Forums / Off Topic / The Prodigal Son returns from the Holy Land

6 years 1 week ago, 1:44 PM

Schuyler

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Sniff, sniff! WTF happened here? I can’t leave you guys alone for three weeks and the first time I sign on I find snake and badgirl? Am I in a time machine? Plus I get demoted. That sucks. I just returned from the desert of the Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Got a couple extra weeks of 85 degree weather out of the deal and returned to 20 degrees and snow on the ground. Since you don’t want to read a missive, just a few points: We followed the traditional path of Moses out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Across the Red Sea (There’s a tunnel, so we didn’t need Moses to part it, across the Sinai to Mt. Sinai, then across Jordan to Mt. Nebo, where Moses saw Israel, then into Israel itself.

* Armed guards accompanied us throughout Egypt. The hotel had a secure perimeter. Guards even went to the can with us, stood on the sidewalk when we went to a store. Black suits in the city, brown suits in the country. Tried hard to see what they were carrying. All I know is that it was big and they had an extended clip on the belt in back. They were introduced as “police officers provided by the government.” They sat in front and didn’t talk much. M-16s are everywhere. You just see the barrel poking out of a pillbox alongside the highway.

• Jordan has lots of hummers with machine guns mounted on top alongside the roadways under a tent. You DO NOT take pictures of them or at checkpoints. The King speaks perfect American English and flies his own Blackhawk helicopter. Also, Indiana Jones lied. To get to Petra you have to walk down a very steep two miles. Helluva climb back up.

• I hadn’t realized the Israelis were so arrogant. Getting across the border was a bitch unless you had $100 for a bribe to get you to the front of the line. They’ll trash your luggage just for fun.

• If you were stuck on a freeway at night in Israel you couldn’t tell the difference between there and the US. It is thoroughly modern. Jordan is just a step behind. Egypt is poor and dirty, but they do have freeways. It’s just that the lane markers are optional. You can fit 6 lanes of cars in 4 lanes of freeway, so that’s what they do.

• The Dead Sea is the world’s biggest hot tub. 1000 feet deep, 2400 feet below sea level, 105 degrees in the summer, and the saltiest thing I have ever tasted.

• Our group was 34 people, 12 different countries, all legal naturalized Americans. A real mixed bunch and a fun group. Although…..some people really are too stupid to travel. Take a roll of toilet paper. Really.

• I believe it is blasphemy to have your picture taken in front of what could very well be the actual tomb of Jesus of Nazareth with a shit eating grin on your face. That is NOT cool. Golgotha, (the skull rock), one of the candidates for the crucifixion spot, is now a paved lot for tour busses.

• We were in Bethlehem, now controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Everyone there would really like it to be peaceful, because when rockets start falling, tourists go away and they all lose their jobs. Those Palestinians are not stupid. Gaza, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

• Glad to be back. This was not a vacation as much as it was a forced march and a pilgrimage. I’m tired and sore. I need more sleep.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 1 week ago, 2:48 PM

greg az

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putting this up before i even read your synopsis.. Welcome home, you were missed by the normal side of the room.. (yeah im not sure who those are either) anyway you were missed, more follows after reading..

So what did you do fly from your little "emerald paradise" east.. Where did you land.. NY, DC, Logan..where.. and then where in the middle east.. Cairo or what.. Give us some destinations.. Surprised at the Israel mindset.. Were they aware you were from the US.. What sorta price and inflation issues did you have.. Where did you stay.. sheesh your just a frigging wealth of information.. Were the prices high.. Were you treated "odd" based on being an American, or did you fake a Brit accent. talk to us bud, did ya pinch any Egyptian ass.. did you pinch any that were female. SPEAK.. come on lets here it..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
6 years 1 week ago, 2:09 PM

Snake

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Welcome back Sky

Hope all is goin good.

Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.-Ronald Reagan
6 years 1 week ago, 2:16 PM

HampsterW

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Welcome home Schuyler,

sounds like you had a great trip.............6 lanes of cars on a 4 lane highway, sounds like China! You were missed, greg can't spell worth a shit and neither........niether? can I for that matter.....Glad to have you back bud, we (I) look forward to hearing more about your trip!

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
6 years 1 week ago, 2:22 PM

greg az

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Your other WA name sake Greasy is doing well after his stint in TX.. The site is actually pretty easy to navigate once you get used to hitting forums for posts.. and the second page is great.

Snakes return was not with out its "moments" but he's matured in his absence, all else is pretty normal (as it can be etc etc) One more question .. Did you guys give any consideration to going the Eastern route and see Asia as well, or what.. From the west coast there's not a lot of diffrence.. Maybe next trip..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
6 years 1 week ago, 2:29 PM

greg az

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Actually i was so happy to see Mike back i threw that up there with out the sp check (ya think).. But now that there fixed everyones wondering what your talking about..So jokes on you parts boy.... na na na.. Actully troops you don't want to know how hard the sp check had to work on that one..

Schuyler..change that avatar pls.. Let you have homeland back if you do... the stress is giving me white hair anyway..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
6 years 1 week ago, 2:45 PM

Schuyler

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Flew from Seattle to Detroit, ran from one end to the other in 20 minutes, plane already loaded for New York. Then New York to Cairo, about 20 hours in the saddle. Bussed to the main tourist enclave. All but one hotel were five star hotels. They even had foot washers in them (bidets). Saw the pyramids and sphinx in record time before traveling to Mt. Sinai. A Carolism: “I didn’t realize there would be so much sand!” Duh. That was kind of rustic, but passable, then to the St. Catherine Monestary where we saw the burning bush. (Fire extinguisher strategically placed below.) Most people climbed the mountain at Midnight to see the sunrise.

