For the first time is 8 years, Aaron is not in Iraq or Afghanistan for Thanksgiving entertaining the troops, due to a previously scheduled tour.  Therefore, Aaron and his band headed to Europe to entertain troops between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 


PHOTOS(Courtesy of Mark Boggess)    

PHOTOS (Courtesy of Marty Notenboom)    

PHOTOS (Courtesy of Lucky Blackwell)

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4TH – NASHVILLE TO THE NETHERLANDS: Seems like a very long time since my overseas trip to Japan for Country Gold. But, when you consider that I’ve made 2 trips to DC and one to NYC all in the month of November, my travel schedule really didn’t slow down. Just didn’t do any road reports from those visits. Today I left for a SFS/AFE tour to The Netherlands and Germany with Aaron Tippin. Very different from our trips in the past.     This past Thanksgiving was the first time since 2005 that Aaron and I have not been in either Afghanistan or Iraq with the troops. It was very bittersweet to say the least.     Nice to be with my family for a change but definitely missed being with the troops.     Aaron had a booking over Thanksgiving that prevented us from making the trip. We were scheduled to go to Afghanistan today but visa problems in Kuwait forced us to re-route our tour.     Definitely NOT happy about that.     The troops in that area need the entertainment so badly.     Until the visa problems are corrected, they won’t be getting a lot of musical entertainment.     Of course, as always when I am whining about going somewhere other than a combat area, I get a little “nudge” that tells me I’m right where I’m supposed to be.     As I was getting ready to shut down my computer and go to the airport, I received an email from Aaron.     It was from a lady who had     emailed his booking agent.     Her son is a helicopter pilot at one of the bases where we will be performing in Germany.     She was thanking Aaron for going there because she said he has been away for 3 years and she doesn’t get to see him or hug her grandchildren. As a mom and grandmother, I cannot even begin to imagine how sad that would be. I emailed her back, got his name, and told her to have him find me at the show. If he does, we’ll take a photo of him with Aaron, give him and his family hugs from “Mom” and email her after the visit.     No problems checking in at the airport.     I had checked everyone in online and had boarding passes.     Went into the Lounge for a few minutes and saw one of my friends who works there. We have an “opening act” on this tour – The Lowry Sisters – a local group out of Nashville.     I met them at the gate area and they are really nice, which is great when you have to tour together.     J Flight to JFK was going to be shorter than we thought but the pilot said there was less than a mile visibility at JFK. I knew we only had one hour to make our connection and was concerned.     But we have 15 people in the two groups combined, so hopefully they will hold our flight if we are delayed too much.     They put us into a holding pattern and we landed about 10 minutes late. It was a LONG way to the departure gate from our arrival gate.     The flight had already boarded when we got there but we still had plenty of time on the ground.     Just hope our luggage made it.     It is going to be in the 30’s when we land in Brussels, Belgium for our 1 hour drive to The Netherlands.     I am dressed for it so was sweating like crazy in Nashville and at JFK where it was in the 50’s!     We are on Delta and it’s one of the newly remodeled planes. Aaron and I are in First Class and have “individual” seats by the window that fully recline. Very nice.     I upgraded the guys to Economy Plus and hopefully they are more comfortable on this flight as well!     Flight attendants are super nice.     We landed early and all our luggage made it.     I watched one movie with George Clooney in it and produced by the Coen Brothers.     Funny stuff! But, that meant I only got 2 hours sleep. My wonderful friend – Michael Tietze – was waiting for us with his awesome sleeper bus. It was only a 1 hour drive to the little town of Heerleen, The Netherlands. Hotel is super nice and rooms are great. Got everyone checked in and then went down to the restaurant to have lunch with Michael. Our MWR escort – Mark – was waiting in the lobby for me with a big surprise! Two people I had worked with many years ago on a Chely Wright visit remembered me and were there to meet me. It was great to see both of them. We all went into the restaurant and had a great chat. I went back upstairs to hopefully get a couple of hours sleep.     Of course, 30 minutes into my snooze, my phone rang.     Took care of that and lay back down only to get another phone call. Gave up and got up. Took a shower and went down to meet Aaron and the boys for dinner.     Food here is excellent and the internet rocks.     Very happy with this hotel. It is cold and raining and sometimes snowing!     Going to be like this the entire trip, too.     Of course, it is “summer” again in Nashville the entire time I’m away. Have been back in my room working for 5 hours – it’s almost 3 am. We perform at USAG Schinnen tomorrow night and go to JRC Brunssum tomorrow afternoon to sing a couple of songs acoustically at their tree lighting ceremony. Going to be cold but fun. One of my best friends and his wife – Colonel Tim Sughre and Veronica – were stationed here for a few years.     Of course, I didn’t get to visit when they were here.     Only after they left! Night all. Jude

