The Tao of “Hiccups”

A fellow Cat 6 traveler, reading about our most recent space a adventure (which had gone off like clockwork!), inquired whether we ever experience any “hiccups” along the way in our travels.

Oh, Mercy, YES!

We’ve experienced FAILURE: on several occasions (like our planned trip to Italy this past fall from Norfolk) we haven’t gotten out at all. One time, a few years ago at McChord, we called the terminal before driving down, called again when we arrived at lodging on base and were assured of seat release, checked into lodging, and, as we turned from the counter with key in hand, looked at the newly updated lobby screen to find the flight had disappeared.

We’ve experienced MULTI-DAY DELAYS: Our longest waits (so far) have been five days bumbling around between Andrews, Dover, and McGuire before getting out to our desired destination – Ramstein.  On a different trip, five days at Ramstein (with a futile overnight to Spangdahlem tossed in the middle) before something came up to the west coast. The flight wasn’t going where we wanted to go, but we took it, as pickings were slim, and our sign up was close to expiring.

Generally, we wait between one and three days while trying to catch a hop.

 We’ve experienced BEING BOOTED OFF A FLIGHT WE WERE MANIFESTED THROUGH ON: Manifested to Souda By, Crete, we were kicked off at McGuire due to duty passengers and gear boarding. They and their gear put the plane over the allotted weight limit, so off we went.

 We’ve experienced “IMAGINATIVE” ROUTING:  After trying for two days to get home from Yokota, we decided to backtrack to Kadena on the PE, hoping to secure seats back through to SEATAC the next day at the beginning of the run. We didn’t make the cut at Kadena. We ended up, later that day, on a C5 going through Hickam and on to Travis and Kelly Field, in Texas. During the flight, those of us seated near the crew were informed that they expected “issues” to develop that would “require” a delay at Hickam for the weekend. Upon landing at Hickam, we took ourselves off the manifest, deciding to just wait and catch something going to McChord instead.  Four days later, we took off for McChord on a C 17 thirty minutes before our original flight finally “resolved” their “issues” and continued on their way.

We’ve experienced HAVING TO PURCHASE COMMERCIAL TICKETS: To get home from Hawaii (twice), Alaska (once), and various east coast locations (3-4 times, can’t remember for sure) when there were no flights posted on the 72 hour forecast. Sometimes, the cost of waiting around is more than the ticket home.

So, yes, like most space a travelers, we’ve had our share of “hiccups”. But, we expect them, and so we’re prepared – mentally, physically, emotionally, and monetarily. We’ve always got several back-up plans ready in case the first option doesn’t work out. Sometimes, fortunately rarely, the backup plan has been give up, go home, and try again another day.

Lady Cat 6 has said this before: my sponsor and I think of space a travel not as “vacation”, or even “trip”, but deliberately as “adventure”. Once we walk away from our front door, we’re officially ON our adventure. Whatever happens, however long we have to wait, whatever we end up doing while waiting, wherever we ultimately end up, all the things that could ruin a vacation or trip, are all just part of an adventure.

 We’ve met wonderful people and developed lasting friendships while sharing delays. We’ve had experiences while stranded that we never would have otherwise – like wandering the waterfront parks and eateries in Tacoma, taking a boat trippast the Academy in Annapolis Harbor, spending a sunny day at the shore in New Jersey, and relaxing on a beautiful train ride through the autumn forests from Ramstein to Spangdahlem (and back). Heck, I never would have discovered my favorite German restaurant in the whole US – the wonderful Sebastian’s Schnitzel Haus outside Fort Dix – if we hadn’t been stranded at McGuire! I’ve got the AMC Museum waiting  on my list to visit next time we get stuck at Dover.

The Tao of “Hiccups” states: “Hiccups” will happen. Be prepared for them, but do not fear them or fight them. Accept them as they come, for they are opportunities to enrich your travels, offering paths you would have missed wandering down in a direct line between point A and point B.


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