A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Krazy Khost Weather

Looking for that perfect Memorial Day vacation spot? Do you want strong sun, unpredictable storms and incredibly starry nights, without the crowds or bodies of water nearby? Then brother, have I got a deal for you! While not as scorching as Jalalabad, Khost is also quite a toasty place by mid-May, and surprisingly humid. And with that comes almost-daily thunderstorms...

The storms here take on some different characteristics from most t-storms I remember from home, especially when they approach. Lightning is often pulsating rapidly around the sky, putting any strobe light show to shame with its random but constant flashes and glows. Thunder is usually a steadily rolling rumble, without pause...then it all comes sweeping in, and the place just gets totally lit up with whipping wind, deafening crashes, and even hail. The baseball-sized hail we got pounded by the other night did a lot of damage, in fact...even the guys I talked to from the plains states and the southeast said it was some of the biggest they've ever seen...

OK, no making fun of my lame attempts to capture lightning in these pictures! I spent a half-hour out in one recent storm with my old digital camera, hoping that by the time it finished its tedious process of taking one photo, it would yield me a rare full lightning bolt, or something close to it. Alas, this is all I've got. Ansel Adams' descendants have nothing to fear - I won't be taking away their steady flow of income anytime soon.

Here is some of the driving rain that showed up to greet me the first afternoon I spent back in Khost. At the time, I thought that was a kick-ass storm (this was before the hailstorm), and was surprised the tent didn't break apart in it. Yep, I managed to return while my "hardshell" accomodations were being covered in flooring, so we were in tents...but I think the real reason was that they wanted the Marine to feel at home.

Speaking of which, I did embellish with a bit of blarney my recent postings: I am not the only Marine in the east (and by that I mean east of Bagram/Kabul, Shannon!), but I am sure as hell the only one on this large FOB, and that makes me enough of a curiosity. And a badass, of course. A badass crouching down to photograph standing water all over the place...

I know what you're thinking now...AfghaniDan, didn't you already post photos of this same place in a post-rain flood? And the answer is...quit asking me questions, I don't have time for them. I have indeed, but you've got to understand - I don't remember what open water looks like! For a dude who's lived near ocean his whole life, I had to stop and stare at a large rain pond the other day because the wind was creating little ripples on it. This place is seriously landlocked.

Some tents did show more wear-and-tear than others. Maybe post-rainstorm is just one of the only times I think to bring my camera as I walk around the base...that could partly account for my obvious fascination with giant puddles.

So back to the hailstorm - I had to actually wonder for a few seconds what in God's name was making such a racket on the roof (my internal thinking voice is patterned on Fred Mertz and other classic grouchy old men). A product of the great northeast, I was pretty unfamiliar with the stuff. So naturally when I stepped outside to pick up a couple of them, I got whacked in the head a couple of times. Lesson learned: large ice rocks falling from clouds tend to hurt.

Again, I was absolutely mesmerized by moving water. But there may have been another downside beyond just mud. I don't know if additional water made the shit pond stench stronger or not, but that mid-afternoon breeze has been FIERCE. The kind of smell that jacks you up against the wall, takes your money and kicks you a few times in the family jewels, you know?

Then it was moving day...again (that's my buddy Todd getting ready to haul his hope chest inside). Hey, I'm not complaining! My appreciation for the accomodations here is unsurpassed- anyone who bitches about conditions here gets a good lecture about the hard livin' elsewhere from me. It just makes me laugh that whether in civilian life or military, I am simply always moving. I have too many family members and friends who can attest to that - I love you guys, and will need your help again in


Blogger Major John said...

So let me get this staight - the HESCOs serve as levees, the Jersey Barriers channel the water and the bunkers are mini retention ponds (or do you hide from the hail there?).

May 26, 2006 at 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your storm photos and have copied them all. You may denigrate them, but they are wonderful!!!

Khost! So this is improved living conditions? All I can say is thank-you all for the sacrifices. America loves you and all you do for us and that certainly includes this writer!

May 26, 2006 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger kbug said...

Your storm sounds alot like the storms we get here in Texas. The strobe lightning, the rolling non-stop thunder combined with louder clashes, the winds, and the large hail. Throw in a tornado or two and you've really got it. Yep, I couldn't help but smile when you were describing it...sorry.... :) Great pictures, by the way.

May 26, 2006 at 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Betsy said...

Definitely fantastic weather and photos to match, even ordinary stuff like water. My subject is flowers - have a whole album already. Be careful of those hail balls. You're right - your address is either in pencil or erasable marker! With prayers for all you service guys and gals on this Memorial Day - Love, AB

May 27, 2006 at 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your pictures of ponds :-)
Thank you. If you can - please tell your team too "thank you" from my family in Denver.
I'm celebrating Memorial Day weekend by packing boxes and making DVDs to mail.
And we are going to attend a tribute service for the fallen on Monday.
Stay safe.

May 28, 2006 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't sign...
Agnieszka and family

May 28, 2006 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Slappy&Lulu said...

Paco, you know we're always ready to help with the move ... and come August, you get to help with ours as well. The Rolling Stones gather no moss ... or something like that ...

May 29, 2006 at 5:54 PM  

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