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6TH – USAG SCHINNEN AND JRC BRUNSSUM, THE NETHERLANDS: OUCH….4 hours sleep after 24 hours is not good.   I’m obviously getting to old for this “wild” lifestyle. J Got in bed at 3:30 am and up at 7:30 am to work out. Fitness room is GREAT. But the nautilus was “different”. All the machines had digital readouts for the weight and I couldn’t figure out how to lower/raise the weight.   Turns out there are little buttons built into the handles that you click. Interesting.   Anyway, had a great workout and a quick breakfast, shower, answered 100 emails and off to the base for the day/evening.     Very interesting to see the “news” over here.   No one carries Fox, so I am held hostage by CNN which I HATE.   Amazes me what CNN “doesn’t” report!     Left for the base a little early and had lunch in the Bowling Center. Met Colonel Lamb from Brunssum. Really nice man.   Also met Ms. Wayland, Base Commander – also a very nice person. We were late starting sound check because they sound company had to build a stage. The one in place was much too small. I rented a wireless device that has coverage in all of Europe. Just tried it out and it is AWESOME. Cost $6 a day unless you want “unlimited” and then it’s $12 a day.   Worth every penny. J Worked non-stop until time to drive to Brunssum and then we got caught in rush hour traffic.   Made it just I time for the Christmas tree lighting.   We met the General on the base and he was awesome.   The Conference Center where they performed acoustically was set up with food booths from every country because this is a NATO base. You would not believe the food available…all free for the military and their families.   Of course, the stage was right beside the German Waffle stand. Have you ever smelled fresh Belgium waffles being made.   Oh my God. Aaron and I both got one “to go”. Wish we had known about the food booths and we would have planned to eat at Brunssum instead of Schinnen. But Melissa did a great job of preparing dinner for us – spaghetti and salad. She makes her own sauce and it was so good! Got some nice photos at Brunssum. Aaron sang 2 songs and the last was Rudolph.   He called all the little kids to the front of the stage and asked them to sing along. Very touching. Show at Schinnen was so much fun. Aaron has such a high energy show, he had the audience dancing the entire show. Audience was much lighter than we anticipated. We didn’t see any posters around the base and the event at Brunssum had a huge crowd. I’m sure that must have hurt attendance. BUT, the folks who did attend sure had a great time. And our “hosts were so awesome. Special thanks to Mark, Melissa, Richard, Marty and everyone at Brunssum and Schinnen! So great to see the same folks I worked with years ago! It’s midnight and I want to go to bed before 3 am tonight.   Going to close down and start trying to move in that direction. 🙂 Jude

Friday, December 7th – Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany: Woke up to find the ground covered with snow. They are expecting lots of snow in Germany. So much there is concern that some of the bases may close. Seems strange that they would since this part of the world gets lots of snow all winter long. Had to work out in my room because the fitness center has really odd opening hours to accommodate “classes” they have there. They opened at 8 am today but we were leaving at 9 am — which is 8:30 am “Tippin Time”. He is always early and expects you to be as well. Had a great omelet for breakfast and we rolled out on time. Snow got heavier and heavier as we drove towards Germany. I was just at this base in March with LoCash Cowboys. The airmen have lots of fun things planned for Aaron today. We were making really good time even in the snow and with the windshield wipers freezing up until we got about 15 minutes from the base. There were two snowplows driving side by side taking up both lanes.     Driving very, very slowly, I might add. We arrived at the base and our escorts were waiting for us. Chris Boob has been great helping us prepare for our visit and it was nice to meet him. I was surprised to find that we were not in the “main building” at the Eifel Inn where we stayed in March with LoCash Cowboy.     I picked up room keys and they drove us to another building which really isn’t located near “anything” that we need. We dropped our bags and immediately drove to the DFAC. Much different from DFACs in combat zones….you have to pay for your meals. The base had selected about 30 airmen to have lunch with Aaron and then do a question and answer session.     It was a lot of fun for all of us.     After lunch we drove to sound check and met Colonel Matt “Cowboy” Humes. What a fantastic man. I talked to him for quite a while during Aaron’s sound check.     