18 June 2006

Home sweet home...sort of

I was originally supposed to travel to Camp Ashraf via convoy on Wednesday afternoon. We were transferring two new vehicles up that way, so there was plenty of room to tag along. As life might have it, Wednesday afternoon turned into Thursday afternoon and eventually Thusday evening. So our afternoon convoy turned into a night convoy.

Fortunately, as with my previous two trips, the convoy was uneventful (although considerably longer). Despite the maps showing not much north of Baghdad on the way to Ashraf, there seems to be an endless amount of buildings on either side of the road most of the way.

My first observation is that Ashraf is very small. This is not Camp Victory, Balad, or Taji, and no one would mistake it for that. I don't really know how many people are stationed here, but it's not a lot!

However, the facilities are among the best I have seen and experienced in Iraq and Kuwait. First of all, I have my own room (1/3 of a trailer). It's actually spacy, although I don't have much (yet). I have my own actual bed, and they provided linens, too, so I can stop living out of a sleeping bag. I have a small endtable and a standup closet. Room is aplenty, so when guys start moving out to go home, I may try to grab a few extra things for the room. But, I have my own room, and I can stop living out of a seabag for the first time in nearly 2 months. It's quite nice.

The bathrooms and showers are the nicest and cleanest I have seen in Iraq and Kuwait. They are not crowded, they are not littered with grafiti, and for the first time I don't feel as if my immune system is constantly fighting off some infection.

The internet is slow, but it works. I'm still getting set up within the Battalion, so MWR internet will work for now. Some of the base has wireless, but of course I'm on the other side (still, its not a very far walk). Hopefully that will expand over the next few weeks and months.

The dining facility (DFAC in Army parlance) is small, so it suffers from not having nearly the selection of larger bases, but it is nonetheless good food.

The laundry turn-around is 4 hours, which is pretty amazing.

The PX is tiny, and runs out of stuff often (even of the most basic essentials). Those things wil be good ideas for care packages. I have no idea how long mail will take to get here, but I'm guessing it might be a little longer than Baghdad!
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