Our family has a big move coming up. My husband is getting out of the military due to an injury he suffered last year (that's a whole other blog post to explain that!) I don't know if any of you have had the Army move you but NOTHING ever goes as planned! There is always this "Hurry up and wait" mentality and the communication is definitely lacking. Its even worse that we are getting out and are on an Island in Hawaii, which makes things much more difficult.
So here is our story. I'll give you a little background about me. I have anxiety and ADHD and am a planner. I have traveling down to a science, especially with my kids! They have been flying since my oldest was 4 months old and starting with that first trip as a mom I found things that work for me to stay organized and focused and make sure things go smoothly. So that travel part of it isn't the problem, or so I thought.... I always have a plan A, B, C... I think about the variables and how I can solve any problems that might come up. So when my husband was ready to go to the office to book our flights, I was ready! I had already called several airlines to make sure they were flying pets and got the list of documents I needed to bring for them, we know the destination we are going to since we are moving to Lafayette, IN where my dad's side of the family lives. I'm ready, we just need to book the date, right?! WRONG!
Turns out, they will only fly us back to our Home of Record. In our case that is Iowa because that is the state we lived in when my husband joined the military. We are originally from Texas and can have his Home of Record changed to that if we wanted but that's not where we are planning to go anyway. Home of Record? OK, we can fly in to Moline which is the Quad Cities Airport! We were planning on driving over there to see our friends and my brother anyway so that is where we will land and then we will drive the 4 hours to Lafayette. No Big Deal, right?! WRONG!
As of right now, American Airlines isn't flying pets as cargo. We have 2 Dogs and 2 Chinchillas that we will be flying home with. Yes, there are other options for flying pets and we can send them separately or hire someone or this or that.... But that's not us. They need to be with us (call it control issues, I do all the time lol). I NEED them on our flight. Well that's fine, I called airlines and I know that Delta IS flying pets as cargo and they will let me carry on the Chinchillas! We can just book our flights with Delta instead, right?! WRONG!!
You ever start feeling so overwhelmed you just want to cry? So, yes, Delta is flying pets. However, American Airlines is who has the contract for flying Military. Delta does offer flights for military but they only offer a select amount and are fully booked through October for military flights (This is the info I got from the SATO woman who was booking us). Ok, Ok, Ok, cool cool cool cool cool cool cool.... gimme a minute I can figure this out....
She informs us that there is another option and that Alaskan Airlines is flying pets as cargo as well, HOWEVER, they can only get us as far as THE WEST COAST.... So we have 4 west coast destinations as options if we want our pets on the same flight as us. Excuse me while I throw up.
I am going to pause right here and say to those that don't know my husband and I personally, we are the same person in some ways. Always finishing each others sentences, totally on the same page, enjoy the same activities and music and have the same views on just about everything. He is a social butterfly and the life of the party, I am a good time but I'm going to sit here and relax lol. BUT I am VERY neurodivergent and my husband is very NOT. He is a roll with it kind of guy and has become accustomed to nothing really ever going as planned in the military. (Flash back to the less than 2 week notice for deployment back in 2019...) I need a plan. I have to see it logistically. So this next part of the story will make more sense if you know that about us!
So there we are, and she just told us the furthest she can get us to our destination is the West Coast and I am pretty sure you could audibly hear my jaw hit the ground. My husband said very excitedly "ROAD TRIP!".... I turned to him and said "If I start crying, its because I am overwhelmed and not because I'm mad. My brain doesn't work like this I can't just agree to this and not know what we are going to do next." We chose Seattle, WA because it seemed like the easiest route rather than choosing a California destination. Ryder (my husband) was super excited and trying his best to convince me this was fine and distract me from my binder of plans that was up in flames. He said phrases like "its going to be so awesome to take the kids on a trip across the country to places we haven't been before school starts" "this is going to be an adventure" "everything is going to be ok, just trust me".... and I HEAR the words but that doesn't stop the tears and panic.
Now, I don't know how many people this lady had start crying in her office, and I'm going to assume I am not the first one, but there I was. She looked at us, who were having two VERY DIFFERENT reactions to what we were just told, and she said "I'm laughing, but I'm not laughing at YOU. I'm laughing at his reaction because that isn't one I usually get in here and we need more people like that" Clearly I am a bundle of panic and emotions and have no idea how my husband is so confident just finding out that we have to drive ACROSS THE COUNTRY with 2 kids, 2 Dogs, and 2 Chinchillas....
So we left the office to go home and wait for our itinerary. And I know he felt bad for me because he said "Do you want to go to Starbucks?".... Don't try to butter me up with espresso shots and whip cream sir.... but yes, I do want to go to Starbucks. And I want a new cup. And a new pair of Crocs.... (he gladly agreed because I'm spoiled lol) Nothing else can go wrong at this point, right?! Like we have jumped through all the obstacles now, right?! WRONG!! You guys, I wish I could make this stuff up lol. Once we got our itinerary, she told us we need to call immediately to register our pets on our flight and let them know to expect them. Awesome! So I call Alaskan Airlines and give them our info and let them know we will be flying our Dogs as cargo. Do you think that went smooth? If you said NO, you are correct! That flight is FULL for checked pets and the dogs won't be able to get on that flight with us. I asked if there were other flights that weren't full and there was ONE! So I said to put Ryder on that one with the Dogs or whatever she had to to make sure that they go at the same time we do. I wish I had gotten her name because she was FANTASTIC and so accommodating. She even registered the Chinchillas on our flight with me and the boys.
Now, not everything about this trip is going to be Murphy's law (hopefully, I am speaking rather soon to know for sure). Once I started mapping out our route across the country, did I mention that it is 33 HOURS from Seattle to Lafayette? 33 HOURS with 2 kids, 2 Dogs, and 2 Chinchillas.... This is fine, its fine, I'm fine, everything is fine.... BUT, once I started planning out our trip I started getting excited. Now I am REALLY excited! Yes, it took PLANNING to get me excited but that is just how I work lol. I booked the rental vehicle, I booked the AirBNBs along the way, we mapped out where we would stop for the night and how many hours a day we would drive and how much time we would leave for exploring. I CANT WAIT! We are going to take the kids (and us) to Mount Rushmore for the first time! We are going to stay in the Hot Springs in Montana! The Sturgis motorcycle rally is going on when we drive through and that might just make the whole trip!
So, all of that to say, our family will be driving across the country to start this new adventure outside of the military. While my husband is still technically active duty through September, it is going to be nice to take a leisurely trip on our own terms, on our own timeline, without having to ask permission or rush back by a certain day... a trip to reset and focus on our kids and to have an adventure to start this chapter of our lives. School will start the week after we arrive so it will be a good way to end the summer break. We will be documenting our journey, and you know I'll have my camera! I am so excited to be able to shoot in new places I have never been to and to get some epic shots of the countryside in all of the places we go! So I hope you choose to follow along with our trip (and my sanity)! There is an on going joke from one time my husband and I went to Vegas and I left my camera on the dash of the car when we parked at the hotel and bussed to the Airport. We chose to go back for the camera (naturally) and ended up having to RUN through the terminal in the Chicago airport to make it to our gate. So I started preparing myself for those situations by saying "It's not traveling with the Martins unless you're running through the terminal" lol You better believe I will share the good, the bad, and the ugly that happens along the way because I have no doubts there will be a little bit of everything!