Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Trip

Sunday the 13th was a most difficult day. Got up, tied up some loose ends, loaded the family in the van, and headed for the airport in Alexandria, LA. After checking in, we went to lunch and while things may have seemed normal to those looking on, it was anything but. I took turns staring at each of the kids knowing I couldn't touch them again for 6 months. I glanced constantly at Tina thinking the same. We finished and headed back to the airport to wait. I was horrible saying goodbye. I held each of the kids one at a time, told them I loved them and kissed their little faces. By the time I got to Tina we were the only ones in the terminal, the flight was fixing to leave, and the security people, I guess, needed one more stooge to meet their, "take off your shoes and let us scan your underarms" quota. I got to be that stooge. That done, I blew kisses to everyone through the glass and boarded my plane. I had a window seat and was straining to see our car one last time, but didn't. However, God is good. Having worked at Ft. Polk for 2 and 1/2 years I have seen arial photos of it many times. About 7 or 8 minutes into the flight I began to see a few familiar landmarks and was able to decipher where we were. I actually say my house and neighborhood. That was nice.

The Houston Airport was a sea of people so I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to read "Tarzan of the Apes". I finished by the time we got to Osan Air Base. The next leg took us to Seattle where I met a chaplain friend of mine. I had a layover of several hours so we sat in the USO and drank coffee and talked shop. Finally I boarded and took off for Korea. The flight was about 10.5 hours and I couldn't sleep. I just kept reading. Whenever I stopped reading I couldn't help thinking about Tina and the kids and it was killing me so I just read alot and watched a couple of movies. Finally we landed on Tuesday the 15th having somehow bypassed Monday altogether.

I was met at the airport by a couple of captains from the JSA and they drove me to Seoul. That is one huge city! We spent most of the day inprocessing into the Korean theatre and finaly reached our hotel around 4pm. By that time I had been up for about 40 hours and things were either hysterical or frightening. I would say I wasn't hallucinating, but I may have been imagining it. The hotel was quite nice. It was a Korean hotel called the Itaewan Hotel which roughly translates, "Lodge of the Little People". The lobby seemed normal enough. Not so floors 2 and above. When I got off the elevator I almost hit my head on the ceiling. The elevator had more headspace than the actual ceiling in the hallway. I made my way to my room trying not to scalp myself, and found that the beds there were pretty close to the ground. In fact, they were on the ground. Also they were as hard as the ground. This does not make sleep very restful. I took a quick shower and my chest got a real good cleaning in what I believe was the hottest water known to mankind. Finally, I got to bed and slept like a baby for about an hour. Jet lag should be listed as a serious illness. The next morning I had pastries and coffee at the Dragon Hill Lodge on the post in Seoul. It it a beautiful 5 star hotel for military personnell and I think has high ceilings in the rooms. The day was spent doing paperwork and meeting people.

The Trip is finally over and now the work begins.