How Being Under-Qualified Saved Me

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Normally I wouldn’t be especially satisfied with being told that I’m under-qualified for a specific job position. However, having the lack of one specific qualification saved me from moving somewhere I really didn’t want to live. Now that I have the definitive answer let me start from the beginning of how this all came about. Before I get to far ahead of myself let me explain the above photograph. It was taken earlier this year by my cousin who lives outside of Bismarck, North Dakota and sent to my mother (his aunt by marriage) to illustrate what a great winter they were having. My mother thought it humorous to show me the photo since I spend 98% of the year in shorts and flip flops. Anyway, back to the story. Seems in my family circle news of me being laid off has expanded out to extended family as well. Well, my cousin, who has lived in and around Bismarck his entire life, works for a company there that manufacturers diesel powered recreational vehicles (RVs), buses, and large specialty vehicles. Anyway, he had a position open and wanted to give me an opportunity to fill it for him.

Our first telephone conversation was short and to the point, he needed my resume. Now, that’s convenient because I had recently updated my resume. After a few days he called me for an impromptu telephone interview. Seems I offered everything he was looking for with one exception, I don’t have any over the counter sales experience. It would appear that being a bartender isn’t considered actual sales experience. Who knew. Unfortunately, this minor detail is a major deal breaker. In many ways I’m not disappointed in the decision, in other ways, financially speaking, it was a let down. I mean, I just let an $80,000.00 a year job slip through my fingertips as well as a company sponsored relocation. So, in that regard it sucks a bit. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to live that far north, because I’m really not a fan of the cold weather or snow.

In review, I would have had to uproot my family, lease out my home & property, and go live in a place that is known for its harsh winter environment. What in the fuck was I smoking! I imagine, if things would have turned out different, that we would have moved. But, I think I would have regretted leaving Texas. Plus, those damn yankees talk funny, it would have been like moving to a foreign country or something. Personally, I think the right thing happened, maybe for the wrong reasons, but I can live with that.

Shake Your Tail Feathers

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For the past few months I have been following the advice of the diabetic dietitian I formally was insured to see which is to walk at least one hour a day covering at least one mile in distance.. I don’t go to a gym, nor do I visit any circular monotonous track, because I have plenty of room to walk on my property. Hell, the walk from my front door to the main street where my mailbox is located is just shy of 1/4 mile, so I have plenty of places to walk. In preparation I did cut a pathway for myself through a section of my wooded area because it was going to be easier to go through it than around it. While on the topic of taking advice, I was told I needed to write more on my blog to get back into the swing of things by a good southern doctor friend of mine, she knows who she is and that’s what counts here. In the end, I do walk for over 1 1/2 hours each evening and now write more on my blog, if this can be called actual writing to y’all. I enjoy my walks because it is very peaceful, very relaxing, and doctors say it benifits my health. Bonus.

Over the last few weeks I have noticed that the water fowl down on the pond and surrounding it have been acting differently which means that they are either spooked or they have just moved on. I am pretty lucky because this pond always attracts some spectacular wildlife to observe. When I looked a bit closer at the overgrown side of the pond I found 2 different places that a predator had made a meal of a few of the young ducks. This didn’t surprise me as my property backs up to the woods, a creek, and a few thousand acres of absolute nothingness. There have been some small paw prints in the mud around the area so I know there are dogs running around. I never minded them because they stay well out of sight and down in the bottoms of my property. I have seen one out of what I expect to be 3 or 4 of these “wild” dogs. I have had to pop that one in the ass with a pellet gun twice because it was getting closer with curiosity and I don’t need that in my actual yard around my house or other buildings. So, we tolerate each others presence so to say.

