December 2015 Kissimmee, FL – Peace River, FL

After spending 3 wet and rainy weeks in Peace River, Wauchula, FL I left for a friends home in Kissimmee, FL. My concentration during this stay was on my book. Through my friend Jennifer I met Joyce who became my editor (Mimi Coppola). While still in Peace River we would work through the development of my book Sandbox to Sandbox. She is in Germany and I’m in Florida so the morning hours were involved in coordinating actions and the evenings in rewriting.

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Alligator at Peace River

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As I moved to Joyce’s home and parked the RV in the drive I was able to concentrate in the seclusion of this home located on Lake Tohopekaliga.

Kissimmi house

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It was tough to be in this small home by myself and pay attention to anything but the sunrises and sunset on the lake, but someone had to do it!

Honestly though this was a very productive time in collaboration with both Jennifer and Joyce. We were able to put the book together by including Jennifer’s journey and how we are all inter-related. Through the chance meetings and friendships born in Indianapolis 10 years ago to the battlefields of Afghanistan to the New Jersey business meetings to a wonderful woman in Germany – all came together to help me complete the story book of my life.

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I traveled back to Indianapolis to spend the Christmas holidays with my twin daughters and Emily’s boyfriend Devin as the young Army Captain came in from Syracuse, NY. On Christmas Eve we continued a tradition started last year by going to a Korean BBQ at Mamma’s House in Indy. Yummmm.

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Alexis brought good news from Seattle as she has been hired by Covance as a Lab Tech and Emily shared that she has completed a semester at IUPUI towards another degree and received a scholarship and tutorial position with the math department.

I published the kindle version of Sandbox to Sandbox on Christmas Eve! The paperback followed in January.

A few pictures of the Indiana Winter sunsets and moon:

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I returned to Peace River, Wauchula on Dec 30th to escape the cold only to be inundated with the rain again!  Better than snow any day!

Now to get busy and kick out the trilogy of the ‘Afghan Journals’!

18 December 2015

I’ve been receiving Christmas Greetings from my friends so I’m preparing my own to let all of you know what I’ve been doing this year, my first year back from Afghanistan.

Emily and I visited Alexis during the last couple of months in 2014 and assisted her through her surgery. We traveled back to Indianapolis from Seattle in December to enjoy the holidays as a family.

Christmas 2014

Alexis traveled back to Seattle in January and I froze during the winter in Indy and made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t freeze the next winter!

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Not only did I freeze but I suffered from a mild PTSD from the events in Afghanistan during 2014. I had intended to write a book during the first few months of 2015 based on my daily journal entries covering my 3 and a half years in Kabul, Afghanistan. I found that the house was too lonely, too quiet and I couldn’t write like I wanted to. So in March I purchased a small motorhome and on the first day of Spring I left Indianapolis on a great adventure to heal myself and write my book.

I have always wanted to visit Asheville, NC and the Biltmore estate so that is my first destination. I met with a friend I made on an RV site on facebook and enjoyed a tour of the city and enjoyed my time so much that I booked a week at the Cascade Lake resort where I was able to write 4 chapters in the book.

I then traveled into the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee to Cades Cove for a few nights before continuing onto Sevierville, TN where I met more RV enthusiast.

After a week I left Tennessee for the Washington DC area. First I stayed at the Andrews Air Force Base RV Park as it was convenient to all the sights. The Cherry Blossoms were almost all gone but Gina, a battle buddy from Kabul, took me on a whirlwind tour of the downtown sites to include the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Colonel Ken Rodgers, a battle buddy as well and MG Greene’s Chief of Staff, escorted me to Arlington National Cemetery. We visited our friend and boss Major General Harold Greene’s gravesite as well as our friend and battle buddy Sergeant Major Wardell Turner’s. These two gentlemen will always hold a special place in my heart and the world would be a better place if they were still here. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to Ken Rodgers for taking me there and for allowing me to be present at a dedication ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Grounds for MG Greene.

I visited with Cheryl, another battle buddy from Kabul, and helped around the house and then housesat for her and used this time to put out another large chunk of the book. While here in the Washington DC/Alexandria, VA area I met with my battle buddies from LMI for dinner, I met with other battle buddies at a reunion picnic and even more battle buddies as Maile got married! I stayed at Alex’s house for a couple of days as he was home on R&R from Kabul and even met Norma, John’s better half! Don and I spent some time together enjoying dinners and a tour of Mount Vernon before he left for his next assignment in Hawaii.

By this time I realized I needed to be towing a vehicle behind my motorhome. I wanted the freedom of movement that a ‘toad’ would give me. I returned to Indianapolis in June and purchased a shiny new red Jeep Wrangler before hitting the road for New Jersey.

Jennifer, another battle buddy from Afghanistan, and I spent the last rain soaked weekend of June at a Rib Fest and Music Concert. We had a great time. From New Jersey I departed for Newport, RI where I spent a week with Paul, a battle buddy from Kabul, learning about Newport, RI from a local. By this time I had met enough of my battle buddies that my PTSD was gone and I could continue my journey and complete my book.

Just after July 4th Alexis asked me to return to Seattle as she was to have another surgery and undergo Proton Radiation treatments. Emily had remained with her through 6 months of Chemotherapy and now it was my turn to be with Alexis. I drove the RV across country and while with Alexis as a supporting arm I also enjoyed the Pacific Northwest. I was also able to meet with Eric, another battle buddy from Kabul. Lunch with his family in Anacortes, WA was quite a treat.

Just as Alexis completed her Radiation treatments at the end of September I left Washington to meet Mary Eileen, another battle buddy from Kabul. She joined me for a quick tour of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Little Big Horn, Chief Crazy Horse monument, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Rocky Mountain National Park and Denver. She flew back to Washington DC before vacationing in Europe and accepting a new assignment in Montreal.

From Karen’s home in Denver, yep another battle buddy, I went to visit my son in Albuquerque, NM. After some exciting off road driving on the old Route 66 from the 1930’s and the original NM Highway 1 I departed for Dallas, TX. A day of getting the RV examined and a couple of small repairs made I set my GPS on Gulfport, MS to visit Vickie for a week of quiet time to write on the book.

Vickie and I loaded up our RV’s and drove to the Panhandle of Florida to meet up with other RV friends. From Navarre, FL a few of us traveled to Carrabelle, FL and the ‘Ho Hum RV Resort’. After spending a week on the Gulf and purchasing a Kayak we pulled out for Homosassa, FL.

More friends joined us in Homosassa. I stayed for a month enjoying the warmth of Florida, kayaking and biking with friends. Unfortunately on my 63rd birthday I had a bicycle accident and broke a rib on my right side. Not knowing I broke it I went for a weekend trip to the Rainbow River state park kayaking and bicycle riding.

From Homosassa I went to Wauchula, FL and the Peace River. Here I also kayaked, biked and fished until I finally gave in and went to the Florida Hospital where X-Rays revealed that I did in fact have a fractured rib. So I became sedentary, writing on my book and through Jennifer met Joyce who is now the editor of my book. With her support and encouragement there have been many modifications to the book and we are almost ready to publish it.

I have been fortunate this year to enjoy family, friends and I’ve been able to share many memorable meals and sunsets. This has been a wonderful first year of retirement. Next year I will turn the RV toward the Western States to tour Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Oregon. But then, I have no lock on my compass and I may end up in New York or Maine!