On Tuesday we went to Legoland. We got there right at opening so we were able to jump on a bunch of the good rides before it got too crowded. After the crowds came we spent time in the various playgrounds at the park. It was a beautiful day. Rebecca and I had some alone time and she had the great idea to do a picnic at the beach. We sat on the sand with the waves crashing a few feet away and shared a nice bottle of wine munching on some cheese and shrimp cocktail. I will definitely miss the beach, if you check out a world map you will notice that Afghanistan is land-locked, a perfect place for Navy personnel. On my last day in San Diego, I had the chance to go by WD-40 Company and see some of the folks at the office.

As I write this, I am counting down the hours until I fly back to Kansas and then it is off to Afghanistan where I will spend a fun-filled year in the desert. You might notice this update is a little late, I guess I was enjoying myself too much to break away and sit at the computer. I will probably be a little bit out of touch for the next couple weeks as I get to Afghanistan and get settled. Also remember for those you have missed some of the e-mail updates, they are posted on my blog at

Peace to you all,


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