Monday, August 17, 2009

Planning for R & R

In about a month I will be home for R & R and have spent some time planning our trip to Disney World. We will be taking advantage of the great deal that they currently have for service members: Service member gets a 5 day pass for free and can buy up to 5 additional 5 day passes for $99 each for friends and family. For an extra $25/ticket you can convert those into park hopper/water park passes. We are excited and will be surprising our four children, they currently have no idea, so no one say anything!

These last two months or so I have been working out more consistently and eating more healthy food to try to whip myself into shape. That means that good food is on my mind constantly, so I have already thought of several places I would like to eat out at when I get home. I have really been craving pizza, so we will be visiting Mellow Mushroom, which we used to eat at quite a bit while I was in flight school, since there is a Mellow Mushroom in Enterprise, AL.

I love pizza and have always heard so much about authentic NY pizza, but have never been able to try it since I have never really lived near or visited NY. We love to make pizza at home, but the dough never turns out the way I want it to. Don't get me wrong, I still love the homemade pizza, but I want it to taste better. A few months before deployment, I ran across a website of a man who has been trying to recreate an authentic NY pizza at his home in Atlanta, GA for the past 10 years. Jeff Varasano has a website, where he details how he came up with the recipe and cooking technique to make a NY pizza. In March he opened a restaurant in Atlanta, Varasano's Pizzeria, and seeing as how our journey will take us right through there, part of our vacation plan now includes a stop at his restaurant.

Once I thought about going to specifically visit an establishment specifically for the food, I started to think about what else I would like to eat while on leave. Something else that I like to make at home is donuts. Homemade donuts are the best, since you can eat them hot and fresh and whenever you want to. I make a mean spudnut, although it has been quite a while since I have taken the time to make them. I started looking on the internet for the best donut shops in the country and ran into a few different sites that have a top 10 donuts list. Unfortunately, some of the best donut shops are not along our route of travel. I found the blog, recently which follows the donut tasting adventures of blognut as he visits some of the most highly-touted donut shops around the country. I like his dedication to donuts; they're delicious. I would someday like to taste a Round Rock donut, as my brother and his family used to live in Round Rock, TX and have been praising those donuts for years. Fortunately, we will probably be visiting Siesta Key beach on the gulf coast of Florida while we are there, and nearby is Yummies Donuts, that has received some very good reviews on several websites; I am excited!

If anyone knows of any other noteworthy stops from Clarksville, TN to Orlando, FL area, please let me know. It could be food or just something worth stopping to see.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Checking out Ghazni

I have been to Ghazni before, but the rest of my crew had not. We took some time to see all of the sites; the little market place with a barber shop, two little electronics stores, a coffee house, a restaurant, and a couple of miscellaneous shops. We went to the Oasis Restaurant today for lunch.

I believe that the owners are Indian, and they have a variety of dishes, from spicy chicken meals to pizzas.

SPCs Marc Raglin and Javier Medrano and I ordered the Chicken Sizzler. It is chicken cooked in a red sauce, with your choice of steamed rice, fried rice, or french fries on the side. It comes on a plate similar to a fajita plate/dish and is served sizzling, just like the name implies. It took a few moments before it was cool enough to eat. It is a spicy dish with plenty of hot peppers added in, but they offer a normal spicy or the "spicy" spicy. Of course when they asked if I wanted it spicy I had to man up and say, "Of course." Of course that meant that Raglin and Medrano ordered it spicy as well; isn't peer pressure cool? I took the first bite and within two minutes I started to sweat. Soon after my nose began to run. Looking across the table I was pleased to see the other guys using tissues to blow noses/wipe foreheads as well. I am no foreigner to hot foods, but when half of what is on your plate is peppers and you can't take a bite without biting into a pepper seed, it is probably going to be hot. CW2 Justin Mix was the smart one; he ordered a pepperoni pizza. All in all it was an "experience" not soon to be forgotten.

Marc Raglin placing the order; two orange slushies.

Afterward we checked out the coffee shop for the slushies that I highly recommended. Unfortunately I was too full to properly enjoy, so I will have to get one at a later date. The taste is great, reminds me of a shaved ice!

A photo of me, Justin Mix, and Javier "Javi" Medrano. I know I'm not photogenic, so what! Plus my stomach was already beginning to feel the effects of lunch.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Medevac Chase Again!

I know it has been a while since my last post, sorry about that. However, I am finding myself with a little more free time since I have been put on medevac chase once again in Ghazni. I believe that I am far in the lead in my company as far as time spent on medevac chase, with a total of approximately 15 weeks under my belt so far. I am here with CW2 Justin Mix, SPC Marc Raglin, and SPC Javier Medrano. There is also a medevac crew here with us as well as a few Pathfinders that came with us to help us out. I was hesitant to come, as I was already used to the day schedule, but I must admit that it is nice to get away from the everyday drudgery at Shank.
We are sharing a building with the other med crew and it is the same living quarters that I posted a photo of approximately two months ago. It is pretty nice and everyone has their own room with a wool Army blanket for a door! There is even internet in our rooms if you shell out $10 a week and are patient and don't mind being unable to get to certain sites, (however, not being able to get to yahoo mail is a deal breaker for me, so I just visit the MWR).
Things are getting more and more busy with the elections coming up in a few days, which generally means that we are more busy, which is unfortunate because of what we are called in to do. Yet we are always ready to launch as fast as possible because we know that every second counts, literally, and the faster we can get to the helicopter and launch, the better the chances the injured have of making a quick recovery. Anytime we are not in our quarters, we are tethered by a radio that is always on, waiting for that, "MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC!", that means it is time to launch on a mission. We have been here two days and launched twice, but it would have been several more if they hadn't called in the medevac from Bagram to help us.
Here is a little photo montage of the call we received today. There were two wounded, I am not sure of what cause, but neither was life threatening.

Get in quickly...
Stick the landing...
Waiting for the patients...
Here they come...
Leaving the rotor disk...
Take-off quickly...
Get the patients to the hospital...
Another successful mission! It really feels great to know that we were able to help people get the treatment that they need and quickly. However, as a pilot, I am only one of a team that accomplishes the mission. The crew chiefs keep us safe from obstacles as well as man the weapons in case we start taking fire. The medics in the back begin to treat the patients immediately and ensure that they make it to the field hospital in the best possible condition. The surgical team at the hospital finishes up, and starts the injured on the road to recovery. I have had an opportunity to at least interact with all of these people, and it is great to know that they all take their jobs seriously and give their all every single day, every single time.