Friday, May 6, 2016

The Big Trip! Part 2

finally catching a snooze
Our last day in Seattle started at 6 AM, I'm not fond of early rising, but we needed to get our stuff packed up and get on the road to meet Rebekah and her kids. She was taking a ferry over to meet us and we needed to pick up our luggage and get it all to the USO luggage room, before we met her.

The USO, SeaTac has the MOST amazing USO! They have a LOT of military traffic through there, and big Patriot Express flights every Sunday and Tuesday. They provide an area for eating, and lots of yummy snacks and drinks for weary travelers, a luggage room, where you can safely leave luggage for the day (no overnights though) and plenty of recliners, several computers, a sleeping room, a family room for entertaining littles, a game room, and a movie room. Oh, and showers if you need them, including towels and toiletries.  All of this is provided to active and retired military and their dependents at No Cost!

I planned to drive into Seattle, spend the day sight seeing, and then get back to
the airport by 6 to return the car (only way to get my great deal!). The kids and I would then try to get a little rest and eat before checking in for our flight at 2 AM, yes, that's right we had to check in at 2.

A view from the window.

Since Mike had made this journey before us, he had some recommendations. The first being, to get our luggage down to the ticket counter around 1, so that we could be first in line as the tickets are done at that time. That would also allow us to get back up to the USO first to catch some rest before the 8:30 flight.  And he was right, I went and gathered our luggage before they made a call and hauled the kids down with me (Soldiers can check everyone in by themselves, but they weren't sure if that would work for dependents traveling alone). We were the second in the family line. We had to take ALL of our luggage so that it could be weighed, as well as giving our personal weights so that they would have enoug fuel to get us to Japan. We were not getting the Anchorage layover that Mike had.  Once again, the prayers paved a way for us and we were right in the front of the plane on the bulkhead. I know there is some debate as to whether these are good seats. But, for Justus and I they were great. It also worked well, because J and A were the most nervous about flying over ocean, so not having a view eased their tension a bit. We both had aisles, with Asher between us. Then Keilah and Shepherd were next to us sharing the window. For a 9 1/2 hour FULL flight, we were quite comfortable. I could fully stretch my legs and 6'1" Justus had plenty of space.  Asher slept for the entire first half of the flight while the rest of us managed to dose a bit off and on.

Can you find the 11 year old?

We had a layover in Japan at the Air Force Base for about 4 hours before making the last jump to Osan Air Base in Korea. Since it was all the same people, we all took the same seats.  We arrived into Korea on time. In travel time it took about 16 hours, but according to the clock it was now 7 PM Wednesday evening, and we left at 8:30 Tuesday morning.  Our check through customs was pretty uneventful and we boarded our bus to Dragon Hill Lodge, where we had two rooms reserved, assuring all the big kids would have their own bed and I would share with Asher.

We could barely keep our eyes open as we rode the bus to the hotel. Once we arrived, Mike had told me we would need to catch a bus the next day down to Daegu, I stopped into the soldier support center to check the time and place before heading dragging all 18 bags and 5 tired bodies into the hotel.  We fell asleep quickly and all got a very good 8-9 hours of sleep. I even woke an hour before my alarm. We ate a delicious overpriced breakfast at the hotel (we'd been fed for the previous two days, so I didn't feel to bad) and lugged our stuff back across the lot.
Our first daylight look at South Korea.
Almost there, no bags and no one lost so far,
although a few items may still be in Washington.

Dragon Hill Lodge in the background.

This is when the only near mishap occured. When we got to the appointed spot, a bus had pulled up that was headed to Area 1. While I was returning the cart to the hotel. That bus left and an identical bus pulled up. This bus filled with duffles and soldiers. One soldier with a list asked about all the gear, and I said we're waiting for the Area IV bus, explaining we were sans soldier as he was already in country. Good thing he asked! The kids thought I knew the buses had switched, and I had missed that small fact. The soldier pulled off duffels and put them up on the bus, another soldier got us seats together up front, and they helped us load our luggage into the underbelly of the bus. I love how soldiers take care of each other and familes!  And away we went. Four short hours until we were reunited with Mike! I'm so glad for the good night sleep, we got a little tired, but there was so much new to see!

We stopped about half way for a potty/food break at a road side rest area. This was way nicer and more convenient than anything I've encountered in the states.

