Due to the security of the troops, the Army waited until 48 hours before his plane landed to let us know when he would arrive. The bad part about that is it really doesn't give you much time for planning ahead; hotel reservations, travel arrangement, etc.
I was going to leave on Sunday, then Monday and it ended up that I left at 7am on Tuesday because the Army had finally called to tell us that he would be in Wednesday at 1:15pm. Jerome would drive down on Thursday.
I drove straight through, with a 20 minute stop at the toll road service center for a nap. I had been doing "the nod" and I didn't want to fall asleep while driving. I arrived just on time to meet up with the Risse's in the parking lot. They had just finished dinner; it was around 8:45pm. I looked like $h!t...probably smelled too.
Jerome had reserved a room for us at a discounted rate using Hotels.com, since I was going to be there from Tuesday night through Saturday, it was nice to receive the discount. Sam had tried to jew-down the hotel manager and was able to get a pretty good rate, but Jerome's deal on Hotels.com was a much sweeter deal - too bad they didn't trust us to make the reservation for them. Sam did want us to try to negotiate the same deal with the hotel manager that we got, but you had to do it on-line and use coupon code BEMERRY10 for an additional 10% off. Even that the hotel manager was taking issue with. He tried to argue a little that he, as a hotel manager, had to sign up with Hotels.com for that promotion, and he hadn't...but gave us the rate anyway.
Wednesday, I had a few hours of relaxation before we all headed to Pope AFB; Green Ramp to wait for Justin's brigade to arrive. I figured that I could ride with Justin's dad (my ex-husband) since he has a military sticker on his car while the Risse's (including my grand-baby Peyton) drove in another car. Peyton has a military ID card, so we thought it would work. It didn't. They had to turn around and have their vehicle searched before they were allowed to enter the base.
Once at Green Ramp, we entered into the hanger. There were many family members already milling about and the Army band was playing Christmas music off to one side. They had sandwiches and a cake ready for when they arrived. The Green Ramp hanger is where the Airborne paratroopers come to wait before they get into the plane to do their jumps, so all the benches have a little step in the back, right behind where your butt would rest. Justin told me that is to support the weight of the parachute since you could be waiting there for several hours before you do your jump.
Finally they could drop their rucksacks and come plow down their mothers (yes, I was nearly plowed down by my own son running to see his new baby and fiance - what a welcome!). He apologized later.
He was interviewed by the local newspaper about being a new father and seeing his baby for the first time.
It was a nice reunion.
Went out to eat several times in the next few days. Justin signed his first lease while we were there, on his own merits. And we visited the house where he will be spending this week until he flies home to Michigan on Saturday. Got to meet his roommates - characters; all of them. They do have a house "mother" of sorts - the only girl that lives with all these guys. Her name is Peyone. She is very nice and will be out of the Army by February. She's going to school to be a social worker. She's got some training with these boys.
Jerome and I drove back all in one day. We were trying to avoid the upcoming bad weather. We left around 1:45pm Saturday and arrived home by 2:30am, and I guess the snow started at around 3am. We totally missed it.
Sam and her parents were not as lucky. They drove out the next morning and right into bad snowy, icy, windy weather in the mountains. They spun around at one point and were facing an oncoming semi-truck. I had told Justin that they should leave when we did, but it's pretty typical that when I say something, there is a nod of acknowledgment but nothing happens. Well anyway, they arrived safe and sound, so I guess it worked out for them.