Later in the afternoon yesterday I had company on my walk, my 17 y/o daughter wanted to talk to me alone. Without getting to much into the talk right here so we don’t get sidetracked let me just say it was about her boyfriend and some problems he is having financially. In the end I was asked if he could move in. When I am done here I will get into that father daughter talk. That being said, the company was a pleasant change to my normal routine. As she gets older she seems to need daddy less and less each day. So, we walked, talked, and enjoyed the peaceful trek. About 45 minutes into our walk we noticed an odd smell, the distinct smell of something dead. This is a smell, for those of the all who don’t know, that is unmistakable, and as we got closer to the source it became much stronger in the air. She tried to guess what it could be that had perished in the woods and then she began to worry me a bit because she asked “what if it is a dead body?” Where in the hell did that come from? However, one never knows what one will stumble across in the woods while on a walk. Putting on my best daddy face I assured her it was not a dead human body we were smelling and this I know for a fact. There is a distinctly different smell between a rotting circus of an animal and that of a human being. What can I say, I have been around the block once or twice. Just imagine learning some of life’s lessons which can not be taught by another person rather they must be learned by experiencing them. Enough said about that, we have a dead animal to find now. Why? Because if we don’t then other predators will come to investigate the smell of death and then I might have a problem I don’t really want on my hands. The plan was to find it, remove it, and get it in the burn pile before it sparks too much interest with the other wildlife.

We walked ahead maybe 20 yards or so and we found the source. I was actually surprised because I was non this part of the trail Sunday evening and this was not here. There was actually more surprise in my mind than just the fact that it was laid there dead. In all the years I have lived here, pushing 10 years now, I have only seen one other coyote and she was on the other side of the creek heading away from the backside of my property. In fact, that was right about 7 years ago so its not like it is a common sight. Oh sure, we hear them in the dead of the night in the far off distance but never see them or any of their activities. But here we have a dead juvenile coyote. I flipped it over looking for obvious injuries and see nothing. I actually expected to see a bullet wound which would mean it just wandered up here and died from its injuries. But there is no clear sign. I called a friend of mine who works with the state of Texas wildlife department to find out what I needed or could do. He told me to just wait and he would come check it out. After he arrived and checked it out it was determined to be a natural death. We loaded the coyote into the bed of his personal truck, said our goodbyes, and that was that. I was in a hurry now to get up to my shop because I had a bag of lye  which I wanted to spread out where the coyote had been to get rid of the smell. Once that was done I had to go shower to get cleaned up for the night. Something my daughter had already done.

I see now that I will have to keep an eye on my land down by the bottoms because I do not need the predator threat around here. I may need to start walking with more than just my stick from now on for sure. Later last night my daughter was on the phone with her boyfriend where I heard her tell him that we had talked and about how our walk turned into a gruesome discovery. I giggled to myself as I walked by because I thought it was it was great, personally, walking and talking with the daughter who seems to have outgrown her daddy.

Welcome To The Land Of Enchantment

This will be installment number two of where I was stationed, how being in the AMMO careerfield influenced my drinking habits, and different places I traveled while still being stationed at Holloman AFB in New Mexico. If necessary, you might need to read Land Of The Rising Sun to get caught up to where I left off. Originally when I was given relocation orders at Misawa AB Japan I was heading to Keflavik Iceland for two years on an accompanied tour. That went south and I was diverted to being stationed at Holloman AFB New Mexico to fill in for a shortage of Munitions Inspectors that they were experiencing. But, I failed to get orders for this tour until after all my belongings were shipped to Iceland and I was in Iceland for three days. But, I am getting ahead of myself completely here so I need to back track just a bit. Let me take you back to my final days in Japan before I actually departed. Just a few days before we were scheduled to leave, neighbors and friends of my wife and I were thrown a party. It was a family oriented party held outside in two feet of snow. It had to be outside because that is where we were cooking. There was a fair amount of drinking being done by everyone that cold December afternoon. The kids were all playing in the snow and having a good time as well. After dark it got very cold and started snowing again so we all decided to clean up and call it an evening. We all said our goodbyes and farewells to many of the people since this would be the last time we saw them before we leave in a few days. However, this was only one send off. My personal send off from work was the following evening. My wife was well aware this was going to happen and was actually okay with the whole idea. The following evening I was picked up by friends since we had just sold our cars a few days ago to people who were just coming into Misawa and needed transportation. We did what is referred to as a pub crawl in the AMMO community. Meaning, that we started at one bar and then we hit them all as they were all in close proximity to one another. The entire “crawl” lasted for about six hours or so and some of us, including myself, were crawling by the time we arrived at the final bar. To say I was that drunk would be a mild understatement. I would say that I was pretty toasted to say the least. In fact, most of what I remember about the entire night is what was told to me when I was sober afterwords, plus some jackass decided it would be a good idea to take pictures with one of those disposable cameras and then decided to shove it in my pocket so I could develop it on a later date. Unfortunately, out of 36 pictures, only 3 were of me, all in a condition I don’t wish to share with anybody, ever. I didn’t get much sleep by the time I got back since our flight was leaving in two hours. I had enough time to shower, get dressed, get in the taxi, and head to the airport. Needless to say, the flight sucked because of rough weather which really played havoc on my developing hangover. I was awake 90% of the flight and knew it when we landed because I was 13 shades of green at the time.
 
