So I flew into Clovis last week and have been kind of just hanging out for the last few days. Before I go too far, let me first say that the flight from Dallas to Clovis was the best flight I’ve ever been on. Serious, it was the absolute best. I was on a small turbo prop airplane that sat eight people and there were three of us on board. The chairs were executive level seats that were very comfortable, like sitting in a laz-e-boy (are they still around). From my seat I could see the cockpit and look through the front windshield and of course I had a perfect view from the side too. The other two people on the flight were behind me so it felt like I was on the plane alone. We had some pretty strong turbulence too, but I don’t know why it wasn’t scary, it just seemed fun to me.

The view from my seat. Isn’t it just too perfect. I wish flying was always like this.

Everything about the flight was perfect. The planes took off from DFW, but at a different location so there was no TSA screening. I just checked in, grabbed a seat and waited for the flight to leave. I didn’t have to rush to a gate, or do any of the other BS stuff. I can honestly say that if flying was like that everywhere I’d travel a lot more instead of dreading flying.

So anyway, I’m in Clovis and to be completely honest, I’m loving it here. There are some things that are kind of a pain, like not having a car, but other than that I’m feeling really good.

I’ve kind of stayed away from talking about why I’m here just because I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about it in this context. I will say I am here for a purpose, not for a visit or pleasure. Even though I’m here more for business, both of those are coming into play on my stay. The thing that is really shocking me is I forgot what it was like to have friends, or maybe good friends around. Since I’ve been back to the US I have felt more at home than anywhere else than I’ve been. It could be because I’m new basically just the flavor of the month, and given time things will go back to normal, but for now, it has been great experience.

Me looking all business and sporting some serious brow wrinkles.

I’ve started working on my next video. This video will be on an abandoned village in an emirate in the UAE. I started it yesterday and it’s going really slow. The past videos I’ve done sometimes I start slow, but get excited somewhere midway in the process. Usually when this happens it’s because during the process I can see where the video needs/wants to go. It just doesn’t seem to be happening on this one. Right now I’m working on the voice over and I haven’t stalled on it, but I’m struggling to be creative and informative without sounding like a weirdo. I’ve roughed in about half of the voice over and tomorrow I’ll finish most of it. It won’t be done, but it will probably be close to being finished. Then I’ll have to go back and edit the footage for clarity and tempo. The rough pass of editing was just to get the parts that I thought were important to the narrative. Once I have the voice over, I’ll have to refine and modify the video footage to get something in a finished state.

So that’s it for now. Actually, there’s more that I want to talk about, but for now I think that I’ll end this post. I can tell that I’m rambling a little– not too much but rambling all the same.

A view of the beach from a cliff.

Today was a very good day. If you’ve read many of my posts you should notice that I pretty much speak honestly, and honestly, I can say was a very good day. It was so good to that I finally got to see my Brother in over six years. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see my Mother though. I guess she wasn’t home when we stopped by her house.

I woke up and started moving at about 8 or so. I had hoped to wake up much earlier, but with the time difference I had a bit of a problem falling asleep last night. So my brother and I decided to meet up at about 10/11 and then headed out for breakfast. About the only meals that you can’t get overseas are the traditional American breakfasts. You can come close, but there is nothing better than bacon and eggs, pancakes and coffee to start off a day. Many of the smaller countries in Asia don’t do ham/bacon and none the countries do pancakes. In fact I don’t think in the last five years I’ve seen one pancake.

The Oregon coast is so rugged and beautiful.

Our first stop was just to drive around and sight see some of the changes that have happened since I lived here. Much of my childhood and most of the adult life I lived in Portland. It wasn’t until about 1997 that I moved to New Mexico and later to Texas. So every time I come back to Portland I want to see what’s changed. Sometimes it’s huge changes, maybe a whole block will have been removed and replaced with condos, but other times, like this time, there doesn’t seem to be very many big changes. Sure some businesses are gone or new businesses have sprouted up, but for the most part everything pretty much seemed the same.

