I'm not sure if I'm mentally prepared to re-hash our journey over to Germany, I'm still jet-lagged and trying to recover from it all, but I guess for the sake of posterity I'll give it a whirl.
On Monday July 8th we woke up at 4:30am to shower and finish packing. We were on the road by 5:45am. We got to the airport at 6:15 and with my mom's help we were able to lug 8 suitcases, 4 bodies, 2 carseats, 1 dog, 1 cat, 1 stroller, and 2 carry-ons to the American Airlines counter. Getting the pets checked in took a loooooong time. Lots of paperwork, $350 in fees, zip-tying their crates closed, filling out forms with feeding instructions, getting them and their crates checked out by a security guy, and checking the weather - it couldn't be hotter than 85 degrees at any point in our travel. I was most worried about Chicago and have been checking weather.com constantly ever since I found out about this rule. It has fluctuated from 84-90 degrees. I prayed long and hard that it would cool down and by divine intervention it was supposed to be 85 degrees exactly. The pets were good to go!
We said goodbye to Joey and Rachel and my heart started aching. I hoped they'd be okay.
We only had 45 minutes or so before the plane was scheduled to take off, so we quickly got some breakfast at McDonald's (I FINALLY got my McGriddle - I've tried two times recently and both times they've given me a McMuffin instead), let the kids play at the playground for a little, then headed to our gate. We boarded quickly and were in the air even before scheduled. So far so good! Goodbye beautiful Washington mountains!
Jane fell asleep right away.
Sorry Fox... Pick a winner!
As soon as we got off the plane we found out our next plane's gate was literally across the way. Easy breezy! We walked over and I asked if there was any way to find out how our pets were doing. They were super rude and unhelpful and simply told me to look out the window and watch for them. Gee, thanks. So I stood and looked out the window and was overjoyed to see them brought over into the shade and then eventually loaded into the plane.
Our flight from Chicago to Dusseldorf was supposed to leave at 3:45pm (1:45pm Seattle time). It took a really long time for them to clean up and re-load a million ginormous crates but we were on the plane by about 4:15pm. Around 4:30 the pilot came on and said there was a mechanical error that needed to be fixed. Just what passengers want to hear! At 5:00pm the pilot came on and said it was fixed, but then it broke again, and maintenance had to come all the way back to fix it. Turns out it was the GPS system that needed to be replaced - I'll say that's a pretty important piece of equipment to have on a plane, no? Meanwhile there was a water problem in the back with the coffee filtering system so even more maintenance people had to come. Aaaand then there was a problem with the hot/cold water in one of the bathrooms so even moooore maintenance people had to come. At 6:30 the pilot came on and said they couldn't keep us on the plane against our will any longer and we could get off. So we did. We walked around and waited until they announced we could get back on. At 7:45pm (5:45pm Seattle time, 13.15 hours of being awake so far), we took off.
The seats were tiny and cramped and the people in front of me leaned their chairs back all the way so I literally had 4 inches of space to call my own. It was an overnight flight but I can't sleep on planes and Fox and Jane were miserable trying to sleep in their carseats but there wasn't anywhere to put the carseats so at one point I sat in Jane's carseat and she was asleep on the seat next to me. Eventually we doubled up the carseats and Fox slept on Chris's lap and Jane slept in mine. To help pass time we watched the in-flight movies: Promised Land with Matt Damon and We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon. Someone has a crush on Matt Damon.
The flight was about 8 and a half hours. Longest 8 and a half hours of my life.
About an hour and 45 minutes before landing we flew over really cool places like Dublin, Ireland and the United Kingdom. This is a picture of the shoreline of France. SO COOL to be living here!
About to land in Germany!
Okay, so we landed at 10:30am local time - 1:30am Seattle time - 21 hours of traveling so far.
Because our flight was 3 hours delayed we missed our connecting flight from Dusseldorf to Nuremberg. We got through passport checks pretty quickly, no hassles there thank goodness, and then got in the long line for "connecting flights" since everyone and their dog had missed their flight. Fox and Jane were MISERABLE and crying and the line was going super slow, there was only one person working, and then I looked over and saw that our bags were coming off the baggage claim - they were supposed to go all the way to Nuremberg! The lady at American Airlines in Seattle told us we'd have to re-check the pets, but our bags would make it all the way there. So. That was awesome. NOT.
Then I was frantic about trying to locate Joey and Rachel. I really could have kept my cool better and I'm embarrassed about how I must have looked. I had to ask about 4 different people where I could find my pets before some nice security guy opened up a gate, opened up another gate, and there they were! Poor Joey and Rachel. They had both peed in their crates and their ears were super flat and they were distraught. Me too. The security guard looked at their paperwork for a millisecond and said they were good to go. Wait, I thought a vet was supposed to check them out and we had to pay more fees? Don't worry, I didn't ask. Crazy how much work and money I had to fork out for what seemed like no big deal on the Germany end. Oh well, better safe than sorry, that's for sure!
Okay, so the next problem was trying to find a way to get to Grafenwoehr. We were still 5 hours away by car and when Chris went to check on our next flight, we hadn't even been rebooked. Rather than put everyone under extreme stress again by flying on another airplane, we rented a taxi for 650 euros that drove us to the Nuremberg airport. We called our sponsors and asked if someone could be there to pick us up at 5:30pm.
We arrived at the Nuremberg airport at 5:30pm - 9:30am Seattle time - that's 29 hours of travel time logged so far with no sleep.
The person was there and waiting for us then it was another hour drive to Graf.
We had to go and get Chris checked in and the guy gave us a brief tour of the area.
This is where we're living - isn't it beautiful?
We arrived in our 1 room hotel at 8:30pm - that's 11:30am Seattle time - a total of 31 HOURS of traveling with no sleep.
The kids were awake and ready to party so we finally got to bed at 4am Graf time and woke up at 10am.
This is the Army Lodging where we'll be living for the next 60 days or so. Hopefully less.
At 2am last night, when once again the kids were awake and partying, I went down to reception and begged them to get us into a family suite - and by suite it just means there is a bedroom with a door. They said having 4 people in a room was a fire hazard and they'd move us right away! As I'm typing this the room is all ready for us to move in, I'm just waiting for Chris to get back from his death by powerpoint day. I'm convinced our lives will be so much better having space where we can keep the kids separate during naps and at night.
Everything we need for now is within walking distance - the grocery store, the movie theater, a park, beautiful grassy knolls, and lots lots more. It is so pretty and green here and I can't wait to explore more. Once we get a house to live in and get our car everything will be top notch! But even right now, life is pretty freakin' awesome. We live in Germany!