31 December, 2011

What a Rotation!

Well if you didn't know, I have been in Algeria since September 19th. KBR sent me on a new short term assignment to help troubleshoot some problems at one of our projects. It's not IT work but QA/QC (Quality Assurance/Quality Control) but hey it gets me out of the office for awhile.

So first I'll tell you about the camp. It is a gated camp with double chain link fence and razor wire located right on the Mediterranean Sea in Eastern Algeria. The housing is good and the food is decent. The project is located in what is known as the International Zone which is a protected area where the Refineries and Plants are located. The camp is on the far East edge of the zone. We have about a 10 minute ride everyday by bus. Once inside the Plant, we don't leave again until 5:00 pm lunch is catered every day. This consists of your choice of either the Hot meal, sandwich, salad, vegetarian or Filipino meal. I pretty much stick to salad you can't really go wrong there.

The work is interesting since I haven't done that before, took a little while to get my feet wet but I think things are going quite well. So my first 9 weeks was classified as a Business trip so no project uplifts etc. I left the site by Helicopter on November 18th, had a few hick-ups with Air Algerie. We missed our takeoff window and they took us off the plane and took us back to the Terminal. We sat there for nearly 3 hours waiting for the next opportunity around 4 in the afternoon. They finally brought food off the plane and fed us while we waited and then at 4 loaded up the bus and went back to the plane. We were able to take off and we flew to Paris. I spent the night and caught a plane the next morning to Houston, which landed at 1:30 on the 19th.

So this was supposed to be a short extended trip, since I was going to be home for Kimberly and Cassie to give birth to my new granddaughter and grandson. Kimberly was due on the 7th and Cassie was due on the 17th. Kimberly had contractions on and off for days thinking we were ready to have a baby. They went to the hospital a couple of times only to be sent home. Finally the week of Thanksgiving, the doctor told her that if she didn't have Paiton by that Sunday they would induce on the 5th. Well it didn't happen so Monday the 5th Jason picked her up and headed to the hospital for a scheduled start at 6:30 am. Diane and I followed about 20 minutes later. They finally started her on the drip around 7:30 and it was a waiting game. The day went slowly and Kimberly began having a lot of bad back labor so the doctor started her epidural and things got better for her. The contractions were steady and getting stronger by the hour. Around 11 I think, the doctor checked her and said it was time to break her water. The contractions got stronger and she started making some good progress. Finally around 6'ish they kicked me out of the room. Diane and Jason stayed to help her and I went to the waiting room and sat with David and Ginny Day, Josh and Cassie and Christopher and Karen. Finally about an hour later Paiton was born, 8 lbs and 20 inches long. She is a gorgeous baby.

Well with one down all we had left was for Jack to make his appearance. Mean time I was able to get the office to let me come in and do some work, because I had been off now more than my allotted time and I had run out of PTO. So on the 21st I went into the office and started working on some things. Monday and Tuesday were pretty slow because I was reading through an 80 page summary for an application we are loading at a new project. The information was dry but by the end of Tuesday I had suffered through it and made my comments. Of course during the evening hours, I was able to enjoy rocking and feeding Paiton. She is a joy and I was enjoying her immensely. So on Tuesday Josh and Cassie went for their doctors appointment, and she told them that if Jack hadn't arrived by Thursday they would go ahead and induce her on Friday. So Wednesday I got up and went to work again and started my day. Around 8 Josh called me and asked what I was doing, I told him just work stuff nothing too exciting. I asked what he was doing and he said loading the car. I said oh getting ready for Friday already? He said so is work going to be an issue for you to leave and I said no not at all, I am here just working until Jack gets here. He said well you ought to think about leaving then, and I said ya that won't be an issue, and he said no I mean you probably need to start heading this way. I said huh what do you mean, oh, wow are you telling me Cassie is in labor? He laughed and said ya she started having contractions around midnight. I said oh, wow, ok well not a problem I will pack up and head that way.

