Friday, February 23, 2007

Inland Sea Picnic

Another first for me, off-roading across the sand dunes of Doha, Qatar. Ten of us were picked up this morning at 0930 in two SUV’s. Since I was the senior officer, actually the only officer (it was pretty sad, I was old enough to be the father of every other soldier that went with me) I was the TC – tactical commander. That meant I got to ride in the lead vehicle in the front passenger seat. Pretty cool.
Here I am with our driver.

When we reached the end of the paved road we had to pull over to let the air out of the tires. Coincidentally there were two guys with camels there waiting for us and for a mere $5 you could have your picture taken with one and go for a “short” ride, short being the operative term. All I wanted was a picture but I got to go for the ride anyway. We went about 20 feet up and 20 feet back and that was my ride. Pretty impressive.

If you’ve ever seen a camel get up and down before, it’s quite the process and you’d better hold on. I don’t remember the exact sequence of movements but the camel basically rocks back and forth as it gets to its feet. I wasn’t quite ready for the jerkiness of it all so had to hold on pretty tight. I guess that’s why the “guide” kept pointing to ropes for me to hold on to.

After the exhilarating camel ride, we took off for the dunes. It was a total blast. The driver was bound and determined to show us a good time. We got up to 110 kilometers in some parts. Oh one thing, in his vehicle if he got over 130 kilometers the car would start pinging telling him he was exceeding the speed limit. I’m glad we don’t have that feature on our cars. It would become quite annoying for some people, I’m sure.

He took us steep dunes and down steep dunes. He’d take us along the sides of steep dunes. He’d get up to 110 kph and start fish tailing the vehicle. We never really got any air but came close several times. Since I was the old man amidst a bunch of young bucks who were whooping it up, I couldn’t very well hold on for dear life but at times I felt like it. There were a couple of times that I literally thought he was going to roll the SUV. I’m sure there were a couple of times if the conditions were right we would have rolled. Just what I didn’t need to finish off my last day of pass in Qatar, getting into a roll-over. But it was a total blast.

Our adventure ended at the Gulf. The water was incredibly beautiful and blue and chilly. Six of us played volleyball and had a great time despite the stiff wind that kept carrying the ball all over the place. After our game lunch was served.

We were told that there would be a barbecue of shishkabobs, lamb, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, bread, fruit and salads. Lunch turned out to be less than advertised. It consisted of a big plate of rice with lamb and a few pieces of chicken. We each had a very small plate of salad, one slice of tomato and three slices of cucumber. A few had a cup of plain yogurt. It was funny to watch these young guys try the yogurt and pull all sorts of faces. I think they thought it was going to be sweet, like Yoplait, or something. Lunch was good, don’t get me wrong, but just not what we expected.

After lunch I hit the beach with my Super Heroes. I remembered to take them this time. They had a great time in the sand and relaxing on the beach chair with their Pepsi-Lite.

I walked down the beach for at least a mile or so. It was so nice to just walk in the sand and listen to the sound of the “waves” (small ones since we were in the Gulf) lapping the sand. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to walk in the warm sunshine on the beach. I just wish I had had some better company with me. It’s a good thing that I get along with myself so well.

After a relaxing day on the beach, we took another exciting drive through the dunes to get back to camp. The dunes are incredible. With the wind blowing across them it’s so easy to understand how they can move and change shape. In some places the sand was pretty deep and impassable. It made me grateful that I wasn’t having to walk through the sand. I imagined nomads, soldiers and travelers of another day and age having to struggle through this type of environment. All I could say was “thank goodness for 4-wheel drive and air conditioning.”
Want a smoke of apple tobacco from a huucka (sp)?


Sarah said...

Hello. I'm Seth's friend. I wondered if you could let me know where Seth is ticklish. He gave me the address to your blog page and said you would love to answer my question. I really like your pictures. Thankyou!

JAGMAN said...

Dear Sarah,

I can't believe that you want to put your hands on my son? The outrage!?!? The nerve!?!? Wait 'till I come home on leave. I'll give you a piece of my mind!!

There. Are you intimidated now? As well you should be.

(Seth is actually ticklish everywhere - under his arms, his ribs, his knees, his feet. He'll flinch if you even make a move to tickle him. Does that answer your question?)

Sarah said...

Wow. I am so intimidated. In my defense, he started it. And thank you. That answered my question perfectly.