Friday, July 17, 2009

Still Alive

Alright so I haven't quite met me goal of posting every month (Thanks for pointing that out Jaron :). I'm not really one to rant on a blog and since it's been a tribulatious couple of months I've refrained from posting anything. (Yes I just invented the word tribulatious) I'm more the type to blog after the fact so that's what I'll do. Other than life in general there hasn't been very much for me to blog about as Manda pretty much keeps up with our small happenings.

Since I'm here I'll get some kid pics out there.

Here is Vance doing what he does best, making a mess out of whatever is closest to him. This started out as a clean and harmless chocolate chip cookie. He is very aware that he's worked his magic on it.

Pictures really make kids look older.... Obviously Joel is much cleaner than his brother and only ended up with a French mustache.

Yeah, we like gadgets in our family.

Living in Florida does have some advantages, we get to do the following almost daily.




Rain is also a daily occurrence, but if you have the right set of rain boots its not that bad.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Trying to meet the goal

I told myself when I started a blog that I would try and post at least once every month and since the end of January is right around the corner (where did January go?) I figured I better get my butt in gear and get a post up even though I really don't have a lot to blog about.

We are looking forward to 2009. We have a new city, new place to live, new ward, new callings, new job, new weather to experience, and two growing/changing boys. It's going to be a good year. Those that know me know that I love change, I could change domiciles every year and be perfectly happy. Manda on the other hand could never move again and that would be her dream (as long as we were living somewhere West of the Mississippi at the time). So all of this change really has been great for me. It will also be an exciting time for our country to see how we deal with this recession that we've gotten ourselves into and what the future consequences will be for the government messing with free enterprise (is anyone else perturbed that private companies are getting government bailouts instead of using the government protection that has always been provided, and worked, in the past called Chapter 11 Bankruptcy where they can reorganize, get out of strong union contracts (ie auto industry) and become profitable on their own? /rant). It's going to be an exciting ride, at least we're all in the same boat eh?

Finally all of those expensive licenses for being a pilot are paying off :) So far I've worked 2 days since coming home from training on November 22nd. Here's a video of one of those days, my Dad sat at the end of the runway and took some video of us departing Naples last Tuesday. video
(I should post the rest of the video where Dad is falling off of his car and rolling down the windshield as he's trying to keep the airplane in view as we went right over his head :)

Part of me really wants to be flying more so that I can feel more productive and I can actually remember how to fly our airplane (comes in handy during bad weather) but for the most part I'm grateful that I've been able to spend a lot of time with my family. We're really trying to take advantage of all this time since I'm pretty sure this job won't always be like this. It will probably get to the point where I'll actually have to work (be gone) 10-15 days a month and at that point I'll probably be blogging to complain about having to work so much.

We've been staying fairly busy. My parents gave us gym memberships for our birthdays and we've been going to the gym 6 days a week. It's really nice because they have babysitting there and that makes it very easy to go since we don't have to alternate trips, we can just take the boys and they love the play area and being able to make new friends. Plus it's been good training for Vance who starts going to nursery in a couple of weeks (HALLELUJAH!!)

We spend quite a bit of time in Grandma and Grandpa's pool and the boys are really turning into fish. I'll get some video up of Vance jumping into the pool by himself (and by 'by himself' I mean with enough flotation devices attached to him he could tow the whole family behind him) and Joel swimming by himself with the help of a buoyant suit that he wears.

Last week we took a trip over to the Miami MetroZoo and had a great time. This was the best zoo I think I've ever been to. There are hardly any fences and the ones that they do have are very short and out of view. The animals are kept in place by really deep moats that surround them but remain out of view to the public so when you're standing on the path looking at the animals it really looks like there is nothing separating you from them.

Vance and I looking at the Elephant. They were feeding them tomatoes and having them do tricks, it was pretty neat.

Look how close Joel got to this one! Ok it's plastic.

You can really tell it's plastic here, Grandma wouldn't have gotten within 100 yards of a real one :)


The boys riding frogs and me being a typical Blackberry addict.