After landing at Keflavik we went thru customs and eventually collected our bags. We then hailed a taxi to take us to the base so we could check into billeting (base hotel quarters). We were hungry so we called in an order of pizza and it was one mistake we only made once since it sucked pretty bad. That night my wife and I went out to explore, get something to eat, and pick up some toiletries we needed. All in all a good night, we even found this great bar! The following morning a messenger from the commander’s office was knocking on the door to inform me I had an appointment at 9am. It is there that I found out about my new orders and my new departure date to head to Holloman AFB. I went back to the room and told my wife not to get comfortable since we were leaving in four days to go there. She wasn’t overjoyed but was happy to go to the United Stated where she was closer to family. Meanwhile, we wanted to go explore locally and see what we could see. It was, however, an all expense paid mini vacation so we wanted to make the best of it. One of my favorite things to do is to try the local cuisine, from bar foods to actual restaurants, to see how the people of that land eat and drink. We found, very fast, that the actual restaurants were quite expensive and most required a more dressier dress code than what we had to offer. So, to a few bars we would go. We were able to sample some really great food, none of what I can remember the names of or pronounce. We did some drinking as well, we found that some of the bars were actually swingers bars, so those were fun. And, the rumors are true for what we saw in Iceland, everyone, with very few exceptions, was blonde and had blue eyes. We were the oddballs, we stood out like the tourists we were. The best drink I had was a Bacardi and Wild Turkey slushy served in a mug made from ice. It was real cool and it kept the slushy very cold. Our time soon ended and we were headed to the airport the leave this beautiful place. But, for me, and some time into the future, I will be returning so this isn’t the end of the story for Iceland. We boarded the plane and took off and after a few stops and layovers we landed in El Paso Texas. I had contacted my sponsor (also to become my new supervisor) that we were in town and we needed a ride. Around an hour later we were picked up and taken to billeting to get checked in. If memory serves me correct this was a Friday afternoon so we didn’t have anything to do until Monday rolled around. We were tired from our trip so we just said screw it and showered and then went to sleep. Sometime Saturday after noon sometime, my new supervisor came over to check in on us and see how we were doing. He mentioned that a few couples were going to meet up at a bar called Nickles right down the street from the base if we were interested. We were game. He left us to mill around a while and get dressed. He and his wife came over later to get us to take us out for our first “night on the town”. This place was interesting, a true mix of redneck meets hip hop meets metal type of place. A truly bizarre mixture of people were there. I found out real quick that I was no longer in the land of exotic drinks because this was a beer and shots kind of place which was quite a bore and very disappointing. This led to me asking some questions to the bartender. She liked me and recommended that I get my license to bartend at the local community collage because they need some new blood in this bar. So, we drank, we talked, we got the rundown on what Holloman had to offer and what it was all about. After a few hours of drinking, playing pool, playing darts, and many tequila shots, it was time to head on back to the base.
 