Mike had also told me that I'd see well kept mounds along the way that were family grave sites and maintained well, as ancestor worship is practiced here. This is just one of many spots that we saw and not nearly the fanciest.  I can't tell you where along the road any of these places are, but I hope you enjoy these glimpses into South Korea.

This Bridge was on the outskirts of Daegu. A high speed train had just crossed over as we came in and it all felt so futuristic, then you'd see something that would remind you that this is a culture with a long and rich history.

We arrived at Camp Walker to be welcomed by Mike and all the 19th ESC UMT, both his Chaplains, and all the Chaplain Assistants were there, as well as our new friend Sherrey Dennis, whom I met online via Fort Campbell friends. She came to give us a ride over to our new apartment on Camp Henry and then brought us a delicious dinner. Her kids came with her to deliver the meal, and her son immediately took Shepherd and Asher around to meet some of the kids that live in and near our building. Then one of our new neighbors brought up a bag of Korean treats, I'd met Lisa through facebook as well when I interviewed for a PWOC board position while still in KY.  It was wonderfully overwhelming! Unlike past moves, where we didn't really know anyone and arrived on our own. We arrived in Korea having what seems to be an instant tribe. Through Facebook I was able to "meet" several women already stationed here through our various PWOC and Chapel connections. It really is nice to arrive some place and to be welcomed like you belong.

Oh, PWOC stand for Protestant Women of the Chapel and is the women's ministry of military chapels. It's been around for 60 years, and I have participated for the last 12. This is where I go first to meet "my people". I know that I will find women who love Jesus and that alone gives us an instant bond of sisterhood.

My "welcome home" gift

Mike had received our unaccompanied goods the day before and had our beds all made and treats waiting for each of us in our rooms. So while, the furniture wasn't ours, it quickly began feeling like home. And we have the most fantastic view of the mountains! But, that will have to wait for the next post. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The BIG Trip! Part 1

     One month almost to the day from my last post, and we are now in our apartment in Korea. We are still waiting on our household goods, but we are comfortable with the loaner furniture that the Army provides. But, I shall sum up this last month for myself, and anyone who cares to learn. We really enjoyed the extra time with my family and on our next to last day in Kentucky we visited the pedestrian bridge to fulfill Keilah's request. Justus is due some major love when we return stateside, as we weren't able to fit in last trips to IHOP or Skyline.

The new and old bridges at sunset

I just love some good architecture

The kids with their cousin-in-laws? 
Beth is my sister-in-laws sister and she and her two kids joined us for our walk
  We got home that evening and I realized I desperately needed new shoes! So on our last day, we packed in the morning, then headed out to run some errands in the afternoon. I got in the car and it wouldn't start and the steering wheel wouldn't move. Shep had done something to lock it. Fortunately Keilah had the since to google and found the solution to get us on the road. I dropped off the kids to use their Christmas present from my brother-they saw Jungle Book, and I did some errands. Went to a car wash to have the car cleaned and vacuumed, bought new shoes, one more suitcase, and then got the kids and took Asher to use his collection of Toys R Us gift cards to get some new toys for the road. From there we headed to have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law one more time and bonus, I got to see our niece Erin who traveled in from Missouri for a conference.
Blessed with the best In-laws EVER!

We headed home to load the car with all our suitcases, and I proceeded to have the worst nights sleep ever. Every time I dosed I had a near panic attack thinking (dreaming?) of everything that could possibly go wrong over the next three days as I traveled half way around the world with four kids. I would wake up thinking of my life verse Philippians 4:4-7 , and our Fort Campbell verse Joshua 1:9, yet my flesh would not cooperate with my heart, so I was up at 5 and made a facebook post about my weary evening. I have a newfound sympathy for anyone who suffers from anxiety. Because suffer I did! We had to be on the road by 9 so that we could get to St. Louis and ship the car. This was a new task for me, we stopped by Scott Air Force Base for lunch and just a little gas to get us to the airport and me to the shipping place. Thank God for a teen driver. She actually drove through all of Indiana to Scott, because my lack of sleep had caught up with me while I was trying to navigate morning rush hour through Louisville. We made it to our hotel and they allowed an early check-in and I headed to the port. 
Inspection time: Thank you Lord
for your many mercies

I need to acknowledge all the saints that prayed for us through the travels. Especially those that saw my facebook post, that I had hesitated in making. Our culture is such that there is pressure to only show strength, and I was a little scared to show my weakness. I am so glad that I did. God reminded me that the Psalms are filled with David calling out and showing his "weakness" and Paul tells us that it is in our weakness that we are strong, because then we allow God in. So I praise God for my weakness and the saints that stood like Aaron lifting Moses' arms. Because their prayers paved a smooth path for our travels.  For example, the "boss" at the shipping yard showed Mercy, that I don't think he oft does, and allowed my car to begin the shipping process even though I was 1 hash tag above a quarter of a tank. He said to leave it running with the A/C on high. By the time I was in to the inspection garage, the young men were telling me that I was above 1/4 and would need to go pay $20 to have the tank pumped. The "boss" said "No, she's fine". The car was turned off, and when it was turned back on. I was exactly 1/4 tank.