Everyone had to be a Jaguar!

Including Great-Grandpa.

The tram ride was one of the funnest parts, we got a 'behind the scenes' tour and saw a lot of the park without having to exert any energy other than the energy required to keep to boys from bailing off.

Vance stole this from Grandpa. Grandpa cut himself out of the picture :(

Another thing we have done for a couple of Family Home Evenings is grab some KFC and head down to the beach to watch the sunset with Grandma and Grandpa. It really is nice to get out and do this and the boys love it, we've done it twice now and hopefully it becomes a tradition. When we lived in Daytona Beach we were always waaaaaay too lazy to get up to watch the sunrise. It's one of those things that sounds great the night before when you're planning your day out but when the alarm clock goes off at O'dark thirty it usually means having to buy a new alarm clock.

This was from our first trip a couple of weeks ago.

The sunsets really are spectacular down on the beach you should all come and visit us to see for yourself (blatant plug for people to come visit).



Thursday, December 11, 2008

I don't know how we ever survived without it!

If any of you haven't tried living without the Internet for a few days, you really should give it a try. We've successfully moved to Naples Florida and had to wait a full week before we could arrange to have the cable man come and connect us to the rest of the world. When I got to Naples and realized we didn't have Internet yet it was like I was instantly transported back to 1990. Just to stay in touch with what was going on in the world I had to participate in archaic rituals such as 'reading a newspaper', waiting until 11:00pm to 'watch the news', and walk outside to 'look and see what the weather is like'. We couldn't even pay any bills! Who knows where to 'mail' a 'check' off to anymore. I'm not even sure we have a checkbook. I mentioned in my post about flying to Africa that everyone should live in a 3rd world country for a few months so they could see what it was like. Can't afford a trip to Africa? You're in luck, all you have to do to experience a 3rd world country is call the cable company and have them shut your Internet off. Instantly the world changes to a dark and lonely place where only the strong willed and in-shape survive. Our story of survival went something like this:


The Rosen family, a small young pack of four that is trying to turn a new chapter in life in a new town while horribly handicapped having no Internet. We follow the family as they enter their home for the first time, soaking wet since they had no way of getting live weather radar and therefore traveled through severe thunderstorms. Realizing that they must have Internet, the family scurries around in a frenzy to contact the cable company. Without whitepages.com to search for the phone number, one member of the pack volunteers to waste much needed energy to read a phone book. Weakened from the hours of needless searching the Female blurts out a generic 1-800 number that was found amidst the thousands of yellow pages. The Male spends 20 minutes on the phone getting no where through endless voice menus knowing that this phone call is futile, he needs to call the local cable number that can only be found at comcast.com. Frustrated they find an address in the yellow pages and decide a face-to-face meeting cannot be avoided. Unfortunately the address is encoded and the only key is google maps or perhaps mapquest and without them any attempt to find this new address will only end if failure. Finally the local cable number is received through a friend that has Internet. You see, you must HAVE the Internet in order to GET the Internet.
There is discussion about how to pay the bills. Fortunately most of this occurs automatically but for the few that remain; is there enough money in the checking account? There's no way of knowing. The family could go to the bank and find out, but where might that be? As the children begin to show signs of hunger the fear starts to spread. Where to find food or supplies? A restaurant is out of the question, without mycity.com they could end up at a 3 star diner or worse and the consequences would be great for the male. Weak and hungry the family abandons the idea of eating the youngest to survive and instead decides to wander aimlessly around the countryside hoping to find supplies before their mere six hours of fuel is depleted. They are rewarded with a Target, although not a Super Target as would've been pointed out at target.com. Having eaten, the family waits impatiently without on-demand television to entertain the children and with only 75 channels of included cable and DVD's the family bores easily. They desire to let other families know that they have arrived safely at their new destination but their only option is to use the U.S. Postal Service and the way things are going they could be dead before any such news would reach the closest of kin. Besides this family hasn't purchased stamps since 1992. The cable man will come tomorrow sometime between 8am and 10pm. Until then they sit bored, tired, hungry, covered in paper cuts from phone books and paper maps, frustrated at not knowing the outcome of last weeks fantasy football games especially since no changes could be made to the Male's lineup, disconnected, and lonely. Alas they survived.


