"Mountains, Gandalf, I want to see mountains and find a quiet place to finish my book." - Bilbo Baggins

I truly enjoy pictures. At the end of a long day, or sometimes series of days, I find relaxation in visiting a couple of sites of photographers from back home in TN. I also enjoy hitting the webcams in the Smokey's. I've seen some astounding photos like the ones here. The mountains have always brought me a sense of peace and fulfillment. Mountains are places of quiet reflection and inner healing. They are places of rest.

So I am looking forward in a little over a month spending some time on a mountain top somewhere, even if it will be winter and cold. I'm tired to tell the truth. Lots of long days. And rather than the need growing less, as I get to know my folks better and they me, I find more opportunities and more things that need doing.

I spent several days this week away down south ministering to some special folks who lost a dear friend. This is exactly the kind of ministry that I came into the Air Force to do. Some days though, I find myself having to weigh the requests and needs and having to tell some folks later or even sometimes no. If I could have anything for Christmas it would be 36 hour days. I did decide tonight to knock off at 1900 because I need some rest. Today we spent a great deal of time in an exercise, but I was able to get a bunch of stuff done even though, which is a good thing. I will be full up from now until Christmas Day. Next week I'll be out and about into Korea for a large portion of the week. This Saturday will be great fun as we bring a bunch of kids to base for a special Christmas party. I really enjoy doing programs like this for the orphans.

But back to my trip to Kwangju (or Gwangju as some spell it). No photos from there this time. It was a rapid notice departure and I didn't have time to grab my camera. I wouldn't have had anythign except I keep a bag ready to go. I did stay at a local hotel (very nice by the way) rather than on base for various reasons and so experienced a part of the city I didn't see last time I was down. Kwangju reminds me of an other developed American city, except I don't understand the language well. Some things are very Korean though.

Entering the room I notice two pair of slippers (Koreans usually do not wear shoes inside the house and a pair of clogs for the bathroom.) The toilet was very state of the art - and I didn't figure it out. It had a control console. The buttons were labeled as to function -- in Korean! So when it came time to have it do what toilets do, I started pushing buttons. The toilet seat rose and lowered, vibrated, heated up, squirted at me -but other than that - making no progress. Finally I see a traditional but very small and tucked away on the back handle for that nice royal flush. I think I need to learn a bit more Korean.

My little girl (my oldest, but I still think of her as my little girl) made me some incredible chocolate coconut cookies, which I grudgenly shared with the office (after I tucked away half the container). They are gone (except for a few I have kept for Christmas day). And my little bit made me some trail mix all by herself. That is about 1/2 gone too. Suffice it to say my diet has suffered just a bit.

Oh, and if you have been following my previous posts - I found them hard to spot and easy to hide elves. Actually corned couple of young ladies into serving for me - and thanks to my wife they even have green and red stocking to wear. (I'm am really glad I got volunteers because my fall back plan was me and I didn't even want to imaging wearing green and red stockings.) Have a bunch of volunteers from linguists to parents to watch over the kids play time, to an airman doing organized games, to a Red Cross rep and his wife serving as the Claus family. There are a great bunch of folks here at Osan. Truly they are a joy to work with.