SO, I was only about 15 minutes away from his house and 20 minutes from the hospital so i packed up told the girls we are having a baby and left. I tried to call Diane and see what the plan was and Kimberly answered and said she was rushing to get a shower and then they were leaving. I got to the hospital about 20 minutes later and called Josh to see where in the hospital they were at. He said your at the hospital, we haven't even left yet. I said oh wow I beat you to the hospital, he said ya you were supposed to call mom, we probably won't be ready for a couple of hours. So I headed back to the house. When I got there her contractions had slowed down so I say down and watched TV while I waited for Diane and Kimberly. We have been looking for a house close to them since Diane retired from First Baptist Preschool so she can watch Jack while Cassie teaches. We have found some to look at but nothing promising. Josh had driven by two new homes and asked if i wanted to go look at them while we waited. Of course I was concerned that we would be gone and Cassie would go into full labor, but Josh talked to her and they decided we had time. So we went and looked at them and by the time we got back Diane and Kimberly showed up. So around 1:30 Cassie was feeling pretty rough so they called the doctor to see what they needed to do. So they went to her office for an exam and she decided it was tome for them to go to the hospital. So we packed up what was left and headed up to meet them. We got there and waited in the waiting room for things to happen. Slowly but surely things transpired, we decided to go eat dinner since it was moving slow. Diane, Melinda (Cassie's sister) and her mom went down the street to Denny's. We told them whet was going on and they did a great job of getting our food out to us quickly. Josh and Melinda finished up and went back to the hospital while we finished our dinner. We all piled back in the car and headed back. It was about 8'ish now and Cassie was making great progress. Lee (Cassie's step dad), Cindy (Cassie's aunt), Christopher and Karen showed up and we all sat and talked and caught up on things. Finally around 11 Candy went to check on Cassie and by 12:00 midnight November 22nd Jack was born, 6lbs 5 ozs, 16 inches long. He is a beautiful little boy and has the features of both Josh and Cassie.

So with two brand new babies we had a wonderful Christmas and I was able to spend it with the kids and Cassie's parents, sister and aunt Cindy. It was a great time and probably one of the best Christmases we have had in a long time. Well Monday was a holiday for work so Tuesday and Wednesday I went back and did a few things around the office. Thursday I started packing because Friday was my travel day. Today is December 31st and Diane's birthday and I am in Marseilles France. I hope everyone has a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. I am now on my short term assignment which is supposed to be around 4 months. I will try to keep you updated with news as it happens.

26 July, 2009

Another Rotation and the years “Big Event” Part One…….

Well the rotation is over and it was successful, busy, and just too short as usual.
The flight home was long and could do not be over soon enough. I got to the airport about an hours and a half before my flight left, and luckily I was able to upgrade my seat at the very last minute so I could get some sleep. With that I was able to sit in the lounge while waiting so Diane and I chatted until it was time to go to the gate. Now mind you in other lounges, that is in other countries and the US, you are able to dine on some pretty decent foods and a relaxing
atmosphere. In Saudi it is a little different but very tolerable. The cuisine was tuna sandwiches, donuts, coffee and bottled water. Not what you call a feast but hey it was enough to pass the time and cut the cravings.

At 12:15 the call was made that they were loading the flight, so I bid my farewell to Diane, packed up my Laptop and made my way to the gate. The crowd as usual was lite and the plane which had made its way from Qatar was hardly full. I made my way to my seat, got out my MP3 player, headphones, book etc, and settled in for the long semi long trip to Amsterdam. We took off on time and about 15 minutes into the flight they started serving the meal. I actually can’t tell you what we had because I was tired and ready for them to dim the lights so sleep could begin. About 45 minutes later that is just what happened. Like all other trips I was keyed up so sleep did not come easy but eventually it set in and I was pleasantly refreshed when they turned on the lights for the pre-landing meal. Again it slips my mind but usually consists of some fruit, yogurt, an omelet and some meat. Of course the coffee and juice flows and you can never get enough of that.

As I exited the plane at the gate, I began my long walk back to the concourse where the KLM lounge was. It still amazes me how many people fly through there from so many places. You see all kinds, all ages, and just about from every country you can imagine. As I made my way upstairs, I realized that it was just 6:30 and I was going to have to endure a longer stent than usual. We must have landed early as the flight to Houston was still about 3 and a half hours away. I checked in and made my way to a desk where I could setup my Laptop and see
who was online, check emails and just try and chill. I got settled and then called Diane to let her know I had made the first leg ok. We chatted for a few minutes as it was already past her bedtime by then. The time went by fairly fast and before I knew it, it was time to head to the gate again. The walk to the International gate is quite long, and of course I am carrying a back pack and a carryon so it tends to make the trip seem like forever.

