SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10TH AND SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11TH:
Can’t believe December has already “slipped away” from me. Why does time pass so quickly, the older you are?
Leaving today for Kuwait (again) with Darryl Worley. Lindsey is going with me and will escort Darryl’s group back to Nashville while I stay over with Filter. David Corlew is escorting Filter over for me. Double bookings. J
We arrived at the Nashville airport at 6:30 am and got everyone checked in and had a very quick breakfast. I couldn’t get Darryl an exit row seat, so I changed seats with him since he’s about 7 feet tall. It was the small jet to DC again and good weather until we landed. You would have thought we had a “stunt pilot”. I thought maybe he was trying to avoid hitting or getting hit by another airplane he was “dodging and weaving” so much. Lindsey actually got sick. Still not sure what was going on unless it was really “windy” outside.
We had a 6 hour layover in Dulles and I got everyone into the Red Carpet Lounge. Mike (Secret Service Buddy) met us for a few minutes.Had time for lunch and lots of “work” during the layover. Lindsey and I walked down to Potbellies and had a great sandwich for lunch.
When we arrived at the Nashville airport this morning, we were told there had been an aircraft change and all boarding passes had to be reissued. Lindsey got her upgrade, too, because we were on the new reconfigured aircraft but it changed back to the old plane. I still had the seats I wanted for me and Darryl and the guys, so no problem. Only negative on the old aircraft is the video system. Pre-historic! All SIX movie selections start at the same time, so really no choices. Except they bring around a “box” of movie cassettes to choose from.
When they called our flight to board, they changed the departure gate AND said there was yet another aircraft change. The guys were in a mile long line at the gate to get their new boarding passes. I told them to get out of line and go back into the lounge for the new passes. United managed to screw us over on all the seats we had previously reserved.Lindsey lost her upgrade and Darryl and I lost our “solo” seats along the window. They put each of us in the middle seats – him in front of me – sitting by air marshalls. Being “Global” on United means NOTHING obviously. I was not happy.
Darryl fell asleep before we even took off. The flight attendants called me into the galley and said they couldn’t wake him up for the mail. He was sitting straight up in his seat – total waste of that nice flat bed in First Class. J I told them to leave him alone and let him sleep and when he woke up, he could eat something then. I had soup, salad, and a couple of bites of pasta…the meal selections NEVER change on my flights. Watched “Something Borrowed” but kept wondering why I already knew the story line and ending. Realized I had read the book! It was “cute and entertaining”. Darryl was still asleep 3 hours later when I went down. I got up once to go to the bathroom and he had put his seat down into a flat position. I slept for about 5 hours and then got up to read a really terrible book I brought with me.
We had departed DC late but landed early in Kuwait. We came off at a gate where I’ve never landed and got all confused on where to go to collect our visas. It was “shift change” time when we walked up to the counter. Each lady had to chat with the new person for about 5 minutes and then there was lots of cheek kissing. She finally took time to give us our visas.
All our bags made it and Colonel Hater and our PSD escorts and MWR escorts were there to meet us. Hotel had all the rooms and keys in order so check in was painless. We got to the hotel by 3 pm and have the rest of the evening free.
Lindsey and I walked over to Starbucks after I finished meeting with everyone I needed to talk to upon arrival. We noticed a new shop called “Chocolate” and decided to check it out first. OH MY GOD. Everything is “chocolate”…they even have “chocolate shots”! (Craig, you would spend hours there). I had a white chocolate coffee and a molten lava cake and Lindsey had a macchiato and brownie with ice cream. Everything was to die for. Had to be about 5,000 calories, so I can’t go back there ever again.
We went back to the room and I worked until Lindsey was ready to go to dinner. We walked down the sideway a little way and there was a great Sushi Bar! We had some of the best sushi ever.
Darryl found a jogging path right across from the hotel today. It looks like it might be at least a mile, maybe more, in length. Will probably be safer than jogging on the sidewalk like I did last time! Will check it out tomorrow.
Almost 12:30 am and I am going to bed. Tomorrow we go to Camp Buehring for a show and Tuesday is Camp Arifjan. Easy, easy tour compared to Afghanistan last week with Aaron.
Christy is keeping Zac and Zoe and she posted the cutest photo on Facebook of Zoe wearing her “dip bowl” (shaped like a football helmet) on her head! Sure do miss them.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 12TH – CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT PERFORMANCE:
It was still very “chilly” this morning – 40 degrees – when I jogged at 7:30 am. I was going to go across the street and jog on the path that Darryl found but there are no crosswalks and it’s impossible to cross in that crazy traffic. So, ran my 5 miles along the beach again.
At one point, there was a couple sitting in lawn chairs with a table in front of them and a huge thermos of coffee or something on the table.The woman was completely covered in black except for her eyes and the man was covered except for his face. Very strange site to see on the beach early morning.
