Category Archives: Traveling

Leaving Mama’s

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Wow….lots harder than I’d imagined.  I mean, I’ve left her house to move to different places we’ve lived a LOT before – GA, TX, AL, AK, IN, all sorts of places….. just never to the other side of the planet.  But we’d figured out how to Skype from her house, and how to email and use facebook’s messenger service, so she was feeling pretty dang connected, I think.  I was still really disappointed that I didn’t get to see my sisters before I left, but they have fairly young families, I guess, and were very busy.  Perhaps next time.

The morning was cold, there had been snow flurries the night before, and I was hoping for a clear travel day since my snow-driving skills were rusty.  Pretty lucky, just a smattering of snow was left on the windshield of the rental beast.

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Robert drug all the luggage to the end of the new sidewalk so we could stash it in the trunk – man, this sure looks like an awful lot of stuff to be taking, right?  And, a part of me was thinking…. “what if there are NO PORTERS at the smallish Dayton Airport??  How will I manage all this?” – no worries – I had bungee cords – and a plan to lash them all together in two groups and pull them along behind me.

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What a mess of luggage. And, it’s COLD!!

We did get to have a great visit, though, even longer than anticipated, and that turned out to be a good thing.  My Mama can pack #10 of mud into a #5 bag, so she was totally invaluable in making all the stuff fit in my luggage.  We got to eat at some of my favorite places, and some of my favorite things……

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Mama snitching some of my fried cornmeal mush from Perkin’s.

 

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OOhh…,. Skyline. Home of my favorite 4-way bean!

 

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Frisch’s Big Boy – Daddy once sat next to Dave Frisch at a counter in a Frisch’s.

 

Plus, it was pretty cool seeing all the renovations they’d made to the house, it’s a 1921 Sears  Catalog house – yup, the original owners looked at a Sears Catalog and said “That’s the house for us” and placed their order.  It arrived on flatbed railcars to the nearest railhead….. all the pieces were numbered by hand on the back with a grease pencil…… and the name of the original owners.  Imagine getting a book of instructions and a #600 keg of nails to put your house together??  Amazing. 

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Anyhow, I digress *again*….. I think it’s because it was so dang hard to drive off on that cold morning to the airport in Dayton….. but I know I’ll be back again soon.  Probably will end up seeing Mama more often than when I lived in Alabama!

Drove off, waved goodbye to Mama, blew kisses, and started crying. 

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Stopped at the nearest gas station to wipe the tears and program the GPS in my cell phone to get me to the airport.  Which wouldn’t work.  Made me mad and cried again.  And TBG was messaging me, asking how things were going, I was frustrated and mad and sad and couldn’t figure out what was happening with the GPS, and there, on the other side of the text messages was my voice of reason, TheBigGuy.  “Well, don’t you have old-fashioned paper maps??”

*sigh*….. of course I did.  The rental company gave me one.  I oriented myself,  planned a route, wiped the tears one last time and put that puppy in Drive.

The packing at Mama’s

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I’d mailed a bunch of boxes to myself at my Mama’s address…… stuff that I wanted to take to Dubai with me but that I didn’t want to pay excess baggage charges for in the US – they don’t have the “first bag flies free” deal here,,,,,,,  so I mailed them to myself.  Cheaper, right?  I thought I was being pretty dang smart…… oh, and I’d bought this really cool thing called a ScottEvest – holy COW do travelers need this puppy!  Go to their website, http://www.scottevest.com/ and take a look – I had read about them on another travel blogger’s website, forget which one, sorry.  But they came very highly recommended, for sure.  So, I hunted down the discount codes (surely you didn’t think I was gonna pay full price, now did you??) and ordered one for me and TheBigGuy.  Sucker is awesome – holds my ipad, iphone, headphones, wallet, camera, bottle of water, keys, passport, id, lip balm, eyedrops, just about anything you can imagine, and it does it really comfortably and without feeling like a packhorse.  Just get one, I had my friend Donna try mine on fully loaded, and she said “Heck people would be taking this to the ball fields, shopping on BlackFriday, everything!”  With coupons, it was about $75, and easily carried enough stuff to fill a carryon bag.  OK, not *fill* but allow you room for other stuff, plus, your stuff was on you, easily accessible.  Plus, you just take it off, lay it on the bucket deal going through security, and you’re done.  Fabulous, and worth every penny.

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The boxes I’d mailed myself finally started trickling in after about 10 days (!) most ended up arriving looking like this……

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Thanks, US Postal Service!!!