Historical Note: Nobody knows where the “real” Mt. Sianai was, but they have “traditional” locations. I’m pretty sure 2 million Jews did not cross that desert on foot without water for three days. Never happened, but SOMETHING did. There was an “Exodus event” of some sort. Hey look for clues. For example, the Bible says the Jews traveled across a valley that had quail. There is only one valley in the Sinai that has quail, therefore that must have been the valley they crossed. It’s not ironclad (Maybe the quail had an exodus of their own), but it’s pretty close.

We then traveled to Jordan, a very safe place for us. Jordan has had little to no trouble. They are very pro-western, and at peace with Israel, but there’s still considerable tension. Five star hotel there. Very nice. Petra was a hoot and a must see. Mt. Nebo was cool, but it was too hazy to see much. Everyone everywhere speaks at least some English. Road signs are in the local language and English. Dollars are good in Egypt and Jordan, even preferred. Israel has the shekel. About 33 cents and climbing fast. Our guise grew up American, so perfect English again. Lots and lots of people working in Israel are obviously American. Nobody bats an eyelash. Israel was expensive. A Coke could be $4.00 easy. Most stuff was prepaid so we didn’t see many bills. I felt a hankering for a BLT, though. Israel is a theocracy. They take the Sabbath stuff seriously.

Elevator Note: Weird. Four elevators. Punch in your floor number, then it tells you “D” so you go to elevator D. Once inside there are no buttons. You get off at your floor, period. It’s for efficiency and security.

Gun Note: There’s no 2nd amendment in Israel, however, guns are everywhere. If you can show a need, you get a permit. There are lot of punks with M-16s running around as ‘guards.’ There are frequent armed guards at hotels just sitting at the entrance with a pistol strapped to their belts. Saw several Israeli tanks (they double as APCs) and heard the air force. Israel has 1,000 planes and very little airspace, so you hear them all the time. Didn’t see the proverbial IDF girls, though. Only saw a few soldiers.

Back from Tel Aviv to New York. Got y bags searched because Carol collected sand from everywhere and they wanted to take a look. New York Homeland Security and customs are blithering idiots. What a bunch of bozos.

I’ll write a bit on the religious sites next post (like Armageddon!). Oh, 10 hour time difference, so Asia route would add 4. Night was day and day was night and I'm all screwed up. I never did get set up straight and now I'm back and screwed up again.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 1 week ago, 3:05 PM

Larry Wagner

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Schuyler

Welcome back Mike.

Any day above dirt is a good day!!! My New Motto: Where Do I Sign? (Oh yes I would)
6 years 1 week ago, 3:06 PM

greg az

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Far as im concerned you have lots more balls than Duane Chapman.. Wow .. Detroit.. Air from NY to Cairo..(parts boy.. go back and note that i changed it..again..sheesh) Ok, now were getting some good stuff, and will stand by for all the details.. did you get a chance to go into the pyramids, museums, etc..

By the way.. having a dedicated elivator is NOT efficiant.. but guessing a good way to sell elivators.. can you imagine old Otis.. ok thats 45 story building.. 45 elivators on order..

For some odd reason i can see bringing back sand.. At any rate, glad your back.. did ya get a woodie when TSA was patting you down..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
6 years 1 week ago, 3:22 PM

Schuyler

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that hack faced "girl" that made me take off my belt was so ugly mine shrunk up inside to get away. BTW the Israelis don't make you take off your shoes, never make you call out your liquids. Belts don't come off. Nothing, and they have NEVER had an incident. We had to go thru customs in NYC and they checked us AGAIN even though the last place we'd been was Israeli security.

For some damn reason I got to be Point for our group three different times when I was called out of line and "asked a few questions" like do I have any weapons? Did anybody give us any gifts? Is that a 308 cartridge in your pants or are you just glad to see me? Have we all been together the entire time? Was I with my bag 24x7? Can I vouch for the other weird looking guys? (Who? Filipinos? The Polish guy? The Romanian? Those two black people? WTF?) They were trying to see if we told them the same story. We were warned in advance to keep answers short, not offer any extras, etc. So after we all told security yes, we did receive a gift, one baseball cap and a communion cup--they were pissed.

Finally I told one gal, "Look. We had our bags checked out of Egypt, then ten minutes later into Israel, then 20 minutes later into Jordan, then two days later into Israel, so if there's anything in those bags that shouldn't be there it got there in Israel, OK?"

And I want a god damned BLT!!!!

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 1 week ago, 3:48 PM

HampsterW

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Man, I been hanging out with ebear too much lately, the good news is that he has used up his 52 weeks of teamster's vacation for this year so I have time to recover.............Geeez greg, one little 'jab' and you call out the AZNG.....lol

Schuyler, one thing to keep in mind when thinking of Biblical stuff and trying to make sense of it in todays world is that the earth was a very different place in Biblical times and the climate has changed considerably...........Sheesh, I'm starting to sound like Al Gore.....Did you fellas know that I invented the internet?...Yeah, I was smoking some weed one night and I thought...What if?......And it just kinda happened from there......LOL!

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
6 years 1 week ago, 4:22 PM

Schuyler

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For example, between the time I was born and the time you were born, the world changed considerably. When I was born there was no TV and you actually had to "dial" a phone.

What is cool, though, is that lots of the world has not changed at all. The Second Temple, built by Herod is still there. I touched the Wailing Wall and crawled around underneath the temple itself. We know that it is the real deal, Some of the stuff may not be authentic. The "Stations of the Cross," for example, do not represent the actual places those events are alleged to have happened, but they serve to represent them, so they are called, somewhat tongue in cheek, "traditional."