I learned from my last visit here that parking lots are the most dangerous place to be jogging. This morning was worse than usual because I was in “Monday Morning Rush Hour Traffic”. There was a steady stream of cars exiting the main road at a very high rate of speed and then speeding through the parking lots. When they got to the end of the parking lot, there was only room for one car to pull back onto the main street but the cars were 3 deep. They were blowing their horns and jockeying for position. When they would finally squeeze through and then force their way back on to the highway to the sound of those drivers blowing their horns at them, they would be about a dozen cars behind where they originally started out before they left the highway!You’d think that at some point, a light would go off and they’d figure out how dumb this is!
Had a quick breakfast then showered and got ready for today’s show at Camp Buehring. First on the agenda was the Command visit and for the first time in a long time, the Base Commander actually gave us the brief! He did a really good job, too. We took the guys to the video shooting range and let them “play” for a while and then the crew and musicians went to the stage. Took Darryl to the flight line to visit with the Apache and Blackhawk pilots. By the time we finished there, had to get him to the stage for sound check and then dinner at the DFAC. Food was even worse tonight than usual. I had a grilled chicken breast that was so dry I thought I’d choke. Poor troops living here.
After dinner we made a quick trip to the base exchange where I found NOTHING to purchase. Show started on time to a HUGE crowd of fans who knew the words to all his songs. Three guys in the audience had on reindeer antlers and one even wore a “red nose”. Darryl got them up on stage with him to sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. The base Commander gave us plaques and coins at the end of the concert.
Saw lots of people that I met when I was here with Lonestar and Aaron Tippin this past month. It was COLD tonight and we were all bundled up in our fleece jackets. Don’t remember it being this cold in December in Kuwait.
Darryl signed over 300 autographs and took photos with everyone. We were back at the hotel a little after midnight.
I learned that “Clyde” – the camel who bit the lady holding his lease while I prepared to ride him – got “fired” after I left Kuwait that visit.They have a younger version of “Clyde” now. J
Tomorrow is Camp Arifjan which will probably be our biggest crowd.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13TH – PERFORMANCE AT CAMP ARIFJAN:
Got up at 7 am and worked out at the health club. Quick breakfast, pack for today’s show, and off to Camp Arifjan. It was about a 45 minute drive. Our PSD escort (Personal Security Details) insists that we stay right on their bumper with our bus. Do you have any idea how difficult that is to do with these “road crazies”. It was a very nerve-wracking 45 minutes. Cars would cut between us and our PSD would slow down to make them get out from behind them only to have someone else dart between us.
We dropped Darryl and they guys off for the Commander’s Office Call and I went to the MWR Office to meet with the staff about the Lt. Dan Band concert here in January. Lots of plans to make for a group that size and want everything to go smoothly. It was really great that we had time to meet. Got lots of questions answered and tweaked the itinerary.
I met up with Darryl at the hospital which is where he went after the office call. It was really cool because several of the staff had met him in Afghanistan in 2004 and had photos of him on their computers. We took new photos to replace them. Since this is my 3rd visit in less than a month, I’m beginning to recognize everyone. J
We had a last minute addition to the itinerary which was a visit with Major General Dowd – who was awesome. We had met him in Baghdad several years ago! Then we went to the SOC and met and took photos with at least 80 people there. Our escort – who was also with Darryl on several previous SMA tours – told me there would be about 20 people. I gave him grief about not being able to count the rest of the evening.
Darryl decided not to do a sound check so he had time to sign some autographs for staff that couldn’t attend the concert. We went to dinner at the DFAC and I was extremely happy to find that tonight was the Pasta Bar. This is the DFAC where I think I got food poisoning when I was here with Lonestar. Had a great healthy meal this time.
Had some time to visit with Colonel Hater before the show AND go to the base exchange. Frank – you will be thrilled to know that I have redeemed myself! I found several items to purchase as Christmas gifts! J
Had a HUGE crowd at the concert and it was a great show. Darryl had people up on stage dancing at one point. Even two guys got up and danced together – “don’t ask / don’t tell”. LOL
Autograph line seemed much longer tonight but didn’t seem to give out any more photos than last night. Will have to do a “count” tomorrow to see how many we signed tonight. I walked over to Hardees and got Darryl a couple of chicken sandwiches for the ride home.
We were back in the hotel by midnight and it’s after 2 am now. Darryl and his group will go to Kuwait Naval Base – Camp Patriot – tomorrow for a “meet and greet” (no performance) and I will go to the airport and meet Filter. I had hired David with Charlie Daniels to escort Filter for me. He was supposed to leave Nashville at 8 am and arrive DC at noon and then start meeting their flights at 3 pm. The airline changed the gate and he and several other people did not hear the announcement. They all missed the flight and were put on one that was supposed to arrive at 4 pm. I never book that one because if it is late leaving Nashville, we miss the connection to Kuwait. Fortunately, his flight left on time and as of this minute, everyone is in flight to Kuwait. Strange to think they will fly the entire time I’m sleeping and not arrive here until 2 pm tomorrow afternoon!
