This was our favorite month of this deployment because we got to spend most of it with J! We had our trip planned for much of this year. We had no idea that the Hurricane Irma would appear when it did and almost derail us. Thankfully, everything worked out just fine.
J’s mother was already here at the start of the month and his sister arrived before C’s birthday. Having them both here was a big help in preparing for the party and having it go smoothly. The party was perfect and so much fun! It was the first year that C actually decided on the guest list herself and had a party of only her friends (instead of our adult friends with kids like we’ve done in years past). The party was princess themed so we decorated the house with Disney princess things and rented a bouncy house/slide that looked like a castle. I made Little Mermaid aprons for all the guests to take home with them in place of a party goody bag. The weather on the day of the party was so perfect! It was breezy and slightly cooler than usual for that time of year, thanks to the impending hurricane.
The party was on Saturday, my in-laws were scheduled to fly out of Valdosta late Sunday, and we were scheduled to fly out of Valdosta on Monday. We watched the hurricane reports closely and decided it would be best for all of us to change our flights and drive to Atlanta early Sunday morning. That was a good choice because the Sunday evening flight out of Valdosta did get cancelled. My in-laws flew out of Atlanta Sunday night with no problem. C and I stayed with friends in Atlanta Sunday night and were supposed to fly out Monday evening straight to Germany but all afternoon flights were all getting cancelled. So we changed our flight again and flew to Detroit on Monday morning to get out of Atlanta before the storm hit and then flew straight to Germany from there. It was such a stressful time! I can’t believe it all worked out.
Dulce was another part of the story. I had her booked to stay in a Valdosta kennel but two days before we left, the kennel called and told me not to bring her because they were closing for the storm! There are a lack of good kennel options here so we took her with us to Atlanta. Our friends there were going to find a kennel for her but just ended up keeping her the whole time we were away. I am so thankful for their generosity! Staying with them was so much better for Dulce than being in a kennel for three weeks anyway. I know she enjoyed her time there and was well taken care of.
C and I arrived in Germany two days before J so we could adjust to the time change. We had two large suitcases and a smaller rolling carry-on. C and I had to walk a lot, take a subway, then a train, then a taxi, and then walk some more to get to our resort… that crazy ordeal took over two hours and caused a lot of frustration. If C was any younger, I couldn’t have done it. She was such a huge help walking all that way while pulling the carry-on, holding open doors, and reminding me that “it will be okay.” She was so awesome! Once we got to our resort, all the stress of the past few days melted away.
J arrived in Germany, picked up a rental car, and then met us at the resort. It was too far of a trip for C and I to meet him at the airport. Seeing him again, to quote one of my favorite movies, “was like coming home, only to no home I’ve ever known.” There is a feeling of peace and completeness that I only feel when we’re all together. We have been doing a good job of communicating during this deployment so things flowed naturally when we saw each other again. C was overjoyed to see him, so excited to tell him that she’s 5 years old now.
The trip was so incredible; it was the most perfect way to spend J’s r&r (rest and recuperation) break from his deployment. There is way too much about it to cover in this post but I’ll give the gist of what we did in each place. If you want to see photos, go to my Instagram feed where I posted daily during our trip: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/greenrnr2017/ There are multiple photos for each day; click on each photo to see the caption and then swipe left (or on a computer, use the small arrow buttons that appear on the photo) to see more.
We stayed in Garmisch, Germany for nine nights and it was so amazing! The air was so fresh and crisp. Our time there was the healthiest I’ve felt, physically, in six years… it’s fascinating how being in the right (or wrong) climate can affect your body. We spent time in the town Garmisch, took a horse and buggy ride, went to Ammergau Valley and rode the Kolben Chair Lift and Alpine Coaster, went to Octoberfest in Munich, toured the Neuschwanstein Castle and spent time in the town of Fussen, and we spent a day in Innsbruck, Austria. Having a rental car, it was pretty amazing just driving and seeing the countryside and small towns. Germany is beautiful!
For the second part of our adventure, we flew from Munich to Paris where we stayed in an AirBnb apartment in the heart of the city for four nights. We saw and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, saw the cathedral of Notre Dame, saw the ornate Pont Alexandre III Bridge, took a sight-seeing boat ride on the River Seine, went to the Louvre museum, and road a sight-seeing bus around town and saw most all of the major attractions including the Arc de Triomphe, Moulin Rouge, and the Palais Garnier opera house. We got around by walking, taking the subway, and riding taxis.
For the final part of our trip, we took the train from Paris to London and stayed at a hotel in the lovely area of Kensington for five nights. We saw and toured the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, walked through the beautiful Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, toured the Tower of London, saw Tower Bridge, had afternoon tea at a tea house, saw Big Ben, saw the Horse Guards Parade, had a picnic near the London Eye ferris wheel, saw Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, went to the Postal Museum and rode the Mail Rail, saw the Harry Potter Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross, walked across the Millennium Bridge, went to the Natural History Museum, and rode a sight-seeing bus to see other popular attractions and parts of the city. We got around by walking, taking the subway, and riding taxis and the double decker red buses.
Saying goodbye was chaotic, which is usual for us. We got dropped off at different terminals and planned a meet up once we were through our respective securities. We didn’t know that the terminals were not freely connected. I really thought we weren’t going to get the chance to have a proper goodbye. Thankfully, J managed to get to our terminal, with only a few minutes to spend to take our ‘8 months down’ photo and get in as many hugs and kisses as we could, before sprinting back to his own terminal with moments to spare to get on his flight.
It was the trip of a lifetime and it felt like it lasted much longer than it did. We saw and experienced so much and thoroughly enjoyed spending the time together. It was inspiring and rejuvenating. Granted, those rejuvenated feelings only lasted a few days once we returned to our respective dwelling places, but the inspiration and memories have forever changed us.
Month 8 Events:
Month 8 Accomplishments:
Onto month 9!
“So much of who we are is where we have been.”