Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Planes, trains and automobiles?!

This family can't get enough adventure. It's almost as if we seek it out intentionally the way it finds us like a child finds a playground. We already put on our patience gear and were prepared for a long-haul with the whole Space A experience, but the universe thought that wouldn't be quite enough fun. Oh yay for us!

We pulled out of Bamberg much later than we had originally planned, but the extra time in the office ensured Big R that he could leave the laptop and work behind for this trip. I suppose that's a pretty good reason for leaving late :). We left right as some nasty storms hit the Bamberg area, so the autobahn was slick and slow-moving. We weren't 20 minutes away from home and a car spun out just two cars in front of us because he was going too fast and hydroplaned across the lanes. Scary, to say the least, especially since we pulled over and just prayed the upcoming cars would see the accident and stop in time. After making the emergency call announcing the accident to the polizei, we saw that several other Germans were helping out, and we felt comfortable leaving the accident behind.

Not 10 minutes later and 3 hours from Ramstein (according to the GPS), and the "brain" in our car was telling us we had low pressure in our rear tire. Our system is always malfunctioning, but this felt different somehow. The car was ever so politely telling me to find a safe place to pull over - whoa! Red flag was going off, so I slowed way down and drove another 5 km to the next autohof (rest area).

I rolled up to the air hose at the gas station and it didn't take long for us to see the huge screw in our tire. It was losing air so quickly you could hear the hissing. We were so completely screwed... I ran inside hoping to find someone to assist. We couldn't have stopped at a more unhelpful station. I got brave and decided to ask the polizei for help. My German is so miserable, but we were able to get information to each other, and I walked out of the station with a phone number and personal contact name for ADAC (think AAA). Despite several friends telling me that ADAC membership is a must here, I have failed miserably in acquiring it. They will still help, but it will cost some serious cash. Needless to say, I will be getting us signed up with ADAC membership as soon as we get home.

The ADAC mechanic was dispatched to us and he called to see how he could help. At this point it was about 8:30 p.m., so the mechanic made it painfully clear that the tire would not be getting fixed until the start of business the following day. I hung up the phone and tried to carefully brace myself for Big R's reaction to the horrible news. I suggested putting the doughnut on the car and driving to a tire repair shop, and then calling our friend, Meg, in the hopes we could crash with her. This, of course, would cause us to miss the 4:10 a.m. roll call for a flight to McGuire, which, at the time, was looking pretty darn good.

If my husband is one thing, he's not a quitter. His brain started working on overdrive after he released some unavoidable frustration. I was so amazed at our luck that I think I was laughing. How does this happen? With the wheels churning, Big R figured out we had one hour until the next train could take us to Kaiserslautern where we could easily hop a cab to Ramstein. Meg met us on Post in Schweinfurt. I suppose we were lucky we got the flat so conveniently close to friends and an army post. Bringing the car back to Bamberg was hardly an option being that the tow would cost close to 500€, and the distance back and a drive on the autobahn are neither good ideas with a "doughnut" on your car.

Believe it or not, the plan worked. We made the train, which took 4.5 hours and included two hurried train changes with our all our luggage, a car seat, and an exhausted toddler. It was awesome. But we made some friends along the way hoping to get on the same flight to McGuire, so we split the cab and saved some change. Cool. Sometimes smiling at strangers and making friends with other folks can be a huge help.

Little r finally fell asleep on the second leg of our train trip
For a family accustomed to traveling light, this was a lot if luggage to schlep around - oy!
We arrived in Ramstein around 2 a.m. The terminal doesn't open until 4 a.m., so we walked across the street to the Ramstein hotel, which is attached to a huge Mall. We found a spot to park our things to wait out the rest of the morning. We weren't there 10 minutes, and Big R came walking to be with his face sour and he said, "our flight to McGuire is gone - they took it off the schedule." Yikes! I'll have to be honest that I seriously thought he was joking. Sadly, it was anything but a joke, ah well...

Trying to catch some sleep - this even caught the attention of a pilot offering to let us use his room to rest
We had hoped maybe the schedule would be miraculously changed by the time the terminal opened. Unfortunately it had not. The first flight to the US today is at 5 p.m. and it's going to Bangor, Maine. Craziness! That is literally the only US bound flight scheduled today. Our luck is not working out for us. We always expected the problem to be trying to get on planes NOT that flights would just not be available to head Stateside.

So, here we are in the Ramstein terminal. I have to say though, as airports go, this place rocks! It's obviously designed to keep you comfortable and entertained (children included) when you are caught in the Space A madness. Little r has also been the greatest trooper. I guess the universe thought it would be even too much for us to throw all this mayhem our way AND have a screaming toddler. I think it helps that Big R is here. If I were alone, guaranteed my sanity would be gone and little r would be a wild man!

Sneaking some zzzz's in the terminal
Comfortable observation area with free wireless
We really can't complain about the views - so cool!
I'm confident we'll get out - hopefully it'll be today, even if we have to fly to Maine. Hey, why not?! Keep Those fingers crossed for us. We could really use some good karma right about now. I'll keep you posted.



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