It’s time. We started our journey to the States a week ago and it’s time that I sat down and chronicled them. But first some background for those of you who may not know what I’m talking about. My husband is in the US Air Force. As such, we, his dependents, are allowed to travel by something called “Space-A,” or “Space-Available.” What this means is that we are catching a military flight that happens to have extra seats in it. There are different categories and, because Israel is deployed, Jael and I are bumped up from the very last category to the next to the last category. Most flights out of Germany go to the East Coast of the US or from the East Coast to the West Coast with very few stopping over in the Midwest, where I was trying to get to.
Also, I am planning on staying in the States for quite some time. As such, I must make sure that my ducks in Germany are all in a row so that we don’t get screwed over big time by some loose end I forgot to tie up. So, there’s the background.
Wednesday night, I was packed and ready to go.
Thursday morning I stopped at Otto’s and took down the VIN of our little car that we are trying to sell. I need the VIN so that I can email it to Israel so he can go the legal office on his base and get me power of attorney. Then I need to take that power of attorney and give it to someone in Germany so that if Otto finds a buyer for it, it can be sold without me having to return to Germany. I then went on base and dropped off some large garbage at the “recycling” center. The recycling center is open from 9-3 and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten there at 3:15. From there we went to the post office to mail my computer to myself at my sister’s house, where I would be staying. Then we headed back home to load the car with our bags and head to Ramstein.
We got to Ramstein in time to sign up for the 1:30 roll call headed to Dover AFB. At 1:30 we were the only ones looking to get on that flight so we were manifested, checked our bags and took our long term parking pass out to the car. We waited upstairs outside the secure area for about an hour before we went through security. Then we waited by the gate for another hour. By this time we’ve been joined by two men. One is on leave, trying to get to Wichita, Kansas to visit his mom and the other is a Major, trying to get to Baltimore to catch a commercial flight home to Minnesota. A van comes to take us to the aircraft. We wait in the van for quite some time before getting onto the plane and waiting for another hour or so. Finally, at about 5:30, we get into the air.
I turned to Jael and said, “When we get off this plane, we are going to be in the States!” and gave her a big hug. We were on our way! Jael and I had supper (boxed lunch) and she settled down for a nap. I was dozing when I heard something over the loudspeaker that sounded like someone saying we were going to be landing in Ramstein in half an hour. One of the flight crew came back to tell us that there was a problem, they weren’t sure what, but that we were turning around and going back to Ramstein. So at about 8:30, we landed at Ramstein again. I had the pleasure of waking my daughter up to tell her that the last 8 hours had been a complete waste and we were back where we had begun.
Upon landing the four of us began figuring out what we were going to do for the night. The Ramstein Inn was full but there were rooms at the next base down the road, about 15 minutes away. There was a chance our plane would be fixed quickly and if we were too far away, we couldn’t get back in time to get on it. There was also a flight headed to Dover at 4:30 the next morning and one at 11:00. While trying to figure out what we were going to do, an Airman tells us that there will be a flight to Dover that night, roll call at 23:00 (11pm for you non-military time people). We all decide to do that.
Jael and I went to the USO Family Lounge for a couple of hours. She played, I repacked and tried to rest a big. At 23:00 we were all manifested on this new flight and we rechecked our bags. Then we waited upstairs for an hour, waited at the gate for an hour, waited in the van for 45 minutes and waited in the plane for 45 minutes, finally taking off at about 2:30 in the morning. Jael and I both slept for about 6 or 7 hours. She was air sick but got it all in the bag. I got to walk the length of the plane with a bag of puke. That was…odd.
We finally landed in Dover and the Major kindly offered to give us a ride to Baltimore as he was going to have to rent a car anyway. We had to wait at Dover for a couple of hours before the rental car company could get someone over to pick us up so Jael and I had some oatmeal, coffee for me, cocoa for Jael from the USO.
We got to the Baltimore airport and my sister-in-law picked us up. We spend the day with their family. My husband’s brother, his wife and their four children. They have two girls, 8 and 6, and two boys, 4 and 2 (I think 2 I could be wrong. I’ve a lot of neices and nephews and they are all the same ages). Jael had an absolute RIOT! They all hit it off wonderfully and that night the three girls slept in a little pop-up tent with Jael squeezed in the middle. I was surprised that she was able to fall asleep but I guess only sleeping 6 hours the night before made her tired enough.
Earlier that afternoon, I had been able to find commercial tickets from BWI (Baltimore airport) to Kansas City for a total price (taxes and three checked bags and a night in a hotel) of about $500. So the next morning, my sister-in-law dropped us off, we ate some spaghetti at an airport restaurant, we got on the plane to Atlanta, the plane to Kansas City, and whalaa! We were back in the Midwest where we belonged. I called a friend in KC, she picked us up at the airport and took us to Target. We needed a booster seat for Jael but I left with a bag full of clearance items. Target’s clearance section had better selection than our whole BX. Then we went to eat at On the Border. I LOVE On the Border. It is so amazing. I mean, it was always good but after a year and a half of German food, it was the most seasoned and wonderful experience. People in the restaurant talked and sounded like they were having fun. The couple sitting there not speaking was the exception and not the rule.
We went to bed, slept like babies and went swimming the next morning. Grandma and Grandpa came, we locked ourselves out the room (in the flurry of hugs, the people ended up in the hallway and the keys in the room-so sue me) and, after getting anther key from the front desk, loaded our bags and were on our way to sweet, sweet, Sioux City.
We got into town about 3:30 pm or so and, WOW, Iowa has gotten a lot of snow. I’ve never seen so much snow. Unfortunately, Sioux City has not done a great job of clearing snow this year so it’s worse than it has to be but it’s just a LOT of snow. It snowed the first two days we were here but yesterday the sun came out and it was the most beautiful sun I’ve ever seen. I stood in the laundry room (which used to be a sun porch) and folded laundry, feeling content and as peace with the world. It was a wonderful feeling. I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed folding towels quite so much as I did yesterday.
Life is good. Despite the few things that could be downers (I’ve a sore throat and headache, Jael seems to have pink-eye and a sore throat, Israel’s not here with us) life is really, really good. It’s amazing what sunlight and family can do.