RT Cunningham

Blogging For As Long As I'm Able

Travel From the Philippines to the United States and Back

Tagged with california, florida, hawaii, maryland, philippines, travel, united states, washington state on March 6, 2024

United States After my wife, Josie, and I moved to the Philippines in 2006, we left for a couple of weeks that year to attend the wedding of Joe, our older son, and Diann, his bride, in the United States. Josie left several times in the first six years because she wanted to keep working. She mostly stayed with Joe and his family in Arizona. At least one other time, she stayed with other relatives.

I went to the United States in 2012, returned and went again in 2013. Josie and I returned to the Philippines together at the end of 2014. She went to England in 2015 for nearly six months. Diane was in the Air Force (and still is) and was deployed to the Middle East. Josie took care of their children while Joe worked.

Josie and I left the Philippines again in June 2018 to visit our children and their families in the United States. Our plan was to stay with both families for less than a year and a half total. Since it took us three years and nine months to return to the Philippines, things obviously didn’t turn out as planned.

The Sequence of Events

Joe and his family were living in Florida. Our younger son, Jon, was living with his wife, Cathy, in Hawaii. He was in the Army (and still is). Since Florida was the farthest away from the Philippines, we wanted to take the trip to Florida first. We could stop in Hawaii on the way back.

We spent eight months in Florida and should have only spent six or seven in Hawaii. Unfortunately, between our daughter-in-law’s pregnancy and the pandemic, it ended up being more than two years. We were there when Ezra was born and when he learned to walk and talk.

We weren’t able to return to the Philippines (not without dealing with a lot a nonsense) when Jon got orders to leave Hawaii, so we left to visit Joe and his family again, who were then living in Maryland. That visit lasted 10 months. We finally returned to the Philippines in 2022, after all the restrictions were lifted.

A year later, give or take a few days, Josie and I went to where Jon was now stationed in Washington State, for a period of about seven months.

Our Visit to Florida

Joe and his family were living in base housing. I remember two trips to Biloxi, Mississippi, and a trip to some Airbnb place in Mississippi with some of their friends. There was a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Lambert’s Cafe in Alabama.

We spent a day at the Florida Caverns State Park. That’s one of the places I never want to visit again.

Our Visit to Hawaii

Jon and Cathy were living in base housing on the island of Oahu. Other than places to shop or eat, we didn’t spend a lot of time going places. We visited the Dole Plantation twice, the second time to ride the train. It was difficult to find parking at the Ko Olina beach park, so we only visited it twice. We visited the Green World Coffee Farm a few times, sometimes just to drink the coffee.

Ezra was born at the Tripler Army Medical Center. He’ll be four years old in May 2024. If everything goes as planned, he’ll be visiting us in the Philippines for a birthday party. We don’t know if Jon will be coming with Cathy and Ezra. Whether he’s granted leave is completely up to his unit commander.

Our Visit to Maryland

We went to the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Hanover. That was my first experience at a dinner theater, and probably my last. It wasn’t my last experience observing a jousting tournament, however. Months later, we went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Jon, Cathy, and Ezra were with us for that adventure, where we watched a similar tournament.

I don’t remember when, in the sequence of things, Cathy and I took a train to Washington, DC, to get her Filipino passport renewed. I had to get my American passport renewed a week later. My new one arrived in the mail weeks before Cathy’s arrived.

On one Saturday, we visited the historical downtown area of Annapolis. We visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore on another. We traveled to North Carolina. Friends of the family were stationed at Fort Bragg (later renamed to “Fort Liberty”).

After a visit with them, we went to Jacksonville, near Camp Lejeune. Joe wanted to see where he went to school and where we lived while I was stationed there from 1988 to 1992. We visited the Assateague State Park on the way back. Someone wanted to see horses, but we only saw a few.

Later on, we spent a day at Niagara Falls State Park, New York, and left the next morning. Joe did all the driving. Joe always did all the driving when there were long distances involved. I only drove around in the local area.

There was a small Southern Baptist church, literally across the street from their house. We went with the congregation to Navy Recreation Center Solomons once for a group baptismal. That was the last trip I remember before Josie and I departed for the Philippines.

Our Visit to Washington

There are only three significant things worth remembering. We traveled to a mall near Seattle to meet up with one of Josie’s cousins and her family. They live in Canada and were only there to go shopping and eat chicken at Jollibee. Cathy obtained her United States citizenship some time later.

Joe had his car shipped from Maryland to Washington. All five of us got in, and I drove it to California, where Diann was now stationed. We went back to Washington in a rental car, which I also drove. I’ll never do something like that again.

Josie and I walked a route in base housing five or six days a week. Cathy and Ezra usually walked with us. I haven’t walked that much since we left in October 2023.

The Next Visit to California

Diann is stationed near Sacramento, living in base housing. The plan is to leave the Philippines in March 2025 and return before the end of February 2026. Diann may or may not be retiring from the Air Force in 2025. Even if she does, they plan to move to a nearby area until their older son graduates from high school in 2027. Joe is a federal civil service employee on the base, as well as a partially disabled Army veteran.

While I’m there, I have to get a military retired ID card before my 65th birthday, with an expiration date of “indefinite”. It will be the last military ID I will ever need.

Joe and Diann want to eventually move to Arizona, most likely in 2027 or 2028. They want Josie and I to live with them permanently. I don’t even know how to feel about that.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

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