There are even competing sites. For example, the place where Jesus was said to be crucified is now covered by a large church, the Church of the Holy Sepulchure. They've marked off the place where they think it happened. Yet a mile or so away is the garden of Gesthemene which contains a tomb EXACTLY as described in the Bible right next to Golgotha.

Up North on the Sea of Galilee they found a house in Capernum. It's the biggest house in the town right next to the synagogue. It's meeting room was replastered many times. They know it was a busy house. Many meetings were held there. It's Peter's house. It has to be. It's the right date, right place, right size, right everything.

Sometimes it gets pretty far fetched. One time the Sea of Galilee suffered a drought. The water level went down and exposed a boat. It was dated to the time of Jesus. It is exactly as described in the bible, a fishing boat, the kind where Jesus 'walked on water' and calmed the storm. When they managed to free the boat from the mud there was a small rainstorm. A double rainbow went clear across the sky. It rains maybe 2 inches a year there.

Is it THE boat? No one will ever be able to tell. But why the rainbow? Coincidence? Albert Schweizer, the army ant doctor, was a noted theologian before he went into the jungle. His major thesis was not only don't we know, we can't know. There's no way we can recover the pieces. So we are left with making do with what we have. Some of the stuff is probably flat out wrong, but some of it is so close as to be eerily familiar.

Now the fact is that I don't know if any of this is true. I'm not a conventional Christian who believes and has faith. I have severe doubts. The miracles? Context is everything. But I defy anyone to go there to the garden, look at the tomb, then look over at Golgotha, and tell me with a straight face, "This is not the place." And if you do that, I won't contradict you. After all, faith is a very personal thing.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 1 week ago, 4:33 PM

luckybychoice

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welcome back

sounds like a good trip,pictures?

i tried being reasonable,i didn't like it, NRA LIFE MEMBER,USMC VETERAN
6 years 1 week ago, 4:37 PM

Schuyler

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Pictures are coming

Might be a few days. I'll post the flickr site when I get them up. I'm going to host a site for the group to upload. Some of the guys have some very expensive cameras and took better pics than me.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 1 week ago, 4:47 PM

HKBauer

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hey shuy welcome back

hey shuy welcome back brother!

6 years 1 week ago, 6:44 PM

samD

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Schuyler and snaks back in the same week. Padre Greg same some prayers for me....LOL

6 years 1 week ago, 6:54 PM

ecaman

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Schuyler

Welcome back. I hope it doesn't take too long to get back to feeling "normal" again; at home in your time zone, and back to your bed, your kitchen, and your bathroom.
I'm glad that you're back.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. (Mark Twain).
6 years 1 week ago, 9:13 AM

LLE

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Welcome back and thank you for the fine descriptions of your trip and your personal observations. They were an education for me.

Too old to fight, Too old to run, guess that's why I carry a gun! "would someone show this asshole the way out of town".[Rabbi Avram Belinski-aka "The Frisco Kid"]
6 years 1 week ago, 9:25 AM

manu2014

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Schuyler - Home safely

Great to have you back and safe. Can't wait to see some of the pics and I find it hard to believe that you didn't ask to see/hold just one of the many guns.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. Thoreau
6 years 1 week ago, 10:50 AM

Schuyler

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but these guys are pretty serious. It's not like they will let you look at their firearms. The one time lovely (stupid) Monica took a picture of a security guard at a church they went all ballistic and forced her to erase it on the spot. The really strange thing was on the Jordan border where a kid (couldn't have been over 20) was dressed in a black t-shirt and jeans and nikes, bizz cut, with what I think was an M-16 strapped around his neck and hanging between his legs almost dragging on the ground. He was strutting around trying to look mean, I think. I couldn't get close enough to him to tell what it really was. I know the IDF is switching from M-16s to an Israeli model, but those are smaller. Anyway, no sense of a uniform at all. He just looked like a punk kid.

The context was several hundred Americans, Israelis, and Arabs all stuck in this cattle pen while one 'officer' was 'checking' passports by putting a sticker on the back. Everyone was pissed because (a) there was only one station open. It was 90 degrees, and they seemed to be intentionally give-a-shit slow, and (b) if you had a hundred bucks you got to go to the head of the line. Some kids unloaded the bus by throwing our bags in a big pile, ripping some of them open in the process. They then took our bags (another sticker) and somehow they managed to be in another pile at the other end of this long queue.

People like to claim that Israeli security is "excellent" and I suppose you can't argue with success. But it is also very inefficient. Any time/motion expert could get in there and halve the time it takes to physically get through the process and not compromise the security aspect itself. Going through security in a big airport like Sea-Tac is much faster, yet they make you do more things--take off your shoes, show your liquids, remove belts, etc., which the Israelis don't bother with.

The physical process begs the question of the mental process when they intentionally slow you down or pick on a group, as we were. Perhaps it was because we were a real 'melting pot' group of all races imaginable--all getting along just fine--which made them question us. I would imagine they are told America is a racist country and when they see the camaraderie that we had with each other, it must be a cognitive disconnect for them. How could it be that a white guy had his arm around this black gal and her husband wasn't visibly pissed and was laughing? One time in Jerusalem we took a taxi back to the hotel with a Polish couple. We were laughing and joking with each other and when we got to the hotel I asked the cab driver how much? It was an issue because he didn't have a meter and people were getting ripped off. he said, "You guys had so much fun loving each other and joking that it was entertaining for me. Pay me what you want." So I gave him 50 shekels (about $15) which was a little more than I had to, but hey. He was a nice guy.

