I just returned to Naw Zad for a two- or three-week stay that will complete the shooting in Afghanistan. As it happens they were grilling chicken and cooking up real french fries for dinner tonight. The feast was not, as I happily assumed, in honor of my return. Although the Marines did greet me like a long-lost brother. OK, long-lost grandfather.
Things have changed a bit at the outpost: They spread gravel over most of the open ground, which has eliminated the choking clouds of moon dust, dust the consistency of talcum powder. In some places your sank into it over your boot top. Not to be gross but I coughed up brown crude for a month after I got home. But while the gravel holds down the dust, ask any Marine and he'll bitch about how hard the gravel is to walk in. One of the things I love best about Marines is they'll bitch about anything. They also have (small drum roll here please) a real laundry facility. You turn your laundry in and they get it back to you the same day. I can't wait to try it. There is also -- and I'm not going to say where for obvious reasons -- a small ice making machine. Ice! It's a nice machine about the size of a small micro wave. One of the Marines had it sent from home. We have branded it the expeditionary ice machine. Remember, Marines are supposed to do without such comforts. But ice! A real miracle.