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Our Visit to the United States Was an Unintended Extended Vacation

Posted in Travel, United States on April 1, 2022

visit the United StatesMy wife, Josie, and I left the Philippines 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 Intended Sequence

Our older son, Joe, was living with his family in Florida. His wife, Diann, was in the Air Force, and they had two preteen children. Our younger son, Jon, was living with his wife, Cathy, in Hawaii. He was in the Army, and they had no children.

Since Florida was the furthest away from the Philippines, we wanted to take the longest 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 weren’t able to return to the Philippines when Jon got orders to leave Hawaii, so we left to visit Joe and his family again, who were now living in Maryland. That visit lasted 10 months.

We tried to make the most of everything, regardless of where we were and the circumstances of our unintended extended vacation.

Our Visit to Florida

Joe and his family were living in base housing at Eglin Air Force Base. We didn’t go to many places. I remember a trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, and stopping at a restaurant in Alabama on the way back from one of them.

We spent a day at the Florida Caverns State Park. It was one of those places I wouldn’t want to visit twice.

Our Visit to Hawaii

Jon and Cathy were living in base housing at the Helemano Military Reservation on the island of Oahu. It was north of Honolulu on the west side of the island and north of the nearest city, Wahiawa.

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. The coffee served at their coffee shop was less expensive than Starbucks and closer to us.

Our youngest grandson, Ezra, was born at the Tripler Army Medical Center. He’ll be two years old in May 2022.

Our Visit to Maryland

I may not remember the order of events correctly, but I remember what we did.

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 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.

On one Saturday, we visited the historical downtown area of Annapolis. We visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore on another. I bought Josie a 3 baht gold necklace for her 60th birthday at a Thai jewelry store at the Eden Center in Virginia. Joe bought her a 1.5 baht cross to go with it. The Eden Center is probably the largest Asian strip mall and commercial center on the eastern seaboard.

We traveled to North Carolina. Friends of the family were stationed at Fort Bragg. 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 when I was stationed there from 1988 to 1992. We visited the Assateague State Park on the way back.

Diann suffers from a Chiari malformation. Joe drove us to Niagara Falls, New York, to attend an event about it. The event was in the late evening, so we spent the daytime hours doing the tourist thing.

There is a small Southern Baptist church, literally across the street from their house. We went with the congregation to the Solomons Island Navy recreation area for a group baptismal one weekend.

Summing It Up

Although we spent more time in the United States than we wanted to, Josie and I kept as busy as you would expect from people in our age bracket. At each location, we walked as much as possible just to get exercise. Anywhere within a two-mile radius was a fair target. There were days when I walked one of our grandsons to school and home again, about three miles of walking per weekday.

You may notice I haven’t mentioned anything here about the medical and dental issues we had. It’s just not appropriate to include any of it in the context of this article. If I feel like writing about them, I’ll do it separately. We plan to return to the United States to visit again in a few years. Hopefully, things will turn out better next time.

Image by fajarbudi86 from Pixabay

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