Soon enough it was Monday, time to get some in-processing done and get out to the bomb dump (munitions storage area) to get acquainted with my new job. Due to the luck of the draw I guess, I ended up in the Munitions Storage shop. There were a few very interesting characters working here to say the very least. It doesn’t take a great deal of time to find out who is all business and who is the work hard and party hard people. Of course, a few of the guys were going to be doing a little drinking and bowling at the recreations facility after work. So, I tagged along and found out this place didn’t have a whole hell of allot to offer besides working. What did I expect, this base is in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a desert. When I first got stationed at Holloman there wasn’t even a Walmart in town. The mall was dubbed “The Hall” because it was a Sears at one end and a 3 stall theatre at the other end with about 20 stores in between. It took about 30 seconds or less to go from one end to the other which made it a pretty sad excuse for a mall. Soon enough we got settled into base housing and began living our lives in the “Land of Enchantment”. I did successfully complete the bartender’s school to get my license. I did take a part time position at the bar out on the highway. After a few months I got TDY orders (temporary duty) to go to Nellis AFB outside Las Vegas Nevada to participate in a military exercise known as “Green Flag”. In actuality it was a school to teach us how to build bombs in a mass and rapid fashion to support the aircraft in a quicker manner during a time of deployment and/or conflict. There was allot more to it, but why do I need to bore you. As an adult this was the first time to visit Las Vegas so I was real excited to go. It didn’t take long to mix in with the locals and see that I was falling into their routine which was work, party, eat, work, and keep repeating. Sometimes, for a change of pace a few of us would go to a strip bar called Cheetahs to blow off a little steam. I found that I could drink for free pretty much all the time just by making simple bets with the people I was with and with the bartenders. I ended up with a part time job there bartending during peak hours. The money was good but I would have rather been partying with my friends who were getting drunk. I wasn’t into all the gambling or anything like that so I did allot of sight seeing when I could, went to school, worked part time some, and partied all the rest of the time. This place was more my “style” since there was so much trouble to get into there. Soon enough it was time to head back to Holloman AFB to get back into the routine there. After a couple more months I received orders to go to Osan AB in South Korea to assist another TDY group from some base in Alaska who would be doing inspections and maintenance on equipment that has been in long term storage. They had new equipment that they were also testing so it sounded like it was going to be a good time. Little did I know that after six months that these guys would get to go home and I would get extension orders to remain for 12 more months. I will not lie, I don’t remember much about the last 11 1/2 months I was at Osan, it remains a blur still to this day. I started drinking one evening and basically didn’t stop until I left. It all started with what is called a “Green Bean” since it was a party designed to introduce you to the AMMO drinking life in Korea. I was hooked. For me every night from that point on was a time to be so drunk I would not think about being across the world without my family. It was a lonely life there and it actually went pretty fast for me since I was always drunk. I met some good people there whom I remain in contact still today so many years later. If it weren’t for these great friends and an endless supply of alcohol I would have never made it out of there in one piece. Soon enough I go my orders to rotate back to the world and I was very happy to be leaving Korea.
 
Life hadn’t changed to much back at Holloman and it was easy to get back into the work and life routine there. We had nice weather all year long so we could grill out or smoke anytime we wanted to. Which was good, I always had a party to look forward to go to, even if it were at my own house. Then I got orders to go to Kuwait. I wasn’t real happy about that. I didn’t want to go to war again. I will make this as simple as possible for y’all since Kuwait sucked ass. The routine was work, eat, shower, sleep, and repeat every 12 hours every day for seven months. There was no drinking, there was no party, there was nothing. I saw things there that changed me inside for ever. But, I would think that seeing death up close and personal would change anyone. I was so damn glad to get the hell out of Kuwait. When I got back to Holloman I was in for a surprise, a big surprise. The night I returned I walked into my house to find that my wife had her boyfriend spending the night in my bed. I will spare you the details but just know I went to jail that night. It gave me some time to reflect on where my life had been going. When they saw fit I was released. But now I was beyond pissed, I was beyond wanting to be married, and I was beyond wanting to be in the Air Force. It is hard to make clear decisions when you are angry at the world. I spent the next few months sober struggling with my marriage and what direction I wanted it to go. I couldn’t forgive her, I couldn’t overlook the fact that she intentionally destroyed our marriage, and I didn’t want to be married any longer to her. I needed to get out of my house and away from her because every day that went by I found myself hating her more and more. I ended up at a friends house where we go stupid drunk. When I went home that next morning I started a fight with my wife on purpose because it was time to shit or get off the pot. We separated that afternoon and I never looked back. I ended up moving in with my good friend and his wife. During this time I had an end date for my marriage as well as an end date with my twisted marriage to the Air Force. Luckily for me my friend liked to drink almost as much as I did so it was easy to spend these last few months in New Mexico drunk as a skunk. There are many things I regret about being in the Air Force. I became one of those statistics that they write about to chart statistics since I was essentially an alcoholic, I ended my marriage in divorce, and I chose to leave because I didn’t want to be a part of the machine anymore. I found, soon enough, that there was indeed life after the Air Force, life for someone who was divorced, and brand new opportunities to do whatever I pleased once I moved back to Texas. My return to Texas is where I will pick up with the next installment of my story.
 