Once on the plane I settled in for some book, movies and music. Again we were off on time and merrily on our way. Continental has finally gotten up with the times and installed On Demand video. So I had quite a few movies to select from. The first I picked was Marley and me which was a really great movie. If you haven’t watched it I recommend it. The second and third escape me but they were both really good if I remember. By the time the third one was winding down, they were serving a snack and we were about 45 minutes outside of Houston making our approach. We landed about 15 minutes early and taxied to the gate. As luck would have it, we actually got to the gate closest to Immigration which rarely happens. The lines were crazy as it looked like we and three other planes had gotten in right after each other. Even though the lines were long, they moved quickly and I was next in line. As I walked up to the booth, the officer eyed me and looked at my entry form, asked his normal questions like, Have you been to any other countries before coming here? Well ya, that’s why I am in International arrivals and getting my passport stamped, duh, but I didn’t say that to him of course. He finally finished his drill and then stamped me and I was headed to Baggage Claims. Amazingly the bags were already coming out on the carousel as I walked down the escalator and I was able to grab my bag in no time. Off to Customs and then out the door to my waiting wife and daughter.

Well of course the first stop was to see the new house the kids had built, and let me tell you the pictures didn’t do it justice. Everything looked so clean and fresh, the color coordination was absolutely amazing, and the yard was landscaped nicely. We toured through the house and I got to look at everything, which wasn’t much because it was still vacant. After, we decided to stop for a quick bite at Chewys’ a really nice Mexican Restaurant, you know I had to get my TEX-MEX fix ☺. Once we finished up the great meal, we headed back to TC and dropped Kimber off at her apartment. Finally getting home, I unloaded my bags and hauled them into the house and began unpacking. Everything was clean so laundry would wait until we returned from San Angelo. For the evening we just hung out watched some TIVO and just chilled. It was nice to be home, of course the dogs were going nuts and were all over me, but hey they missed me so what do you expect.

Tuesday, well I really can’t even remember what I did on Tuesday, I know there was something going on because literally I did something every single day! Anyway it must not have been too exciting if I can’t remember it ;). So on Wednesday I had errands to run. I definitely went and picked up my Tux and some other odds and ends not a really busy day, but it was almost three quarters of getting stuff ready for the trip to San Angelo. We had taken the dogs to get them groomed and when I got home Diane was picking them up from the groomer. Later the groomer and hubby came over as they were going to watch the dogs for us while we were gone so they wanted to be sure about everything. That also went off without a hitch and we finished off the evening with more TIVO and then much needed sleep. Thursday morning was busy with packing suitcases, going over lists to make sure we had everything and then the chore of packing the car. Always when we go on a trip I feel like we move the house with us, but this time was different. This trip we had tons of stuff to take for the wedding. Diane had been taking care of flowers that were individually potted to be used for the rehearsal dinner. So let me tell you that took some effort to make sure they didn’t get damaged during the trip. Eventually we got them all packed in along with clothes, necessities and of course my golf clubs☺. We were on the road by 10 with a quick stop to pick up donuts and Kimber.

The trip went pretty quick, usually we can count on 8-9 hours but we made into Abilene by 6 that evening. Since we don’t like to put my mom out and wait dinner on us, we headed to the mall for a couple of items we had forgotten and then to Taco Bueno for dinner, yummy my favorite fast food Mexican! This place makes Taco Bell look like, well lets just say that if you haven’t ever tried it, you need to because you will enjoy the food and the experience. We finished up dinner and headed to moms house. After unpacking the car and getting the air mattress blown up, sheets on, we were pretty exhausted but we stayed up and chatted for awhile. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and we enjoyed the evening until it was time to hit the hay. I have to say that with the new technology in air mattresses, it is hard not to get a good night sleep. Of course Diane will argue the point because she says I move too much and bounces her around but I have no idea what she is talking about. So the next morning we got up, had showers and a good breakfast and packed up the car again and got on the road to San

The drive was a quick hour and a half and the scenery was nice. We arrived in San Angelo and called the kids to find out where the Hotel was. We were going to stop by just to see if we could get checked in so we could dump some of the stuff off and lighten the load. Well sure enough we were able to and the room was very nice and the hotel staff was pleasant, thank you Comfort Suites! So we called Cassie and asked her where we needed to go to start getting things setup
for the rehearsal dinner. She directed us in the general area and we finally ended up meeting her at the church parking lot so she could lead us and let us in. We got in and immediately began the preparations. Tables, chairs, table clothes, plants (finally), balloons, ice cream fixin’s etc, etc, etc. The groomsmen, brides maids, and other family showed up to help so it went really quick and we were done within an hour. Kimber left with the others to hang out for the afternoon while Diane and I headed to the airport to pick up the Brother Glass and Lacy the awesome photographer! They were right on time so we all pilled in and headed to Chilies for a quick bite.