We were told by our guides in Egypt and Jordan that Israeli security was going to be a hassle and that we should not offer any information or engage in conversation. Use Yes or No to answer if you could. I understand the need for security and I don't begrudge them checking our bags carefully. The thing is, we tourists are bringing thousands of dollars apiece into the country and they need us for their economy. In that context I could do with a little more professionalism and a little less attitude. Then maybe I'd want to go back.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 1 week ago, 12:13 PM

Vaquero

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Thanks Schuy

I'm glad you had a good trip and safe return. I enjoyed your postings of your experiences.
I have personally sworn off air travel. Looks like I'm stuck with the contiguous 48.

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
6 years 1 week ago, 12:48 PM

manu2014

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Schuyler

The slow and attitude sounds like the Bahamas and several other islands i've passed though. It just depends on the day and the crew. Another biggie was the attitude of the travelers.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. Thoreau
6 years 1 week ago, 12:50 PM

greg az

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Least most of it, glad to see at least Adam is working..

Schuyler.. Can't tell you how much were all enjoying the Israel stories..

Been feeling sorta puny the past couple days.. Better now, but not 100%.. Got those prayers coming Skipper.. Think we all need them..

Pard.. yeah i had hundreds of hours in the air, all sorts of airframes, and enjoyed most all of them, then all of a sudden last time i flew i didn't enjoy the flight, funny how things can change like that.. Not going to call it fear.. but don't know what else it could be, all i know is i felt like something was wrong, and soon as i got off of the plane felt comfortable again..One of those "don't do this again" things.. Never had the feeling before so its hard to describe.. but i remember thinking at the time, maybe this better be my last flight..

Don't do premonitions (if i did i wouldn't have read Snakes talk show post) .. Ok lets get this out there.. Snake.. We love ya.. seriously we were all glad to see you back, but WTF was that post about son..

you came off like a raving "NUKE THIER ASS".. in the fist one, and in the second your talking about the horrors of "somebody" developing something that can kill millions.. First off thats sorta a done deal already..Look don't get butt hurt we really do like you, but what in the world was that whole thing about.. the reason no ones responded to it, is you already said it all.

I'll see you guys later.. seems like i haven't spent anytime at all with Gloria, be back later

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
6 years 1 week ago, 1:46 PM

Schuyler

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The "One Dollah" guys are a trip. Wherever you go these guys accost you with deals for "One dollah!" or more. The youngest was probably four and the oldest maybe 74. They rush the group and push a packet of postcards or cheap jewelry in your face yelling, "One dollah!" I finally bought a packet of 12 postcards at Petra (Indiana Jones movie). I pulled out my "dollah" and indicated a cellophane packet of cards. The kid then points to the frayed cards in his demo and indicates THOSE cards are a "dollah" and says the ones in cellophane were TWO dollahs. No, I don't think so. My dollah is about to go back in my pocket when he relents. I got my 12 postcards for a dollah in cellophane after all. The kid patted me on the back for not falling for his ruse.

Travel Note: I traveled with a decoy wallet in my back pocket and my real wallet concealed in a front secret pocket. I figured if I did get ripped off, the guy would get a few shekels, dinars (Jordan) or Pounds (Egypt) and nothing else. I also never put anything really valuable in my suitcase. Everything really important stayed close to my skin the entire time. One guy lost his bag half way through the trip. He has asthma and it included his inhaler. Dumb move on his part. And I always carry a roll of TP. You never know when you get somewhere and there's none there. Happens all the time.

The Dollah Men are just the low ring of the 'marketers' who can make your life miserable. At the pyramids they were especially aggressive. They would do stuff like offer to take your picture with your camera, then charge you to get the camera back. They;d offer you a free ride on a camel, but charge you to get back off again. They'd try to give you "free" stuff that was a "gift" (not). The best response was to not make eye contact at all, but they knew this and had innovative ways to get your attention. I was two-timed by a pair where I looked down to avoid one where the other knelt down behind him. The first guy moved and there was the other staring at me,

:"Nice moosestache!" he said. I had to laugh.My mustache has been a hit in all our travels with Arab men.. One guy said, in perfect English, "That mustache has been there a long time!" Indeed, it's grey and about 40 years old. Another guy in Turkey just touched his stache. I touched mine. We both laughed and shook hands. No words exchanged.

The street vendors sometimes know when they've got you. Climbing out of Petra is a two mile uphill slog across Roman cobblestones, which are difficult to walk on, or loose sand, which is difficult to walk on. You finally come out of the canyon to open air and here are young men with Arabians. :It's another mile to the top. You want to ride my horse? ten dollah!" I would have jumped on an Arabian in a heartbeat, but my dear wife would not get on one. (And she owned several Arabians herself!) I felt I couldn't leave her alone so walked up the rest of the way with her. We both use a "slow but steady" approach to hiking. We're not the fastest, but we will get to the top, and often we are the oldest ones there. Ten miles a day is not unusual. She's 64; I'm 61.

We'd passed one guy in the canyon who looked like a stroke candidate. He was overweight and red faced, obviously exhausted. Half an hour later he passed us on a horse saying, "Good donkey!" The horse owner, a young Arab, was walking up the path hurriedly. I said to him, "Is that your horse?" He said, "I think so, but that guy keeps calling him a donkey!" He ran up to the pair and said, "You want this horse to go faster?" and the fat guy says, "No, I like this donkey just fine."