After that we went to visit my nephew and then decided to go to the beach. It was raining and cold. I can’t emphasize the “cold” enough… and just in case there I wasn’t totally clear, it was cold. :) I’ve always had a connection to the Oregon coast. I think it was because I spent so much time there as a child that I felt like it was mine. Seriously, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true, the connection was so strong that I felt like it was my personal coastline. My brother wanted to go to a park that has a viewing spot where you can see a light house out in the distance. So we headed there. When we got to the park we saw a herd of elk grazing beside the parking lot. It was so cool, a whole herd of about 15 (we actually counted but I forgot how many) elk just hanging out.

An elk watching me take some photos

Since I didn’t think that we would be going anywhere that I’d need a camera today I didn’t bring mine. I did have my phone, so I did manage a few photos. Unfortunately, my phone didn’t last very long and before I was done the battery was dead. I hate when that happens, but least I did get some photos and I probably would have only take maybe ten more, so it’s okay. I’ll include them in this post. My brother had his camera and it’s much better than my phone so if he sends me some of the ones that he took, then maybe I’ll post them here.

By the time we had taken the photos is was starting to feel like the sun was going down. I say feel because it was already dark from the cloud cover, but it just seemed darker, and in reality it was pushing 5pm at that point. So we headed back to the city, about 100 miles away. I got back to the hostel at 7 and went to a grocery store for dinner. Don’t laugh, there are some good meals to be had at some stores. I ate orange chicken, spicy green bean chicken, fried rice, and pot stickers for dinner. It was really good.

I think that’s all for now. Tomorrow I’m back on the road and will be heading to Dallas early afternoon. I’m getting so close to finishing my travels I can almost taste it. :)

Most of the herd that was grazing. There was still another group nearby.

[Updated]I hope this post doesn’t come off as too negative. I’m trying my best to be as open and as objective about what’s going on at the moment, but I kind of feel as if I’m being too negative. That being said, I’m sitting in the airport in Honolulu waiting for my flight in a couple of hours. It’s early and I can tell today has the chance to work out okay or it could possibly fall apart and there won’t be anything I can do to stop it. I’ll explain further down. I’m flying Southwest and I’m nervous about the flight too, mostly about where I’ll get to sit.

I’ve been trying to get everything in order before I arrive in Portland later today and besides my attempts it seems that this trip will be a waste of time and money. I initially thought that I’d stay in Portland with family until I head to NM early next week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a hold of anyone, and there just didn’t seem to be any reason for me to stay in Portland if I wasn’t going to be spending time with family. I decided to book my flight to Dallas earlier than I expected it’s on the 11th. I did receive an email from a family member afterwards. [Update: I have been in communication with a family member, and we’re planning on meeting up tomorrow… so that worked out]

I also booked a place in Portland for two nights. I told them that I would be arriving late, about midnight. They replied with, “Don’t expect to show up and have someone be here, the office closes at 2200.” I also had me arriving on the 10th, so they told me to change my reservation and let them know when I will be arriving. So I did that. I changed my reservation and sent them an email requesting a late check in. Their response was that I needed to call them and let them know that I’ll be checking in late. I responded with, I will be traveling all day so I would like to request now. They replied with please call us to let us know if you’ll be checking in late. I replied back, “As I mentioned, I’ll be traveling all day, and I don’t have a phone, so I can’t call you. Please use this email as my request at a late check in.” Now I’m waiting for confirmation on a late check in. So I’m kind of stressing on whether they’ll just ignore me and I’ll show up to a locked door. I just don’t understand why they are making it so difficult… I haven’t faltered once on whether I’ll be there or what time I’ll arrive. My guess is that no one wants to wait around until midnight for me to arrive, and maybe they hope if they are difficult enough I’ll just give up. [Update: Just got an email from them giving me the information I need for late check in. So I’m good to go on that.]