Well it ended up being quite a long bite we waited forever for our food, but as usual the quality was excellent when it came. We all just ate and chatted about events, other weddings, some of Lacy’s shoots, etc. The conversation was well worth the wait and we eventually finished up and headed back to the hotel. While Grayson and Lacy checked in, Diane and I headed upstairs to try and relax a little before time to go to the church. By this time other family who was coming to the wedding had checked in so we stopped and chatted for awhile and then just chilled out in the room. Kimber showed back up and around 5’ish we all got dressed and headed to the church. Well the rehearsal went off without a hitch everyone knew pretty much what to do where to stand etc, normal wedding preparation stuff. So we called it a wrap and everyone headed over to the rehearsal dinner. We opened up and the caterer was already setup and waiting for us. The guest started arriving and began to mingle and look at all the decorations and pictures we had set around. There were quite a few and I think the last count was around 40 or so. Everyone started eating and seemed to be enjoying the food. The menu consisted of chicken and beef fajitas, beans, rice, pico, guacamole, chips and salsa. The excitement began as dessert was served, we had setup a “top your own ice cream cup”. We had all kinds of toppings from caramel, chocolate syrup, crushed Butter Finger bars to nuts, sprinkles and even gummy bears (Cassie’s favorite).

Next Lee, Cassie’s step dad, got up and made a toast, then it was my turn. They were both quite good and the new families were enjoying the time together. Then Josh and Cassie gave out their Groomsmen and Brides Maids gifts, along with the flower girls and ring bearer. They all seemed to enjoy what they got and as each one was introduced and a short story to go along with them. It was time for the bride and grooms gifts. Josh gave Cassie and really nice set of designer luggage and Cassie had painted Josh another Bleu Dog painting. If you don’t know, there is an artist in Louisiana that paints a Blue Dog. Josh really likes them and Cassie is so talented that she paints an awesome look alike. Well they both seemed to enjoy each others and the party just continued for another hour or so. I snuck off and took the pastor back to the hotel and by the time I got back they had started cleaning up. Really there wasn’t a whole lot to do and within a short time we had everything cleaned up and was locking the door. All the kids were headed to the ranch where they were staying for some fun and the rest of us headed back to the hotel for some much deserved sleep, it had been a very long and busy day. We changed and read for awhile, watched a little TV and then turned out the lights. Tomorrow would be another busy day and we needed our beauty rest.

Morning came too soon, as the alarm went off it was hard to struggle out of bed. But we managed and as Diane went to get a shower and get dressed for her Brunch with the girls, I headed down stairs for some breakfast and read the paper. When I got back to the room, Diane and Kimber were just finishing up and it was time to take them to the Brunch. The trip was short and after I dropped them off I headed back to the hotel for a little studying and watch some of the US open. The time flew by too quickly because before I knew it Diane was calling and saying they were ready to be picked up. Well let’s leave at there for now, we will pickup in the next edition with the rest of the days events leading up to the Big Event. Hope you are enjoying stand by for more fun and excitement.

13 June, 2009

Rotation is almost here and sand oil golf….

Well as you probably guessed from the heading, it is almost time to jump into that Airbus 330 and head for the good ole U S of A. So as I prepare the last two days before I leave, let me catch you up with a little fun, well not really fun the first time but the second was great.

As many of you know, I love golf and try to play as often as I can. Well on my next to last trip back here, I brought my clubs back. There is one golf course in Jubail that is a full 18 hole and is quite a challenge it is called an Oil course. What is that you ask, well just wait it gets really good. In the early 1950’s a company called ARAMCO was established by an Oil man from the US that was hoping to strike it rich. He found a Saudi business partner, some money to back and the company was created. His idea was to create an environment that would entice Americans and other Western Expats to the Middle East to help drill, and refine their valuable resource, oil. In doing so he began to tailor a Western style compound that would eventually include a beautiful green golf course, grocery stores, villas, etc. This immediately caught on and others tried to imitate him but did not have all the resources required to build the same quality.

