Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Dweeb in the Black Rubber Boots

15 March 2005

With all of the rain and now the mud around here, you can't help but to wear your ugly black boots over your shoes, especially now. If you don't you will have wet feet with mud up to your knees.

My new roommate and I were talking the other night and he was laughing about his first impressions when he was moving into the trailer. Upon his moving in, he happened to notice my ugly rubber boots sitting by the door and thought to himself, "What the heck kind of dweeb am I moving in with?"

Well, not until the torrential downpours over the last week, did he find out that I'm really not a dweeb...okay, not completely a dweeb. He came tooling home the other night and his shoes got sucked off his feet in the mud a couple of times and were unrecognizable as blue leather basketball shoes! Don't even ask about the socks! Him having been at ISG Camp Slayer across the highway, they live in a paved world over there. A world without mud. He never had the need for the black boots that we so liberally break out whenever a little sprinkle of rain comes into our lives here at Victory!

If I never mentioned it, Camp Victory and the lakes at Camp Slayer are or used to be maintained via a series of sluices from the river Tigris and some of the surrounding swamps or lakes. When the Americans took over these sites, they pretty much filled in and destroyed much of the complex irrigation system that fed the lakes, groves of date palms and other vegitation on the bases.

After work on Saturday night at about 8pm, I'm walking home all cocky and proud of my dry feet inspite of the rain, lakes and mud around me. In the dark, I noticed that KBR was pumping water from Dodge North into the sluice ditches in an effort to drain the trailer areas. As I got close to Dodge South, they seemed to be doing the same. Unbeknownst to me, they had also dredged out a section of pathway adjacent to the sluice that until tonight had been a walking path. Next thing I know, I'm waist-deep in a muddy 4 foot by 4 foot hole in the ground with water up to my butt!

The mud was soft and the water wasn't exactly bath-water, but I guess you could say I was surprised. KBR had not put any markers by this hole yet and so I must have been the first air-head to pass that spot and not see the hole. The whole episode almost reminded me of when I was little and we used to play in the swamps back home. You'd almost always find that unexpected sinkhole and end up waist deep in the brackish nasty swampwater. Or that time when we tried to float a wooden pallet with plywood on top (Venetian gondola style)across the deepest part of the swamp. Well, you get the picture. Boys and swamp water and creeks go together like eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in one hand with earthworms in the other hand.

To say I was mad was an understatement. I got back to the trailer and my roomy and neighbor Will were talking. I told them my story and I could see in Will's eyes that he wanted to break out and laugh out loud right there. But he didn't dare with the red in my eyes at the moment. As I took my boots and shoes off, I just poured the water out of them both. I was soaked to the bone in nasty brown water and smelled like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

As we were talking, I got over it and was able to laugh about it pretty quickly. I told them that I just knew that I was either going to falling and rolling around in the mud or end up somehow succumbing to the elements in some way or form this week.

At least I had Sunday off. I managed to snake my way by bike through the trailer park and find a dry trail to the roads and ended up going over to Slayer to wash clothes. The only part of the ride that was dangerous was at the viaduct under the highway between Slayer and Victory. Whenever we get gulley-washers, it takes some time for the water levels to drain off. Not that a car can't get through it. You just don't want to be riding a bike without fenders through the mud and water. You get that famous reverse skunk-line up your back otherwise.

Surprisingly, the socks came clean and white again. With as brown as they were when I took them off the night before, I never would have thought they'd come clean again. I also ended up tossing my shoes in the wash too. They were looking kind of "tired" after their little dip in the swampwater.

Things have been drying up over the past few days. According to the ten-day forcast on weather.com, we have no rain predicted through next Saturday either. Things are starting to warm up here. The weather almost reminds me of Phoenix in the Spring.
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