Saturday, November 03, 2012

Coming to America...

I have spent my time since Oct. 20 traveling to and around the western United States... actually traveling a little more than I had wanted, but the story behind that will be coming up in the following series of posts. Let me set the stage for you with regard to this trip...

Nearly 2 years ago, two of my scrappy friends, Jenn, who lives in Hesperia, Calif., and Kathi, who lives near Denver, Colo., and I, had made a pact to attend the Scrapbook Expo in Denver Oct. 26-ish, 2012. I was living in Pensacola at the time and had no idea I would soon be living overseas. When the news came in January what the Guthrie family was moving to Japan, Kathi and Jenn immediately Facebook messaged me and asked if that was the end of our plans. I assured them that it was not, that I had heard of this great phenomenon called "flying Space A." People associated with the military could basically fly standby for less than $30 on a flight to and from the states. Perfect.... for people who are not Type A, like me. Type A and Space A do not mix because Space A means you are not guaranteed a seat and may have to wait days or even weeks before catching a flight to where you want to go. I decided to let fate decide, and arranged everything I needed to arrange to fly out of Iwakuni on Oct. 20. Fate decided I was to go to states, as I was afforded a seat on the 250-seat military charter plane. This plane is a standard commercial-style plane with regular seats, two meals and baggage policies that included two 70-pound bags allowed for free. So, maybe it wasn't standard, since it only cost me $29.10 to get to Seattle, Wash., but since it erred on the side of above-standard with the luggage allotment, I did not quibble.

I am not sure if this photo is legal or not, but I looked around for signs in the terminal that said I could not take photos and did not find any, so, as I walked across the tarmac to the plane, I snapped this photo:

The flight through Yakota, Japan (near Tokyo) to Seattle was, fortunately, uneventful. I did meet a fellow sugar glider owner who was allowing her two gliders to run around a sealed phone booth with her and her two toddlers at the Yakota terminal. She was moving back to the states with her furry friends and, having heard this was not an easy feat to accomplish, I asked her how she got them approved for travel. Long story short, she got a doctor's note because her gliders are used for her therapy. I did not go in to what affliction she had that needed such therapy, but I think I may Google what afflictions sugar gliders cure and develop that malady sometime over then next few years. Those of you morality or military police out there, I am just kidding. Please do not plan a court martial.

On our way to Yakota from Iwakuni, I snapped these photos of Mount Fuji from the plane's window.

Arriving in Seattle at about 9:30 a.m. the same day I left (the time difference made it so I had a about a 40-hour Saturday), I still had a few hours until my flight to Orange County, Calif., by way of Phoenix, a round-trip flight I was able to procure a few weeks earlier for $200. This purchase was a complete gamble, as I was not sure if I would even be in Seattle, flying Space A and all, but I just could not beat the price. So, I tucked away my Type A hysterics and played a round of craps and managed to not crap out... yet. 

SeaTac airport has one of the nation's best USOs. USOs, for those of you not familiar, in this context, are there to make travel a bit easier for people associated with the military. It's like a frequent fliers' club lounge, but without the required credit card account or first-class budget. The USO had free food, water, coffee, bunk beds, computers, children's area, and, for me, the best thing since sliced bread... a really fugly shower that totally made my day, along with the clean towels, hotel shampoos and disposable razors that would accompany a shower. After having traveled for 16 hours, with another 9 hours to go, a shower enlightened my mood considerably, despite the fact that it wasn't a very large or newly-renovated shower. The water was hot, so, again, I did not quibble.

I made it to Orange County at about  9:30 p.m., completing my 25 hours of travel. My parents picked me up from the airport and, fortunately, I did not suffer from any jet lag because I was so exhausted, I took a shower and fell asleep for 10 hours. My seat had not reclined on the trip to the states, so I had only gotten about 2 hours of sleep on the flight from Seattle to Phoenix. So, complete exhaustion did, in fact, keep jet lag at bay! I was able to enjoy my entire stay in the states without feeling tired or out of sorts. Well, at least not more so than usual!

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