Lawna and I are sitting in the back of an American Airlines jet on the way to Baltimore, Maryland. I'm located next to the engine, so the noise is harsh, too loud to overcome with music without blasting one's eardrums, and since we are in the very last row, our seats do not set back at all. I love to travel, but I hate to fly. Flying, after all, isn't really traveling; it's just transporting. You walk onto a plane through a covered boarding chute and get crammed like sardines in a long tube with bad air, and then after hours of discomfort and noise, you emerge in a new place, often with a totally different climate. Flying is convenient and fast, but it is not traveling. There's usually nothing to see.
Once we land in Baltimore, we'll have a layover at a USO and then board a military plane to Ramstein.
On Saturday we were treated to lunch at Josephine Street Restaurant by Lawna's parents. My mother was there, but unfortunately my father could not make it. He was not feeling well. Brian was there with Tosh, and we all had a good visit. On the next day, Tosh's parents invited us to the Outback and we finally met her father. We have had a good send off all around. We have flown places many times, but always to return to San Antonio shortly after. It is odd to be going somewhere, not to return for at least three years (except, of course, to visit--especially for Brian's graduation).
Our last transfer in Dallas was a quick one, and we did not have time to get lunch. This flight is serving no peanuts, just drinks. We are both hungry. Hopefully the USO will have something good.
It's almost 7:00 (eastern time) and we have about an hour to wait for our next flight, which will be on a military transport. We checked on our baggage with some confusion, never having processed through a PCS transfer before. It's a little different than civilian traveling. We made it through after consolidating some of our bags so that we wouldn't be charged overages, and now we are just waiting in an area of the airport that is full of service people in camouflage fatigues. We civilians feel a little out of our element. We are, of course, not in uniform, and we are older than most everyone else. Many of these service people look like my Freshman college students, only in uniform.
We don't know what to expect of the flight. Hopefully it will be reasonably comfortable and might afford some sleep. Lawna is crashed out on a couch, and I'm past being sleepy--that deadly second wind that one gets after days of little sleep. I slept about two hours last night, and just drank some Starbucks.
Airports can be unforgiving environments. I doubt that I will get any sleep until we reach a comfortable bed in Germany. I don't sleep we'll on the go. I tend to keep going through the fog, and fortunately I'm not piloting the plane.
The plane turned out to be a commercial jet, much bigger than either Lawna or I had flown on before. It was filled to capacity with service people dressed in camo fatigues. There were only a few civilian passengers like us. The seats weren't comfortable, but after about five hours I began to nod off to sleep. I think I managed about an hour of sleep. The food was pretty good, and they flight attendants delivered regular servings of it. We finally landed around 11:30, German time. There was snow on the ground, and the temperature was pleasant, in the mid-thirties.