Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ft. McPherson, Ga

Well, I am safely arrived and inprocessed to my new unit at Ft. McPherson, GA. I stay here until Sunday morning, when I will go down to Ft. Benning for mobilization processing and to draw my equipment. Then I'll come back here and ship out to Kuwait, probably on October 10th.

I said goodbye to the girls yesterday. I gave them each a couple of big hugs and a kiss. It was hard to think that that would be the last time I would see them for quite awhile.

Conor came over last night and hung out with me and helped me take care of last-minute things, and we watched part of a movie while I cleaned the last of my guns. He went to sleep around 10:30 and I stayed up doing final packing and taking a shower. (Is this too much information for a blog?). I was finally ready for bed right about midnight, which was convenient since I wanted to stop the pendulum on the cuckoo clock right on the hour. I stopped it as it struck midnight, wound it up so the weights are at the catalog-perfect height and angle, and that's where it will stay for the next 430 days.

We got up at 4:00 AM, got ready, and left for the airport around 4:40 or so. Conor drove me in his pickup truck, and we said goodbye at the airport. That was hard, too. He seemed so grown up as he drove away. It made me think of all the times we took my dad to the airport when I was little and he traveled a lot. Back then I never thought about what he felt like leaving us behind. Now that I'm a parent, I know. This is different, though, because of the length of time I'll be gone. I'm sure that once the flurry of mobilization activity is over and I'm settled into a job over there, it will really sink in. But I miss them already.

Ft. McPherson is a fairly small headquarters-type post in suburban Atlanta. It has all the things a typical Army post has, but the facilities are smaller and it does not have large manuever training areas like a Ft. Benning or Ft. Riley would have. I am esconced in the on-post lodging, which is in a nice older building. (The post was built in 1885, but I think the building I am in is at least somewhat newer than that. I'd guess 1920's or 1930's). I have a suite with a sitting room (two chairs and a TV), a bedroom, and a bathroom. Nice, but no lying in bed watching TV. I don't plan on doing much of that anyway, or staying in the room much, for that matter. I did take a three-hour nap this afternoon after inprocessing, before heading out to run some errands.

Today I visited the PX and got a haircut (my new mantra for the barber is "high and tight, #1 on top"), went to the military clothing sales store (yes, the signs pointing to it all say "MCSS") to see if they had a briefcase (out of stock), and the library to get on a computer to find free wi-fi hotspots near the post ("near" turns out to be a relative term).

The MARTA station (I'm guessing that means Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority) is right outside the main gate. I got on a train and headed north into downtown Atlanta. I wandered around downtown for awhile, then got on another train and ended up at Lenox Square Mall in a Panera Bread company, my default location for free wi-fi access. The mall was easy to find, but not easy to approach. It's designed for people to drive their cars to, not to walk to. Before I leave here I want to check took a break and did it) to find a closer wi-fi hotspot. I'm not sure if I found one or not - I have a list of addresses, and even maps, but who knows where they actually are, or how to get to them by public transit!

When using the MARTA, I noticed that while they have a very clear rapid transit map, it is difficult to relate it to an actual map of the area - it's more of a schematic to help you understand the layout of the train system. It doesn't really help you understand which station is closest to where you want to go. It seems like this would be a good application for their website - directions to a specific address from the closest train station.

In any case, I found my way here to Panera. I'm guessing I'll probably come back tomorrow, since it's the easiest. The train rides all cost the same amount, no matter how far you go. And one thing I do have in abundance (suddenly!) is time - I'll be kicking around all day tomorrow with nothing to do. It's quite a change from the past few weeks, and the past few days especially, when every minute was crammed with things to do.

Funny how despite my extreme level of organization and planning, it took right up until the last minute to accomplish everything and be ready to go. Many things took longer than expected to accomplish, and many tasks spawned subtasks or reminded me of related tasks I had not yet thought of.

My packing scheme worked well. I was able simply to reach into my footlocker and pull out a gym bag with my PT clothes and toilet articles in it, and put the footlocker and duffel bag straight into secure storage. Now I'll go to Ft. Benning on Sunday AM with just the backpack and gym bag. I'll come back with plenty to carry, though. Then the real fun will start. I'll have all next weekend free, and it's a four-day weekend. I have an idea that I'll spend a good part of it trying to figure out how to pack, and what to throw overboard to stay within my weight and space limitations. :-)

I just found out the mall closes at 9:00, and they are kicking me out of this section of Panera (the only section with an outlet, btw), so I'd better publish this and move out.

More later!


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