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. :)

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Love living thru your families eyes and heart. What a wonderful experience for the Hieb gang.