Land Of The Rising Sun

I think that pretty much everyone knows that Japan is known as The Land Of The Rising Sun. There are even the lucky ones who have been given the gift of living there or visiting there sometime in the course of their lives. Which is the case for me, I lived there in the early 90s, and thru my blog over the years I have tried to give my view of how it was to be an American in the United States Air Force living abroad in northern Japan. There were many aspects to living in Japan, from living there, working there, exploring there, learning the lifestyle, learning the culture, learning the language, trying new food, and finding new ways to drink a variety of the alcohols local to Japan. But, before I get into being in Japan I must back track a little bit to my time I spent at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver Colorado since that was the true start to my start in exploring drinking heavily with people I barely knew. Drinking wasn’t new to me, it wasn’t something I had just discovered, it was however, a gift to be one of a handful of people who were 21 and could purchase alcohol and consume it legally. I can’t speak for everyone in the Air Force and how it is individually for other carreerfields, but I can say a large part of the AMMO culture was drinking, and drinking allot. I learned this fact fast at Lowry as the Airman’s Club was always dominated by all the AMMO troops looking to party. It also became real obvious that my new adventure in the Air Force and being a part of the AMMO community meant that if I couldn’t drink my weight in alcohol on a daily basis then I better begin practicing. I was good, but not as good as I was to become in a short period of time. While at Lowry there were three types of AMMO troops who drank, we had the veteran drinkers, the wanna be veteran drinkers, and those who didn’t drink but liked the atmosphere so they became part of the crowd. This particular airman’s club was segregated from the actual NCO club, not because of the rank or social status, but because in the NCO club actual alcohol could be purchased, whereas in the airman’s side of the club the only thing offered were soft drinks, water, and of course 2% beer. If you don’t know what that it just look it up and come back. So, I did my time going to technical school here and worked on my drinking skills since it really seemed to be a secret side of the curriculum as I found out. In the end I learned about all the munitions systems, the ways of how the practical use of munitions play out in peacetime and wartime, and I drank as much as I could get away with.
Soon enough I got my assignment and orders to become stationed at Misawa AB Japan. It was my first choice out of 12 on a wish list so I was quite the happy airman. After a good part of my in-processing to my new base was complete it was time to go to work at my assigned shop, meet everyone, and jump into work feet first. It just happened to be a Thursday which meant it was darts tournament night downtown at a local hole in the wall bar. I had no choice but to go. The new FNG (Fucking New Guy) is supposed to have arrived in country with two skills beyond working with munitions, those were playing darts and drinking heavily. Luckily for me I am skilled at both. I was a bit shocked that this was such a tight club, meaning that wives and girlfriends are forbidden. This was a incredibly hard sell to my wife (now my ex-wife) since she would rather I be at home watching the one channel on the television that was broadcast in English. She didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere unless I was with her. So, it was rough the first time telling her she was going to be my designated driver due to the plans we had. We were borrowing a car since we had not had the time to purchase one yet, those were plans we had for the coming Saturday. She agreed, not happy, but she agreed. I don’t remember what time we got there but I do remember at midnight she came thru the door looking for me which by that time I was so drunk I almost didn’t recognize her, yea, that drunk. To keep the peace at home I went with her. The drive was very cold and silent to say the least. The following day at work I was harassed to the point that it made me pretty angry because I did not want the reputation that my wife ran everything I did. Granted, 3/4 of these guys were not married so they lacked the understanding of marriage and having a wife. Now it is time to get off work and I was informed that Friday nights were dart tournament nights at the NCO club on base. Of course I will be there. I drove home and informed my wife of the plans and even tho she was not happy she agreed. This time I told her I would like to be picked up at 2am since this is when the club closed and I would be waiting outside for her. After a long evening of drinking and making my way up the ranks in darts it was time to go, or so I thought. Apparently there is a standing “after the club closes” party down town at the club we were at the night before. I kindly declined. My wife shows up, I get in and we head home. The only thing I can think of is that she needs some new friends, well, she needs friends since she hasn’t made any at all yet.