Feeling the prayers and much better
after a good night's sleep and getting
past the first step of shipping the car.
My friend Marsha, came and picked me up at the port and drove me back to the airport. It was so nice to see her again. I worked with her husband Scott at a group home for teen girls when we were all young newly weds. I was privileged to attend his ordination and now he's an Air Force Chaplain. (none of us had military service on our radar back then). The kids and I ordered chinese per the sweetest counter clerk's recommendation and headed to our room for the night. I was asleep by 9 and my kids followed soon after. Justus even set his alarm for 7 AM to make sure we were all up and ready for our shuttle to the airport. Other than Shepherd almost leaving his violin behind (it never left his side again) we had no issues at all getting all of our bags checked (8 checked bags, 5 carryons, and 5 personal) and making both our flights. The first flight wasn't full and we all had plenty of space. The second flight, however was full, and was a tight fit. I could see one lady smile with relief as I had Keilah trade her aisle seat next to Asher for Justus' middle seat between strangers. Shepherd was by himself, and wasn't feeling well when the flight began. I asked a flight attendant to check on him and she asked "Is your mom on this flight? A lady was asking about you and I don't want to give information to a stranger." He assured her I was, and that he was feeling better.

When we arrived in Seattle, our friend's father met us at the airport to take part of our luggage to his house to store for the next four days as we visited with his son's family, dear friends from Fort Knox. I was only able to rent a sedan, and there was no way we could fit all our luggage. After sending off half our stuff, we visited the USO for a bit to unwind and allow traffic to die down as it was now 5:00.  I got my rental (they tried to upsell me) and headed to the lot. As we walked in, the lady there asked what I had, then asked if I would like a free upgrade to a minivan. I was floored and about cried. I just kept saying, "Really? Free?
God Bless You" and shook her hand as we picked out a very nice Sienna for the weekend. As we drove out of the lot, I heard her directing a small family to the compact that they had reserved.

We drove to my friend Janelle's without a hitch, no getting lost or missed turns and were welcomed into her beautiful home. The kids all picked up with each other like it hadn't been 3 years since they'd seen each other last. We enjoyed four wonderful days with them and I got to get some visits in with other friends, like Barb Perez from Ft. Eustis days, Becky (Rebekah) Hall Lacy-my best high school
friend whom I hadn't seen in 20+ years, and Rebekah Krause and her awesome sons (also Ft. Eustis) including Abel, whom we hadn't met yet. Once again the kids all picked up as if they'd seen each other a week ago.
Barb, Keilah and I

Becky Hall and I
Hieblets and Krauselets together again!

The Beddall's were amazing hosts, and fed us home cooked meals every night, including a pizza night using their outdoor pizza oven. Justus has decided that we NEED one of those. He and Shep earned their keep by chopping wood for the oven, and Asher helped collect eggs from the chickens. Keilah earned her keep as well by entertaining princess Jenna. I had so much fun visiting with my friends, that I forgot to get pictures with them. The ones I have were because my friends said "Oh, we need a picture". Thank you Janelle and Jonathan for your warm hospitality.

Watching Mr. Jonathan put the pizza in.

1000 degrees of goodness
Sunset in Rochester

Justus just loves when we point out his size :)

Keilah and her new little sister.

The highlight of the weekend, the boys had so much fun.

We walked all over Seattle with the Krause clan as our guides visiting Pike Place Market, walking up to the Space Needle, and then back down to the waterfront through the sculpture garden and then to the Pier where Rebekah had to catch her ferry back home. I love how friends can pick up like no time has passed even when years have.
Homeschoolers gonna homeschool everywhere,
getting a lesson on Parrot anatomy.

Mary Poppins I'm not.

Can't visit Seattle without seeing the gum wall.

dead fish

I didn't expect to see this in Seattle.

Fruit and veggie market

Flower Market