Sunday, September 19, 2004

We've been in San Antonio for over 24 hours, and I'm just now getting a chance to write. Like I said in my last post, a flight popped up to MacGuire AFB, NJ, on Thursday morning, thus rescuing us from having to hang around the airport all day waiting for the second flight to Baltimore.

At around 10:00 a.m. the kids and I and 32 other people climbed aboard a KC-10 (a tanker--I wonder if we refueled anybody as we crossed the Great Pond) and settled in for what turned out to be the best Atlantic crossing I have ever made. As on the C-5, there are no windows, and the seats are like old-fashioned airplane seats, from before the time that commercial airlines decided that passengers should be stacked like cordwood. These seats were large enough to handle a butt bigger than Twiggy's, with enough room in between the rows that I had a good 6 inches between my knees and the seat in front of me. On top of that, they were well padded and reclined quite far back. The kids and I had a row of 4 seats to ourselves, so we had plenty of room.

We had purchased the boxed lunches for $3.30 each. We each had 2 sandwiches, a soda, a bottle of water, a bag of chips, a bag of peanut M&Ms, a jello cup, a fruit cup, and a small pack of Oreos. I think next time, I'll buy just 2 lunches for us to all share.

The flight was uneventful, which was a nice change after our emergency evacuation in Dover last February. I was able to snooze for a good part of it, and I also spent some time staring up into the cockpit, over the pilot's shoulder, and into the clear blue sky. How nice to fly without the fear of some nutjob forcing his way into the cockpit!

We arrived in New Jersey at around 12:30 p.m., and I called for a taxi while Mike went to get the bags. I had checked 2 bags--1 full of all our clothes and toiletries and the other containing Mike's unicycle and our pillows. Would anybody care to take a guess as to which bag made it to New Jersey? At least we have a unicycle . . .

Filling out the claim form slowed us down by a couple of hours. By the time we got to the rental car company and set out for VA, it was 4:00 p.m. Fortunately, it was a fairly easy drive even though we saw the aftermath of 3 major wrecks and witnessed a tire blowout. I got very lost once I made it to Springfield--did I really live there for 2 years or was it all a dream?--but we made it to my friend Miki's house by around 7:30.

Miki had gone to my favorite Thai restaurant of all time that day and had garlic pork with jasmine rice waiting for us. First though, she and I dashed out so that I could get toothbrushes and other basic essentials for us.

The theory as to my missing bag had been that perhaps it went on the later flight to Baltimore on Thursday. So when we arrived at BWI Friday morning, the first thing I did was go check at the AMC counter. No luck. We set off for Texas on Southwest Airlines and arrived right on schedule at 6:00 that evening.

My friend Lis and her kids picked us up at the airport and took us out to dinner at Habaneros, our all-time favorite San Antonio restaurant. I am pleased to report that the steak nachos are every bit as good as I remembered. Mike and I each had an order of nachos, while Annabelle enjoyed her usual: 3 "veggie lovers" tacos--lettuce and tomato wrapped in flour tortillas. After supper we returned to Lis's house and continued to work on the Mystery of the Missing Suitcase.

Turns out my suitcase went to . . . ready for this? . . . England. Yup. That's where it is! The sergeant at Mildenhall last night tried to tell me that the options for it were to get sent back to Germany or to the east coast and no further. Turns out though that they will send it to the east coast and then Fed Ex it to me. It's scheduled to go on a C-5 to Dover on Monday. Who knows? With as reliable as C-5s are, I may have it this time next year.

I've spent much of today shopping to set us each up with a few days' worth of clothes. Thanks heavens for Target and for awesome sales at North Star Mall! I've had moments of absolute rage over the suitcase issue, especially when Mildenhall was telling me that I was SOL. I amused myself with my plans for the article that I envisioned in the San Antonio newspaper--Wife of Deployed Soldier Stranded in SATX with Unicycle; Air Force Denies Responsibility--and my plans for dragging Congress into this if I had to. Ever since I found out that that little misunderstanding had been rectified, I feel much more Zen-like about the whole thing. I see the news coming out of Pensacola in the wake of the hurricane and feel lucky that I am able to just hop into Target and come out with enough underwear and clothes for everybody. Plus, I got new shoes out of the deal, so that helps.

Still no word on whether Fred will be in Charlottesville. If you've got your fingers crossed for us, don't uncross them yet!

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