Friday, November 23, 2007

Planning a trip

I have found myself in Denver for the winter without any substantial work. It isn't as if I am not working, but I as I told my friends the other day, I really miss the responsibility and feeling that I was performing a valid and good function when I was in Iraq. I was proud of the work that I did and believe that I made a difference. Let me clarify what I mean when I state that I made a difference. I haven't for even one moment thought that I made a difference directly to the people of Iraq, but I did make a difference to the US Military our company supported. I made a difference to my co-workers and the company I worked for. I made a difference to the interests of the subcontracted foreign workers when I demanded that their living conditions be elevated, their food become more than substandard and the workers be treated better. While I was doing that, there were some companies, like First Kuwaiti, that shifted their personnel camps out of my reach because the requirements that I was imposing cost more than they were willing to give up. I argued against doing business with this company on many fronts, i.e. humanitarian, health, poor quality, bad value (too high compared to others) and billing practices were not consistent causing 1000's of excess hours monthly to justify their bills. The owner has US political ties and the rotating Project Managers that have just come from the military were still beholden to the pressure from politics to directly influence some of the ex-military officers (2nd wave of "leadership", not those under PC's tenure). I am not saying that there was anything untoward done by these people, just that they cowed to what the politics said - and didn't care what was right and the right thing to do. 

Blah, blah, blah...this was supposed to be about planning for my trip. I suppose that in a lot of ways this was exactly how it went for the planning stage - I become distracted by something and forgot all about what I planned to do. Apparently, I am not going to get into what it took to plan this trip and will dive right into the departure. It really wasn't that interesting - just a lot of finding the right item (we
ight, size, dual purpose, etc...) and making certain all my paperwork was done.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot that we took a trip to Moab, UT to camp and (for me) shake down my new bike and gear. Here are a couple of pics...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

26 October, 2007

Uggh! Getting into Madrid and settled into the hotel at 10pm knowing that I have to leave at 3:30am is not a great feeling. I could’ve just slept at the airport until the gate opened and then slept on the plane, but I have to clean up from the day of traveling from Barcelona before I can get on a plane. I smelled of little girl vomit and am certain that after sitting so close to that older odiferous couple that it rubbed off on me. I just have a hard time justifying a 5 hour stay in a hotel that cost over $100. Sure, it was a nice hotel and the shower rocked. I just hate having little choice when you stay near the airport. I was also too tired to care at the time.

I am so irritated with the airline that I have most of my miles with. I was just told that even though there are plenty of seats in business that I cannot upgrade because they do not use Northwest’s system in Amsterdam. I was told that if I were to go the other way, I could use them, but not anywhere in Europe. That’s funny because when I tried to use them in the US, I was shut down. What is the benefit?

So I sit here in coach (she did offer to leave the seat next to me open in lieu of the upgrade) with a seat open and enough room to type this out. I do suppose that this is better than wasting the miles on the upgrade.

Coming home from vacation or work overseas always gives me a feeling of completion. This trip is no exception. I suppose that I have the same feeling that I did when I was coming back to Iraq from R&R. I know that I have something else planned after this trip in Spain and that there are some things that I have to sort out before I leave to Mexico, Central America and South America next summer. This is akin to knowing that I had 4 month of work before I could leave on my next holiday and get out of Iraq for a couple of weeks.

Riding through Spain was a good test. It showed me that I need to take a Spanish immersion course so I can be conversational. I understand almost everything that was said to me, but a lot of it could have been body language as much as it was the amount of Spanish that I know. I also want to take a few motorcycle maintenance courses so I can get more comfortable with my bike. I could take my Honda and Kawasaki apart and put it back together, but I think that I will need to change the road tires for knobby tires so certain legs of the trip are safer. There are a lot of places that are dirt roads instead of paved interstates/roads. I also think that I need to get stronger. Seven years ago I may not have said that, but (after having a desk job in Iraq and not aspiring to much more since I have been back in Denver) I don’t want to be exhausted after longer rides that have a lot of wind or rough roads. I also need to sort out my chiropractic issues. If I can’t sort it out by Feb with my current doc, I need to drop him for a different doc.

There are a few things on the list, but only one pressing thing right now…sleep.