Shopping is a racket. The guides will take you to an "official government store" where they are ready with a demo of some sort and a 'discount coupon.' We had a demo on how to make papyrus given by a Muslim woman (Note below) who did a very good job. Then we were 'expected' to buy something. We knew how we could haggle the price down a bit, and the guide receives commissions on the sale. But the deal is the product is guaranteed. They give you phone numbers, email, and web site in case you have any problems. I got a very nice olive wood carved Ark of the Covenant set for probably too much money in Bethlehem, in Palestinian territory,

Muslim women: Most of them DO NOT cover their faces at all. Some even wear western clothing. There are all sorts of styles with varying levels of covering. If you see someone completely covered in black, they are probably Saudis, we were told. The Egyptian woman mentioned above wore a head scarf and was very pretty. Our Jordanian guide, also a beautiful woman, told us they speak the language of the eyes. Indeed, they are very expressive. I had several 'private' conversations with Muslim women that were very straightforward and not in the least strange. Of course, this was in the more liberal areas: Egypt and Jordan, and Israel, of course, where there are Arab Israelis who are not Palestinians. The whole thing is a lot more complex than we are generally led to believe.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 1 week ago, 2:05 PM

manu2014

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Great stuff Schuyler.

It is a shame that it is that way. Takes away from some of the experience I would imagine.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. Thoreau
6 years 1 week ago, 2:21 PM

HKBauer

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Schuy

I look forward to photos of Petra it is on my bucket list, TBH and i have talked about going to the Holy land a few times but yet to get it going, thanks for sharing your perfectly written(thats for you greg) recap of your trip. Once again welcome home!

6 years 1 week ago, 2:23 PM

greg az

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I was always amazed in third world nations at how adapt the kids were at stealing watches.. You would feel this tug on your wrist (usually both, one being a decoy) and it was gone..

Money always goes either inside a sewn in inner pocket or sock.. carry as little as you need, and thats kept in the front pocket.. The fake wallet thing is a new one, and seems wise..

Curious about the interaction between the Palestinians and Israeli.. Obviously its the nature of every government is to reduce everything down to its lowest denominator.. The fewer the questions the better.. The basic A is good, B is bad works out great for A until you start asking questions about why B is bad and look at it from ol B's point of view..

We haven't had serious logic in our foreign relations since the days of Dean Rusk, and Adlai Stephenson, its so much easier to control the masses with the simple good/bad deal.. I think thats why im comfortable in my belief that sharia Muslim law is pure evil.. i really do try to have some empathy for the other point of view..

Still consider myself a Zionist but have some issues with Israels treatment of the Palestinians.. Did you see anything to make you think were close to a Mideast peace accord Mike.. Know you weren't exactly on a "diplomatic" mission here, but still curious about your take away on this..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
6 years 1 week ago, 2:30 PM

Reaper308

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dollah boys

did you load up on spices in the market?

"Proelium Comminus Auctoritate" "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a muzzle flash."
6 years 1 week ago, 2:31 PM

HampsterW

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constantly accosted gets old and like manu says, degrades the experience.

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
6 years 1 week ago, 3:20 PM

Schuyler

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This is strictly personal from my observation and may be too simplistic, but...

1) I was in Bethehem, controlled by the Palestinians. It was my impression they wanted peace at all costs because if they had tensions, their livelihood, i.e. Me and my friends, would not buy stuff from them. The Christians in Bethlehem provide most of the jobs, btw.

2) The Arabic speaking people, not all of whom are Palestinians, including farmers, want very much to be a part of Israel because they are so very much better off. In one disputed area the UN wants to wall off and make a part of Lebanon, the tribesmen DO NOT WANT this because they will make $200 a year instead of $30,000. The rest of the world, including Europe and the US, should butt out of this.

3) Gaza is controlled by Hamas. They "won" an election, then dismantled all of the democracy and rule with an iron fist. They inundate the populace with hate stuff. Gaza is very bad news. This is not the case in the other Palestinian controlled areas.

4) Jordon wants peace with Israel and has it. So does Egypt. The three countries talk to each other daily and try very hard to not let something crop up. Their militaries talk to each other about border conditions and threats daily.

5) The entire place is TINY!. I saw the Golan Heights where the Syrians shelled the Israeli villages. It's a stone's throw away, literally. I could have thrown a rock onto the hill where the artillery was. These so-called 'remote settlements' and kibbutz are RIGHT NEXT DOOR, twi streets over.

6) Israel had experienced up to 400 terror incidents a year until they built a wall. Now they experience 2 or 3 a year. It is MUCH safer in Israel today than it was a few years ago. It was completely safe in Jordan. Egypt, well, not so much.

7) My opinion is that on a daily basis the Arabic and israeli people get along just fine. They live together and interact all the time. It's international extremism, such as from Iran, that screws up the works. I doubt peace is close at hand. Hamas has got to go,m for one thing,

Just my personal opinion, likely way too naive.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 6 days ago, 10:11 AM

clintlebo

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schuyler

It is strange for someone who visits this sight less frequently nowadays to welcome you back, but it reads like you had a great and educational excursion, so in the immortal words of the "sweat hogs": welcome back

clint

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin & Hobbes)
6 years 6 days ago, 4:35 PM

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Schuy

As a travel junkie I have to ask. What actual spot or "shrine" was the "that was worth the whole ordeal" moment? Also, if you don't mind please describe the feeling of that moment.
Thanks

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
6 years 6 days ago, 4:57 PM

Schuyler

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was seeing the tomb in the garden next to the skull rock. I just said to myself, "This is the place." There was the garden, and in a wall of that garden was the tomb. The round rock is long gone, but traces of it remain. It is exactly as described in the Bible, The garden was part of a rich man's estate (Joseph of Arimathea). Who knows? A lifetime of hearing the stories does a lot to your emotions, but I could just see the angel in white in the tomb saying, "He has risen."