I mentioned that I’m flying Southwest. This is the first time I’ve ever flown with them and to be honest I always told myself that I wouldn’t ever book with them. I had heard some kind of bad stuff, lots of good stuff too, but the bad stuff like legroom kept me from wanting to fly with them. When I booked the flight the price was pretty good so I decided to give them a try. I found out at check in that it’s open seating. I’ve never experienced that before, but I guess once you get on board you pick the seat that you want. No assigned seats. That just scares me. The very real possibility of being forced into a middle seat between two people for a prolonged amount of time gives me some serious anxiety. [Update: I have just landed in Oakland, and I got to say that my flight here was one of the best I’ve had in recent times. Way to go, Southwest!]

The view from the window on my flight today. This is about 15 minutes out of Oakland. If you look close you can see how rough the sea was.

So now I’m sitting on the floor of the Oakland airport waiting for my flight in about 3 hours. I say 3 hours, but they keep pushing the time back, it was 945, then 955, then 10, now it’s 1015. I hope that it isn’t delayed any more than that. This flight is with Southwest too. I’m curious if my other flight from Honolulu was an anomaly, or all of SW’s flights are that good. The delay isn’t giving me too much confidence though. :)

It is so strange being back in the US, you know, the actual US. Hawaii is the US but it’s so touristy where I was at, that it still kind of felt like I was more of a tourist than anything. Here I’m just a regular guy just hanging out in the airport waiting for my flight. Anyway, I digress. it is strange to be back. For the most part there doesn’t feel like anything has changed, but also that quite a bit has. I don’t know what other way than that to describe it. I think the base American caricature [I chose that word because there is a stereotype of what an American is] is still the same, but the things around them are different. The people are still as friendly as I remember them, they will jump into a conversation with anyone at the slightest opportunity. It’s so strange, but also so endearing. On the other side I haven’t seen a restaurant that I recognize in the airport. Not one. If I was on the east coast I just say it was a regional thing, but I am kind of close, relatively speaking, to Portland, you’d think I recognize some business. Even if it’s a coffee shop, burger place, convenience store, something, but so far nothing yet.

I was only scheduled to be in Hawaii for three days and I leave for the mainland tomorrow morning. I’ve got to admit I haven’t been doing the tourist-thing very well. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the time difference that my body is trying to deal with, or maybe it’s the idea that I never intended for this to be a vacation, more of just a long layover. Whatever the reason, I have been very boring since I got here.

A strange thing happened to me yesterday, sorry, that sounds a little dramatic, maybe the best way to say it is just that I ended up sleeping for over 15 hours. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my phone. 15 hours! I’m sure at some point in my life I’ve slept like that, but I can’t remember when. I was talking to one of the other guest here and he said it’s because of the time difference, basically it was jetlag. I don’t know though, seems a little bit weird to me.

Anyway, after waking up about 2pm I decided that I needed to do something so I headed out to try to find some food. I ended up walking to beach and walked by a Walmart. Oh, I like Walmarts. There is something that just feels right when I walk though the doors, like I’ve got permission to buy anything I want. Somewhere along through life I just decided to trust Walmart to have the best prices so I rarely shop when I’m there, I buy. :)

My flight leaves Honolulu tomorrow morning at 9, so I’ve scheduled my taxi for 6. I know it’s early but I would rather be waiting at the airport than cutting it too close and stressing all the way to the airport.

I’ve also booked a room at a hostel in Portland. It’s strange but I can’t seem to get a hold of anyone in my family. I don’t know what’s going on if I’ve done something wrong, or they aren’t home to take a call, or something else. I guess when you haven’t seen someone for over 6 years, there just isn’t a loss when you don’t see them for longer. It’s just strange though… I need to fly to TX so I’ll have maybe two days, maybe 1 (since I can’t seem to contact my family) to see how the city has changed.

So I got in about 11:30 this morning and everything went really well. I got through passport control and did all the usual things really quickly. The only drawback was that I was forced to use a taxi instead of some other relatively cheaper method of getting into the city. It kind of sucked having to pay $40 to go 9 miles but I didn’t have any other way.

View of the beach from a pier.

