Military Air Hell
The journey here was about as insane a trip as you can ever hope to take with a 7-year old and an 18 month-old in tow. We were supposed to leave on the "Patriot Express" from Sea-Tac, Washington on Friday and arrive Saturday (international dateline at work). Well after arriving on a 9pm flight from Dallas we discovered Typhoon Soulik had changed our plans. We were planning on sleeping at the terminal from 9pm until the 0330 to 0530 check in time...now we were screwed because it was delayed 24 hours. So while Ben picked up our 7 bags and pack n play from baggage with Nathan I went to the USO with the baby strapped to me and frantically called all 30 hotels on the list. Not single one could take us. No room at the Inn so to speak. (it was due to a Seattle to Tacoma bike race in town) This is where the "Military Family" steps in and saves the day. Friends who had recently left Monterey themselves had just moved to Washington. We rang James and Anna up. Despite having JUST GOTTEN their own furniture delivered that day and a mound of boxes, they came and got us and welcomed us into their home, moving their four kids around in the process. To top it all off they fed us and then James got up at 2 in the morning the next morning and dropped us off again at Sea-Tac. Wow.
Earning our keep by at least unpacking a few boxes for them
N and Clara playing with boxes out in the yard
Surrounded by boxes
Check in for this little shindig starts at 0330. Yeah that one. The ungodly one, Despite the fact that the flight doesn't leave until 0830. This is a special treat considering we then spent 10.5 hours in the air landing in Yokota, Japan--only to deplane and refuel for 2 hours. Then we reboarded and flew 1.5 hours to Iwakuni, Japan, deplaned again for 2 hours, then flew another hour or so to get to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. If this sounds stupidly impossible with children in tow, I give you the Military's answer: lets put a whole plane load of families and children together for this, cause misery loves company!
Nothing like a little 4 am romp on the playground
Boys ready for take off
The military contracted flight was a 767...and it was FULL.
Ready for the next 10.5 hours of the FIRST leg
We arrived in Kadena at dusk and watched the sun depart as we made our way through military customs. Then baggage. THEN they put you through something akin to a cattle chute and announce your name at the door over the loud screams of babies and children and ask for your "sponsor". This is the person who made hotel reservations for you and will now drive you and your family and 2 tons of luggage to your lodging (among other things). I was SOOOO thankful we got an awesome one. Better yet, I was thankful he showed. There were one or two families having a problem finding theirs. YIKES. I tried to be nice and smile, but seriously....I felt dizzy and when we got in out room...I thought I would take a shower and relax...nope. I know it sounds gross but I got the kids in bed, and collapsed. I think I even slept in the same shirt. How awesome is our sponsor? He stocked our hotel room in advance with groceries and milk. He. is. God.
Finally here!!! His eyes are closed because he's happy or tired. Or both.
This one was sound asleep strapped to me.
Thanks to our sponsor---our fridge was ready to go already!
MILITARY THINGS TO KNOW: (this section is for people who want to know about what they need for taking the trip...if you don't care, skip it)
1) For check in at the counter WHICH IS RIGHT NEXT TO HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, you need a copy of your dependent AMC letter to give to them among other things ( PCS Orders, Passports, mil IDS). Have it all out and ready.
2)Brings snacks, not really for the main meals, just all the wait times in between. The main Patriot Express ride all the way to Yokota actually serves 2 decent hot meals with sides that kids like: yogurt, bagels etc.
3) They have pillows and blankets and plenty of flight attendants. It's like a normal airline flight--on a 767, just,less frills, insanely long and full of kids.
4) Brings earphones and handsanitizer. Their earphones don't work and neither do their sinks apparently. They use the same plane over and over again. The sinks quit working in flight for us. No water for hand washing.
5) Carseat. We brought ours onboard. It was a lifesaver for us because my child WILL NOT stop squirming if he sat in our lap or in the seat next to us. If your kid is like that, the car seat is a must. Also--without it I never would have been able to eat or drink coffee, water etc.
6) Everyone supposedly HAS to take this flight, but I talked to a Marine Family that didn't. They kept changing their timetable for when they had to be there and then when it got close...lo and behold the Patriot Express was full but they HAD TO be on the island by some date. They flew United direct to Tokyo then to Okinawa. Just a thought;)
We "maybe" slept (if you call nursing one kid on and off, and shuttling other back and forth about 6 times as sleep) and woke on Sunday, oh, about 4:30 am. Really I just threw up the white flag. After waiting until a respectable hour I called my old friend Melissa who was waiting for us to call patiently, and hit the most needed place on the base: the commissary(for you non-mil folk that's the base grocery store) and got the necessities : coffee, coffee creamer, IV. The commissary :
For now I'm gonna stop there. More to come: our first night out in Japan, N gets stung by a Japanese Box Jelly Fish AND shopping for a Japanese car and driving on the left! YEAH!