Sunday, April 29, 2012

And now for a little R&R ...

I've been home on R&R for a couple of weeks now.  It's been a busy time, so busy that I haven't had time to post.  Or if I have had time, I haven't been the least bit interested.  But it's Sunday morning now.  We're off to a slow, lazy day today, so this is an opportunity to catch up.

I flew out of Maiwand on one of the Embassy's helicopters and landed back at KAF for a few days.  When you're in Afghanistan, you have to build in several days of travel to account for the vagaries of weather, helicopter availability, and general chaos.  So I had a couple of days of down time at KAF before heading out to Dubai.  It was a bit odd being back at my former home and workplace and having it NOT be my home and workplace anymore.  Still, it was nice to have a bit of time to decompress before starting the long slog back to the US.

I took a contract flight directly from KAF to Dubai.  In typical governmental fashion, we had to show up several hours early and be herded through various stages of security screening, like cattle to the slaughterhouse.  The flight itself was uneventful and, thankfully, not full, so I had a bit of room to stretch. Once in Dubai, I had many hours to kill.  Some of my compatriots just hang out at the airport, some get a hotel room, but I went exploring.  I wound up at the Mall of the Emirates, a huge, modern, and ritzy shopping mall.  When you see a Lamborghini and Ferrari parked in a roped-off valet area next to the main entrance, you know you're not in Afghanistan anymore.  Inside the mall, there was a store for every high-end brand name that you ever heard of, and many more you haven't.  They even had an indoor ski slope!  Unbelievable.

Then it was back to the airport and onto the long, 14-hour flight to Atlanta.  Fortunately, I had an aisle seat and was able to frequently get up and stretch.  I can't sleep for squat on airplanes and this flight was no exception.  In Atlanta, I cleared customs, found my gate, and pretty soon was on the last leg to Asheville.  And at 9:15, about 27 hours after leaving Kandahar, I was hugging my wife and dogs at the Asheville airport.  Home.

As always, it is wonderful to be in my own home, in my own bed, walking my dogs, being with my wife, and seeing my friends.  Janis had me take care of some maintenance chores around the house.  I spent a couple of days on yard work.  We visited with friends and neighbors and caught up on each other's lives.  We went out to eat at some really good restaurants.  In all, we just enjoyed being together.

This past week has been hectic.  Janis's son Rick, and our 5-year-old grandson Jackson, came out to spend a week with us.  I hadn't seen Jax in 3 1/2 years, which is eons in a 5-year-old's life.  He was a bit shy with us at first, but that didn't last long.  We connected pretty well.  And we had a very busy week: an Asheville Tourists ball game, going to the park, seeing a movie, throwing a frisbee, and lots of other activities.  It was a bit of a whirlwind.  But they boarded the plane yesterday afternoon and headed home.  Now it's just Janis, myself, and the dogs again.  We've got some more home chores to do, mostly clean-up from the 5-year-old tornado and normal chores (like mowing the yard).

In a few days, it'll be my turn to board the airplane.  It's almost time to head back to Afghanistan and work.  I can't really say I'm ready, not at this point, but it's something I gotta do.  And I'll be ready once the time comes.

1 comment:

Shea said...

if you took any pictures while you were in Dubai, I'd love to see a few on the blog, I really like reading your blog, Skip, Your writing style is enjoyable and refreshingly well written