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Old 06-09-2015, 07:23 PM
Location: Wyoming
9,417 posts, read 17,394,763 times
Reputation: 14079


It was 1969, and I was in the Air Force stationed in Anchorage, AK. I'd been wanting my first new SLR camera and some lenses, my wife wanted some china and silverware, and I knew I could easily hop a free Air Force cargo plane to Japan and get it all super cheap. I had to wait about an hour to catch a plane, and then away I went on a 1-week no-cost vacation.

The ride was fine. I was the only passenger on a C-141 and got to visit with the crew. Once there I stayed in an AF dorm room and traveled Japan by train, witnessing sites like I'd never before seen, from Tokyo to the tiny rural villages. On every train ride, locals would ask to visit with me to practice their English. (Most spoke it better than some of today's youth!) I took a small organized tour of Tokyo in which we saw all the major sites and were finally guests of a family for a home-cooked meal. It was a great vacation, a wonderful experience, and I'd highly recommend Japan to anyone who wants an interesting travel destination.

Getting home was the problem. I walked up to the counter at the military air terminal and said I wanted to catch a flight back to Anchorage. "No problem," says the guy behind the counter. "But we have about 35 people ahead of you, so it'll probably be 15-20 hours."

These planes were mostly returning to the states from Vietnam. They'd often stop in Tokyo and Anchorage to refuel during the Arctic Circle flight. But MOST of them coming through Anchorage stopped in the Philippines rather than Japan, so I asked, "How long is the wait for a flight to the Philippines?"

"Got one leaving in 30 minutes that I can get you on."

Took it. Nice passenger flight. Walked up to the terminal counter and asked how long the wait was for a flight to Anchorage.

"There are 475 people ahead of you. Most of our flights are to California via Hawaii. It'll probably be a week or more before I can get you on anything." That included a flight back to Japan. You could have knocked me over with a feather. The worst part was that you never knew ahead of time when you might catch a ride. They could have had an open seat to Anchorage that no one else wanted in an hour, or it might be two weeks.

Keep in mind I was in the military... and on leave. I'd taken a 2-week leave with the intention of being back a week early, but this was pushing it hard. If not back within that period, I'd be AWOL (absent without leave). That's BAD!

So I waited in the terminal, along with 500 other people waiting for a ride, 24 hours per day, day in, day out. There were few chairs, no beds, not even a carpeted floor to lie on. We mostly slept sitting on concrete, leaned against a wall. 500 people, all tired, smelly, anxious and bored out of our freaking minds! We had sinks in the bathroom, but no showers. Food was from vending machines. The only entertainment was cards and conversations. And watching planes take off and land... without us.

Finally, on the 7th day in the terminal, 14th day of leave, I had a chance to hop a plane to LA, then another one to SF. Obviously I took it. From there I flew commercially to Anchorage (with a stop in Seattle) and checked in from leave only hours before I'd have been AWOL. That week in the terminal was one of the worst in my life -- worse than back surgery, worse than brain surgery. I think I learned what it's like in prison! (But without Bubba.)

Last edited by WyoNewk; 06-09-2015 at 07:35 PM..
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Old 06-20-2015, 01:58 PM
Location: North Dakota
7,737 posts, read 9,030,452 times
Reputation: 11112
This isn't a vacation per se, but last summer I had a visit to a family friend's cabin that was from hell.

I made a visit to Montana since my cousin was visiting from the East Coast and I don't get to see her very often. I stayed a few days before the cabin visit, and was informed the day before that I would be sleeping in my car. I had been told to bring a sleeping bag and pillow. I had informed my mom that I did not have room to sleep in my car. After getting a lecture about that and mom making an annoyed call to the host, the host set up an air mattress in the garage after being mad that I didn't have room in my car to sleep. Other people who had gone up had brought RVs or tents. I own a tent and had I known of the arrangement I could have brought it.

At this lovely gathering I also found that the attendees were alcoholics or at best problem drinkers as it was commented on numerous times if I didn't have a drink in my hand and I was asked if I was "beered out" when I was all of ten minutes without a drink. Later on that night the hosts acted very put upon when I looked for water as almost all that was available to drink was alcohol. I managed to find one bottle of water in the back of the fridge.

To top it off, the cabin was not even in a pretty location as it was near a mine and highway.

Maybe I'm too high maintenance, but this was not a good visit.
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