So in certain parts of the Middle East, golf courses were designed utilizing what they had the most of, sand and oil. Basically what you have is a full 18 hole golf course laid out in the sands of the desert areas, greens are built and because there is a lack of water to grow grass, they spray them with oil. After this is done they broom them which mixes the sand and the oil together to keep the sand from blowing and also make a putting surface that is almost like putting on grass. The same is done for the fairways about once a month which they try to lightly maintain to keep the roughness out and your ball has a chance to roll instead of hitting a clod and stopping. So with that little bit of history behind you, I have set the scene of my first experience playing on an Oil course.

So as you know Fridays are our only day off here, and it is usually spent sleeping as late as we can, usually for me about 6:30 in the morning, get up and get a shower, breakfast and then lay around all day trying to relax. This includes reading, watching something on TV, or lay out by the pool in the Hot sun. So the first few went off without a hitch and the afternoon would soon show to be quite interesting. This Friday we had planned on going to the Whispering Sand Golf Course for a little fun with the little white ball and introduce me to Middle East golf. So around 2:15 Steve knocks on my door and asks me if I am ready to go and of course I was. First thing was to put on some sun screen because the desert sun is very hot and you can burn very fast. Next was to grab the two bottles of water I had been chilling and of course my ball cap. We loaded our clubs in the car and headed out, a short 20 minute drive.

We arrived at the course about 2:50 and went in and paid our green and cart fees. Now for you avid golfers out there, this was a pull cart, not and electric or gas one. Yes we were going to walk all 18. The temperature was around 106 and the heat index was around 114. The course was very busy so they started us out on number 17 and then we could just keep on. We were good with that just ready to get started, so the three of us headed off to 17 to start our adventure. Oh I guess I should tell you that it was me, Steve who I have introduced before and Lum who is one of our other Managers around 63 or so. For his age he is in pretty great health if you ask me. We get to the tee box and they are both explaining to me the hold and how it plays. Steve gets up and hits and it is pretty good, Lum hits and it is also good. So my turn and, yah you guessed I flopped it, went about 60 yards and rolled to a stop. Well the game picked up from there and we were all hitting pretty good but not great. After about the fourth or fifth hole I looked at Steve and said, you know it’s not that bad out here, nope wrong thing to say. I neglected the part about only eating breakfast, drinking coffee all morning, and hardly touching water since I had been there.

Well about the 6th hole I was feeling pretty tired. I tried to suck down some water I had brought but it was almost like drinking hot tap water. I choked it down anyway because I needed it and tried to keep going. We finally made it to a hole that had a water jug, so I drank a couple of bottles full and wet my gold towel and put it over my head. The cold water felt great running down the back of my neck and I just sat there for awhile. Steve looked over at me and said hey bud you feeling ok, I just looked at him and said yah I will be fine just need to cool off for a little. So after awhile I felt better and it was my turn to hit anyway. I got up placed my ball and hit. It was pretty good for as drained as I felt. After putting the towel on my head and heading towards my ball, I did start feeling a little energy coming back. So each time we hit a water station I would tank up, fill my bottles back up and head out again.

Thankfully I made it through all 18 but let me tell you, by the time I drug my body back to the clubhouse, got my bag off the cart, and started walking towards the car, my butt was dragging the ground believe you me! When I got to the car Steve already had it turned on and the AC cooling it down. I threw my bag in the back and got in and just soaked up as much of that AC I could. We were pretty quiet on the way back because we both were pretty tired. I felt like I was close to the point of heat exhaustion and dehydration. I couldn’t get enough water in me and it just was feeling miserable like in Iraq. Well we made it back to the complex and I unloaded my clubs and dragged them up the stairs. Steve was talking about dinner and I said all I am going to do is take a cool shower and crash. That’s exactly what I did too, I went in and turned the water on where it was almost cold and got in and just stood there. The cool water felt good and slowly I could feel life coming back. I was in there about 15 or 20 minutes and when I emerged I was feeling about 50% better than when I went in. I was still drained though so I took a couple of Ibuprophen and hopped into bed. It wasn’t long before I was gone and in la la land once again.

