The military has flights that are called Space-A (Space Available). I'm copying the definition of Space-A flights from Wikipedia, because it's kind of hard to explain it...
Space available travel is an administrative privilege that derives, in part, from United States Code, title 10, section 4744, which states, "officers and members of the Military Departments, and their families, when space is available, may be transported on vessels operated by any military transport agency of the Department of Defense". Space available travel is defined as "travel aboard DoD owned or controlled aircraft and occurs when aircraft are not fully booked with passengers traveling under orders"....Space A travel is not without its pitfalls. Unlike traditional commercial air traffic, military flights are not always assigned predictable or firm takeoff times. Many factors go into planning a military flight, with space-required cargo and passengers forming the basis of planning. There is no consideration given to potential Space-A travelers during the planning process.
If it's not clear in that definition, the most important thing to realize about Space-A flights is that they're FREE! With that being said, we've never flown Space-A before, because you do have to be flexible with your schedule, in case you don't get on the flight that you need, and we've never really been able to be that flexible before because of work. Since Grant is in school, and turned in his thesis, he had some extra time. And since I'm not working, I obviously had all the time in the world. So we decided to go for it.
Our base has flights that go out every Monday to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. So, on Monday, the 11th, we were all packed and ready to go. We were supposed to be there around 10 am or so, to be listed as present for the flight. Once we got there, they said the flight was delayed, and that we didn't need to be there until 2 or 2:30 to check in (we would soon find out that these kind of delays are very common on Space-A). To kill time, we decided to go see a movie. The movie got out right before 2, and we made it to the terminal maybe around 2:15 or so. Grant went in to go see if it had been delayed again, and they told him that we missed the flight. It hadn't left yet, but the engines were on, and once the engines are on, no one else is allowed on the plane. Obviously, we were very confused, because we were back within the time that they told us to be. Apparently, whatever was delaying the flight in the first place had been fixed, and the pilot was ready to go. They tried to call my cell phone to tell us to come back ASAP, but I had my cell off - not because we were in a movie, but because I didn't think I'd need it, and I was trying to save the battery, and they never said to be near a phone in case they needed to get in touch with us.
Anyways, to make a long story short, after a lot of begging on our part, and with the help of the lady that works in the terminal office, we were able to get on the plane.
Now, this was a military plane. A C-5 to be specific. It's a huge, noisy plane. We had to wear ear plugs the entire flight. But it's free, so you really can't complain too much about things like ear plugs.
We went from our base here in Dayton, to McGuire AFB in New Jersey, and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Here's a picture of Kendall wearing her ear plugs while we were waiting to get on the plane at McGuire.
We arrived at Ramstein about noon the next day.
The first thing we did was rent a car so we could drive to Paris. Once we rented the car, we were off. Which meant driving on the infamous Autobahn in Germany. Grant was definitely a little nervous, but he did great.
We kept seeing these signs that we soon realized meant "exit," but we still couldn't help laughing at it. Yes, we're parents now, but we're not above laughing at any word that has "fart" in it.
We decided, since we were close enough, to drive the longer way and go through a couple of countries. So, we were soon in Luxembourg, and then Belgium. But Belgium was kind of a mistake. But that's okay, we were soon in France, and we drove on smaller roads to get to Paris, and that fulfilled something that I'd always wanted to do - see the French countryside. It was so beautiful! We saw castles and cute little towns, and beautiful scenery.
We finally made it to Paris around 10 that night. Checked into the hotel and crashed. We were exhausted!