Saturday, October 1, 2011

Santa Barbara Museum Of Natural History

After my trip and before trail of 100 giants trip we took the kids to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for a fun day trip. 

These three had become such great friends over the summer. I wish that they lived closer so that we could see them all time. Isaac doesn't ask about many of his friends but he always asks about Paris and Garret.
The many faces of Garrett

Fossil digging
There was a butterfly exhibit and it was pretty cool. TONS of butterflies just flying around in the netted area, if you sat still long enough one would land on you. With the kids we didn't really have that chance, but many others had said that they had.

Trail of 100 Giants

On July 16, 2011 we loaded up our Expedition with 8 people on 4 dogs to make a 4+ hour drive up to the Trail of 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Forest. It was a fun drive full of laughs and great memories. The kids did great on the drive up for the most part. We had brought a picnic lunch which we ate before heading out on the mile or so trail. 

 Isaac had just been told that the HUGE ants he was seeing could carry him off in a second. THANKS BRAD!!! Huge help!! He was so terrified that he was not happy that I made him sit there long enough to take a picture.
 Noah on the other had could care less and cried when I took him off the tree. HAHA

After the trail we decided to drive through the rest of the forest to see what we could see. We stopped at the Hot Springs, thinking there would be a place we could swimming in a little pond or something, but has been turned into a huge tourist trap and we didn't want to mess with it. So we moved on. We drove on through the forest coming out at the top somewhere, and when we found the highway I was the only one still awake and I was starving. So I woke up Brad to see where he wanted to eat, we pick Marie Calendars and went into feed the crew! It was a nightmare to say the least. Four kids after naps are not really ready to sit still. GRRR I am surprised we didn't get asked to leave. After forcing the kids to eat we hit the road again to make the long 5 hr drive home. All in all it was a nice day. Thanks Brad for the idea to pack up and keep the kids coped up for 9+ hrs. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Trip