When ALL of the parcels that I’d mailed to myself from Dothan, Alabama finally arrived at Mama’s house, (total of 17 DAYS transit time!!) we busted out the brand-spanking new luggage I’d bought at Sam’s Club.  Big, cavernous Samsonite futuristic-looking stuff, all shiny and smooth composite looking.  I’d measured it beforehand to make certain that they were within the major airlines’ size limitations.

Packing stuff was weird – I was trying to distribute things between cases weight-wise, but also in case that one was lost, not all my clothes were in it, nor all of TBG’s – I was trying to spread around the potential grief…. so giant Ziploc bags to the rescue.  Plus, it makes it easier for TSA to view what’s in there, without actually pawing through all my panties, you see?

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About this time, Mama was starting to come to terms with the fact that this was really happening, that I was really moving to the other side of the planet.  This was not easy for either of us, but I think she’s finally come to terms with it in some way.  But there were still tears and a bunch of sadness, for sure.

I had read that shipping a #50 case was $100, but #51 – 70 went up DRAMATICALLY.  So we did the “stand on the scale without the suitcase, then pick it up and weigh again” trick on Mama’s bathroom scales.  Multiple times.  I was nervous about this since one leg of the trip wouldn’t accept luggage over #50 at all.  Fabulous, we were #10 under on one case, #2 on the other two – excellent!

OK, we’re all ready.  All packed, weighed, I’ve gone over the list of what I can and can’t take into the UAE to make sure I’m not  taking any contraband in – I THINK I’m ready.

The first steps……

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August – 2012  Ten days.  TEN DAYS.  OK, so, TBG is leaving in ten days.  I keep saying this to myself like some weird mantra or something….. wanting it to feel more real. 

So, now.  What all do we need to get done?  Holy cow, there is a list…. never-ending list.  Update wills, powers of attorney, bank accounts, all sorts of retirement stuff, where is his passport, what do we do with the house, the car, SUV, pickup, motorcycle, motorhome, cargo trailer and anything else that rolls?  Sell the house?  Rent the house?  What do we do about the boys?  How will he clear Ft. Rucker in such a short time?  What do we do with all our stuff?  What do we need to take, ship, sell or store? 

They may seen like baby steps to some, but once the job offer was accepted, it felt like we started sprinting instead of creeping.  Most of you that know TBG know that he’s a creature of consistency and enjoys knowing what to expect.  This was the equivalent to him taking up skydiving in my mind!  When he put in his retirement papers for the civil service position he’d held at Lowe Field at Ft. Rucker for manymanymanymany years, it was a pretty dang big deal.  There was a little bit of “are we doing the right thing?” and “is this really the best decision for our family?” kind of discussions, but it always came back to incredible opportunity, both to boost our retirement accounts and to explore and expand more of our world. 

It’s clear that there’s far too much to be done in such a while, so I resign myself to not going to Abu Dhabi with him.  This was not my idea of a good time, and frankly I was quite disappointed about it – I was so hoping that we’d be starting this adventure together, sharing the whole thing, experiencing it at the same time.  Not to be.  Pull up your big girl panties and deal with it, I suppose.

One thing that I have some regret over is that this entire process happened so VERY fast (like 10 days fast!) that there really wasn’t time for the expected civil/military exit process, you know?  The Hail and Farewell, the retirement last flight bath, being able to tell all your co-workers goodbye, etc.  The normal way that you move from position to position within that world just wasn’t gonna happen, and that too was a bit unsettling.  But, the end gain will be worth the minor disappointment.

We needed updated wills and powers of attorney, and I asked my imaginary friends on http://www.WiregrassLive.com for recommendations, and they suggested Nick Shimoda, as did our financial advisor, Doug Perreault of NDP Advisory Services in Dothan.  Due to our time constraints, our appointment with Nick was a marathon one, for sure.  I had to gather a ton of paperwork in short order to provide Nick with our current financial and retirement situations so he could assess and make recommendations accurately.  He was thorough in his questioning to make sure he had a complete picture of our personal, financial, family and work situations.  He brought up some issues that were a bit uncomfortable to discuss about relationships and family interactions, where we wanted money to land, when and how – it was pretty dang intense.  TBG and I both felt this huge sense of relief when we left his office, though, feeling that we’d made a good choice, and that the plans we had in place were solid and appropriate for our wants and needs.  Plus, when you return for all the paperwork signing (and there is a TON of that), you end up with a nifty binder with all your “stuff” inside – one place for everything.

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