Ok, so it wasn't quite that bad. I had Internet on the blackberry and that coupled with the GPS in the car made for an easy time. Plus the weather was perfect, clear skies and 75 degrees. Seriously though, it really showed us how dependant we can get on the Internet. One of these days count how many times you hop online in a day or use a device that is somehow connected, it's scary.

On a different note, since computers are pretty much useless when they're disconnected from the rest of the Universe, I was doing some cleaning up and searching and came across lots of pictures. I found these and they made me smile. They are my favorite pictures of the boys.

This one always makes me laugh. Joel was around 6 months old and we took him camping in the winter. The temperature actually dropped down below freezing (rare for Florida) but as you can see he was such a trooper. He only smiled like that for nanoseconds at a time at that age so the timing of this picture was very lucky.


Manda's little sister took this picture of Vance when he was 4 months old. Anyone who's ever tried to take a picture of a baby can appreciate how great of a shot this is. I have a super high resolution version that I use for backgrounds on my computer and phone sometimes. Thanks Rikenna!


Joel and myself at the beach when he was around a year old. I ran it through Photoshop (obviously) to make Joel stand out a bit more and used it for a background at my last job. He's got a smirk that says tons about his little personality (and it kind of resembles the smirk on his dad :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Since everyone else is doing it.

If you've read my wife's blog you know that we've been fortunate enough to spend Thanksgiving out in Idaho with family and friends. My job ended up starting a month earlier than originally planned which is great except we already had plans to come out to Idaho at the end of November. Well the timing worked out perfectly, I went to training for 3 weeks in Dallas and my company flew me from there to Boise and gave me a few days off since I'd just spent so much time away. I owe many thanks to my employer and the two other pilots that I work with for making this whole trip happen as smoothly as it did. Tomorrow I fly home to Naples and Manda and the boys will come back on Friday.

It turned out to be a great trip. We stayed with Becky & Steve (my Aunt & Uncle) and their 5 kids over the holidays. I know it must have been a strain on them to have 4 more people living in their house but they were great hosts and our boys absolutely loved playing with their cousins.

Vance with his cousin Kaden

Jesse & Kaden have all kinds of Thomas the train toys which Joel is obsessed with and there were plenty of people ogling over Vance which makes him quite happy. The adults spent a lot of time playing the Wii, card games, and 'Scene it - Seinfeld'. It was a great time. As an added bonus I found several high school buddies that are back living in the area and we were able to hang out and catch up (unfortunately this meant digging up old stories that scared Manda :)

Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without overeating and Joel got his first experience. He was eating ALL day on Thanksgiving. His Aunt Jenni brought these pumpkin cookies that were really good and he was eating them non stop. Then his new favorite Uncle Steve would put whipped cream all over the top of the cookies which he thought was amazing (until he discovered you could just spray the whipped cream right down your throat and skip a whole step). We didn't realize it but the plate of cookies (by plate I mean tray that would feed an entire ward) was left unattended and the kids were pounding them by the armful. It was all good and well until 02:00 in the morning when all of those cookies started coming up. Which, if you haven't experienced it, is fantastic when you're staying at someone else's house and your kid is barfing over all of their stuff. After a bath and a load of laundry in the middle of the night Joel felt great and went right back to bed. I did not get another wink as every sound he made from then on had me worried that things were going south again. Oh well another lesson learned: You should probably regulate the amount of cookies that your child eats, even on the day of obesity. Although, the image of Joel running around to people with his mouth open like a little birdie hoping they'd spray whipped cream directly into his mouth almost made it worth the clean up (not quite though).

