Trip to Columbia, South Carolina - Day 1

Ok, I promised that I would go on this trip and live in the moment, trying my best to enjoy every second. I'd never been away from my kiddos, except when I was in the hospital having another baby. (Ben and Sydney have to gone to sleepovers, and while that's hard for me too, it's different for them to be away, a few houses up the street for a night, or at my mother-in-law's house for a night, while I'm still at home with the rest of the littles than me, a half a country away from them for days.) Well, I think I achieved exactly what I set out to do. I flew by myself for the first time ever, enjoyed some time with my mom, sister and brother, celebrated my brother's achievements, and learned a lot about the military, myself, and driving out east.

Ok, so, lets start at the beginning. I figure, due to the lengthiness of this, it may be best if I just post about each day individually, so here is day one.

Tuesday January 10th

I left the house at about 7:15am. It was super hard for me to leave and I cried most of the way to my in-laws' house. When I got to my in-laws', my father-in-law drove me to the airport. My mom and sister were on their way to the airport.  Our flight was supposed to leave for Dallas at 10 am.  Well, it was delayed, and since the delay would cause us to miss our connecting flight to Charlotte, NC, we were rerouted through Chicago... the windy city. I should also mention that it was sunny when I left my house and by the time I arrived at the airport, it was super cloudy and pouring rain. Chicago was no better.  The flight to Chicago was the bumpiest flight I've ever been on. The flight attendants remained seated the entire flight and it was terrifying not to mention that both flights that day I was stuck in middle seats between strangers because when your flight is shifted last minute, you have no choice.

On the plane ride from Chicago to Charlotte, I sat in between two military vets. An older man and a middle aged man.  The middle aged man slept for most of the flight, but the older man and I had nice little conversations about our children (he also had four children although his are all grown), spending the winters in Florida, and how Fort Jackson is a cute little military base and once I get there I won't want to leave. He may have been on to something there, because I did cry when it was time to go, and my brother was leaving then too, so it certainly couldn't have been for him.

When we got to Charlotte, I rented a car (a silver Chevy Malibu, which we would find was the most popular car at the entire graduation or really anywhere on base) and immediately got us on the highway to Columbia, South Carolina. The highway is about 55 the entire way! I'm used to the interstate being 75 here so it felt like moving at a snails pace and it felt like it took forever.

We finally made it to Columbia, South Carolina and headed onto the base at Fort Jackson.  If you've ever been on a military base before, you know that you have to go through the gates that are manned by soldiers who for all practical purposes can tell you to do a dance in order to get onto base.  We had our paperwork showing we passed our background checks and whatever else they required, already done and had our drivers licenses ready.  We gave them to the older gentleman in uniform at the gate, and then asked him for directions to our hotel.

I have to pause for a moment here, to tell you here a few things about myself...

I'm a very awkward person. I'm shy if I don't know you. I don't know how to make small talk to fill empty spaces in conversation. I'm naturally a very anxious person. Also, I'm embarrassing. Sometimes I mean to be, but most of the time, my awkwardness and airheadedness lead to really embarrassing circumstances. Please remember all of this as I tell you what happened next.

Ok, so I'm at the gate, I had the man our paperwork and IDs and feel the car shut off. I panic because my rental car just DIED! I say out loud "Oh no! I think my car just died." The guy at the gate says "Oh no! Is it maybe one of those cars that turns off while stopped to save fuel?" I heard but didn't process and am now in full on panic mode. I turn the car off with the key and try to restart it, but it won't start. The car was still in drive... I put the car in park and try again.  Guess what, it comes on. The guy working the gate, who I'm sure wondered if I'd been drinking said, "I think this is one of those new cars with the fuel saver." Ok, he was right. It would have been nice to know that before I made a fool of myself.

We found our way to the hotel, got our rooms, and put our luggage away and went out for food and the Walmart right off of base.

We ate at a Mexican place that we couldn't figure out the name of.  The sign outside said Panchos and the menus said San Jose.  The food wasn't great but the margaritas were strong.  I got carded when I ordered my margarita.  Hold on to your panties while I repeat myself. This 31 year old, mom of 4, with more wrinkles and gray hair than lots of other women her age, got carded. I told the waiter that he made the trip for me and it was only the first day. I also begged him not to ruin it by telling me that he has to card everyone under the age of 40 or something.  He was completely stone faced and silent. Either he didn't want to rain on my parade or he didn't think I was funny.  Could have been either one. Oh well, I got carded y'all!

We hit up the Walmart and then went back to our hotel rooms on base.  Once again we were faced with the security check point at the gate.  We'd joked about my previous experience while I secretly prayed it would be someone new.  Guess what, it was someone new.  That, however, did not save me from the embarrassment that was about to happen.  So, we pull up and give the guy our papers and IDs. He just glances at the paperwork and asks me to open the trunk.  I start looking for how to open the trunk but have no luck.  I try to push it on the remote but it doesn't work.  I'm looking everywhere, desperately, for the little button or latch to open the trunk but cannot for the life of me, find the darn thing. Finally I decide that I know how to open that trunk, so I turn off the car and use the remote to open the trunk.  The guy looks inside (It was completely empty) and comes back laughing that I don't know how to open the trunk on my own car. I explain that it wasn't my car, it was a rental and he asks where we were from. I've only now realized that this meant he didn't look at our IDs we handed him at all or he'd have seen that all three of us were from Kansas. Especially since the IDs said Kansas and the license plate on the car said Florida, and we were in South Carolina.  Oh well.  As embarrassing as it was at least he laughed about it.  Everyone we met there was so super friendly.

We went back up to the rooms, talked to our husbands and kiddos and then painted nails and chit chatted in our room at the kitchen counter until late at night, when we decided that we should get to bed because we'd have an early wake up in the morning.

My sister and I shared a room, while my mom had the room next to us.  Apparently my sister and I have the same feelings about sleeping with a TV on. (We like it.) She did, however, think it was hilarious when I insisted we find a channel where scary stuff would NOT come on in the middle of the night, like 48 hours or Dateline. She thought I meant scary movies or the MASH theme song (I can't handle the MASH theme song for some reason. It hurts my teeth and gives me the heebie-jeebies. I understand this is weird, but I can't control it.) We had a good laugh and went to bed, dreaming about our babies at home and the fun adventures we'd have the next day.

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