It is funny, I haven’t lived in New Jersey in years, but I still consider it to be my hometown. I love California, and I have loved all of the other places that we have lived, but none of them ever felt permanent. Probably because they are not. We live a crazy life. We move a lot. We travel a lot. We like adventure. When my husband and I got married and decided to have children we decided that we would take them on crazy family adventures. When you move around like we do, we tend to treat where we live like we are tourists. We take day trips all the time, we do the dorky tourist stuff, we do it all. I mention this because I am about to tell you a story about how badly I wanted to go home and what we went through to do it.
So, I guess I should start with the fact that I go home once a year. The last few years, I have gone to NJ by myself with the kids while my husband is on deployment. This year, Wes took a few weeks off and we went together. We got the bright idea to try flying Space A. We have friends that have done it and rave about how great (and free!) it is. Flying Space A is hopping on a military flight as a passenger. We get out pretty easily on the second flight of the day from Travis AFB. We didn’t make the first flight, but they opened up more seats on the next one and we get on. We fly direct to Andrews AFB in DC. Flight was great. After you reach cruising altitude, you can spread out on the floor and have an airplane picnic. The kids slept in cots and it was a piece of cake. We land at Andrews, spend the night in a hotel and wake up the next morning meet my brother for breakfast. He works at Chevy Chase National so it worked out great.
We drive to my parent’s house and have a great vacation. The kids loved being with their grandparents. We saw friends, and went to the beach. The weather was perfect and we really had a wonderful time. My dad took the day off of work and we all went to the zoo and had lunch at the Windrift in Stone Harbor. The boys and I took a trip to Wonderland and ate Kohr Brothers and did all sorts of shoobie stuff. It was great. Ava and my mom were two little peas in a pod. I have always said that it freaks me out how much they look alike and act alike and now that Ava is getting older it is even more apparent. We left there on Tuesday the 3rd.
We drive to DC to spend the night at my good friend Erin’s house in Alexandria. We had a nice dinner, our children had a great time and it was great to catch up. We go to bed because we are getting up really early to try to catch a flight at Andrews. We get to the AFB at 7am and we find out that the flight is canceled. Okay, no biggie. We decide that we will go back to Erin’s house, regroup and head into the District to check out some museums. We take the kids on the Metro and the boys about died. They loved the train. We have a great day, and I get to go to my favorite place. I love Julia’s Kitchen in the Smithsonian, it is one of my happy places. We head back to Erin’s. I made everyone a nice dinner and was happy to have another night with our friends.
The next day, we find out that there is a flight to Travis at 3am out of Dover. We have the whole day in DC. The boys head back out to the museums and Ava and I have a nice girl day. It was wicked hot and she just wasn’t into it. We had a nice lunch at a little cafe in Alexandria. I pack everyone up and when the boys get back we head to Dover. We stopped in Annapolis and had a delicious dinner and checked into the hotel to get in bed early so that we could be at the airport for 3:30 am roll call. Wes drove up to Dover to get us check in to find out that the flight was canceled. Are you still with me?
Discouraged, we call the flight recorder and there is a flight to Travis out of Andrews the next morning. We get back into the car and drive back to Andrews. Spend the night and wake up the next morning and head to roll call. We met up with some other friends who were also trying to get back to Travis and we are all sitting in the terminal waiting for them to call our names when the man over the loud speaker announces that there are ZERO seats on the Travis flight. At this point, I think that I am going to cry. My husband needs to get back to work and he is stressing out about getting home. Wes is what we like to call Type A+ so he is starting to lose it. He does not do well without schedules and plans and usually lists and spreadsheets. I am what we would call Type B-, which in this case is really helping us out. I am less worried about not getting home than I am about my husband having a stroke in the terminal. We checked commercial flights and they were $450 a person. Not going to happen unless we absolutely could not get home any other way.
We call Dover. There is an 11:45 flight to March (which is near LA). Andrews has a flight for the next day to Travis. Do we gamble on the Travis flight or do we get in the car and try to get to the West Coast at least? We decided to get in the car and go. There were 3 flights heading to the West Coast that day and chances were good we would get on one.
We drive back to Dover and they tell us that the March flight was delayed and that our names were first on the list. Awesome. Except that we have a rental car that we need to return. I drive the rental back to the rental car place (which is a lot farther than the 5 minutes away that they told me) and they are closed. The 14 year old dude working talking on his phone at Hertz in the dark, closed, office will not take me back to the terminal (jerk) so I call a cab. It takes over an hour to pick me up! I am starting to flip out. The stars have aligned and I am one step closer to getting my family home and the cab is no where to be seen. Meanwhile, Wes is at the terminal with the kids, lying through his teeth, to stall the lady who needs to get us through security and checked in. I literally ran into the terminal and had seconds to spare. I am very sorry that my husband lied to you nice lady, but it was necessary. Hugs? Great.
We get on the plane and have no plan to speak of. Our car in at Travis, we are going to March which is 6+ hours away. At this point, I am just happy to be back in CA. We land at March, I book a rental car, we take a taxi to the airport, pick up the rental and drive from LA back to Sacramento. 6+ hours in the car after a 5 hour flight and we are home. I have never been happier in my life to sleep in our own bed and take a shower in my own shower. We wake up, and take the rental back to Sacramento airport. We turn it in and drive back to Travis to pick up my car which is still at the terminal. Wes and the kids head back to Sac. I stay at Travis and hit up the Exchange and the Commissary. Awesome. I restock my house, buy myself a fall scented candle and fancy shampoo to celebrate being back home. I get in the car to drive home and I get stuck in traffic for 2 hours.
I am never leaving the house again.
Our friends are still not home.
Space A travel is not for the faint of heart.
If you were paying attention:
Travis to Andrews
Andrews to NJ
NJ to Andrews
Andrews to Dover
Dover to Andrews
Andrews to Dover
Dover to March
March to Sacramento
Sacramento to Travis
Travis back home
5 days to get home.
But it was all worth it. And I would do it again.
My kids had an adventure that they will not soon forget. Neither will I. I have never been more proud of my children and my hubs for being flexible, polite, well behaved, and going with the flow. I know that it is not always easy, but we will look back on this in a few days and just think of it as another wacky Hester adventure.