Looking back over our latest space a adventure, flexibility, as always, was the key to travel success.
Day one: We left beautiful NAS Whidbey on September 13, stopping at Reno and Topeka (for barbecue…oh yes, and fuel) on our way to Norfolk. We had arranged for an Enterprise rental car to be staged in the terminal parking lot due to our late arrival, which made getting to our lodging at Ely Hall – located on base, but nowhere near the terminal – quick and easy.
Day two: A relaxing morning to wait out the Norfolk area rush hour, then a leisurely drive to Dover and the Eagles Rest Inn (DV Suite!) on base. We were not expecting any flight availability based on the 72 hour forecast, so this was just a Remain Overnight (RON, in flight language) on our way to our final destination of McGuire.
Day three: Up and out early in order to arrive at McGuire, return the rental car, and be in the terminal in time for afternoon roll calls for two flights to Ramstein. On the off chance we didn’t make either flight, we stopped by the All American Inn on post and secured a few nights’ lodging. Good thing, because we didn’t make it out that day. A very few seats ended up being released, but our Cat 6 sign up date and time did not make the cut – still quite a few Cat 3 and 4 families returning to Germany. We did make some new friends while waiting, and getting acquainted and sharing stories made the time fly by.
Day four: All of us back at the terminal for the day, but no seats were released on any of the flights due to cargo requirements. Our new friend group of 8 drowned our sorrows together imbibing in fine German cuisine and BYOB beer at Sebastian’s Schnitzel house, outside the Fort Dix gate. A fine evening was had by all!
Day five: No flights on the forecast, so sponsor and I decided to while away the day at Long Island Beach, NJ. We rented another car for the day and headed out. A delicious lunch at the Blue Water Café, followed by hours of sun and sand and strolling at the beach were a wonderful alternative to sticking around the base all day. We returned to our room rested and relaxed, and ready to go – we hoped.
Day six: Our buddy group meets back at the terminal again. There were several flights forecast, and we all felt lucky! Sure enough, our friends bid us arrivederci when they were selected for the first flight of the day, and, several hours later, we were selected for the second – a KC 10 tanker with over 60 seats available. We were joined by about a dozen travelers who had flown up from Charleston after not making it out of there earlier in the day – they were successful by being flexible, too!
Once we were selected for our flight, we went online to Deutsch Bahn (German train – www.bahn.com ) and purchased tickets from Ramstein to Paris, France. We had already arranged for lodging at Ramstein, so we were set. We settled into our seats for the long flight to Germany. Hooray! Upon arrival, customs and immigration for our small flight went quickly. An early check-in to lodging, a long nap, walk around the base, dinner, and good night’s sleep later, we grabbed a taxi to the Ramstein train platform. Ten minutes later, we were on our way to Paris!
It had taken 3 days longer than “planned” to get to Germany, but we made it! The new friends, the evening at Sebastian’s, and the day at the beach all made the wait just another part of the adventure – not bad, at all!
Next time: France.