I am going out on a night ride tonight. Ok, so it isn't the great fun that most people have on a night ride: the world turned a surreal imitation of itself through the tiny beam of light from your handlebar. New trails from old familiar ones. Animals peering at you, just a glimmer of their shining eyes the only clue that they are there. No, none of that for me.
It isn't a true night ride. In fact I barely need a light, though I will have one, if only to keep myself from being run over, the awesome 0.3 watt LED shining out for, hopefully, oncoming cars to wonder at until they get really close. But, it is a ride, at night. I have that going for me.
I wasn't supposed to ride tonight. I should have ridden this morning. This leads us to the lesson for the day.
If you set your alarm clock for 4:30 PM, it will not wake you up for your 5:00 AM ride. At least, not today's ride. Keep that in mind kiddies.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I almost got run over by a tank today. Yea, a tank. You know, those big squarish, 62 ton monsters that ruin the dreams of the enemies of the United States. Yea, one of those.
It was a pretty tame ride up to that point. I got spinning a bit later than normal, but that was OK, the training plan only called for an hour and I would be back in plenty of time to get a shower, a meal and a nap, in that order. So a bit later than normal meant that it was getting light out. I didn't need a light to see, I did need a light for others to see me.
I was slipping through the morning when I got on my third most unfavorite piece of road. This is the road that leads to the Entry Control Point, i.e. the gate to get on and off the forward operating base I live on. I hate this section because it is extremely dusty, and sometimes, dangerous.
So I turned the corner onto this section and ahead of me was a long line of stopped heavy trucks and Hummers coming in from a patrol. All vehicles have to stop after coming in the gates so that they can unload and clear their weapons. I stayed on my side of the road, they were going away from the gate, I was heading towards it and I knew it wouldn't be a problem. I stayed alert though and looked up towards the gate as I heard a heavy clanking and a turbine. "Ooh, tanks. I like tanks!" I thought as I peered through the heavy dust up ahead.
Seconds later, and only about 75 yards away there was indeed a tank. Coming towards me. Not slowing. Driver still inside his hatch using his tiny viewing blocks to drive. Not seeing me. Not seeing me. 50 yards away.
I make the intelligent choice and dodge between two trucks that don't have their drivers reloaded yet and get off the road. I figured that a big heavy truck between me and the tank was just what I needed. I got off my bike and walked a bit all the while enduring confused stares from the Soldiers coming off patrol.
Getting hit by a tank. Not recommended. For me it would be catastrophic. For the tank, well, that is where the title of this entry came from.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Well, I have been here a year now. Not exactly HERE as in Iraq, but I have been deployed into theater for exactly a year today, 6 September 2007.
As many of you know we started our deployment by first deploying to Kuwait. While there we were supposed to do three weeks of training before moving on to Balad, Iraq a place I am already intimately familiar with since I already spent 12 months there in 2004-2005. As it turned out we didn't do that. Another unit was selected for that mission due to their organizational similarities to the outgoing unit. That all made sense but what didn't make sense was that my brigade, which had deployed sooner, was staying while another brigade was already moving into Iraq.
To see why this is a problem you have to know a bit about Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Let me sum it up with this simple phrase: We would rather be in combat in Iraq than in Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Yea, its that bad.
We finally got orders to replace the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division and I arrived in Iraq on or about 1 November. So, no, I haven't been in Iraq for a year yet and in fact once I do leave I will have only been in Iraq for a few weeks over the 52 that encompass a year, but still, I have been deployed now for a year.
On another note, I left work a little early last night with the intention of going out and getting in a quick bike ride. Gale force winds put an end to that idea. Always nice to see armored vehicles getting blown off of roads by the wind. I don't think that riding is such a good idea when that happens. I only survived the walk to my room because I put sand in my pockets after dinner. Oh, yea, and I had a piece of cake. I am sure that helped too.