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 6 days ago, 5:12 PM

HKBauer

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Schuyler

As a fan of biblical history and geography I have to ask what Petra like?

6 years 6 days ago, 5:15 PM

Vaquero

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Schuy

Thanks again. The hair on my neck is standing up!
Awesome, no doubt.

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
6 years 6 days ago, 5:54 PM

Schuyler

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It's really a fake in so many ways. the Main Entrance (probably ceremonial) is down three miles of a steep incline with very narrow passageways. It would be easy to defend. You get down so far and here's "The Treasury" ala Indiana Jones, but here's where it gets weird. To the right of the Treasury the path continues down and opens up into a small valley with lots of tombs and such. The people apparently believed the after life was the thing to look forward to, so they did not put much emphasis on their houses, which are all gone. To top it off, the valley is accessible even by car and truck, so the whole 'defended entrance" thing is a bit of a fake. When I was there several government vehicles drove clear up to the treasury. The whole place is full of vendors, camels, horse carts, you name it, all trying to sell you junky stuff. I'll have some pics up next week. I wrote about climbing back up out of that place above. Obe of the booths at the top has the Indiana Jones motif.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 6 days ago, 6:05 PM

HKBauer

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Thanks

I wasent really hoping for the Indiana Jones thing but just seeing pics and reading some ofthe history I am really interested in it. Its a shame that the vendors are there and i assume making the whole site less than awe inspiring.

6 years 6 days ago, 6:18 PM

HampsterW

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pointed out, where there are tourists there are bound to be hordes of peddlers trying to hoc their stuff and it really does take away from the experience. One of these day's I will share my travels to China but for now, I so look forward to your pictures Schuyler, it will make the experience that much better for us 'arm chair quarterbacks'....lol

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
6 years 3 days ago, 6:03 PM

Schuyler

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from my trip to future trippers. It's a bit long.....

Hello,

I’m a customer who just returned from Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. I did the “Into the Promised Land” tour. I am in no way affiliated with the company that gave you this. I have taken the ‘long flights’ overseas eight times now and many dozens of times across the US. I don’t know if that makes me a “seasoned traveler,” but I do mostly know what to expect, not that I always like it. Below are some points I either learned or wish I had learned about traveling. In other words, I’ve made some of the mistakes I list here. I’ve been guilty! I’ve also observed behavior that was unnecessary or embarrassing. I hope these points are useful to you. If you follow them, I believe you will have a more enjoyable trip. I know I do. If you find yourself bristling at my dos and don’ts here, (Yeah, I know I’m sarcastic. It’s part of the service.) I beg you to not go on this trip.

1. This is not a vacation. It is not a cruise. It is not a shopping trip. It is not an opportunity to lie on the beach in the sun and forget the rigors of life in the US. It is a pilgrimage to important historical religious places. At times the pace is brisk. Be prepared to walk ten miles a day. You won’t have to every day, but you might on some days. Bring two pairs of good shoes so that you can alternate. Be prepared for blisters (moleskin and all that.) Bald men had better bring a hat. Bring two hats because you will lose one, or one of you might find my San Diego Zoo hat in the Sinai desert. An odometer might be fun for you. They are not expensive.

If you want a vacation, go to Club Med (for the newly wed, the over fed, and the nearly dead.) This trip is the opposite to Club Med. It probably is NOT a good ‘first trip abroad.’ It might be smarter to get your feet wet in a more compatible place before tackling this. If you are reluctant (and I hope I don’t make you reluctant. It was wonderful!), don’t do this.

2. You must be in good physical shape to take this tour. I’m sorry to say this, but if you are overweight, unless it is all muscle, you’re going to have a problem. There are 720 steps to the top of Mt. Sinai. It is two miles down a steep sandy incline to Petra, and two miles back up. Alternative transportation (camels, carts, horses, donkeys, cars) are not always available and it will cost you extra. The cost might be dependent on how desperate you are. (I saw one red-faced overweight exhausted guy on a horse the last mile saying, “Good donkey!” The Arab walking up said, “He called my horse a donkey!.” It was very funny.) It’s rare to find an ADA compatible place. Some places are cramped, dark, claustrophobic, crowded, hot, smelly, and steep. If you have problems with cramped, dark, claustrophobic, crowded, hot, smelly, and steep places, you might want to reconsider.

3. The amount of ‘stuff’ you bring with you will affect your enjoyment. It’s often a trade-off. Some people get by with very small bags, but they are going to wash their clothes every night. Washing in a hotel room sink can be a hassle. A 26” bag is a nice compromise. You can buy “micro-weave” clothing at places like Travel Smith that dries quickly. They also have extra secret pockets that can prove useful. Most people bring too much stuff. Do you really need three sweaters? Just bring one.

4. Companies will always tell you to bring a sewing kit and a first aid kit. They just forget to tell you to bring a box of quart zip-lock bags, a roll of duct tape, small packets of Kleenex, and a Swiss army knife or Leatherman multi-tool. Wear it on your belt or in your purse AFTER you get in country. You’ll need it to break into your bag when the chintzy lock breaks. You’ll need it to fix your glasses. Oh, yeah. Bring an extra pair of glasses. Think of what would happen if your glasses broke. Very bad news.

5. I’ve tried using kitchen bags for dirty clothes, but this has a down side. You’ve been sweating and the bags are plastic. It will get damp inside the bag and it might get moldy. I’ve taken to layering dirty clothes at the bottom of the bag or using a breathable mesh bag within a bag for old clothes. You can find ‘packing organizers’ that are ‘bags within a bag.’ I have one for underwear, one for socks, and one big one for shirts. Boom, boom, boom, and I’m packed. It’s that easy. (Note: A shirt won’t last you more than two days tops. That was my first screw up. I brought three shirts to England for two weeks and in three days of ten miles a day walking I was wasting hours washing shirts at the local Laundromat.) That was a serious error on my part I’ve never repeated.