Even though Joel didn't eat any more pumpkin cookies (neither did I for that matter) they had a blast doing the following:
For the moms out there, we weren't riding without helmets we're just posing for the picture ;)

Steve giving Joel a ride on his small motorcycle


Vance watching his brother on the motorcycle

Joel and me, you can't really call it a trip to Idaho without shooting something

Joel was very happy that we found some time for swimming



Vance thought it was great until the engine was started, that was enough


We had the most family at a holiday get-together that we've had in many years and it was great getting to see everyone. I even went to the BSU v. Fresno State game with my Dad and my cousin Kandice which was great. We got some good pictures but Dad has them so I'll have to wait to post them.

In all seriousness we are very grateful for our families this year. Both my parents and my in-laws have been very supportive and helpful during a strange year for us and everything ended up in good shape because of them.

Bring on Christmas....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can your wife do that?

Those of you that stay in contact with me know that I've been in Dallas TX for the last 2.5 weeks for training and I don't leave until this coming Sunday. Since this blog is public I didn't want to advertise the face that I'm not at home (Manda is paranoid that some psycho might be reading my blog, of course I tell her that most of the people that read my blog are psycho :) ) While I was away at training she had to change domiciles alone with 2 kids. We now officially live in Naples (even though I haven't lived there yet) and she got us there! So the last couple of weeks for her have been crazy: Pack up house, change all utilities etc to new place, assist the people who are renting our house, oversee movers, start unpacking our belongings, pack herself and both boys for a 2 week trip to Idaho (5 days after arriving at new home), travel to Idaho.

I meet up with them on Sunday night in Boise and we'll be back to a dual parent operation by then. During that time I've been here in Dallas focusing on learning a new airplane, studying like crazy, and contributing nothing to helping with the relocation of my family. In fact my parents moved to Naples as well and they were treated equally in the how-much-Tj-helps-us move department. Needless to say our move to Naples officially goes into my book as the easiest move ever! Great job Darlin'

For me the time has gone by very fast since there's so much information to learn in a relatively short time frame, this experience epitomizes the phrase "it's like trying to drink from a fire hose". There are literally thousands of pages of materials that I'm plowing through in 3 weeks. At least I've actually gotten to use the drawers and closets that are provided in my hotel suite which before recently I never really had.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Picture tags

My beautiful wife tagged me in a photo tag so I'll oblige. The 5th picture in the 5th folder on my computer is.............
This is Joel on his first Halloween at 5 months old. Ever since he was very very small if you picked him up he would arch his back and put his arms out in front of him. Since it showed a decent amount of strength and looked like superman, it was a no brainer for his first costume. His baby pictures make me laugh because he was born with so much hair. I gave him a haircut at 3 weeks or so since he had chops halfway to his jawbone and it was over his ears! Than for the first year and a half of life it looked like some terrible hair-piece/comb-over, we just couldn't help but laugh at the poor kid. Even today if we go very long without a haircut he starts looking pretty 1970 real quick. That's me holding his hands at the ward trunk or treat party in Daytona Beach FL.

I wonder if the real Superman wore a pacifier leash to keep it clean?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Still learning at 29

Life observations....

It seems like this has been the week of 'phrases I never thought I'd ever have to say' and/or 'phrases that should never be used in their literal sense'.

My favorite of the week comes from Manda. Never before have I ever heard anyone use this phrase literally, and when it's cleaned up and taken seriously it's hilarious. I was sitting in our office on the computer and Manda was out and about in the house, I could hear the TV quietly in the background and I was studying some documentation that my work had sent me. All of the sudden I hear... "Joel, you need to poop or get off the pot!" Now, I've used this term several times in my life but I don't think I'll be able to use it any more since the image would have me rolling (if you haven't seen Manda's picture of Joel potty training, here it is)

Some other key phrases that I guess I assumed I would never have to use toward another human being:
"No, you can't be on the couch when you're naked."
"Stop eating your brother's shoe."
"That's daddies sweaty sock, please take it out of your mouth."

