One of the most interesting things about my deployment to Kuwait, is that we have been able to take trips into Kuwait City. It is a chance to expand my world view outside the Midwestern United States upbringing.
I have visited several malls (the malls here are by far more extravagant than any American mall), the market place where the store keepers say that they have "real fake Rolex's," and I've been to several museums. The most recent trip I was on was to the Grand Mosque.
Completed in 1986 the Mosque is one of the crowning jewels of Kuwait City. The Grand Mosque spans 480,000 square feet, has a dome that is 85 feet in diameter and 141 feet high, and can hold up to 10,000 people in the main hall. The dome was originally too heavy; therefore, they had a build a larger support structure (blue part of the roof) to ensure the dome would not collapse.
The most fun training that we went through this last month was drivers training on our “new to us” Maxx Pro. The Maxx Pro is a variant of the MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) family of vehicles. The first thing you notice between the Maxx Pro and the standard Humvee is the size. The Maxx Pro is almost 10 feet tall and comes in at a staggering 46,000 pounds. The heaviest Humvee weights roughly 7,700 pounds and is only 6 feet tall. The Maxx Pro is a gigantic step forward in armored personnel carrier and will eventually phase out all the Humvees.
Driving the Maxx Pro is surprisingly easy and much smoother than the Humvee, or any other military vehicle I’ve ever driven. It also features a backup camera. But, the best feature in my opinion is the night vision driving capability. There is a camera that is mounted on top of the Maxx Pro, and there is a monitor screen that can be flipped down above the driver that is connected to the camera. It feels like a video game as you are using the monitor. It is surprisingly easy in my opinion to drive at night with the headlights out, while driving as what is called "black out" conditions.
Well when we aren’t spending time training or going into town, Arifjan also host a number of races, mainly 5k’s. However, the last two races that I ran was a 10 Mile race and my first Marathon. The 10 miler was somewhat easy enough, I’ve been training to run longer distance and was able to run 10 miles at somewhat ease.
I can’t say the same thing about the Marathon. The longest distance that I’ve ever ran was 13 miles. I was running pretty well till I hit the wall at mile 16. It was at that point that I needed to split time between walking and running. Thankfully along the route there was water and bananas to help replenish the runners. A fun thing about running in the desert, is that when you sweat the wind blows the sand and it sticks to your face. So, you have this general gritty feeling when running, plus you can feel the sand getting into your shoes.
At mile 21, while walking, I ran into a Polish Airmen named Damian. It was pretty interesting to get a chance to talk to one of our allies. We both had a laugh at our shared experience. At mile 24 I was finally able to get the will to run the last two miles without walking, as I passed Damian I told him “It’s time to finish this damn thing.” 50,000 steps later I crossed the finish line at 4 hours and 57 minutes. Without a doubt that was hardest thing I’ve ever done physically. My legs hurt for about a week after that. Hats off to anyone that has done multiple marathons.
And just out of nowhere, the heat has finally started to boil. It’s as if someone turned the heat up in an oven, and sadly it’s not even close to how hot it’s going to get. The hottest day this past week was 96 degrees Fahrenheit. It's going to get at least 20 degrees hotter. The "dry heat" of the desert has turned out to be a lie as well. There is plenty of humility in the air to make it feel hot and sticky. We do our best to stay out of the heat by changing our training times and staying inside as much as we can.
Jane continues to grow and my picture and video count is almost at 1,000. Each day I get closer and closer to going home. Getting pictures like this reminds me of how lucky I am to have such a happy and healthy baby.