6. Bring a roll of toilet paper. Bring two. Keep them with you at all times. Just put them in those white paper ice cream bags and no one will know. Not all restrooms have toilet paper and some will charge you for it. Save some grief. Bring your own. You have been warned. My wife always bails out those who find themselves without. I think she should charge them for it. LOOK for TP BEFORE you sit down. I’ve done this for ALL my trips so far and never needed it—until this time.

7. You will drink lots of water. It’s a dry heat that doesn’t seem as hot as it really is. If you do not you will become dehydrated. The bus will have plenty of water at a nominal fee. Drink more than you think you need. You’ll either be glad you did or wind up very, VERY sick, as in hospital sick with an IV in your arm. This is no lie. Pay attention. (I’ve been very close myself and leaned my lesson.) If you don’t need to use the restroom that means you are not drinking enough water. That’s your gauge to see if you are drinking enough. If you’ve got to go, then you’re doing okay.

8. Bring a watch. Be on time. If you are not on time, the bus may leave without you. If you miss the bus, you can take a taxi. If you tend to miss deadlines, have plenty of money for taxi fares. There’s nothing more frustrating than an entire bus load of people waiting for one last clueless person to figure out it is time to leave. It’s not funny to be late. You will not be loved or respected if you are chronically late.

9. In some places, like the Wailing Wall, men and women are separated. That’s the way it is. Your local chapter of NOW isn’t available. Look at it this way. You could be in Saudi Arabia. Besides, women get senior citizen discounts at 60 and men do at 65. You win some and you lose some.

10. Don’t put anything you can’t afford to lose in your suitcase. Carry it with you. That includes medicine. What good is your medicine if it’s in a lost suitcase? It doesn’t happen very often, but it has happened. Carry your medicine, and your toilet paper, and your water with you to avoid the problem. Here’s an idea. Don’t put you suitcase outside your room and have it hauled down. They’ll always say you CAN do it, but do it yourself and maintain control..

11. Here’s another idea. Carry a fake wallet in your back pocket with a couple of bucks as a decoy. It’s just a precaution. Carry your real wallet in a front zippered pocket. I never felt “at risk” but the Arab places are a little riskier than others where people press close and there are a lot of children around. If you travel with a spouse and have two credit cards, you take both copies of one and let your spouse take both copies of the other. If you do lose one or get it stolen, you have the other one. By the way, the curry smells wonderful!

12. In Egypt you will travel with an armed guard provided by the government. He will sit at the front of the bus. He will guard the sidewalk when you exit the bus. He will accompany you to the restroom. He doesn’t talk much, but he is packing a large weapon you will never see if he can help it. The hotel has a secure, guarded perimeter. I believe you are safe in Egypt. The government values the tourist economy and is trying to ensure your safety.

13. You will frequently see muzzles of weapons pointing out of pillboxes. You will see Hummers with machine guns on top parked in tent enclosures along the roadway. You will have random security stops where armed soldiers may board the bus. Soldiers tend to be very young, 18 to 20 years old. They don’t all wear uniforms and may strut their weapons in a menacing manner. It’s for show. They know what they are doing. You may see some tanks. DO NOT EVER take pictures of any of this. Do not attempt to take a picture of a security guard with a weapon. This isn’t London and you will be required to erase it on the spot. It’s best to keep your cameras down and out of sight during these times.

14. Try not to belittle the size of the Jordan River, at least out loud. Even if you know in advance, it’s kind of surprising. To some of us used to the Mississippi or the Columbia, it’s not much bigger than a creek. But as one Brit said of the Thames, “The Mississippi is mere muddy water. THIS is liquid history!” The River Jordan is liquid history.

15. Things change. Sometimes an attraction will close or open during times the guides do not know in advance. “Best laid plans” and all that. That means your schedule may change. If the pyramids are foggy you might have to switch schedules at a moment’s notice. Don’t freak out. Go with the flow. You don’t want to see the Great Pyramid shrouded in fog, do you? This is an adventure. When you are on an adventure, sometimes you are late for dinner and sometimes you have to unexpectedly get up early. You’re not really going to get angry about this are you? If you can’t stand change, don’t leave home. I’ve seen grown-ups actually behave this way.

16. You will not be in the United States. Things are different overseas. You may be shocked. People don’t stand in mindful lines. Walking through a bazaar is a contact sport. You will get bumped; you will bump into others. Restrooms may be a hole in the ground. Everything is not a five star location. You will see poverty and dirt, sickly feral cats and flies. (Don’t pet the cats. They are not pets and they bite.) People have a different sense of personal space, usually closer. They don’t like you criticizing the way they live. Be respectful.

17. Don’t mess with border guards or customs agents. They are not impressed with your “civil rights” which you DO NOT HAVE in a foreign country. Don’t engage them in conversations. Just answer their questions with “Yes” or “No” if you can. They can be arrogant. They can be slow. They can be inefficient. They often seem to delight in upsetting you. They probably don’t like you very much, and they have loaded M-16s. I’ve watched people get surly with border guards, and they wonder why they are detained for a little extra interrogation (thus delaying the entire group.). A little humility on your part could ease your passage considerably. And for God’s sakes don’t try to bribe them. You might see it happen, but don’t be a copy cat. There’s a ritual there that you don’t know. You could put the entire group at risk. Your goal in crossing a border or checkpoint is to get through it safely to the other side. That’s your only goal.

