Wednesday May 18th 2016 found us in line at the Air Military Command (AMC) Terminal for a flight traveling Hickam AFB (Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii); Yakota AFB, Japan; Kadena AFB, Okinawa. And whoopee, we made the cut!
*Aside* Traveling Space Available (or Space A) is an interesting process. If a military flight has space available after it loads its cargo, crew and any related military passengers it opens up the remaining seats to anyone within the military "family": active military on orders or leave; immediate family of deployed military; compassionate leave and so forth. In the final category is retired military personnel. That's us, Tom and Rebecca. Often only a few seats are available so its certain retired military won't make it on many flights. You must be registered with the originating terminal and present, ready to fly, in order to even request to be put on the list for a flight. Being on the list doesn't mean you'll get a seat, as seats may run out before they get to you. But we got lucky and received a seat on the first flight we chose.
We checked in, tagged our luggage, went through screening, got on the bus, headed out on the tarmac to the plane and there were no stairs to get on the plane.
*Aside* This is really funny to me and Tom but possibly no one else (we do crack ourselves up). Just before we left Columbus I was in the play "Endgame" by Samuel Beckett at the new Franklinton Playhouse, Columbus, Ohio. Tom and I are delighted by how many lines from that play we can work into our daily conversation. So immediately when the steps were not there we looked at each other, quoting Clov's lines from the play: "What did I do with that steps? You didn't see that steps?"
The bus does a u-turn back to the terminal. The problem? The crew had "depleted their duty day" causing a "24 hour slip". "Come back tomorrow for a guaranteed seat on the plane, same check-in time," we were told.
Thursday May 19th 2016 Next morning we slept in a little getting up around 7:30am. At 8:00am just before we headed out to breakfast Tom checked the schedule to find Roll Call for our flight moved up to 7:45am. We slammed our belongings into our bags hoofing it double-time to the terminal arriving at about 8:20am. We missed Roll Call. There was one seat left, obviously not enough for both of us. No more flights today. No worries: we still have a reservation in the Base hotel for another night.
Friday May 20, 2016 we find a flight traveling Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Anderson, AFB Guam; Richmond AFB, Australia. We do some fast checking with friends in Australia, deciding to go for it. We wait in the terminal until - wait for it (but not as long as we did) - the flight was canceled. It's Reservist Weekend in Travis so NO rooms are available at the Inn. We book at The Town House Inn in Fairfield which costs more than the Travis Base Inn, is not as nice and is a $20 taxi ride away. But there was good news: a Korean Hot Stone Restaurant right beside the hotel gave us the best meal since arriving in California. Meanwhile Rebecca suddenly realized she forgot to pack her swimsuit. A one mile walk away from Town House Inn provided a Wal-Mart solution to the problem.
Friday May 21, 2016 we arrived at the terminal at 4:15am to make sure we were marked present for the Flight to Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii. We got seats, checked in, tagged our luggage, went through screening, got on the bus, headed out on the tarmac to the plane. This time we got on the plane and into our seat. Then the flight pre-check found a problem with the generator so we got back off and went back to the terminal. BUT there was another flight going out to Hickam at 1pm. The good news: after being delayed again several hours we scored seats, finally getting away from Travis to Hawaii.
*Aside* Tom told me that the C5 plane we finally boarded is really cold or really hot. Well, we were in the really cold part and really cold doesn't even begin to describe it. Even though I wore every piece of warm clothing I brought with me, it was not enough. Tom slept like a baby for 6 hours, but my feet (among other things) were frozen into solid ice, precluding all sleep for me. It was like sitting in a froz
en meat locker.
On arrival at Hickam at 9:00 pm, perseverance on Tom's part scored a great room with a mini kitchen on the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base, Lockwood Hall for $62.
*Aside* This was great because our cheapest alternative was at least $125. The Doubletree lady really worked hard to impress upon me that her $300 room was a bargain with lodging so tight in the Honolulu area.
Saturday May 22, 2016 we rented a car and were able to finagle one more night at Lockwood. Roll call for the first flight tomorrow is 4:58am so we'll be up early again hoping to make it to Guam. So today may be the only day available to enjoy Hawaii. We drove through downtown Honolulu to Waikiki Beach. During lunch at Duke's Waikiki on the beach we watched all the happy people soaking up the fun in the Hawaiian sun. We took off our shoes walking along in the sand along the shore. Glancing at the people on the beach around me, I left thinking, "That's gonna be a really expensive sunburn."
So what DO you do when the first plan doesn't work? You make another plan and another plan and another plan until you find one that DOES work. And then you work the plan. This is us, workin' it!