Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Flight Out--Finally!

Two weekends ago we decided to try one more time to get out.  There was a flight to Travis with 53 tentative seats (sound familiar?!) and a showtime of 9:10 Sunday morning (Feb. 2).  This time we decided not to get up really early and drive.  Instead, we drove to Dover Saturday night and spent the night in a lovely TLF (temporary living facility) with 2 bedrooms.

We got to the terminal around 8:00 after eating poptarts and these bisquick sausage muffins that Cindy, a facebook friend of mine, had posted the recipe for a few days earlier.  They were so easy and pretty filling, and I doubled the recipe so it made 24 muffins.  We signed in and waited for roll call.
Roll call commenced, and we easily made it onto the flight.  We checked our baggage (3 small suitcases, 1 medium suitcase, 2 car seats, 2 boosters together in a big trash bag, and an umbrella stroller), then happily sat down to wait for them to call our flight.  But about 20 minutes later, they announced that the flight was being delayed for 15 hours, because the crew needed to go on crew rest.  Ummmm . . . wouldn't they know that as they were flying in?  We still aren't sure why that announcement is a sudden thing, but there it was.  The new roll call time was 1:40 Monday morning.
So we spent a day at the Dover terminal.  We played on the playground outside.  We drove over to the Delaware Bay.  We played in the lovely family room, and watched some videos.  We went to Boston Market for lunch, and Bob and Luke went to Burger King and grabbed stuff for dinner.  The boys watched the Super Bowl in the USO lounge.  I won't lie--it was a very long day, and Drew and Micah really needed naps, although overall they did pretty well.  Eventually I laid Drew down for a nap in a crib in another part of the family room, and he slept soundly for a couple of hours.

The monotony was broken by another flight to Dover, with a showtime of 7:00.  We decided to take our names off the manifest for the 0140 flight, and get seats on that flight when the airman told Bob that there were still plenty of seats left after the official roll call.  We were worried, though, that this crew would also need to go on crew rest because the trick is, they don't usually do the roll call after the plane has landed at the base.  It is usually still flying in.  The plane didn't land until after 8:30, but amazingly the crew did NOT need to go on crew rest, so we eventually went through security, waited in another part of the terminal, boarded a bus that took us out to the airplane on the flight line, and then boarded the C-17.  We finally took off a little before 10:00 PM.
The C-17 is a cavernous airplane, with tons of room in the center for cargo, and jump seats that pull down from the walls, lining the walls.  The 4 older boys had to sit on one side of the plane, and the rest of us on the other.  I remember hopping around the Pacific when I was a girl and we were stationed in Okinawa.  We would ride on C-130s or C-141s, and those jumpseats were these uncomfortable mesh things, sort of like lawn chair webbing maybe.  These jumpseats were MUCH nicer--they had nice back and head support, and they were actually quite comfortable!
You have to wear ear plugs because the cabin isn't noise-proofed, like a commercial jet, and it is really loud.  I could not keep earplugs (or earbuds) in either Micah or Drew's ears, so eventually I gave up and just prayed the flight would not do permanent damage.

After we reached our cruising altitude, we were able to get out of our seats and spread out.  First we ate a little picnic dinner.  We had bought 7 box lunches when we checked our baggage, and we picked them up after we went through security.  Each one was $4.60, and it included 2 sandwiches (either turkey, ham, or peanut butter and jelly), a bag of chips, a nutrigrain bar, a candy bar or bag of M&Ms, a can of pop, and a bottle of water.  Seven of these were plenty for all of us, with food left over!

There were blankets and pillows shrink-wrapped together in the neat little cylindrical packages, and everyone immediately started grabbing those and making pallets on the floor.  We followed suit, and eventually everyone was fast asleep in pretty much the entire plane.  We had brought 2 sleeping bags (the kind that stuff into sacks that are really lightweight and small), so we laid those out to make cushions for the kids.  Some people laid across the jumpseats.  They turned the lights down, and it was really peaceful!  Micah and Drew struggled to fall asleep.  Micah was really tired, but he just wanted to walk around.  Drew was not all that tired, since he had at least had a good nap, but when he tried to walk around, he would fall in the little divots where there were giant hooks to hold cargo down.  Eventually we put him back in his carseat, and since the plane was so loud, no one could hear him cry, LOL.  He did go off to sleep finally.
When we started our descent to Travis, they turned the lights back on, and we all hustled around, folding blankets and putting everything back under our seats.  We were groggy because it was about 4:00 in the morning, eastern time, but at least we got some sleep!  It was only 1:00 CA time.  We got our luggage, and then we made a forced march over to the lodging office, and then on to the TLFs.  There was quite a bit of complaining from the younger set!  It was about a mile to our TLF, which was another really nice suite with 2 bedrooms.  We crashed into beds, once we got the pack-n-play set up, the sofa bed made up, and a little bed made for Micah on the pillows from the sofa bed.  The TLF had a room with a queen bed (and we put the pack-n-play for Drew in there with us), a room with 2 doubles (the 3 girls slept on one, and Caleb and Jonathan on the other, and Micah's cushion bed was in the corner), and then the living room had the sofa bed.  We were so tired--we all went right to sleep, and we were glad we didn't have to be over at the terminal Monday morning until 11:20, so we could sleep in!

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