I've been trying to figure out how to explain Kuwait to people. Most of the interesting stuff I've encountered here has been indoors (well, except for the tank). Frankly, Kuwait's terrain is not very interesting to look at, and much of it is really kind of ugly. Sorry, but it's true. Like Miami, everything is the same color. But in Miami, that color is that strange pinkish color ("coral"), and you can look at it and sort of be glad you don't live there. Here in Kuwait, every building is the same color as the ugliest, least interesting government building in the metropolitan center nearest you (perhaps the county probate office). Yes, some of them are shaped like they were constructed out of randomly-selected blocks (a dome on top of a cone on top of a cylinder on top of a cube), but they pretty much all look like the DMV. And it's all the same color as the damn sand.
That's when there are buildings to look at. A lot of the part we've seen (the road from the hotel to Camp Arifjan) has been nothing but desert, with the occasional "campground" thrown in. Strangely, you can always see oil rigs in the distance, and sometimes you can see a flame coming off the top off a tall, thin pole (that's them burning off extra oil, I guess).
Actually, it kind of reminds me of New Jersey. Have you ever driven through Trenton? Ignore for a moment the shitstink that part of the world seems to radiate. You know the part where you look out and there's stuff going on -- lights in the distance, lots of steel and wire and the occasional truck -- but no people and no real clear sign of what, exactly, is going on? That's Kuwait. Either that or Kuwait is like a post-apocalyptic movie. At least the parts of Kuwait with the tents and camels running around with the Toyota pickup trucks and oil rigs are.
Yep, I saw camels today.
Sorry the camels are so small in that picture. It's because I took them from a Blackhawk helicopter speeding from Arifjan to a FOB (that's a Forward Operating Base -- the Army uses Arifjan as its main supply and logistics base in Kuwait, but there are folks stationed at several other "satellite" bases throughout the country).
Blackhawks are, of course, incredibly cool.
The dude next to me is Kevin Key, by the way. He plays guitar for Mark Wills. Below, left to right: Mark, his slide player Keith Barton, and Sar'n Scott, who has more fun being in the Army than anyone has a right to.
It was neat that we split up into two helicopters, because it meant I could get pictures like this one:
Although it did mean I missed scenes like this on the other "bird."
How that man could sleep through a helicopter flight (note the earplugs in everyone's ears), I'll never know.
Anyway, what was REALLY neat is that, on the last leg of the flight, Mark imposed upon our pilot to let us fly with the doors open. Let me be very clear as to what that means. You see the fellow on the left in that last picture (it's Barry Scarborough, Mark's tour manager)? See the window next to him? Imagine if that window were just...the abyss.
That's where I sat on the last leg, my restraints pulled tighter than could possibly have been healthy for my circulation.
First of all, it was incredibly cold and windy. More importantly, though, it was incredibly cool. When the pilot would pull to the right, the horizon would sweep into view until all I could see was the sunset meeting the Persian Gulf. When the pilot would pull to the left, I would be about halfway-face down staring at the water hundreds (?) of feet below me, feeling the straps keeping me on the helicopter. I guess, as Casey pointed out, I no longer have an excuse for avoiding amusement park rides.