First thing Saturday morning we get up to go car shopping. When we opened the door we saw that everything had been blanketed with about 18″ of snow. This was going to make the day interesting. We were out for a few hours and finally found a car we both could settle on. Only one problem, it was a stick (standard) and she didn’t know how to drive a stick or in the snow or where we lived once you get off the main roads. See, we did not buy a new car, it was a few years old which is how they were sold up there. It was cheap in my opinion since it was a 1986 Honda Accord for $1500.00 and it had pretty low kilometers on it since all the driving is pretty local. After getting done she followed me to the person I had borrowed the car from so we could drop it off. It was on base so we also got our sticker for the window for access onto the base. After dropping the car we decided it was going to be time for her first driving instruction. We found a very large and very vacant parking lot and I began with the fundamentals of driving a vehicle with a manual transmission. There was allot to cover since we lived in a hilly part of the country and allot of snow falls here. Let this be the lesson that proves that necessity drives a person’s desire to learn. For the rest of the day and most of Sunday we were driving different places so she could get a good feel for driving the stick shift as well as driving with studded snow tires. She got the hang of it fast and I was very proud of her. To celebrate we decided to go out to eat and immerse ourselves into the foods of Japan. She wasn’t impressed to say the least. However, it was good that she fancied some of the alcoholic drink concoctions they had to offer. We had a long talk over dinner about adjusting to our new lifestyle, mine as being in the Air Force and her as being the Air Force wife. She is having a hard time adjusting since this is the first time she has been out of the state of Texas for any reason, much less now she is living in Japan which is so far from everything she has ever known. After a few more drinks and snacks we decided it was time to go as it was getting late. When we got home, I parked the car in the carport, and we walked up to the front door where she noticed a note taped to it. it read, “Where are you? You are supposed to be at Chief Master Sergeant Franklin’s farewell and retirement party. You need to get there as soon as you get home, it is very important”. I explained that he was the Chief for the Bomb Dump and was retiring next week. They had mentioned it at work but I knew I had plans with my wife so I actually blew it off. I opened the door, we went inside, and as I was changing I told her I would only be gone for a few hours just to show face. She agreed, saying this one she understands. So I left and drove to the retirement party. As you can guess, there was a fair amount of drinking happening. Pretty much everyone there was trashed already except for the water drinkers, the Chief included since he didn’t drink alcohol. Since it was late I had only a few drinks and spent the last hour I was there drinking water as well knowing I had to drive home. Speaking of which, my wife was actually happy to see me since I wasn’t drunk off my ass this time and didn’t wreak of booze.
Within the next couple of weeks the wives of those I worked with who had wives began descending upon my house and cultivating a friendship with my wife. I was happy to see it since she looked and acted as if she was having a better time living here now. In fact, one lived right next door to us and she is who my wife ended spending allot of time with over the years. As I worked with her husband we often carpooled so one of them always had a car. That became important once both of our daughters were born. I found out some time down the road that she was given a crash course in how to be an AMMO wife and stay sane. She was told of what to expect and that she can be on board or she might as well just go home back to Texas. Over the course of the next 4 1/2 years I lived my life around drinking with the guys from work at least 4 nights of the week. It was a damn good thing drinking was so cheap because I wasn’t making to terribly much as far as cash. Also, we grilled out allot with friends from work, mostly the single guys since it was nice for them to eat a home cooked meal at least once a week. Plus, to help out, they could always be depended on bring the alcohol and sometimes even meat to grill. I was stationed  in Japan for almost 5 years and I can only really remember clearly about 1 1/2 years of it. The only reason I remember that much is because it was the time in late 1990 that my daughter was born as well as when I broke my leg in seven places, to include my knee. So, with all the trips to Tokyo (Yokota AB) for surgeries, follow ups, and so forth I wasn’t drinking or going out so much. But, as I began to be able to walk without crutches I did explore the night life of Tokyo quite a bit when I was there. I didn’t drink a great deal, but I did drink, since I was alone and I wanted to be cautious since I had nobody to help me if I ever needed it. Basically, Japan is where I cut my teeth while learning how to drink with the big boys. This would only be the prelude I am afraid, it will continue to grow as a very bad habit I developed over the coming years. I’m not complaining since I had fun all the way, but it would be nice to remember the other things I did in Japan while sober just a little bit better. Soon, I will do more posts about my drinking life in the Air Force from the different places I visited or traveled to for one reason or another. This story has just begun and has a while to go until it is over. So, I leave it here, hope you enjoyed.