"Not the victory but the action. Not the goal but the game.
In the deed the glory."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Qatar Trip - Part 3

One more batch of pictures from my recent trip to Qatar. Here is Brad and I in front of the harbor.

This is the City Center mall in downtown Doha. It was 4 stories of shopping fun, we had 2 hours to spend here and didn't even make it through the whole mall. It was quite impressive.

There was an ice skating rink inside, a bowling alley, a mini amusement park, and lots and lots of shops.

Some buildings outside the mall. Lots of construction downtown, the city is really growing.

Enjoying a Guinness back at the camp. Tasty!

Brad with a Tuborg. It is a dutch beer that is popular with the joes as you get a 16oz can for $3. The Guinness was $6.

Ma Beans sent me this shirt a while back. I had to get at least one Bud since I was wearing the shirt. Last beer of the trip!

All good things must come to end sometime. Packing up and heading back to Anaconda.

A somewhat blurry picture of the C17 we took back. This is the big Air Force jet we were hoping for, unfortunately we had a small group so they didn't put the good airline like seats in the middle like they usually do and instead filled it with cargo. I wasn't complaining though, much better then the C130.

We are back to work now. It was a fun trip and great to get away from the office. 3 months to go.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Qatar Trip - Part 2

Part of the fun of going to Qatar is that they have excursions you can take off the base and into the city of Doha. Brad and I went out on what they call the cultural tour, which is an all day tour through the different parts of the city.

First stop was one of the local malls. It reminded me of a cross between the Venetian and Ceasers Palace in Vegas. You could ride the gondola through the inside of the mall and there was a painted sky overhead. Lots of good shops and interesting people walking around. We even grabbed a hamburger and coke at McDonald's before heading out.

Doha hosted the 2006 Asian Games last year. I guess this was a big deal and they built a lot of stuff for it. This is a tower of some sort, I think our guide said that this was being made into a hotel with 500 rooms.

Outdoor venue where the Asian Games were held.

We stopped at the local camel market and took some photos. The camels made a crazy noise at us, kind of like Chewbacca when he was upset. I didn't get too close because I was frankly a little bit freaked out. Our guide said that a camel will remember your face if you hurt it for its entire life, and if it runs into you 20 years from now it will bite you and then sit on you until you die. Allrighty then. That is why the camel jockeys for the races are children, they won't remember them as their faces will change as the age. The camel market didn't smell all that great as you could probably guess.

We stopped at the veggie market as well, nothing too exciting there. Then we shopped for a couple of hours at the outdoor market. Lots of traditional stuff, they kept trying to sell us man dresses and burkas but we passed. I did buy a Rolex at what they call the gold market. I got a pretty sweet deal, I checked online and the model I got sells in the states for $13,500, I only paid 140 Qatari Dinars. Sweet. Next stop was lunch. We had a traditional lunch. Here is the restaurant.

After lunch, it is custom to smoke from the Hooka pipe. Brad and I shared one with apple flavored tobacco. Kids don't try this at home.

The Hooka was followed by coffee and tea. Hello, I ordered a large!!!

Cool building I saw. Can't really remember what it was though. They told us if we took pictures from the bus we'd be tarred and feathered so we had to do the tourist thing when we were stopped.

This is kind of a big deal. Giant oyster and pearl. I took a picture because everyone else was. The Persian Gulf is in the background and a couple of fellow 167 soldiers are on your right.

More to follow.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Qatar Trip - Part 1

There are very few positives of the additional 4 months that got added to our time over here. One of them is that we are now eligible for a 4 day pass to Qatar, a small country down on the Eastern coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. Actually, we were eligible for this before but due to manning requirements our Brigade didn't allow anyone to go. Once we got extended they opened it up and most everyone will have the opportunity.

I was fortunate in that SSG Johnson and I got to go on the same day, so I had a travel partner for the whole trip. It is about a 2.5 hour flight from Anaconda, and luckily we went nonstop. Unluckily we took a C-130 which is a prop driven cargo plane. You sit on netting and it is quite uncomfortable. Since this was military transport, our 2.5 hour trip took about 12 hours all together. You don't just show up 45 minutes before and get on a plane. We reported at 0400, took a roll call, and told to hold tight until 0600. At 0600 we were told to go get breakfast and come back at 0830. At 0830 we were told to hang out until 1030. Somewhere in there we finally got on the plane, and sat on the plane in the sun on the tarmac for another hour until we took off. Here is SSG Johnson on the plane.

After the flight, we went through customs in Qatar where they searched our bags for ammo and other contraband, and then we took a bus from the airport to Camp As Sayliyah. We got our in brief on the dos and donts, and then were blissfully released to do our own thing. Our only time hack for the entire 4 days was to be back at 2100 on the last day to check on our flight home. The first night we got in kind of late, so we went right away and got our allotment of 3 beers (I had Fosters on tap) and then went to Chilis for dinner and then to bed. Luckily, the travel day doesn't count as one of your 4 days so this was basically a free night for us. I think this is a picture of me at Chilis, wearing civilian clothes felt pretty good after being in nothing but ACUs and PTs.

They had a miniature golf course at the gym that we played. I got out to an early 3 stroke lead but SSG Johnson came screaming back and beat me by one. I had about an 8 foot putt on the last hole that I needed to tie but I misread it and pushed it left. Sad night.

They also had a combination Dairy Queen/Orange Julius right in the gym. They would even add a scoop of protein into your Julius for that post workout pump.

More pictures to come over the next few days after I dig out from under the pile of emails that were waiting for me.

Monday, April 02, 2007

More Deployment Souvenirs - Part 3

Final installment of Spur Ride pictures. Follow the links for Part 1 and Part 2 if you need to get caught up. Beans also some coverage over at his blog, follow the links to the right.

All 12 teams getting lined up for the ruck march.

And they're off! You will notice CSM Hall and his sombrero off the right.

Beans and I on the march.

Team America after the march. You will notice how much sweatier Beans, a 21 year old college athlete, is then me, a 31 year old desk jockey, due to my superior physical conditioning.

S1 Spur Holders. SFC Kerchal, me, Burnometer, Hammer, and Beans. Not pictured: SPC Fleck, CW4 Regan, and SSG Johnson. Oh wait, they aren't pictured because they were too scared to compete. Maybe on their next trip to Iraq?

Team America: CPT Wangler, SPC Burnham, yours truly, CPT Varejcka, and SGT Benes.

As mentioned, each station was graded and you had to get a minimum of 70 points to pass and earn your spurs. The first day of competition 2 teams didn't make it so if you didn't train enough it was difficult. Team America finished 2nd out of 12 teams with a 92.6. The winning team had 93.5, so we were less then a point out of first. We left a few points out there on the map reading, weapons, and radio stations, so we were a little disappointed, but we had fun and earned our spurs which is what the day was all about. Since we earned them in a combat zone, we'll get gold spurs, if you earn them at home you get silver. The 2 officers were nice enough to purchase the spurs for the team, so we are thankful for that bonus.