Spending Tuesday in Scotland was — to be honest — the last thing we were planning to do on Monday morning. We planned to leave on Thursday on a regularly-scheduled military flight, which would put us in the States in time for Elliott’s sister’s wedding this coming Sunday.
It was a regular Monday morning for me until I got an email from Elliott at 10am that said, “There’s a military flight leaving at 7pm tonight for the States through Scotland. Maybe pack just in case we can get on it?” But we were planning to host 12 people for dinner that night (including Elliott’s visiting command team), the house was a mess, I hadn’t packed a thing, and, to top it all off, I was sitting in the doctor’s office with two antsy children. I couldn’t imagine leaving that night. Our dinner guests wouldn’t even leave till 7:30! There was no way. We tabled the idea.
Later that night, after our dinner guests went out the door, Elliott called the terminal just to check on the flight. “Becca… the flight is delayed! It hasn’t even left Bahrain yet, and that’s four hours away. We should pack!”
And so we did.
And at 3:45am we got on a flight to the States! It was stressful and last-minute and a little crazy, but we did it. The house was clean and the decision was made and the plane was taking off with us on it. We were on our way!
The plane landed in Prestwick, Scotland, about 3 hours later. The military crew informed us that we’d stay for 24 hours to give the pilots time to rest, and in the meantime a bus would deliver us (and the 30-odd other passengers, most of them returning from deployment) to a hotel in the nearby town of Ayr. “Just be ready to get back on the bus at 6:30am tomorrow morning. Have fun!”
The photo above was the view from our hotel room window after we walked in around 8am. We were tired but excited. A mandatory stop in the U.K.? I’ll take that any day! We napped with our kids before digging out some warm clothes (it was 60 degrees outside!) and setting off to explore.
Good morning, handsome!
In the beautifully manicured gardens of a public park near our hotel.
“There’s a horse, Mama!”
On the town green, looking out to the Isle of Arran.
We found the most incredible playground!
We thought Jon and Erika would appreciate this especially.
High Street in Ayr. So refreshingly different from Sicily! (And northern Virginia, for that matter.)
Brightly colored doors, closely cropped lawns.
Comfort food in a little cafe called The Chatterbox.
Love Gil’s face in this one!
After afternoon naps, we ate dinner in a wonderful Indian restaurant called The Rupee Room. Elliott and I both lived in India before we met, so the food has a special place in our hearts.
Helping herself to some Indian hors d’oeuvres.
Sunset in Scotland.
It was such a wonderful day, a mandatory respite in the midst of so much travel! We had a great 7-hour flight the next morning with the same crew and passengers, all of whom were so incredibly kind to our family. They had arranged for brown bag lunches for everyone on the plane (as that C-40 military plane was staffed by Navy aviators, not flight attendants with hot meals in the galley), but they bought and added stuffed toys to the brown bags for Lena and Gil. Everyone made sure we were comfortable, and the pilots invited Lena and Elliott to come up to the front into the cockpit for awhile. Definitely a different experience than most trans-Atlantic flights these days!
We landed at Macguire AFB in New Jersey and walked out of the terminal into big hugs from Grampa Garber. He shuttled us back the 3.5 hours to northern Virginia that he had just driven in order to get us. Sweet man! We are so glad to be back in Virginia with our family.
And now… wedding weekend, here we come!