Thursday, August 2, 2012

Space a!

It finally happened - we escaped the rock!

Tuesday morning, we were hoping to make a flight destined for Iwakuni/Elmendorf/McChord (Anchorage/Tacoma for those not in the know).  I arrived well in advance so we'd have enough time to pick up some breakfast and not be rushing for the airport.  When we arrived, there was a flight to Hickam/Travis (Honolulu/Oakland) with a roll call right before the flight we wanted (I'm not sure if it was a mission from earlier that morning that had been delayed or if it was a last-minute addition).  I hadn't seen a flight to Hickam/Travis leave with anyone under a Cat II in at least a month, but I let the airman mark us present because why not (my mantra for space a has been the same as the lottery - you can't win if you don't play).

Shocked - we were actually selected for the Hickam/Travis flight!

C5 Galaxy (picture from Wikipedia)

The airplane of choice was a C5 Galaxy.  The passenger seats are near the tail on the top of the plane and we actually sit facing the back of the plane.  No windows and very noisy but oh holy mother of god - leg room!!  There must have been almost a foot between seats.  I felt like a king!

Someone mentioned that this was the "cold flight" - the space a aircraft with the reputation of becoming very cold in flight.  He and his family were all wearing jackets, fleece and long pants.  I thought we were screwed.  I brought hoodies and long pants for the boys but our jackets were in our checked bag and I only had a thin sweater and shorts to wear.  Wrong wrong wrong!  We sat near the back and sweat poured off of us the entire flight (seriously, my pants were soaked by the time we landed).

Not happy during take off

The meals were some of the best airplane food I've had.  We paid about $14 for three meals.  Shortly after take off, an airman came around bringing our meal in crumpled up paper bags.  There was a sandwich (turkey on whole wheat with some sort of cheese spread), granola bar, bag of M&M's, bottled water, can of Pepsi, and package of Oreo cookies.  The only negative is the drinks weren't cold.

After almost nine hours in flight, we landed in Hickam AFB.  We collected our things and were told that roll call for the flight to Travis would be in about 7 hours.  I had no clue what to do with ourselves to pass the time.  The boys were too antsy to just hang out in the terminal (and I desperately wanted something to eat that wasn't snack food).  I was too tired to rent a car and drive.  I didn't want to haul our luggage around with us on a cab.  So I began looking for a commercial flight that was leaving before the Travis roll call.

Lucky us, there was a flight that night for only about $260 per person from Honolulu to San Fransisco to Portland.  That's what I was expecting to pay for a flight from Travis to Portland, so I booked the flights, reserved a hotel room and called a cab.

The hotel, the Queen Kapiolani, was right across the street from the Honolulu Zoo.  We dropped our bags off at the front desk (our room wouldn't be ready for a few hours) and set off on a little adventure.

The Honolulu Zoo

Diamond Head from Waikiki

I felt bad spending about $150 on a hotel room we only actually used for about 4 hours.  The taxis were about $45 each way too.  But escaping the airport, having fun at the zoo, a desperately needed shower, a little quiet time and nap were absolutely worth it.

A trip back to Honolulu International, another plane ride.  Breakfast in SFO.  The plane from San Fransisco to Portland was shorter than the C5's cargo hold by 14ft!

Mt Hood - almost there!
We descended through the clouds to a drizzly PDX - we were finally home!

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