He LOVES country music and used to have a band when he was deployed to Kunsan – my favorite base – home of the infamous Wolf Pack! J He was very concerned that only a few people would attend because the base had already closed so those individuals who don’t live on the base could get home because of the snow. Still shocked us that snow here is a concern.     Aaron did an AFN interview and then we went to the flight line and let him “play” in an F-16.     He was supposed to have a couple of “Sim” rides but the crews for both had been sent home.     We dropped Aaron at the gym to work his shoulder and I went to lodging to answer email. That’s when my world fell apart….can’t sign on to my AOL in my room. Wireless works FINE but AOL is blocked. Not only is AOL blocked but the wireless that I brought with me is blocked, too. In the entire building…not just in our rooms.     To say I was upset would be an understatement. I called the front desk and they said the “router” is set to block everything and they would send someone over tomorrow morning. Just great.     We leave tomorrow morning.     I asked our escort “why” we weren’t staying in the main building like last time and was told it was because Aaron needed a suite. I sent out specific tour requirements and no where in those was a suite mentioned for Aaron Tippin.     Then I was told that it was because we all had to be lodged together. I had made it very clear that we do not have to be lodged where the Lowry Sisters are. We each have our own bus, pay our bills separately and travel at different times. The next option was to “move” to the other building.     But, by the time we got back to our rooms after the show, we only have a few hours here before departing tomorrow.     I just have so many important emails that I can’t answer now before the weekend. On a happier note, the show was fantastic.     We did have a very big, enthusiastic audience.     They were all sitting in chairs and bleachers and Aaron called them to the front of the stage immediately.     All the little kids actually sat on the edge of the stage. He called Colonel Humes up to sing “Kiss This” with him at the end of the show and they went wild. Autograph line was very long but Aaron’s guys are pros and taking the photos and moving people along quickly while Aaron still gives each one personal attention.     I had a pizza waiting for Aaron on the bus and they had purchased lots of bottles of wine at the Exchange this afternoon. Left the guys sitting on the bus and came to my room to fight with the internet again. I lost.     L Jude

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2012 – PERFORMANCE AT “K-TOWN” – KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY: Was so excited that there is a fitness room in the building and we had changed our departure time to 11 am instead of 9 am.     Then I found out it isn’t open on weekends!     Drove over to the DFAC for breakfast.     Aaron asked the guy at the grill if he was making omelets and he said “Not really”. So Aaron walked off. I knew that was the wrong answer, so I asked him and he said “yes”. Strange.     Food was as bad for breakfast as it was last night for dinner. As Aaron said, we had better food “down range”.     J Our escort promised he would check on “why” the internet was blocked in the buildings so it wouldn’t happen in the future.     I’m sure other groups will be lodged there as well so would be smart to get that problem fixed.     Drive from Spangdahlem to Kaiserslautern (K-town as they call it) was beautiful. Hillsides where all the vineyards are were covered with snow. Since Aaron isn’t doing a sound check, we’re going to get our email “caught up” (hopefully) and then go into the town to do some Christmas shopping. He is hooked on the Gluhwien (pronounced Glue Wine) and we need to find the packets of spices to take home with him.     If you aren’t familiar with Gluhwein, it is hot red wine with “spices”. I’ve had it here since the early 90’s.     But when we bought it off the street, the vendors put a shot of Stolie in it! We arrived at the hotel at around 1 pm.     I had “reservations” about this hotel and had strongly suggested we not use it because it is basically “in the middle of ‘nowhere’”. I figured it wouldn’t be a hotel for the “business traveler”.     Boy, was I right. We were assured that internet worked in the rooms not just in the lobby before we made the reservations.     Then we arrived to be told that the internet only worked in “certain” rooms. I insisted that our group be put in those “certain” rooms!     Then I got the keys, grabbed my laptop and Michael and I went into a couple of the rooms to check the connection.     Nothing! Went back to the front desk and told them we would not be able to stay there if the internet didn’t work in the rooms. The lady at the front desk said that we had reservations and she would charge us if we didn’t stay there.     Nice try. She doesn’t have a credit card number and I sure wasn’t going to give her one. We finally figured out that it was a “communication problem”.     