Back in June we left Germany and came to Alaska. The entire process to get out of Germany was a pain in the ass and I am quite surprised that I did not kill anyone before we left. Sorry, there are no pics this time, just because I am working on another blog with pics of the Northern Lights... and all my pics of the drive to Fairbanks are on another computer.
So... Once my husband FINALLY got his orders (just a few weeks before we had to leave the country) we were able to start the process of getting the hell out of there. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED Germany and being so close to so much history and other countries, but I hated the area in which we lived and the unit that my husband was attached to (morale was horrible, as was communication and organization). My husband was miserable and I just wanted to get out of there and get to a place that would help his career rather than being with a bunch of fuck-nuts that would hold him back for their own selfish gain.
It started with having to set up appointments to have all of our furniture, clothes, etc moved out of the townhouse so it could be shipped to Alaska. The initial appointment was easy, and the actual appointment was even easier (though longer due to the amount of paperwork that had to be done). We left Transpo with dates that our household and vehicle would be picked up and shipped, though the time it takes to ship it all left me a bit depressed. 52 days for unaccompanied baggage, 65 days for our vehicle, and 88 days for household goods (household goods consists of the majority of the house- unaccompanied baggage was just clothes, towels, blankets, and the kids bikes). By the way, as I am typing this we still do not have our vehicle or our household goods.
Next was SATO travel. This is where we went to arrange our flights out of country and into Alaska. I had been hearing a lot of horror stories from others in Baumholder that they were having issues with SATO when it concerned shipping their pets. I was shocked and ANGRY at the amount of people who were getting rid of their pets because they were told there were no flights for their animals, or did not want to pay what it costs to ship them. I went in there with the conviction that I came to Germany with my kitties, and DAMNIT I was leaving with them!!!
SATO tried to give me the same run around, they even said to me that I might have to find another home for them because "there were no flights out that took pets". My husband thought he was going to have to restrain me. I asked the woman if she would leave her child behind, when her mouth dropped I told her that my kitties are my babies too and she was going to find a flight that would allow me to take my pets WITH me. There was no other option. I could not ship them before me since we knew no one in Alaska, and I did not want to risk leaving them in the care of someone to ship after we left. Besides, how many people want to take on the responsibility of three cats?
After three days, THREE FUCKING DAYS, of going to SATO to figure out a flight plan because they refused to call PET SAFE and arrange our flight with the cats, which left me running from SATO into the Java Cafe to call PET SAFE via Skype to make arrangements numerous times (you know, if they would have called PET SAFE while they were making plans they could have saved us BOTH a lot of time and bullshit), I FINALLY got a flight for all of the family and the cats into Anchorage. We could not fly into Fairbanks because they do not have any certified pet handlers or some shit, and apparently if people are not trained to deal with animals they will throw pet carriers of the plane like luggage because they have no clue what "LIVE ANIMAL" stamped on a crate with a furbaby inside means or some shit.
WAY before we got orders I had arranged the hotel for us, which started out as a nightmare because I went in, called to make reservations, asked for a confirmation email or something and was told "Honey, if I say you have a room, you have a room." only to be called less than five minutes later telling me that I have no room because the person that had called to cancel before I called called back to say they MEANT to extend rather than cancel. Uh, FUCK NO! I went to the hotel and asked her how she finds that situation even REMOTELY acceptable! I told her that she should have told the people that canceled that she is very sorry, but they canceled and she already had the room rented out. By the next day she called me back and we had a room. I really hate having to tell people how to do their jobs.
Pretty much, once all of the details and arrangements had been hammered out the rest of the time there went smoothly. I arranged a shuttle bus to pick us up from the hotel to take us to the airport for €195, I got the cats their pre-flight physicals, and I just had to sit and wait.
The day of the flight we got up at 4am, the shuttle bus was there at 5am, and our flight left at 10am. We got the cats checked in with minimal fuss, though I got slightly clawed from having to take the cats out of their crates and stuff them back in for TSA. I learned my lesson from the flight over and packed WAY less so it was less burdensome to haul luggage around, and we flew on Lufthansa to Houston. They fed us somewhat edible meals and gave us Toblerone chocolates for a snack (YAY!!!! I stole the husband's and youngest son's chocolate). Arrival in Houston was... um.... horrible. I had to get the cats and take them to the cargo area of the airport to have PET SAFE ship them for the rest of our flight (by the way, because we flew on two different airlines, we had to pay twice for our babies to get to Alaska, about $1500 thank you very much). It was HOT AS HELL and HUMID in Houston... I about died! I got a cab and asked the cab driver to wait for me so that I could get back to the main terminal, he refused so I had to call ANOTHER cab that charged me twice the amount of the first cab!
We flew from Houston to Seattle, then flew from Seattle to Anchorage where we rented an SUV and drove up to Fairbanks (but not before we stopped at McDonald's). It was midnight (in Alaska- 10am in Germany), we were hungry and tired, and I wanted to get to our hotel in Fairbanks. We had about a 7 hour drive ahead of us. It was not too bad since it was daylight out still (love the land of the midnight sun), and we had slept some on the flight over.
On the way up we saw three moose (no pics of that because much like in Minnesota when I saw the bear I was too excited to remember to grab my camera) and so much beautiful scenery I marveled at how it was like Colorado, Minnesota, and Germany all wrapped in one up here!
We got to Fairbanks at about 8 am, went to the hotel and begged them to let us check in early. We made it!!!
We went to Wal Mart to get us phones and went to a dealership to pick up my new Jeep that we purchased when we were still in Germany. I bathed the cats before we did that because they were covered in urine (after a 36 hour trip wouldn't you be too?), and on the drive up to Fairbanks Soxxy decided to go exorcist and vomit all over the crate and herself. Has anyone ever told you that bathing cats is an adventure in itself?