So my trip outside the “wire” was rather uneventful, but an eye-opener nonetheless. They told us during our IED training to look for trash and tires and piles of dirt and rocks and things that look out of place, because those are the hiding spots for IEDs. Well, there’s trash and tires and piles of dirt and rocks all over the place! It’s kind of unnerving, but I guess you just go with it and here I am now safe and sound. I give all the credit in the world to the kids who do this day in and day out, in 120 degree heat with 80 pounds of shit on protecting supply convoys for 12 hours at a time in the middle of the night looking for buried IEDs while insurgents, local thugs and others of the sort take shots at them with small arms and rockets. It’s a little ridiculous if you ask me. Anyway, like I said, my trip was uneventful because we went south during the day where not much is going on. The radio relay points are set up sort of like a hunting lodge. They’re very Spartan, with running water in the makeshift kitchen, but not in the outhouses. Laundry is done in a machine but hung up to dry outside. All are equipped with huge grills, and we put them to use. We had chicken wings for lunch and steak, peppers and potatoes for dinner. Better than the Dining Facility back here! After dinner the Iraqi interpreter who works out there brought us flat bread, rice and a sauce that was similar in color and taste to curry but not as thick. We poured the sauce in the rice and then scooped it with the flat bread. Excellent! Afterwards I had to put my 80 pounds of shit back on to return to Tallil and I’m really surprised I fit! So that’s really about it for my trip outside Tallil. Oh, except for the cars going the wrong way on the other side of the highway. Cars are not allowed to pass military convoys, otherwise they meet the wrong end of a .50 caliber round, so what they do is cross into oncoming traffic and speed by in the far left lane (which would be the far right if they were coming at you!) and then cross back ahead of you. It was pretty comical the first time I saw it happen! But like I said I’m back safe and sound so Colleen and mom and dad can stop worrying for a bit. Ah, what’s really funny is that while I was in harm’s way (not really) outside the wire, the base got mortared! Ha!
I love you Colleen!
end of Mike's note, but here's some pictures from him. I realize that they are certainly self-explanatory, but I've added captions anyway: