Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday Blog Update

It's Sunday evening here, and still HOT. Temps today were again in the mid 120's. They keep saying it's supposed to start cooling down. I can hardly wait.

Although, I must admit -- I bought a new blanket last night. The evenings get cold, and with the air conditioner on in at night, I freeze (or rather froze) nearly every night!!! So, I slept cozy last night, slept "in" this morning until 0600, then got up and ready for work. I didn't go to the gym. I decided to take Sundays "off"!

We work every day. Although, Sundays are a day that we can schedule ourselves for as many or as few of hours as we need. I had planned on working until about noon -- but didn't get out of the office until about 4:30.

The shower water is still hot (goes hand in hand with the outside temperature) -- so we still don't use the hot water tap at all. I laughed when doing laundry the other night and I looked at the water temperature knob. No way in Kuwait that you could ever wash clothes in cold water in the summer!!!

This afternoon was Organizational Day. That means all the sections were supposed to try to schedule their soldiers off, and we had a baseball game and a cookout. This is the last week for the team of soldiers we are replacing. They are most excited about headed home, and rightfully so -- they've done a year here without comforts of home and family and friends. We cooked steaks, and the DFAC provided salads and all the other trimmings. No way was I going to play ball -- I'll leave that up to the kids!

One thing I noticed is that the ball field is all sand. In fact the soccer field next to the ball diamond is all sand, too. Most of the roads are packed sand. In fact -- there is only ONE building on this entire installation that has grass growing. It's the headquarters building, and quite a landmark. When receiving directions to something on post, usually "the building with the grass" is somewhere among the instructions.

I've learned a lot this last week. The way we do supply business in the states is MUCH different that the way we do supply business here in a war zone. Very interesting -- very quick to get equipment -- and it's a much different procedure than I've ever used. Most of the people that I work with (up and down my chain of command) are great people. One of the units we work very close with is an Active Component unit out of Germany. Their Logistics Officer is a young Captain, and I'm impressed with his eagnerness and ability to pick things up quickly. Their Maintenance Officer is also a CW4, who's first name is Sweety. No kidding!!! He thinks it's great that my first name is Candy -- so, we've shared some great laughs.

The keyboard I'm typing on has arabic characters on the keys, along with the English ones. I'm trying to learn the symbols for the numerals. I don't have much hope for learning the letters. I'll do well with the numbers!!

I hope this finds all of my "blog" friends well. Thanks for all of your emails and posts. I don't get too much time each day on the internet, so forgive me if I don't respond quickly to your emails.

Til later ~~ Love, Candy

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Kuwait Update

Many of you have asked so many questions, and I'll try to answer some of them.

Yes -- we see herds of camels periodically. They are always with a herder (in an SUV!) and usually 15-25 in a herd.

I travel around Kuwait nearly every day, trying to locate equipment that is here, and getting it properly accounted for. The highways are much like those in the U.S. Except, they drive very fast, and very little regard for other drivers.

The Kuwaiti houses are beautiful -- very small palaces. Most of them are three story homes, very pretty concrete/or block and beautiful architecture. My guess is that each floor is in excess of 2,000 sq ft. We aren't allowed to go into the cities -- only observe from the highways.

It has cooled down a little bit. Temperatures reach the teens of the hundreds every day, sometimes tipping over the 120 degree mark. We drink a lot of water. The military has cases of water and gatorade in just about every location you can find a soldier, sailor, airman, or a marine. There are refrigerators or coolers like you'd see in a 7-11 store all over, and they are continually stocked. We never venture anywhere without water, and always have water in our packs or on our desks.

We're still staying in a tent -- it's not as bad as you'd think. We have beds with mattresses. The tents are air conditioned, and it gets "cold" at night! The bathrooms are just down the dirt path, next door to the shower trailer, and next door to the laundry trailer. We should be able to move into our permanent buildings within the next 10-14 days.

There's very little concrete on this base camp -- in fact, only sand in the zone where I live. The working zone of the camp has some paved streets.

Many have asked about sending care packages. Not yet -- please!!! I don't have any room for more stuff; and whatever I get I'll have to pack up and move soon!

One of the Colonels that is leaving shortly (from my unit) has a bicycle here, and she is going to give it to me. She uses it to get all around the camp -- so I'm looking forward to my future mobility! It has a basket on the front, and it will certainly remind me of biking with Chip in my basket! OK, Tom -- you can groan now!

The food in the DFAC is not bad. I'd heard horror stories -- but found them to be a bit exaggerated. So far we've had meals like spaghetti, meat loaf, chicken (fried, baked), salmon, lobster tails, chicken cordon bleu, swiss steak, and many others I can't remember. They switch between rice, potatoes, noodles, or rice -- so I can't really complain about the choices. There is more fresh fruit and vegetables than you can imagine. Many dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, milk) for every meal. I person could gain a LOT of weight without trying. They say some come home fit, while other come home fat!!

