Flying to Europe

C17

I have been away from my blog for a little while now.  For my one and only fan (you know who you are) I apologize; I have been visiting friends and family in Europe for the past couple weeks. Because of those-who-can having upped the price of airline tickets so much, common folk can’t afford to travel anywhere further than the local IKEA anymore. So we decided to take advantage of a privilege we have earned having been in the military; space-A flights. Our family had only done this once before when my dad passed away many years ago. At the time my husband was still in active duty and because of the circumstances of our trip we were able to get a seat pretty quickly both ways. Now that he is retired we are placed on the bottom of the waiting list. In practical terms this means we have priority only over mosquitoes and other household pests. Which, kidding aside, is only fair… but a pain nevertheless.

So we drive to an air force base ripe with the hope of getting a flight out way before our vacation time is over. After 3 days of waiting at Dover,  (thank you wonderful USO volunteers. Your kindness and amazing lounge made our wait so much easier to bear) we finally got to fly out. Our luxury vessel is a C17, which for those unfamiliar with military planes is that giant cargo plane you often see in action movies that can carry whole tanks inside of its bowels and poops them out through a ramp off its tail. Here we all are sitting parachute style along the sides of the plane staring at each other across the empty cargo hull. It was great that it was empty. Most of us were able to make makeshift beds on the floor and sleep semi-non-comfortably. Families with children held whole picnics on the stretched out blankets. I chose the least comfortable style of curling myself like a snail on top of two seats. It’s a miracle I could even walk at the end of the seven hour flight.

Three days  (four if you count the night we had to spend at the hotel in Rota) already burned off our two week vacation, we drive a rental along the south of Spain and into Lisbon in Portugal where yours truly is from. We now have about ten days to make up for more than three years of apart-time. I am not complaining. Any time I can spend with my mom, my sister and my nephews is well worth it. But I do wish I could have a little more time with them (more to come of my adventures in Luso-soil).

Too soon, it’s time to leave. Another  six hour drive to Spain, another night at a hotel and -tah dah!- we actually get a flight that same day (not exactly to where our own car is parked waiting for us in the good old USA but a good 7-8 hour drive from it). This after having been checked in on another flight, taken out to the departure gate only to be told the plane is in need of TLC (who isn’t?) And we must go back to the waiting room because who knows when this plane will be ready. We decide to take another flight to a much less convenient location and here I am in another C17, this time a super full one (no more floor beds or picnics).

This is where I get to praise our amazing military men and women.  They may cuss like sailors (I know my husband used to) but they are the friendliest people in the world. These guys had actually collected goodie bags (filled with Capri-Suns, chocolate and crackers) to give the passengers who by the simple fact of being there make their job just a little harder; now, not only do they have to do their jobs, they also have to play flight attendant, give up their much-deserved sleeping spaces and watch a bunch of bedraggled people sleep with their mouths wide open. You can’t see me but I am on my feet applauding them right now.

As I write this my back is absolutely killing me, I am dizzy from the lack of sleep, and I have my Kindle on an empty seat beside me while I type on my faithful bluetooth mini keyboard. The quantity of spelling crimes I am committing makes me cringe and the nine hour flight ahead of me makes me wince in pain. But I am so very grateful to the military for this opportunity to see my family. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it any other way and the silver lining is I have got so much fodder for writing. Win-win.

Come back lonely fan of mine; I will have more stories about my amazing(ish) adventure in Europe in the next few days.

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