Last year when John deployed I decided I wanted to take a trip, an unplanned MAC flight. Its where military members, dependents, and retirees can fly on military planes for free. But they can be hit and miss and can be hard to get on. Well last year no one was able to go. And I wanted to go so bad. So this year I put the feelers out there again. I didn’t care where or when, or even how long. I just wanted to go on a trip somewhere sans kids. I love my kids but with John gone and me either driving too or attending 32 hrs of therapy a WEEK for the boys I wanted to have fun for me, so I could be recharged to take care of them again. Well my good friend Rose was the only confirmed person, so we planned around her leave schedule. Eventually my friend Erin would agree too, but the morning we were so supposed to leave she didn’t feel comfortable going since she didn’t have all the needed paper work. So on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 we left my house after 5.5 hrs of sleep we started to embark on our 12 hrs drive to Grants Pass OR. The trip up was pretty uneventful. The kids did great and Rose was very helpful in making our trip quick and painless. We arrived at John’s parents’ house around 5pm. We hung out ate dinner and then around 9 started to put the kids to bed and around 930/10 we began to try to fall asleep, so that we could get some rest before our 1am departure time. We had a 6 hr drive back to Travis AFB and the first flight we were competing for was at 840 to Hickham AFB, HI on June 29. We didn’t make cut for the people on the plane so we rented a room at the Extended Stay in Fairfield since the lodging on base was full. The bed was awful and the room smelt terrible, but after such little sleep we were just happy to have a place to rest, and shower. We slept for a few hrs and then got up and got ready so we could head back to the terminal to compete for the afternoon flight. Once again we had no luck. Since there were no flights again until Friday, the 1st of July, we decided that we should explore this town of Fairfield. We found a mall with a movie theater and decided that we should see Green Lantern. WOW!! That guy has an amazing body. Oh I could stare at him for lots of hours. The movie was pretty good too. After the movie we went and got In n’ Out and headed back to the hotel, to sleep for the night. The next morning we got up, pack up our stuff and headed to the Westwind Inn on base. Hoping to check in early after checking the PAX terminal one more time in hopes for a flight, still no luck. There was though a new flight to Shaw, SC. And we began to make a backup plan to go there if we didn’t get to Hawaii, since the seats seemed limited.  After checking into the Inn on base we headed to the pool for some sun, good thing too, because it ended up being 90+* and the sun did us some good as we thought about the what ifs of our trip. After the pool we got dressed and walked to a small café right off base. We meet some nice local AF men that gave us some tips on MAC flights and life in general.  After sleeping very well in a nice comfy bed we awoke with our hopes high to get on a flight. Little did we know that our hopes for a flight would be an emotional roller coaster. There were 3 flights to Hawaii with 39 seats total and one to Shaw AFB, SC with 63 seats. We were going to one or the other.  The roll call for the flights was around 9, so we headed to the PAX terminal, I dropped off Rose with our bags and headed to long term parking. Only to find out that the first flight to Hawaii with the most seats on it was canceled. We were bummed because the second flight only had 2 seats on the last one had 10. Grr was our feeling. This flight would play with our feelings all day. They called the roll for the flight with 2 seats, which ended up being 6 seats, but still not us. They were barely making out of Category 2, and with Rose in Cat 3 and me in Cat 4 we were discouraged.  Than the flight with 23 seats came back and they roll called for it. Rose missed it by about 10 and I missed it by TONS!! We were so disheartened, were we ever going to leave Fairfield? Were we ever going to get to go ANYWHERE!!! At 1440 there was going to be 2 flights. One to Shaw AFB, SC with 63 seats and one to Hickham AFB, HI with 10 seats. We knew that our chances to Hawaii were slim to none so we decided to complete for the SC flight, figuring how hard can it be to get a hotel in Myrtle beach, SC and rent a car and drive the 1.5 from Shaw to Myrtle Beach. Well one thing we didn’t think of at all on the trip was that it was going to be 4th of July weekend and that things would be closed, or booked, and simply not reachable. Once we got selected for the flight, it was a whirl wind. We scrabbled to find a hotel in Myrtle Beach. Checking every site we could think of from Expedia to Kayak, with little to no promising results. So we decided to check AAA since Rose is a member. They had one place on the beach at the Sheraton. As we sat on the bus on the runway we decided that since we were going to get in late late late Central time that we wanted a place to stay once we got to Shaw. We called the local lodge on base and booked a room. We booked just in enough time to be whisked away to the boiling hot plane. With both of our phones going dead and no place to charge them we decided that we would make the rest of the plans once we got to Shaw AFB, SC. We landed in Shaw around 2am CST. The Shaw base is large in size, but has NOTHING, not even a PAX terminal. It’s really a place for deploying arimen to wait as they are processed out. So it has nothing, no shuttle, nothing. And the short 5 block walk to the Inn was more like 2 or 3 miles. With suitcases it was not a fun trip. FINALLY arriving at the hotel and checked in around 230/3am on July 2, 2011. As Rose showered I began to look up things to rent a car. This idea was quickly shot down since the rental car place on base was closed for the weekend. And the only other ones in town were all sold out!!!  As I was in the shower Rose found that greyhound left the Shaw Union station at 645, but we couldn’t buy tickets online so we figured it was our best bet, but we should arrive no later than 530 to allow amble time to buy the tickets and get checked in. It is now 3 am, and we began to call taxi companies to come pick us up. We called all the taxi companies many many many times with no luck of even an answer of the phone. We called over 15 numbers, somewhere no longer working, some were wrong numbers and some just rang and rang and rang. FINALLY at 430 we got ahold of a taxi company that could run us the 9 miles to the bus station. WHEW! Things were looking up. We were going to make it to some place fun for the weekend. WAHOO!! Once we get to the bus terminal, it was its closed and won’t open until 1030! WHAT!!! They were supposed to have a bus out at 645, how does that work. As we sat on the step of this little bus station in the middle of Podunk, SC. We began to fall apart. WTH were we going to do. Just than our saving grace came along. A bus, one that said “Take a SmartRide today to Myrtle Beach”. I went over and asked him, how we buy a ticket he says oh you pay me, it will be $3.50. Rose and I made him repeat it a few times because greyhound was going to be $35, but this was a different bus. This was a bus for the workers in the hotel to take to go to myrtle beach for commuting. We asked him if we could take our suitcases since well we would need them, he said as long as they fit. Thank goodness they did. So currently as I type this I am riding a bus to myrtle beach, SC on a commuter bus!!  This place is not what I expected, but than again I am not sure what I expected. First they have unsecure internet here!! Not just one person, but EVERYONE!!! People seem so friendly so far, and helpful. It is green, with rivers and trees. You can tell its old, but in a charmy way, not like run down trashy east LA way. Ok there are some parts like that, but most is beautiful fields, and green trees. The fog is just lifting and I am able to see more, but its defiantly a sight. (I wrote this on the bus that day).
When arrived around 830 at the hotel over course our room wasn't ready yet, but they got us hooked up with breakfast and a place to store our bags as we laid by the pool. Once we checked into our room the bed was super soft and comfy! We feel quickly asleep. Waking when John called to see if we had arrived safely. We decided to go to the beach, the one and only day that we did. It was nice and water was warm, not like the Pacific Ocean here in Cali, always cold. Laid in the sun for a bit and then walked the strip and took in the Myrtle Beach culture. It was interesting to say the least, but I had a blast. After walking awhile we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and DANCING!! I love dancing and was excited to get out and go. We stayed out way to late, and slept all day. It was wonderful to sleep until I wanted to, and not when the kids wanted too. It was amazing. I love my kids and morning cuddles with them as they watch cartoons, but it was so nice to wake up to no screams and crying, can I have juice, I need milk, I am hungry. ect. The next few days were a whirl wind of dancing and eating too much. We spend the July 2-5 in Myrtle Beach. 