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14TH – CAMP PATRIOT, KUWAIT NAVAL BASE FOR DARRYL WORLEY AND FILTER ARRIVES:
Thought today was going to be my “easy” day to get caught up on all my office work. Shows how wrong I can be!
Got up early and got Darryl and his group off to Camp Patriot at Kuwait Naval Base – about an hour and a half drive from the hotel. I had a great – although chilly – jog on the beach. Then my usually egg white omelet for breakfast. The “chef” had disappeared this morning and I had to send someone to the kitchen to get him. Every morning, it’s a “surprise” as to what he will actually put in my omelet as opposed to what I asked for. The first day, he left made it out of eggs instead of egg whites, the second day he got it right, today he forgot the cheese. Looking forward to a breakfast surprise tomorrow.
I showered and met Contee in the lobby to go to the airport for the early arrival of Filter.Contee and I were sitting in Starbucks when his phone rang and it was David with Filter. He said that Richard had gotten sick on the flight and they were in the “medical clinic” in the airport. They were being told everyone would have to go to the local hospital and they would not release them. I told him to tell them we would take Richard to the military base hospital but he said they would not allow it. I asked if he had shown them the copy of the military orders and he had not. As soon as they saw those, they released the group.
Richard came out wearing a surgeon’s mask and sitting in a wheel chair! As background, he had sent me a photo earlier this week of his little boy sitting on his lap and he was wearing a surgeon’s mask and latex gloves. Said he was spending the night in a hotel because his kids had a stomach virus and he didn’t want to get it. I replied that I hoped he didn’t, especially not on the flight over. I had a stomach virus from Tokyo to Detroit several years ago. They actually closed down the toilet and let me have it the entire 12 hours. I stayed in there all that time, too! I guess I jinxed him because he got it about an hour into flight.
I had already checked the guys in and had their room keys with me. Gave them to the tour manager and I left with our PSD escort (Those guys have been LIFESAVERS!) for the medical clinic at Arifjan. It took 45 minutes because of traffic and it was “touch and go” several times. I was praying he wouldn’t throw up because we had NOTHING in the SUV to help him…no plastic bags, boxes, nothing. Plus I knew if he did, I would, too! Poor little Ben (our PSD escort) was probably wondering what in the heck he had volunteered for! The medics were waiting out front with a wheel chair and the doctor saw him immediately. They hooked him up to an IV and began pumping him full of liquids for his dehydration and medicine for the nausea. He also “mentioned” that he had a headache. They took blood, a urine sample and then insisted on a CAT scan for the headache. I wanted to say, “for goodness sake, he caught the stomach virus from his kids”. But it would not have made a difference. They were very “thorough”. But, they had several other patients ahead of him so we waited and waited and waited. I finally left Contee with him and had Ben take me back to the hotel so I could get with Lindsey before they left and make sure everything was ready for them to go.
Walked over to Chili’s for a very quick meal with Lindsey and David. I had to leave before I could finish eating because Contee was bringing Richard back to the hotel. He looked 100% better and said he felt that much better, too. Got him situated in his room with a bag of Gatorade, colas and ginger ale that I had purchased for him at the BX. He was hungry but hopefully he ate “sparingly”!
Lindsey said the group had a great visit to the Naval Base today. Darryl took a couple of guitars and gave them an impromptu “mini concert” too.
I had asked the hotel to have the bill ready for me to review for Darryl by 8:30 pm. They didn’t. I asked several times between 8:30 and 9:00 and never got it. Darryl’s group left and I told the front desk that I was not responsible for any unpaid charges on their incidentals.
The MWR escort was supposed to be here in time for the group to be loaded and ready to leave by 9:00 pm. He wasn’t. And he didn’t bring a truck or van for their luggage and gear. Again, if not for PSD, we would have been screwed. They loaded the luggage and equipment into their SUV’s and helped get the group on the road.
Went back to my room to do some more work. At 10:30 pm someone knocked on my door and it was one of the hotel staff asking when I was checking out. I told him I was checking out on the 19th! Then at 11 pm, the front desk called and wanted to know if it was okay to charge my credit card for Darryl’s group. I told them “NO, not until I review the bill and that will be tomorrow”. I can’t believe a hotel would knock on a guest’s door at 10:30 pm or call their room at 11 pm! Sure do hate to change hotels but the service has declined at this one.
So, hope to go to bed before 3 am tonight. We go to Camp Virginia tomorrow. That’s where the camel (Clyde) bit our escort’s hand while I was trying to ride him. I learned earlier this week that Clyde has been replaced by a young camel and he wears a muzzle! Poor Clyde. It could have been worse – camel burgers! L