Friday, January 13, 2006


Have arrived safe in Cairo STOP
1 piece luggage MIA STOP
Within spitting distance of Pyramids STOP
Exhausted from most uncomfortable flight (11 hours) No sleep for 22 hours STOP
Must pass out now STOP

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The morning phone call

As I lay in bed last night I tried to relax, but this rather hard to do on the eve of a trip like this.

"Relax!" I told myself. "You're packed and good to go. Anything you forgot you can get on the way or at your destination".

"Unless you never get there" my pessimistic side says.

"What? What do you mean?"

"Your trip, everything you've planned for could all go south. All you have to do is over sleep, or have something delay your flight from Cleveland."

I could feel my heart rate rising. This is not the way to fall asleep. I'm already in Christmas eve mode. Time is at a near stand still. I slow my breathing and tell myself it's okay. We have an alarm clock and Rossana's internal clock always gets her up on time.

Indeed we were up right on time, and as I stood in the kitchen at 7 AM zipping up my suitcase in preparation for hauling it to the van we get... a phone call. The automated call tells me that the flight from Cleveland to D.C. for 'rzwrne fhcherruh' and 'stephm phlackkk' has been cancelled.

Heart rate...shooting...through...roof...

"Please hold while we transfer you to a reservation specialist" (aka 'The person who's head will shortly be resting on a pike in my front yard') There is a click and a bored sounding woman gets on the line. I'm having a hard time forming words.


"Mr Flack?" asks the voice.


"Pardon?" she asks.

"Pack. The name of the man who's dreams you've just crushed is Pack, not Flack. It's a small thing really, but it's all I have now" I look over to my wife and I think how sad it will be we will never see each other again when she is sent away for killing everyone at the Continental Airlines counter.

"Mr. Pack we've booked you on a direct flight to New York leaving later this afternoon." She gives me the flight info,

"You mean we're still going?" Outside the sun stops cowering behind the horizon and I swear I see flowers begin to spontaneously blossom to the tune of 'O Fortuna'.

"Yes sir, you will arrive at 5:30".

So we will have to wait around the house while. To tell the truth I wasn't crazy about our original flight. We would have been sitting around in New York for 4 hours, now we will have only 90 minutes. I'm praying that's enough time to transfer terminals and clear any security strip searches (I've done away with wearing underwear today in the interest of saving time for this procedure).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I can't see how this could possibly go wrong.

As soon as I got this shirt from I said, jokingly, "I should wear this somewhere in Egypt". Of course, I say a LOT of things, most of which I quickly forget, which is for the best I suppose.

But this idea seemed to stick around, prompted by people practically daring me to be so crass while in a foreign country. Although we will be pretending to be Canadians on this trip ('Hey, this is my wife, she's from Manitoba and I'm from Winnipeg, eh'), there is no denying that we are Americans. It is our birthright to be slightly 'ugly'. And as such, a little poking is in order. I'm willing to risk becoming a social outcast, and maybe a dank Egyptian prison but I want something from you in return. So here's the deal:

I will wear this shirt in public, preferably near a recognizable monument. For each photo I post on the site YOU will make a donation of at least $5 to a charity of your choice. 2 photo's = $10. 5 photo's=$25. It would be great if you would consider helping the Theban Mapping Project, but any charity is okay. Go check out their amazing website. They are doing some great work.

This is all on the honor system, don't send anything to me. Of course, if I AM arrested, that donation can be used to help pay my bail, or hire the A-Team to break me out. Whichever, I'm not picky.

Peace me unto you!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I am sick

I do not know how I got this way, or if it will clear up or get worse. All I can say is that I am beyond pissed off. If it's a typical cold I will suffer through 1 week of misery and at least another week as it trails off. It doesn't feel like a typical cold yet, and that has me worried. Last time I felt under the weather I discovered that I had BOTH strep throat and walking pneumonia.

I basically have one day to figure out if I should go see a doctor and try to score some general antibiotics. I am not a pill person. My magic exilur of healing is Nyquil. But I am about to leave this country on a trip I have been waiting along time for. Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck....damn.