Headed to the pool at Travis

                   Rose with her SWEET TEA!! I guess its just not the same here on the west coast. LOL

our view from our room

We decided to go to one of those Teppan/Hibachi type restaurants one day as we were there

                                                 Rose's attempt to catch some chicken.

After our few days in Myrtle Beach we than began our journey back...
We took a greyhound to Charleston, SC to get a MACflight to Dover AFB, Delaware. Once we were in Delaware we than took another flight back to McChord AFB, WA. Unfortunately once we got to McChord there was nothing headed home. So I called my inlaws to see if they would and could make the 7 hr drive to McChord to pick us up on July 6, 2010. We drove all night back to Grants Pass, OR arriving early on the 7th. Once we arrived in Grants Pass getting home was more of an adventure than we had planned. I went to rent a car and realized that I had forgotten my Drivers License in the Expedition, at TRAVIS AFB!! OOOPPPSS!! So we had to wait a day when my sister-in-law Katie and my Mother-in-Law could take some time to drive us to Travis. So around 2pm July 8th we headed back to Travis. We got to Travis around 9 or so. Slept for the night and than the next morning we took the kids to see some of the planes on display
                                              Trip back crowded into a rented Suburban
                                        The hotel

                                                Some random rabbits we found as we were out...

Once we were done with the planes and the long-term storage opened we got the Expedition and we headed out to IHop for breakfast than on to home. Once we reached home it was a glorious feeling. We arrived home late on July 9, 2011

I was extremely happy and grateful to my Mother-In-Law for taking the kids, giving me a break and allowing me to recharge. I am grateful that she was so willing to listen to all my instruction that I had for the kids and not roll her eyes too much. I know that I can be a bit over protective, but I am the only one that knows everything about the kids, right?!?! And this was the first time I had ever left them for more than I weekend and I was scared. The kids did great and so did my MIL. Both survived and she even said she would do it again. Thanks again Sue!!