And another important lesson as I was typing this blog. Joel just yelled from his bedroom, "Daddy, I have poop". Being the determined potty trainer that I am I rushed in to get him even though he should be 'taking a nap'. As soon as I saw him I realized I had made a fatal error, I had assumed a preposition. You don't realized how important prepositions are until it is omitted from a sentence such as 'I have poop'. You see Joel, having removed his pull-up, was standing at the gate to his room with a poop in his hand apparently very proud of the fact that he had not gone poop in his pull-up (because this is a no-no). I wrongly assumed that he was trying to say "I have TO poop" and had dropped the word TO from the sentence when indeed he was speaking correctly saying "I have poop".
Lesson learned.

The Rosen family went to Naples this week and we found a place to live. It's nice little condo in a gated community with a few younger families with kids close by (which is important in Naples with a median age seemingly around 105 years old). The weather was warm and the skies were clear for the whole trip. For those of you that were 'enjoying' the snow back in Idaho and Utah over the weekend, I submit our enjoyment of some october weather in Naples.

85 degrees with a nice ocean breeze. One of the things we'll enjoy about the west coast of Florida is that the ocean is very calm and there were plenty of children playing in the water without fear of being rolled by a rogue wave. The water was also at 85 degrees which is a few degrees warmer than the Atlantic is right now.

The boys did very well on that trip seeing as how they were trapped in car seats for many hours. Since they did so well I decided to take them to the zoo today. I was a little nervous about being able to herd two runners around a public zoo by myself but it turned out great. I'm trying to figure out Joel's bird phobia. He will literally put his face right on the glass with a huge king cobra on the other side and he'll talk and smile the whole time but if a sparrow walks up to him and chirps he goes into total leg clamp mode and it takes 5 minutes to calm him down. I don't get it.

The best part of the trip came after we were done with the zoo. We had promissed the boys that the next time we came to the zoo we would ride the train that takes a lap around the park. I was reminded several times of that promise by 'Joel the promise memorizor' as we exited the zoo. It turned out to be very fun, the conductor really tried to put on the whole show by saying "All aboard" and blaring the horn several times along the way. Joel was Mr. Serious, he was acting like his concentration was somehow keeping us on that track. Even Vance was enthrawled, he barely moved for the whole ride.
I can't remember how many takes this took....

All Aboard!

We were the only ones on the train

Mr. Serious

I'm guessing he'll be into Thomas the Train here shortly too

To finish this entry off, I was 'tagged' by Kristina a few days ago so I will grudgingly participate in this as to not be ostracized by my new blogging community. Apparently I have to list 6 quirks that I have and than tell 6 others to list quirks about themselves. Since I don't even know that many people that have blogs I'm going to shorten the list of people that I 'tag' and hope this is judged acceptable in blogging etiquette.

Manda was more than happy to start listing off quirks that I have, but the ones that she came up with are more traits (good and bad) than quirks.

1. I don't have many quirks, even Manda says "You're really not a quirky person". I think that not being quirky is a quirk.

2. I feel I must be in the driver's seat of anything moving. Car, plane, boat, etc. If I have to be there, I'd rather be driving.

3. If I am watching a sporting event and my team is doing poorly and I change the channels only to return to find they have improved, I will assume that somehow my watching is negatively effecting their play and I will not watch (other than checking the score) to help my team out :)

4. I hate raisins. I like grapes and prunes but not raisins. Can't figure it out.

5. I'm a tech junky. If I could trade my cell phone in every month to get the newest stuff, I would. Blue tooth anything, cell phones, watches, computers, cars, anything that is always improving I love.

6. I've actually re-parked the car before to get it straighter and/or equi-distant from the painted lines. For some reason I can't walk away from the car if the parking job is bad.

There, I feel I've emasculated myself enough for one day and posted quirks, thanks Kristina. Those who I'm tagging will know shortly....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The hunt is over

It looks like we're moving again!