Which brings me to -- I'm still going to the gym each morning. My muscles quit barking at me and the soreness has subsided -- thank goodness!!!!!

I've rambled long enough.

Til later ~~Candy

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wednesday, August 24th

Today would have been my Mother's birthday. I miss her. In a way I'm glad she didn't have to see me go off to far away lands and live in a combat zone for a year. But, in a way, I know she would have been proud. I remember when I joined the Women's Army Corps -- nearly 31 years ago!!! She thought I would tire of it soon, and do my three years and get out. Twenty years later she was very proud. Happy Birthday Mom!!!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Saturday, 20 August

Today is my husband's birthday. The first of many special occasions that I'll miss. I'm thankful Laura and Becky will be able to help him celebrate!

I started working today -- actually, showed up at the office. We'll work closely with our counterparts for two weeks and then they'll be able to redeploy back to the U. S. They are most excited we're here, as we are their ticket home!

It's still hot. I highly recommend UnderArmor. It's a brand name of underwear that absorbs moisture rapidly, in an effort to help keep the body cooler!!!! I'm typically not one to endorse clothing, but this stuff really works.

Sorry for the short post -- Til later ~~ Candy

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Great Day!

How many times does a person ever have a day that no one could ever ruin?! I had one of those days today. A very good friend and fellow warrant officer deployed last year to Iraq. Tracy is from the San Antonio area, and has the same type of job I do in the Army. During her year of deployment, I've been able to keep up with her through emails, and an occasional phone call (when she could get to a phone line.) This morning (after my 5:00 a.m. gym workout) I was in the shower trailer, and Tracy walked in. She arrived at the same camp that I'm on yesterday, and we'd been communicating by email to try to find each other. The lack of cell phones is definitely a deterrent. It was great to see her, and I actually was scheduled to have my first morning off duty. So......We went to Starbuck's and attempted to catch up on a year's worth of stories. She is due to redeploy back to the States soon, so I'll definitely be picking her brain for all her "lessons learned".

It was great to see her -- we shared laughs among the tears -- a relief to see someone we both know from "home".

Another thing about this place -- it's not necessary to EVER turn on the hot water faucet. Since the temperatures are soooooo extremely high -- the cold water NEVER has a chance to come out of the tap in the desired state -- COLD! Showers become a quick dip under the water and something to get used to the scalding water.

I put $.50 in a soda machine today for a diet coke, and had a flashback in time. The soda cans (pop cans for all the friends and family up north) have the old "pull tabs" -- like we had in the 60's and 70's. I laughed when I saw it -- what a trip down memory lane.

Til later ~~ Candy

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Greetings From Kuwait

Have you ever mistakenly turned the hair-dryer toward your face, when attempting to blow-dry your hair? That's how it feels when the wind blows (even gently) here in Kuwait!! I made it here!! I can now share some of my recent travels. We left Ft. Benning, GA on Friday evening about 11:45 p.m. We landed in Gander Newfoundland, Canada and were able to get off the plane for about an hour and a half. Next stop was Budapest, but were not allowed off the plane. We flew straight from Hungary to Kuwait, going over the country of Iraq. It was dark when we flew over Iraq, but we could see lights from the major cities -- Mozul, Baghdad, etc. I was rather surprised when I heard that Iraq allowed international flights go over their air space, but at 35,000 feet -- we did it. 17 hours after we left Ft. Benning, we landed at one of the Airports in Kuwait that inprocesses Soldiers into the country. It was about 11:30 p.m., Saturday night, Kuwait time when we landed. We were bused to a location where we were inprocessed, and our ID cards were "swiped" to indicate we were now in "theatre". Ironically, the unit running that personnel inprocessing is one of my units from "back home". It was good to see my unit patch, and hear familiar names.

Next we were bused to a warehouse, where they gave us another duffle bag of equipment. Eventually we all got finished, and were bused to the base where we'll stay for about a week. We finally were able to get breakfast, then unload our baggage truck, and were able to lay down for a "nap" about 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. Sunday afternoon started the track of more briefings and classes.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we became "tourists"!! Since the 143d has such a huge responsibility for transporting soldiers and equipment all throughout the theatre, they wanted us to see locations that we'll be dealing with. Monday, we went up to the border. We didn't cross it -- just were able to get about 35 feet from the Iraq/Kuwait border. Before the trip, I did learn how to put the "plates" in my body armor -- one in the front and one in the back!!! While up at the border, we were able to get out of the sun for a short time in a make-shift wooden patio cover. Believe me -- nothing elaborate -- in fact, nothing in this entire country is elaborate. They had a thermometer on the wall that displayed inside (under the cover) and outside (in the direct Sun with a gentle breeze blowing). When we first got there -- it was 147 degrees outside, and 121 inside!!!! I think the breeze had an affect on the thermometer, because shortly the outside "cooled down" to a mere 141 degrees. Yikes!!! Have you ever experienced HOT!!! After I get some pictures downloaded from my camera, I'll share the picture of the 141 degrees!!!!