18. Speaking of bribes, you might see your guide spreading some wealth around. Don’t worry about it. Lots of times they are paying for services rendered. Maybe the tour bus got a better parking spot next to the door of the hotel. Maybe it was allowed to stop at a place that would normally get it a ticket. Maybe somebody got out of the way to accommodate you. Maybe somebody helped your group and you didn’t realize it. They get paid for stuff like this. They get a tip. That’s normal.

19. Street vendors can be a real pain. They are aggressive—especially at the pyramids. Lots of stuff is “Only one dollah!” and sold by kids as young as four. They are just trying to make a living, but be careful. If you make eye contact with them they will be your new best friend. They’ll offer to take a picture of you with your camera, then charge you to give it back. Want to sit on a camel for free? OK, but there’s a charge to get you off. You can’t jump off a camel like you can a horse. Camels put you way high in the air. There’s nothing wrong with buying a dozen post cards for a dollar, but be careful you don’t get tricked here. Vendors will usually accept half what they are asking. Wait them out. They want the sale.

20. The guide may take you to an ‘official government store.’ You will be shown a demonstration of some sort, like how papyrus is made, then given a tray to hold your purchases. You are not required to buy anything. Nothing at all. If you’ve never encountered this before you may be surprised or even affronted, but be aware that this is the way it works all over the world. Whether you are in China or Turkey or Israel, it’s the same deal. Your guide gets a percentage of the sales. Don’t be afraid to negotiate here. Go as low as you can until they say “No” with conviction. Then walk away and see what happens.

21. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, of course, but you will be at some of the most holy places on Earth for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Take off or put on your hat when you are told to. (It gets confusing and is gender related.) “Modest dress” does not mean cut-offs and a tank top. Cover up from shoulders to knees or stay outside. You do not have the “right” to dress as you please. If you are in a church, talk softly. If services are being held, be QUIET.

22. Lots of places have a “no pictures” or a “no flash” rule. Modern cameras, including point-and-shoots, have an automatic flash. Learn to turn yours OFF before you start taking pictures. Light can harm old pictures and art. If you can’t figure out how to turn your flash off, ask someone else to show you. It’s not that hard and if you do it right you won’t get yelled at. Special batteries may be difficult to recharge. Many hotel rooms require a room key to activate the electricity and you have to have the correct adaptor. I use double AA batteries as an alternative for my camera. It’s just easier. Batteries overseas are more expensive. Buy them at home and bring them with you.

23. This one is really bad. We had a woman in our group who was really cute and liked to flirt with the guys. Arabic men, really handsome guys on the whole, ate it up. She quite obviously loved and was accustomed to the attention. One day she decided she wanted to touch a guy who happened to be an Orthodox Jew. (Hello? You can tell by how they dress.) He tried to be friendly and nice, but he avoided her touch. This emboldened her, so she wound up literally chasing him, and he ran away from her. She chased him clear across the hotel lobby. She was actually angry over this and pouted onto the bus complaining. What she failed to realize was that if he had been touched by her this would make him ‘impure’ and require him to ritually bathe and cleanse himself of this impurity. This behavior may seem strange to us, but this is an excellent example of how ignorance of local customs can lead to an Ugly American incident. This person was uneducated (but well off) and very intolerant of anyone who did not agree with everything she said, and she wound up a very disappointed and sullen traveler by the time the tour ended.

24. OK. Dating. You know what I’m talking about, right? Not all Muslim women cover their faces and many are extremely attractive. Forget it. You want to live to a ripe old age. In the Middle East this could get you or someone else into SERIOUS trouble. “Jail bait” does not even begin to describe it. As in the US Embassy can’t help you and your parents won’t be able to bail you out. It’s an entirely different set of expectations and rules over there. Sometimes it’s subtle. There is a time and place for everything. Over there is not the time or place. You’re not in liberal Europe. You’re not on a nude beach in the Netherlands. (Are there any??) Be careful. It’s not worth it.

25. My favorite. Here we are at the garden next to Golgotha. This is one place where the crucifixion might have happened. There’s a tomb in the wall. Who knows? This might have been the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. The tomb might have been the one where Jesus was buried. It’s the right time and the right place, but, of course, we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that this is a ‘traditional’ site. In other words, if it is not really the site, it is symbolically the site. It may not even have happened, but symbolically, that’s the place. So why are people compelled to have their picture taken in front of the tomb with a silly grin on their face? Do people not really understand how idiotic they appear? How can people do this? It’s all about respect.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
6 years 3 days ago, 6:34 PM

HampsterW

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Bravo Schuyler!

Excellent advice for the future traveler, words of wisdom to live by! You will soon have a PM sir!

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
6 years 3 days ago, 6:06 PM

Doc2233

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Very Interesting

But makes me want to see all the parts of America I haven't seen first.

"A free people ought to be armed." - George Washington
6 years 3 days ago, 6:25 PM

HKBauer

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Schuy

Thanks for the info

6 years 3 days ago, 6:36 PM

Larry Wagner

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Schuyler

Excellent post, Ton's of info, & very interesting.

Any day above dirt is a good day!!! My New Motto: Where Do I Sign? (Oh yes I would)
6 years 3 days ago, 6:46 PM

Larry Wagner

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Later

!

Any day above dirt is a good day!!! My New Motto: Where Do I Sign? (Oh yes I would)
6 years 3 days ago, 6:54 PM

HKBauer

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gator

gator

6 years 3 days ago, 7:49 PM

ivantank

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my decision to not leave the united states is the right one...mmmm thats right i wanna move to Arizona, i'll have to re-evaluate...

I have reasons for the things I do, just don't expect them to be reasonable

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