I still don’t have any clue how the hours worked out though. I left Osaka at 11:30 pm and the pilot said that it was a 6 hour flight, but I got there 12 hours later plus 24 hours earlier. So I don’t know if I got 2 hours of sleep or 10 hours of sleep. I guess it doesn’t matter, but I felt like I slept about 3 or 4 hours total.

I took off from the hostel at about 2 this afternoon for a walk. I kind of wanted to go to the beach, but I wasn’t set on it. I think Diamond Head has always been cool to me so it was my plan to go in that direction. So I started walking. I’m not sure how far I walked, but probably less than 10 miles, but long enough for my legs to be tired. I ended up getting to the beach after wandering for a bit.

Back when I was here as a teenager, when my Mom took me, I remember not being too impressed with the beaches. I can confirm, I’m still not that impressed. Don’t get me wrong the beaches I saw today were okay, they just aren’t in the same league as some of the ones I seen in other places. There just isn’t enough beach. There’s only about 25 to 30 feet of sand before the water. Maybe it was high tide though.

Just a photo of people having fun in the water.

When I got there the sun was headed down and I got some great views of a some sailboats in silhouette. Lots of people were there and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.

Sat 28/08/10 03:48
Meeting with friends

Today my first goal was to drive around Clovis to see what has changed since I was last here. I did a little of that earlier, but today I took it a bit more seriously, stopping at the more important locations instead of just driving by. My old house that I lived in while I was here is for sale so I spent about twenty minutes checking it out. It looks like it’s been empty for quite a while. The windows to the garage are broken out, the yard looks like it hasn’t been mowed all summer and the front porch has two huge wasp nests. It really makes me want to see how much they are asking for it. Wouldn’t that be kind of funny if I ended up buying my old house back? My only problem with that is the neighborhood has gone down even lower than it was when I lived there, and it wasn’t the best when I left in 2004, but if I could pick it up for cheap, it possibly could be a good investment.

Ken Curtis, Clovis, New Mexico Summer 2010 Sunset over Clovis, NM Summer 2010

About eleven in the morning I made it to ENMU to see some of the friends that I missed the day before. I was kind of nervous because it’s been something like two years since I last saw them and I haven’t kept in contact as much as I should have. My fears were soon dismissed when I saw Mic. I wrote about Mic and all that she has done for me in a page on my regular site (not the blog). I don’t want to go into the details, but let me say that seeing Mic, Cathy, Greg and Greg was one of the best experiences I’ve had, next to seeing my brother, this summer. All those names are professors that I first met in 1997 when I started attending Eastern New Mexico University as a student, and friends when I started teaching there in 2001. I consider them all to be nothing less that my family. They are, along with a few other friends that live in Clovis, the reason that I still consider this area to be my home even though I haven’t lived here for six years.

I hung out with one of the Gregs at his house for lunch and a beer and then later we all went out for an early dinner. It was a great time and reminded me of how much I miss living in Dubai. I’ve been in Dubai for three-plus years and still don’t have any connection to anyone or anything like I do here. It’s probably my fault, but the fact remains that Dubai really doesn’t feel like home to me.

After dinner I headed back to Canyon, Texas for my last night before taking the long trip back to Dubai. As a side note I stopped at an ATM to check my balance and all the money that was stolen from me was back in my account. What a nice thing to see!

I had a pretty good night’s rest last night and have been up for about an hour, maybe a little bit longer writing for the blog and trying to figure out my timings for the day. My flight to Dallas leaves Amarillo at almost three in the afternoon. I have to return the rental car, look for some clothes that I still need to buy, and there are some computer parts that I like to see if I could find. I don’t think that I’ll have any problem doing all that, but you never know. I also have to consider that I have layovers in every stop on my way back. I have two hours in Dallas and two in London, so that will mean that means the next time I will be somewhere to actually relax will be (with the time difference included) eleven at night tomorrow, about forty hours, or about twenty-six actual hours. Speaking of time, it’s about time that I start to get ready. Just like I started to miss my brother before he left about three days ago, I’m already starting to miss Texas and New Mexico. My next post will most likely be from Dubai, unless there’s Internet access from any of the airports that I stop at.