Tuesday, we went to the ports to get an overview of our role at those locations. Today (Wednesday), we were provided our security badges for access to the locations we'll be working. I can't say much about where we work. When you see the briefings and such from Kuwait with all of the Generals and staff -- we work in the building right next door.

Right now I'm living in a tent -- but, it's air conditioned!!!! It actually cools down at night along with the air, and I do need a blanket at night. I am scheduled to move on Saturday to where I'll be living for the next year -- a real building, with real furniture!!!

It's amazing the type of services here for soldiers. We have a Starbucks, Pizza Inn, Taco Bell, Hardee's, Burger King, and even Subway!! There's sand everywhere with occasional gravel. There are fitness centers on nearly every major base, and it may come as a shock to all of you -- I've been at the gym every morning before 5:00 a.m. to workout!!! There are AT&T Call centers on each base camp -- but I don't think they have soldier's "best interest" with how the calling cards work. Someone back in the states needs to alert all of the great service organizations that buy AT&T calling cards to send with soldiers that it's a rip-off!! I'm usually not one to complain about consumer products -- but ....... here goes. A 120 minute AT&T calling card was given to us from a DAR Chapter in Orlando, FL. I made a phone call to Ed, and when I dialed the first time, was told by the automated voice -- you have 9 minutes remaining on your card. We got to talk for the 9 minutes, and then I called AT&T to ask if there could possibly be a mistake with my card. Nope -- it was a connection charge. By the way -- that wasn't a typo -- it really was a mere 9 minutes on the 120 minute AT&T Calling card. I'll learn quickly what type of card to get, and how to do it here.

I hope this finds all of you well -- I'm doing fine -- just HOT!! Typically, the temps reach only 122-125 each day. Within a few days I hope to have some pictures posted for you.

Til later ~~ Candy

Monday, August 08, 2005

Last Note from Continental US

Orlando has been fun (personally) and somewhat boring (professionally). Ed was able to come down for a weekend, and we had a great time doing the tourist things around Orlando -- Epcot was fantastic!!!! We even went to the Gourmet McDonald's -- World's largest McDonald's is in Orlando -- typical McDonald junk food at one counter; while another counter served salmon dinners, chicken alfredo, scrumptious deserts, etc. -- all on glass plates!!!! We enjoyed our two days together, and hated to tell him goodbye. I'm such a schmuck -- ask my family -- I cry at the thought of a Folger's Coffee commercial. OK -- enough about that, because the Captain sitting next to me is wondering, "what's wrong with this woman!"

Professionally, we've had a lot of briefings on what's going on in Kuwait, and expectations for our unit when we get there. Some of the briefings and classes have been unorganized and less than pertinent; while some have litterally kept me glued to the edge of my chair. I'm anxious to get there and get started, as my 365 day countdown can't start until we get "in country".

We head back to Ft. Benning tomorrow and wait for our airplane ride out of the country. I can't say much more than that, because it's classified as to when we actually leave. We know -- but we can't say. I will tell you that by duty time next Monday morning, I'll be in Kuwait.

I've taken a few pictures, and am learning how to get them posted to my website. My small problem is that I can't edit them (resize the photos) so that they are small, and open quickly. When I learn that task well, you'll all see the fruits of my education!!

I have been trying to get many of you called (by phone); unfortunately, I won't be able to call each of you before I leave the country. Please know that I think about all of you -- a lot!

My next update will be from Kuwait -- where the current temperatures are in excess of 122 degrees.'s a dry heat!

Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers. Ed is enjoying his new job at Ft. Sam Houston and glad that he once again has a career outside the home! Tom is one week into his Officer Basic Course at Ft. Knox, KY. Sarah is gearing up for her last semester of ungrad work -- she's 9 semester hours away from that December graduation!!! Laura is finishing up her last pre-requisites for Nursing School. Hopefully, January will find her at UT Health Science Center as a Nursing Student. Becky has opted to stay in San Antonio for college this semester and has still trying to decide between San Antonio College or NW Vista. Chip (the wonder dog) -- I know he misses me!!

Love to all. Til later ~~ Candy