Since I've been doing such a bang-up job of keeping everyone informed and/or keeping a nice blog going over the past few years, I'll recap what we've been up to. I've been flying for a small airline called Vintage Props & Jets, an all turbo-prop fleet with King Air 100's and Beechcraft 1900's (for those that don't know or care about airplanes, they hold 9 and 19 passengers and are usually used on short runs). Really a great job to start out. We did Bahama runs from central and southern Florida and flew a LOT. Those who are particularly attentive will note that I'm referring to Vintage in the past tense. I pulled up on the ramp one day after a flight and was told not to worry about coming to work the next day as the company was bankrupt. It was a good run. Didn't kill myself or anyone else which is pretty good in our 1969 era fleet. Here's the inside of one:
It's been tough finding a job since the economy is doing so well and the airlines are making so much money. I've been doing a couple of contract jobs like repo'ing our old fleet back to the bank and moving an airplane to Africa (mentioned in the below post) but other than that I've pretty much been Mr. Mom while Manda brings home the bacon for the last couple of months.

I'm grateful I've been able to have this time to hang out with my boys and Manda when she's home. Since we assumed I wouldn't be jobless forever we really made sure that we took advantage of this time together (too bad time together doesn't pay very well). But as much fun as it is to stay home and figure out how to get dried banana out of eyebrows, hear the words "Dada! ..... Poops!", and research what the chemical is that gerber puts in their food to make it impossible to get out of clothes; I was offered a job! The timing couldn't be better as I've started to do things that are making me nervous like: blogging, watching food network, having Manda teach me how to cook something that isn't super-charred on a grill, enjoying talking neighbor gossip with the old guy across the street, and entertaining the idea of going to play-dates.

We feel very blessed with this job opportunity. It will require us to move to South-western Florida (Manda has been praying that we'd move west and we will.... 80 miles) but the job is a serious upgrade from my last one and will be a great carreer move. As usual what looked like a serious trial has turned out to be a huge blessing.

The job has me flying one of these;to places all over the U.S. and Europe. For those aviation buffs, it's a Gulfstream 200 and I'm very excited to be flying it. This is the actual airplane at it's home base.The job doesn't start until December 1st (yes just in time to ruin Christmas!) so I still get some time to be at home and we won't be too rushed to work out the logistics behind another move.

While I'm here I'm putting in some recent shots of the boys.

This is going to be trouble


Kids n' bubbles....


Ahhh, to be two again

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Over the pond

Well I think I finally have a reason to blog. I recently got the opportunity to ferry a Beech 1900 to Conakry Guinea in Africa with my former boss Rob Waldron. He sent out an email about the trip and I've blatantly plagiarized his email below since I'm lazy. The precursor to this story is that the airline I used to work at, Vintage Props & Jets went bankrupt which left me with some time on my hands. Rob called me and said there was a contract job opportunity to fly one of the 1900's that we used to fly over to Africa. What a great experience! Here is Rob's version of our trip, I've interjected my own comments in parenthesis and in the color green :)

--"We started in good ol' Daytona Beach to Richmond VA, to Bedford MA, to Goose Bay CA. Saw the northern lights in Goose Bay as we stayed our first night there. The Canadian Customs personnel were very stern, but polite in a professional way.
Next morning we departed early and went further north to Canada to a place called Frobisher Bay for fuel where we were above the tree line, thus not a tree in sight at 65 degrees north! (also know as Iqaluit, pronounced Cal-ah-wit. This place was creepy, no vegetation for as far as you could see.)
From Frobisher we traveled south east over to Greenland and on the approach saw glaciers and many large icebergs in the bay. Not very hospitable if one were to put down in this area! We were very happy we didn't have to do an instrument approach into Greenland due to the huge mountains around and the 'dead end' going into the airport. An immediate turn is required if you go missed due to mountains up the forge at the other end of the runway. The run way at one end was fully 100 feet higher than the approach end.
Out of Greenland we traveled to Keflevik Iceland where parking was at a premium due to a NATO exercise going on with military aircraft from many different countries...including the US. We spent the second night here where everyone was very friendly and the town was rampant with activity. Techno/Disco music was blaring everywhere as an outdoor concert was going on by the bay in town. If you thought Techno/Disco was dead and/or punk style clothing and hair styles...fear not my friends...in Iceland it is alive and well. We had some language barriers due to TJ and myself not knowing a word in Icelandic.
We took an early morning Iceland departure to Stornoway Scotland. These people were nice and the countryside was beautiful. Very pretty country here, I'd like to visit again someday.

