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Rickpops’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 06 Jul 2013

Location: USA

MapSo six months have gone by quickly!

Sorry, my last entry was the day after christmas. In my defense it was hard to top that prisoner exchange story on christmas eve, things got a little routine, but i did jot down some notes.

First, the Super Bowl. Had some die-hard football fans who got up at 0200 to watch the big game. Great game, best part was the power outage. Where we live, that happens 2-3 times a day, so it was kind of nice to see it happen during the prime time superbowl.

In the February timeframe, i was able to close my desk in Camp Leatherneck, aka "the moon". Thank god for that, I have told many people my time in Afghanistan has been much better than my time in Iraq, especially where I live in Kabul, but i earned my paycheck on the moon. After the new year is the start of rainy season in southern afghanistan, so not only did i have to put on shoes to go to the bathroom at night, now i was carrying an umbrella. A decreasing workload is the reason we closed my desk there, but i have to say it was a great feeling. I was the only "banking" person in an office filled with contracting officers, but they gave me a great sendoff, a commanders coin and "T-wall" gift, and allowed me to say some nice things. I'd been there off and on for about 6 months, I cant say that I enjoyed it, but there were some wonderful people there.

In March I was able to take my second Rest and Recouperation period, and I made it home in time to see my favorite University of Dayton Flyers Mens basketball team play their one and only game in the A-10 tournament in New York City. I am a huge fan having grown up in Dayton, and thanks to the Brewer Family in Ossining NY I was able to stay with them, take a train in to the city and catch the Flyers. I also was able to make the Brewer St. Patricks Day Party, which i had not attended before. Aiden is from Ireland, so its a national holiday there. I went to college with Stacy, she married an Irishman and adopted two Russian children so the Brewer house really does have an international flavor to it. I've long been attending their world famous Memorial Day Parties for year, but have never made the St Patricks Day bash. They have wonderful friends and neighbors, I had a great time, but i will say it does not rival the Memorial Day Party for outrageous stories.

My second week of vacation I made it out to visit Dad at Indian Lake, Ohio. An awesome place to visit in the summertime, but i have to admit, not so awesome in March. But we had a good time, my visit with Dad ended on Thursday March 21 at exactly 0900, and that was as planned. Two hours driving later i checked in to a hotel in North Dayton Ohio, which was strategically located at the last remaining Hooters in the Dayton/Columbus area. Twenty years ago there had to be 6 or 7, but now, only one remains.

As most of you know, I am a HUGE fan, of both Hooters, but most importantly, of the third Thursday in March, when the greatest four days in sports begins, March Madness. I started taking leave from the Navy in the mid 1990s to watch the first two rounds of March Madness, because during those first four days you get the CInderalla upsets. The #15 seed beats a #2 seed team that nobody saw happening, and its just a great feeling. Over the years more and more people have followed my lead and are taking that Thursday/Friday off, and I have to say the place was packed by noon. During my last two tours in Washington DC, a friend of mine Brendan would join me for the first day, we'd have our picks out and watch the games on a barstool from noon to midnight. I told guys from work that i was taking days off to sit in a sports bar down the road from work, and they didnt believe me the first year. They came to visit at lunch, then after work and they couldnt believe i was still there. I said not anyone can sit on a barstool drinking beer/eating chicken wings for twelve straight hours, you have to train for that, so of course they were impressed.

I didnt have my drinking buddies with me this year, but the Hooters girls made up for it, I have some awesome photos I need to post, and I will shortly. The most memorable moment for me, was Friday, the second day, I arrived at 11am, just as Hooters was opening, and i was the first customer. The waitresses were bored, and you know what Hooters waitresses do when they are bored, handstand races. I kid you not, these girls had races around the bar, the winner actually ran "backwards" on her handstand, it really was a beautiful moment. Thank you very much to all the Hooters girls in North Dayton, pictures to follow.

Last, before i forget, not only did i get to enjoy lots of basketball, chickenwings, and beer, but Ohio has passed a law since i left, allowing Casino gambling. I am also a huge blackjack fan, and just a short one hour north of dayton, in Columbus Ohio, is a recently opened casino. My routine for three mornings was to get up at 6am, drive to the casino, get in two hours of blackjack, and make it back in time to get a good seat for 12 hours of march madness.

My life on the Moon and Afghanistan leaves a lot to be desired, but I really did make up for it during that vacation.