There is free internet in the lobby and there is internet connection in each room as long as you pay for it.     Michael said he thought he was going to have to “separate” me and the lady at the front desk to avoid a fist fight! J     Then we unloaded the bus to find that there is no Elevator and no Restaurant.     Since there is absolutely nothing near the hotel, the only option for food is to go into town.     We decided to drive in at 2:30 pm.     I was able to log on to the internet using the wireless I rented…so no charge for me.     Aaron paid for an hour on the wireless in the hotel and got kicked off every time he tried to do something.     L Christmas market was really cool. Lots of little stalls selling mostly food.     But oh what food….crepes (my favorite), lots of gluhwein, hot chocolate, bratwurst, waffles on a stick, etc. etc.     A few of the places also sold Christmas ornaments and gifts. We stopped at one stall where there were handmade wooden ornaments hanging in rows. There was a Santa Claus and hanging right beside it was a reindeer.     I’ll have to put the photo we took on my Facebook page.     NOW we know how Rudolph got his red nose.     J Only Aaron, Michael, Robert and I went into the town. The boys had bratwurst and gluhwein while I had hot chocolate and a cheese crepe. Then they had more gluhwein and we had a freshly made “waffle on a stick” that was to die for.     Saw something really unique….a large log had been split in several places and stood on end.     Aaron said they probably poured diesel fuel in it and lit it. It was a mini-fireplace. Wasn’t contained inside anything…just standing in the middle of the street. Pretty cool.     Michael had to park the bus way outside of town and we walked back with him to get it because we were FREEZING.     It was about 30 degrees but was a very WET, bone chilling cold. Got back to the hotel in time to pick up our things and go to the venue for dinner. The lights in the hallway would not come on and we couldn’t see how to put the key (yes a metal key, not a “credit card” key) in the door to open our doors.     I went down to complain to my “friend” at the desk.     Her answer was “wave your hands” in front of it and it comes on automatically. Duh. I knew that but it didn’t work! I think everyone in the group came down and complained to her.     Maybe there is a slight chance it will be fixed while we are at the show. Aaron went to the gym to work out and I made us a “to go” box of pasta for after the show. Definitely didn’t want to eat before the show after that crepe and waffle! Chris – who I worked with when I was here last March – drove Aaron over and took great care of him.     George, my friend and the circuit coordinator for AFE, came by the show to say hello.     I didn’t think he would make it because he moved today.     I also threatened to come find him if he didn’t come by!     Show was fantastic.     It’s a nightclub filled with rowdy fans.     Autograph session was very, very long.     We finally had to do what I hate to do…cut the line.     Our bus driver has to make sure the bus is parked for “x” number of hours without moving it or he gets fined.     We bumped the departure time to 9:30 am tomorrow to accommodate that due to the late night tonight.     Guess what? They didn’t fix the lights! Off to Bamberg tomorrow where my dear friend from the 90’s – Silvia – will meet me. Also Brick and Judy Miller’s son – Jason – who almost lost his life in Afghanistan, will meet me there.     Jude

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9TH – PERFORMANCE AT USAG BAMBERG: Realized when I got up this morning that there wasn’t a little coffee maker in the room.     I had brought my own “coil” to heat water for instant coffee but had left it on the bus.     L     Got in a quick workout in the room, showered, and headed downstairs for “real” coffee.     Breakfast was “sparse” to quote Robert but it was okay.     Had a boiled egg and some amazing yogurt.     We left at 9:30 am and it was snowing like crazy.     Since the bus driver can only drive 4 hours without taking a one hour break, we drove 1 ½ hours and stopped at an incredible “museum” called “Auto and Technic Museum Sinsheim. It’s about 1 ½ hours from Kaiserslautern and 3 hours from Bamberg. In all my trips to Germany, I’ve never heard or seen this.     There are huge airplanes mounted on the roof of the building — The Concorde and the Russian Concorde. Inside there is every type of aircraft imaginable hanging from the ceilings, hundreds of classic cars beautifully restored, motorcycles since the beginning of time, tanks, steam engines and even displays for Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. I snapped off more photos there than I’ve taken the entire trip.     Zac would LOVE to visit there.     Aaron and the guys had a blast.     You could even go up on the roof and climb inside the Concordes! We had lunch there which was a mistake.     The food had been sitting out for much too long and was dry and very bad. It should have taken us another 3 hours to get to Bamberg but it had started snowing even harder by the time we finished lunch.     