The packing is basically done. At the last minute I talked myself into buying a new digital camera. I managed to finish a website for a client and there should be some money waiting for me when I get home. My current camera is okay but it's starting to act funny at times. Plus its only 2 megapixels. The new camera, the Canon Powershot SD500 is 7.1 I picked up a generic spare battery and a 1 gig sd card. I do not want to run out of space for pics on this trip.

As is typical, a client contacted yesterday me to tell me their website was broken in some way. It is a goddamn mathmatical certainty that if I try to leave home ( or better, I am 1,000 miles away from it) something breaks. Luckily the fix was pretty simple. I have asked the client not to make any changes to the site while I am gone. In fact, it would be best if they didn't even look at it. Do you hear me Rupp? Turn the computer off.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Land of the Pharoah's

In three days my wife and I depart for Egypt. This has been a trip we have been planning, scrimping and saving for for several years. This is the kind of thing some people call a 'once in a lifetime' trip. I actually hope to have more of these kinds of trips. I don't know, I'm greedy that way.

Although any trip to Egypt will deal with its ancient history our tour is very focused on archeology. We will be traveling with Dr Kent Weeks and will also have lectures with 2 other egyptologists as well as a meeting with Dr. Zahi Hawass. (If you've watched ANYTHING about Egypt in the last 5 years, he's been in it) He is the secretary General of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities.

Over two weeks we will be covering a great deal of ground; from the pyramids at Giza and Saqqara to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor as well as Aswan and Abu Simbel. We are getting access to a tomb that is normally closed to the public, a private tour of the Egyptian Museum after it is closed and access to KV5 the largest tomb yet discovered in the Valley of the Kings and still being excavated.

I am, to be blunt, stoked.

Right now we are in the gearing and packing phase. These are two different things. When we gear up for a trip we pull out EVERYTHING we think we might need. Clothes, books, maps, luggage, toiletries... then we systematically go through all of it eliminating what we don't need. When we've paired it down we do a test pack, this invariably leads us to dumping more unneeded items.

Once we are happy with what we have we pack a set of our clothes in each others luggage. In the event one of our bags is lost we will have at least 2 sets of clothes. Our personal gear selection is another rigorous project. If you travel anywhere abroad it is a good idea to plan for the possibility that someone, somewhere, wants your stuff. When we travel we dump our wallets/purses. Money and travelers checks get split up. Some carried in an easy to get to travel wallet, some in a neck or belly pouch, some in an ankle wallet and some secured back at the hotel. We use pants with button or velcro flaps. We make copies of ALL our travel documents as well as track down numbers for embassies etc.

Because this trip covers a lot of history and ground I wanted to carry more gear than I usually do. I've tried backpacks but they are bulky and not comfortable to wear. I'm trying something new with a messenger-type bag I got at goodwill for 4 bucks. It has tons of pockets to hold my maps, guidebooks, compass, flashlight, journal, camera, pens, baby wipes etc. It also slings across the shoulder making it hard to grab in a run-by. I've been testing it out over the past few days and it's very comfortable to wear. I only wish it was brown, instead of black so that it didn't stand out at all.

Unlike journeys on the past, we are going with a tour group. This means that we won't get to meet any many native Egyptians as we would if we were hoofing it solo. We are also at the mercy and schedule of the tour operators. This was a real issue the one other time we took a tour in Sicily. We could have spent two whole days crawling all over Pompeii, but we were rushed through the entire affair in a few hours and were forced to visit a cameo shop to boot. Then there's having to deal with other humans. I'm optimistic that this will be a fun group to travel with. If they aren;t I am confident that the shifting sands of the dessert will quickly cover the bodies after Rossana kills them.

It's 2:30 in the morning but I am still pouring over websites trying to cram my brain with as much information as I can. I found a great website that documents the work being done in the Valley of the Kings. Wonderful stuff. I'm scribbling down questions. There have been some big controversies in the field of Egyptology in the past few years and I'm just starting to pick up on some of them. Since we'll be getting our information straight from some of the top people in the field I hope we get some answers.