Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We're back!

The island hoppers have returned!  I'll try to get caught up soon but unpacking and laundry and the general resuming of life after two months away has been keeping us busy.

Our space a return was much, much smoother than the first trip (although I do have to say Chris was one lucky ducky and got on the Patriot Express flight to Seattle on his very first try).  I bought commercial tickets from Portland to Honolulu a few months ago and reserved four nights at the Hale Koa resort for a short vacation.  And I was dead on - we arrived in Hawaii on Monday night and left Friday afternoon, exactly four nights.  There was supposedly a flight to Kadena on Tuesday morning (not sure if it actually left or not, the Hickam Facebook page didn't post a report).  Then our flight to Kadena was delayed from Wednesday to Thursday morning, then to Thursday night, then Friday morning, to finally Friday afternoon.  (We were sitting in the terminal debating spending longer on Oahu or taking a couple of days in Guam.  A little bummed we didn't get to see Guam but also glad that we didn't have to fuss any more with the uncertainties of space a)

Our flight from Hickam to Kadena was on a KC-135.  Again, I read that this plane was very cold.  I bought an extra blanket and hauled a carry on packed with jackets and hoodies so we'd have a chance at staying warm.  Nope!  Maybe it's just my luck, but again this flight was disgustingly hot!  Although the floor and the windows were definitely un-insulated and freezing, we must have been near some sort of exhaust or heater and spent most of the flight uncomfortably hot.  As I told our family, it felt like sitting in lawn chair next to an extremely loud dryer vent for about 9 hours.  The other passengers sitting just a couple seats away from us spent the entire flight bundled in hats, fleece and blankets, so the heat definitely seemed to be contained to just part of the plane.  

Just like everything else with space a, be ready for anything.  Dress in plenty of layers and be prepared for any extreme.  And most importantly remember - free is a very good price!!  (Overall, we spent about $2000 on airfare - a quarter of what we would have spent flying commercial from Naha to Seattle or Portland.  And about $600 on hotels - basically five nights in Waikiki.  So overall, I'm very pleased with our space a experience!)

A hot and unhappy Isaac sitting on the crates of gear

An evil looking Owen in our cargo net seats

I think there's usually space on the floor for sleeping but our mission was hauling medical equipment and most of the cargo space inside the plane was taken up by crates.  The floor of the plane was basically a freezer (I literally used the floor as a refrigerator to keep our boxed lunches ice cold), so without heavy blankets I don't see how that would be comfortable.

Owen co-piloting...
And down in the refueling boom control area

Sad to see our summer adventure come to an end but very glad to be back home in Okinawa (even if there's a cat 2 typhoon heading our way!)

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