Plus we got behind the snow plows 3 different times on the autobahn. We didn’t arrive at the hotel until around 6 pm and had to be at the venue at 6 for dinner. After a brief “scuffle” with the desk clerk about internet in the rooms, I changed my boots and we left for the show. Jack – our AFE coordinator – is outstanding.     I worked with him earlier this year on the LoCash Cowboys visit and knew everything would be in place.     This visit was even better than the one before.     We were in a beautiful fitness center so Aaron went to work out his shoulder while his guys ate the catered meal.     Jason – Brick and Judy Miller’s son – made the drive from Schweinfurt in the snow just to see us.     What a wonderful, handsome young man he is….26 years old…purple heart recipient…injured 3 times in Afghanistan.     His first injury was a bullet to the head.     Somehow, the helmet deflected the bullet and it went around the inside of his helmet.     He had hearing loss for quite some time.     Then he was injured again when he went back and is injured for the 3rd time now.     He had on a walking boot to heal from an IED.     I agree with his parents…it’s time for him to stay home!     His brother is serving in Afghanistan now and won’t be back until March or April.     I know that Brick (retired Colonel) and Judy are career Army but I can’t imagine the worry they must go through about their sons when they are deployed.     America owes them all a debt of gratitude for their service. Even though we were very rushed once we arrived at the venue, Aaron had time to visit with Jason for a few minutes.     I got photos with him and the Base Commander for my websites, too. The show was great. Jack said the crowd would have been much larger if people did not have to drive in the snow.     We probably had about 200 people and it was a great audience. Our bus driver was supposed to have the bus parked back at the hotel by 9:30 pm in order to avoid any repercussions.     But, we didn’t finish the show until 8:45 pm.     Aaron is a pro at working the autograph line and was able to sign every autograph and take a photo with everyone in line and we still managed to finish at 9:30 pm.     It was about a 15 minute drive back to the hotel, so the bus wasn’t too late. I forgot my plugs on the bus in another suitcase and had to trek back out through the snow to get those.     Then I realized I had left my backpack on the bus with my computer in it. Called Michael to see if the bus was still open and he offered to bring it to me. When he wasn’t at my room in about 20 minutes, I hiked back out to the bus to retrieve it. Michael had gotten delayed helping park the Lowry Sisters bus in all the snow. He “escorted” me back through the snow-covered parking lot but let go of my arm to “slide” around on the snow.     I joined him – unexpectedly.     Slipped and fell right on my backside.     But the huge backpack on my back broke the fall…also probably what caused me to slip. J Internet is working in my room which makes me very happy.     Not concerned with having a bed….just need an internet that works. Robert’s click track machine quit working tonight so we need to make a stop tomorrow in Nurnberg to pick up some parts so our sound techs can try and repair it.     Supposed to depart at 11 am but might need to leave earlier. We perform at USAG Hohenfels tomorrow night.     Hard to believe we only have 2 more shows before we go home! My dear friend Colonel Michael McGregor who is now at Ft. Carson with my buddy General Joseph Anderson will be at our show tomorrow night.     I met Mike in Iraq and “adopted” him.     He’s visiting a base close to Hohenfels and will drive over to see us. Hope to go to bed before 2 am and get up and work out tomorrow. They have what they are calling a Fitness Center but that is very questionable! Jude

MONDAY, DECEMBER 10TH – PERFORMANCE IN HOHENFELS, GERMANY: Got up and worked out in the room again. L     Showered and had breakfast with the boys.     They had amazing yogurt and muesli at this hotel, too.     We left the hotel at 11 am for the drive to Hohenfels…about 2 hours. Except, we have to stop in Nurnberg for parts for the click track on the drum machine. The stop was quick and they had what we needed for only 9 Euros…a bargain! Michael also wanted to stop and let us see where Hitler made all his “big” speeches at the Zepperlintribune.     There was a lot of snow everywhere and pretty treacherous walking but we went to the top of the “stands” and stood where Hilter stood. Everyone said there was a really “bad” feeling there.     Made a stop at Burger King since it was after 1 pm and we wouldn’t be arriving at the hotel for another hour.     It took forever for the lady working there to serve us.     She was quick taking the order but overwhelmed when it came to giving it to us. We arrived at the hotel at around 2 pm and the rooms were ready for us. We had called en route to make absolutely sure that there was wireless internet in each room. We were assured there was and I asked again when we checked in.     It’s a really beautiful hotel that is also a huge brewery. We all got to our rooms and everyone started calling and coming by.     No internet service.     