The next day I was sore and still not feeling up to par but I was able to get out of bed, once again get a nice shower, dress and be at breakfast in time. It took me three days to get all my energy back and I swore that would never happen again. So the next week we took off because Lum was down in his back, probably from us acting crazy the week before, and decided to just hang out around the complex. I was good with that because there is no way I wanted to experiencing anything remotely close to the Friday before. So this week we decided to try again and this time I was going prepared. Earlier in the week I had obtained some drink mix that was like Gatorade and was supposed to keep your electrolytes in check. The night before, I had filled up three bottles and two liters of water so they would chill down. Once again put on the Sunscreen 50 and was ready to go again. Well needless to say it all worked good. We had a great game, thought we were going to lose Lum towards the end there. He was looking how I had felt the two weeks before. Anyway we did finish and Steve beat me by 2 strokes. All in all though the drink mix and heavy water helped tremendously.

Well that’s about it, I am headed home on Monday morning around 12:45 AM and so so ready! I am anxious to see Josh and Cassie’s new house, get things ready for the wedding, see mom and dad and Steve. I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can while I am home for three weeks. I do have a couple of Dr. appointments a dentist appointment and I am finally taking my PMP exam. So hopefully I will be able to squeeze some other things in there. Take care and have a great weekend. Be sure to check out the pictures.

23 May, 2009

And the fun continues…..

So as we continue on with the fun, we will start with viruses. No not the kind the human gets the kind the computer gets. It seems that the new Anti-virus software the company installed, Symantec End Point, is not completely up to date on its database. We commenced to getting multiple virus attacks everyday. We did everything we possibly could to keep up with them but they just kept coming. As we would scan and delete they would reappear and start the process all over again. We also had some that didn’t even show up in the scan and they were spreading like wildfire. I got back on the phone with Dubai and told them what was happening and they started looking into the problem. While they were doing this, we downloaded free scan software to see if it would locate and clean the hidden mysteries. Well sure enough it started finding them left and right and seemed to be doing the job. I reported this also to Dubai and they began to look in to the situation. Symantec finally came through with an updated database but we still had issues. It appeared that a virus had attached itself to some system files. It had buried itself so deep that there was no cleaning it.

So while the merry virus technicians played I decided to take a well deserved break and spend a couple of days R&R in Bahrain. I left Thursday morning after spending an hour or so on Skype with my lovely bride, and left the Western Park around 8’ish. I stopped to top of the tank and grab some coffee on the way out of town. The drive was a short hour and I was at the causeway by 9. The first half is a breeze it’s when you get to the entry point where the fun begins. The drive over the first half of the causeway is about 15 minutes so I was in line by 9:15. First you wait in line for your exit and immigration out of Saudi. Next you go through a Police checkpoint to verify you have your papers and vehicle permit. Once through this you wait in line again to go through customs, insurance and immigration on the Bahrain side. There are a lot of frustrated people, honking, yelling, moving in front of each other and sometimes it becomes quite comical as they jockey for position. So as the sun got higher in the sky, it became hotter and the time began to drag by. Slowly we made our way through the line car by car. During this time they are remodeling their lanes so that didn’t help any. Imagine if you will, once you reach the first area on the Saudi side you go from 2 lanes to 6, then once you are through that you go to 4 and then to two. So trying to cram a bunch of cars into two lanes is quite a miracle. Finder benders are not uncommon and then you watch as they haggle over who hit who.

Finally at 10:45 I was through the lines and on my way across the last causeway into Bahrain. I was at the hotel around 11:45 and knew that check-in was after noon so I didn’t bother. There is a restaurant that serves real pork sausage and bacon and some really nice American style food. So I decided to stop by for a nice lunch first and then check-in. Since I had been there before I knew exactly where it was and just breezed right in. The lunch crowd was lite so I had no problem finding a table. I decided on a nice glass of cold iced tea and a Country Fried Steak with all the trimmings. As I sat and waited on my order, I noticed that ESPN was showing an old 1997 Basketball Championship which featured the Rockets. I got engrossed in that and soon enough my meal was there. It was absolutely delectable and I think I finished everything but the big pile of potato’s and cream gravy, it had to of been at least to huge potato’s worth. So I finished up my last bit of tea and paid my bill which was only 6 BD which is equivalent of about $16. So I headed back to the hotel to check-in. The process was painless and I was in my room getting everything unpacked. I sat down and started reading my book just so I could try and relax from the journey and before I knew it I was dozing off. I slept about 30 minutes and decided it was time to start my adventure.

