As soon as we moved out of the house Layla & I went to stay with my parents for a month while Jeremy went on to Offutt AFB in Nebraska for a TDY en-route. It was only supposed to take a few weeks or just over a month at the most, so after staying with my family for a month Layla & I joined him in Nebraska hoping to leave soon. Our original report no later than date was 30 November, but it had to be amended because his short training was taking longer than planned, due to paperwork.
While we were waiting around for some paperwork, we discovered that Layla & I didn't have the correct passports! Jer's checklist just stated that family members needed a passport, and that we could get free, government issued passports. Our first sponsor gave us the advise that we should pay for our own passports instead of getting the government issued ones because the free ones just got us into the UK, and if we wanted to travel to and other countries in Europe we'd have to get the other ones anyway. So we listened to him, and on out-processing from DLI no one said anything regarding this issue.
Luckily we found out about this prior to leaving for the UK, but we were told this process takes 8-10 weeks. We were already months passed when we were supposed to be in the UK, and now we were going to be forced to wait even longer!
Turns out the process took no more than 3 weeks for us. We got lucky that the state department wasn't busy & issued out passports within a week. We quickly got them sent out with our applications for our visas, and the British Consulate General took only 2 weeks to approve & issue our visas. I was very impressed with how quickly the process was & how well-informed they kept us throughout! We received an email for every step our visa applications went through. Finally, we had all of our paperwork in order & everything was approved!
Then, in mid-January Jer's training was finally finished!
Things were looking like they were finally happening & after months of living out of suitcases in temporary housing we were looking forward to finally finding a home and getting settled. We went in to the travel office on base to FINALLY book our tickets, but the guy couldn't book flights for Layla & I because the address on our orders had our address in California & he couldn't fly us out of anywhere other than California or a 'port' city. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds. Someone made this rule thinking that it would save the military money, but in fact it just makes things difficult, and could actually cost the AF money in some cases.
Our options were to either get Jer's orders amended with mine & Layla's address changed, fly out of Chicago, but make our own way there (last minute flights were horrific, and renting a car to drive that far in the midwest during winter seemed like a really stupid idea,) or fly out of St. Louis and have our car shipped out to the UK for us.
So according to the air force it's cheaper to fly 3 people & ship a car out of St. Louis than it is to fly 3 people out of Omaha with no car.....no wonder this country is in debt!
We were going to take a day & think about it, but the guy called us the next day & said that since it's cheaper to fly us out of Omaha than it would have been to fly us out of California he would be able to book the flight for us. Gee, thanks mister! Why couldn't you have told us about this option yesterday & saved us all the stress of having to figure out what we were going to do?!
So you're welcome air force, we just saved you some money! (So sorry that we had to make you use your brains for a little bit.)
Idiot travel guy goes ahead & reserves our tickets, but we couldn't pay yet because the lodging office decided to go ahead & charge Jer's government travel card for a whole extra month ($2100!!) so we had to wait until that was refunded so we could buy them. The refund was taking forever, and Jer contacted the travel card people so the limit could be raised in case the refund didn't go through quickly enough (we only had a few days!!) The limit raising took a little while, but at 5.30 the evening before leaving it was finally raised & we were finally going to be leaving the next day!!
After months of waiting around we finally arrived in England yesterday morning! After flying into London we took a 2 hour bus ride to our base & checked into lodging. We should only be in lodging a few days, but we really have no idea how long it will take to move into a new home.
We also learned that my dream of living in a beautiful English cottage is not possible because they're forcing all E-6's to live in on-base housing. I don't normally have a problem with base housing, but I was really looking forward to the experience of living off base in an English home. & I've been living on bases around the states for the past 6 years now, and was really looking forward to something different. I really hate that I'm being forced to live somewhere that I have no choice in. I think we only have to stay in base housing the first year, and then if we want to move we will have to pack up and move everything ourselves. Not sure if it will be worth the hassle since we'll probably only be here another 2 years after that, but we will get to that issue when the time comes.
I'm really looking forward to getting out there & exploring my new town. (I am especially looking forward to going shopping!!!!!!)
I'll try & get some pictures soon and post them asap!