Not even a provider showing up on the wireless networks available. I checked the hallway and there wasn’t a router anywhere to be found. Went to the front desk and told them the problem.     They wanted to call their “technician” and have him come check the system because they just knew there was internet in the rooms. I told them we didn’t have time to wait for a technician as we had to leave the hotel at 4 pm to go to the venue and everyone wanted to work before we left. Checked with the Lowry Sisters who are in a different part of the hotel and they all had internet.     I asked the hotel to move us to the same section of hotel where the Lowrys had their rooms but they refused.     The hotel had plenty of rooms but said they had to get their manager to authorize the move!     He finally arrived about 10 minutes later and I asked him to come to our rooms and see for himself that there was no internet. He decided not to come look (which tells me he knew that there was no internet service on that side of the hotel) and allowed us to change rooms. Internet works just fine on this side of the hotel since there is a router right outside my room. What a “nightmare” this whole internet system has been.     Should not have had any problems because we made it clear when booking the rooms that the one thing our group must have at a hotel is wireless internet in our rooms! I was trying to get some work done when a phone call came in from Lesley – our host at Hohenfels.     She said the show was canceled because of the snow.     Totally surprised since the roads were clear.     Now, there was probably 6-8 inches of snow and still snowing, so guess they didn’t want to take any chances.     Lesley’s boss – Stacy – got on the phone and said that she, some of the staff on the base, and some Colonels would like to have dinner with us at the hotel.     We set a time for 7 pm and everyone ate at the hotel instead of the venue. Our Production Crew departed at 7 pm to drive from Hohenfels to Ansbach were our show is tomorrow night.     It only took them 2 hours which is what it was supposed to take. They said the autobahn was totally clear and that there was some snow on side roads but no problems driving on those either.     Dinner was nice and Aaron sang several songs a capella.     Lowry Sisters sang one Christmas song a capella, too.     Finished up dinner at around 11 pm and working ever since. Going to bed very soon and hoping for the best for tomorrow’s show!     Still snowing…..So disappointed that the show was cancelled. Jude

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11TH – LAST SHOW IN GERMANY: Woke up to more snow!     Showered and had a great breakfast with some of my guys.     We departed at 10 am for Ansbach – a 2 hour drive.     Roads really weren’t bad at all.     Halfway there, Aaron realized he still had his hotel key…a serious offense overseas.     No idea how he kept it in his pocket because it weighs about 2 pounds and is metal and about 5 inches long!     I’m getting Michael to mail it back for him.     Arrived at the hotel and now I’ve had plenty of practice checking on the internet BEFORE we check in.     Keep in mind that we called EVERY hotel before we left Nashville to make sure they all had internet in the rooms…not just the lobby. So, this hotel tells me there is only internet in the lobby and I tell them “good-bye”. Then they changed it to, “okay, we have internet in the rooms but you have to pay for it”. Okay. I have money.     BUT, I have learned not to believe them.     I went from room to room with my laptop and guess what?     No signal at all. Except on the first floor by the lobby of course.     There were NO routers at all in the hallways so of course there was no signal. DUH!     I told them we wanted rooms on the first floor by the lobby. They informed me that those were “handicapped” rooms.     I checked them out and other than being larger than the regular rooms and having a “fold down seat” in the walk in shower, there was no difference.     They had 4 rooms available, so I took them.     We got checked in and Aaron had internet in his room.     But, the “free” internet in the lobby was also a bit of a scam….it’s only “free” on their one computer in the lobby…not your own device. And their computer only had a German keyboard!     Got Aaron a ride to the venue so he could work out from 1 pm until 3 pm. We stayed at the hotel until then. My remote for my TV was missing and I was desperate enough to want to watch the one English speaking channel – CNN.     I made them bring me another remote and guess what…no CNN…no English speaking channels.     The Lowry Sisters were in the lobby when I went to get my remote and were discussing whether they would stay at this hotel because of the internet situation, too.     J We arrived at the base at 3 pm and immediately left for an “air field tour” which meant a visit to the hangar where the Apache helicopters were parked.     Since this is an Army base, aircraft means helicopters. Had a huge crowd of folks waiting to meet Aaron and the girls.     