Before I left I had checked the Movies and times and found two that I was definitely going to watch. Bahrain has like 5 malls and only two of which have theaters and the third will be open sometime this summer. So I headed to the Seef Mall to see when the movies would be showing. It was a quick 10 minutes up the road I found a parking space and set out to find the theater. It was on the second level and I found it with no problem. As I walked into the foyer area, I noticed that all the movies and times were posted under their posters. I found the movie and went to pay. Now this part will get you and is something that definitely needs to be done in the US. When you pick the movie, you then get to pick your seat as well, how cool is that? So of course I like to sit in the back so I can get the full view and I picked a spot that was perfect. Ok, ok I know your all wondering what I went to see, it was the new Star Trek movie. Was it ever good and the special effects were definitely awesome and the sound was in the new Digital Dolby Surround and let me tell you it puts standard Surround sound to shame. This has to be one of the best yet and it has some surprises which I was not expecting. If you haven’t seen it yet shame on you get there now! Anyway when the movie was over I found Starbucks and bought a couple of bags and a cup to go and headed back to the parking garage. Well apparently I made a wrong turn and ended up back outside so I sat down and called Diane and we chatted for awhile. She accompanied me while I made my way back into the mall and found my way back the way I had come. Eventually I found the car and headed back to the hotel. Oh one thing I forgot about the theater, I got a large drink and medium popcorn for like $3.75 tell me that isn’t awesome ? Anyway I got back had some chicken wings for dinner and headed off to bed around 8:30. It is hard not to go to bed that early when you do it everyday.

Sleep came very easy and I slept until 7:30 the next morning. My plan was to go back to Rics for a nice American breakfast. I got up showered and dressed and headed to Rics. Again the crowd was lite especially for a Friday because that is when everyone comes from Saudi and other places, our day off. It is worth the drive just to eat and turn around and head back, yes it is that good! So I perused the menu and found a nice Tex-Mex favorite, Huevo Rancheros. If you don’t know it is wonderful, corn tortillas with re fried beans, egg, cheese, and salsa poured all over the top. It was yummy and I had a side biscuit with sausage gravy (did that for you Dath and Bob) and it was just as good. Well after that, a large Grapefruit juice and two cups of coffee, I was plenty full and ready to scout out another day. Before I headed back to the mall, I stopped by the room and stuck the Laptop, MP3 and other electronics in the room safe. So I headed back to the same mall and got there in short time again. I parked and found my way back to the theater but they were not playing the movie I wanted. So I went back to the car and found my way back to the exit. I asked the parking attendant where the other mall was and he gave me instructions. Now you have to realize that nothing has a street sign or address in Bahrain or Saudi so you have to go by landmarks. Well it was pretty simple and the mall was only about 5 minutes away and I found it with no problem. So once again I parked and made my way in. I found the theater and sure enough the movie was playing and it started in about 15 minutes. So I got my ticket, picked my seat which was exactly in the middle of the screen towards the back. I made my way to the concession stand and got my popcorn and drink and headed fro my seat. Well I was the only one in the theater so I just enjoyed the quiet and darkness for a short time.

Once again I am sure you are on the edge of your seat wondering what I was going to watch so….. it was Wolverine which was the new series about the X-Men characters. This was the first of many to come about how each of the characters had grown up and discovered their powers. Once again it was an awesome movie with great effects and sound. If you are a Marvel Comics fan you will want to go see this one and hope the rest are as good. After the movie I decided it was time to do a little sight seeing. I drove around the city and took some shots of interesting Architecture that I know Christopher will like, and some other interests that you hopefully will find as fascinating as I did. After about an hour or so driving around, getting lost a couple of times, and finally had enough and headed back to the hotel. Since I still had a couple of hours, I pulled out the book and was engrossed by it and before I knew it, it was time for dinner. I headed down to get a burger and some fries my last meal in Bahrain. I watched a little golf and read some more while I waited for my dinner. It was good but not like the one you get from Grand Prize. I paid my check and headed back to the room. Some quick packing of things I would not need in the morning and then hit the hay. Again sleep came easy which was great because wake up was at 3 AM.

Let me finish up, it was a quick trip through the menagerie only a few cars making their way back to Saudi that early in the morning. I made it back to the apartment by 5:15 and had time to drop of my bag, grab my work boots and head to the site. Oh and the viruses did not go away while I was gone so I have spent most of the day scanning and cleaning again. Hope you have a great weekend and check out the pictures.