Scotland departure after about an hour delay with Customs and then over to London. The weather here was down to minimums and it was very bumpy and rainy. Fueled and ready for another leg we departed London and traveled to Bilbao Spain. TJ is fluent in Spanish and we had no problems communicating there. The landscape was very mountainous and the weather was still bad with moderate turbulence. We broke out a few thousand feet above the approach minimums for the ILS. (The pictures of Spain are very blurry since this was a very bumpy approach, winds were gusting to 40 KTS )


After Spain, we landed in Casablanca, Morocco. The taxi driver took us to the hotel doing 160 Km/hr on the highway. We haven't yet figured out how fast that is, but we know it was a little scary and produced more concern than any thing we had yet encountered flying! The hotels here...well, let me just say they stunk and the linens were not clean and this was one of the nicer hotels. The people here were also nice, but Arabic was the language of choice and neither of us spoke a word. We could get by on the little French that we knew as their second language.
Morocco to a place called Dakhla in the middle of the Sahara desert. This place was remote. Simply, it is an airstrip in the middle of the sand with a couple of buildings. Hot and desolate. I think if the locals wanted to they simply could remove us from the face of the earth here and we'd never be found. The locals were not very friendly and the language barrier was difficult. They wanted to see everything!! Pilot certs, medicals, registration, insurance, airworthiness, passports, drivers license, etc, etc....but the ironic thing is I don't think they could read a word of it. We got our fuel and left here as quickly as possible.

From Dakhla we traveled down to Banjul Gambia and then on to Conakry, Guinea which ended our journey. We were immediately surrounded by para-military personnel and EVERYONE wants money and their English is very broken. We spoke enough French to get by. (By speak enough french to get by Rob meant we could say: good morning, good afternoon, good-bye, and where is the bathroom) They want money to greet you, to meet you, to park your plane, to escort you into the airport, to unload your plane, to have you walk into the terminal etc, etc.
We managed there for two days and all I can say is BE THANKFUL FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE!

I think we sometimes forget all that we have as Americans and going to a place where the average daily wage is $2.00 is a real eye opener. The nicest hotel in town was dirty. My bathroom sink plummed right out onto the floor. When you turned on the faucet, water came out went into the sink and straight onto the floor. Dirty linens complete with stains and it smelled as did most of the people. Just ask TJ as his eyes were watering from the smell of the person sitting next to him on our flight out of Africa. This is the only place where on my departing flight the flight attendant took two can of air freshener and literally began at the front of the aircraft cabin held each arm out to the side with an air freshener in each hand and began walking to the back of the cabin with a continuous spay along the way...which helped tremendously! That was a first for me!
All in all it was an experience I'll never forget and the aircraft performed well for the most part. We're here in Florida again and glad to be back in the United States! A land I love."--

Rob mentioned the flight home, but didn't mention the full gravity of my seating arrangement. I spent 3.5 hours next to Captain B.O. of the Universe. If I could have reached my carry-on I would have smeared speed stick all over my face and as far into my nostril as I could cram, I might have even tackled this guy and forced the it on him. He then proceeded to "cocoon" himself in his blanket, literally covering himself from his feet to over his head, it looked like I was traveling next to a corpse except no corpse could smell this bad. Luckily this flight was back to Casablanca only and the 8 hour flight over the ocean to JFK was much nicer to my nose hairs.

Overall this really was a once in a life-time experience and I'm very glad that I got to go, it started out just being something I could do for money while I'm looking for a job but it turned out to be a real eye opener. Every American should spend a few weeks in a 3rd world country, I think that people would stop complaining about small trivial things and be grateful that we have the privileges that we do. We really do live in the best country in the world.