Afterwards Aaron and I went to the new Warrior Zone for the Grand Opening. Colonel Lawler who I met when I was here with LoCash last March was still here and handling the ceremony.     Great to see him again.     Aaron signed autographs and took photos with everyone and then we left for “dinner” that we had pre-ordered.     It was great….I had crapese salad and spaghetti with just olive oil, garlic and peppers…..can’t remember how to spell the name of that one but it is my favorite Italian dish. Show was earlier tonight. Lowrys went on at 6:30 and Aaron at 7:15.     Great crowd again and another long autograph line.     I was looking for the Apache helicopter pilot whose Mom emailed me right before we left Nashville. When we were at the hanger, the folks there knew him and went to find him.     But he was out flying.     They promised to get him to the show but he never found me there. I had the Colonel announce from the stage that he should come backstage, but no one did. Hate that I disappointed his Mom but just couldn’t find him. L Got back to hotel at 9:30 pm and I’m trying to finish up so I can get 1 hour sleep before we depart to the Munich airport at 3 am – a 3 plus hour drive. I decided to take my shower now but could not figure out how to turn it on. There were two knobs and I turned them every way and pulled on them and nothing. Got dressed and was going to the lobby to ask them what to do when I decided to PUSH on one of the knobs. Water came on. So, I hopped in the shower and every 30 seconds the water would turn off. Very frustrating! Vicki and Darlene have been GREAT to work with at this base.     Very organized and efficient.     Things ran smoothly because of them! It’s 12:30 am and since I have to get up at 2 am, might as well just stay up now…. Jude

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12TH – FLYING HOME FROM MUNICH: Was out at the bus by 2:30 am ready to load up – Tippin Time….always be early.     J     We rolled out at exactly 3 am and I managed to grab 3 hours sleep in the bunk. Said good-bye to Michael whose bus and driving made this trip so much more comfortable. I had checked everyone in on-line yesterday but couldn’t print the boarding passes. There were several people in line for Economy and Preferred check-in but I found a lady just setting up for “internet check-in”. She checked us all in as a group so it was really quick and painless.     It’s a lot of time and work to check everyone in on-line because of the information that has to be provided but definitely worth the effort. We were looking forward to having a nice breakfast once we got to the gate area. But for some reason, Delta is now in a small area and once you go through security – there is NOTHING!     There was a small “snack bar” and a Duty Free shop.     At least the coffee was good.     Had about an hour before we boarded.     Passengers were allowed 30 minutes of free internet so the guys were able to check email.     My little “TEP” wireless worked great so I got quite a bit of work done before boarding.     It’s one of the newly configured planes again.     Flight attendants were really nice to everyone.     I watched a movie called “Ruby Sparks” and it was just okay. As is always the situation on Delta, the meal was exceptionally good for airplane food. Was able to sleep about three hours and then watched another movie that was even worse,     “The Campaign”. Decided to work for a while! With the exception of the lack of internet connection, it was a great tour. When we go into Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s a “given” that we would have limited internet. Just hard for us on this tour because we have so much “business” to still conduct and I had spent a lot of time ensuring that we had internet in each hotel room. L Huge thanks to AFE, Captain Brown, George DeGrella, John Howe and Public Address, Michael Tietze and his drivers, all the MWR coordinators and of course our wonderful military. When we had to re-route from Afghanistan, George engaged and got this tour organized in just a few days.     It was much different from being with the guys and girls in a combat zone but we reconnected with a lot of people who had deployed numerous times and remember us. We landed on time and all our luggage/equipment made it.     I had the guys wait before putting their bags on the belt for the connecting flight as I wanted to see if we could change our flights to an earlier one to Nashville.     There were seats available and meant we would get home 2 hours earlier. As I was getting everyone changed to the earlier flight, Lucky informed me that his bag was still on the conveyor belt inside Customs and they wouldn’t let him go back in to retrieve it. He had misunderstood and didn’t think he had to pick it up.     I saw him at the baggage claim area and just thought he was waiting for his bag. The Delta agent was very nice and said she would handle it for him. Flight to Nashville left on time and landed early.     Lindsey, Zac and Zoe were there to meet me although a little late arriving. All our bags made it….even Lucky’s!     J Can’t believe I may not have to go overseas until mid-February.     I’m sure “something” will come up to change that.     Happy Holidays to everyone! Jude