Visiting An Army Base: a few things to know.

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Fort Riley, Kansas. July 2017.

In case I hadn’t made it clear by now, my boyfriend is in the military and, while we knew we were going to be running around the state, we knew we also planned on staying on base. Honestly, this is something you have to plan – you can’t just walk onto a military base whenever you want; there are very specific protocols.

This isn’t the first time I have stayed on a military base. My uncle was in the military and we stayed with his family when we visited them in Japan; I was a pre-teen then, however, so I don’t remember all the procedures because mom and dad took care of all that planning.

So that we could both stay on base – as well as save some money – Ryan made reservations at the on-base hotel, making sure that both of our names were listed as part of the reservation – I don’t know how many times Ryan called the hotel to check this and plenty of other details the days leading up to our stay, both when we were stopped and while driving.

Now, you can choose to do some of the security clearances before you get there if the person you are visiting had all your details, however, you need to be present to get a pass onto the base; they need to copy your identification and take a current picture as well as have you fill out multiple forms to double check your identification to grant you proper clearance. Because of this, we felt it was easiest to get in early enough to drop into the welcome center and get it all finished right away without more coordinating. He, of course, learned all this by going and talking to the people at the welcome center a few weeks before I flew out.

Unfortunately, the one thing we forgot to check was the Sunday hours for the welcome center – it closes early on Sundays. Because of this, we had to get a temporary pass – available because of the reservation – and then got up early on Monday morning to get my longer term pass. This definitely involved me with my greasy hair up in a high bun, sleep shirt, big jeans, and glasses, sleepily filling out my packet of paperwork while practically falling asleep on the hard bench seat, but it all worked out. In the end, getting the pass worked out mostly due to the fact that we were staying on base, not just visiting each day.

Then there are some obvious things you have to get used to. You have to know when you are allowed or not allowed to take pictures – again these are pretty obvious and many areas have signs posted. It’s also remembering to keep your pass with you – we kept mine in Ryan’s car since I wan’t going out around base without him and we didn’t want to accidentally leave it in the room. The last big thing was behavioral – Ryan and I have always been affectionate but, in uniform, there are rules about behavior. This wasn’t much of a problem because he was only in uniform on his one work day.

Again, base life is much different than just visiting a friend anywhere else and there are a lot of things to remember because you really don’t want to get in trouble here – seriously, don’t speed on base. Still, with all the waiting at check points and the disadvantages of being in the middle of nowhere, this was an amazing place to stay and the staff at the hotel was amazing.

I am probably not staying at Fort Riley again – Ryan isn’t going to be living there much longer – but if other bases are anything like this, I definitely won’t mind staying on another one again. But for now:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

 

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Visiting An Army Base: a few things to know.

Getting Comfortable with your Travel Companions…

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Kansas. Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. 5 July 2017.

In case I haven’t made it clear before, through our travels around Kansas and just into Missouri, we were in the car an unbelievable amount of time and, for nearly the 5  whole days I was there (with the exception of a few hours Ryan was at work), we were always together – living in each others’ pockets, as it were. This can either be amazing (we thought so) or can drive you nuts, but either way, the key to this kind of travel is knowing your partner and being as comfortable with them as you possibly can.

When it comes to Ryan and I, we had only been together (as a couple, at least) for a month – all of which was long distance – but we have been friends (best friends) for almost 12 years. Still, being with someone for 24 hours a day for 5 days is intense, no matter how long or how well you think you know them.

First and foremost, you really have to get over the fact that you and your companion(s) are human so human things are going to happen. Bodily functions, habits, and whatever else are always going to happen so the key is to laugh when things get a little awkward and move forward. As the book says, everyone poops. Add to that, dating and there is a whole other level of getting used to someone else being in close quarters. I’m telling you, we have discussed bathroom patterns and have excused ourselves when need be to deal with those kind of personal issues.

Second, follow the road trip rules (1, 2) and we have discussed before and make a plan. This pre-planning will save you so much time and headaches and let you just enjoy your time together. Read those old posts and you’ll get a lot more information!

Third, when being together becomes too much, know when to spend your time apart. This somehow didn’t happen in Kansas – Ryan and I apparently could be marooned somewhere together and be fine, at least during this honeymoon period – however, being able to take time for yourself is really important, short- or long-term.


Again, the whole point is to get comfortable with this person who you are going to be spending an outrageous amount of time and close quarters with so even if my parameters are broad, it’s all about doing what you need to do to make that work: speak up, clear the air, laugh, make jokes, or do whatever you need to do and enjoy yourself.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Getting Comfortable with your Travel Companions…

Palling Around Wichita

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Between here and there, Kansas. July 2017.

Sometimes when you are running the line between local-staycationing, dating, and travel, you come across a day that is an odd mixture of all of the above – for Ryan and I, Wichita was the near-perfect example of this. On the most basic level, the day consisted of lunch, a bookstore date, and a more traditional date – a few hours in an entertainment center.

First up, The Redrock Canyon Grill. Ryan and I decided to try something food-wise that was more local (or at least the we had never tried) and when we did an area search, Redrock popped up near the top places to try. And after our time here, I understand why. The food and service was great. The atmosphere made us feel a little bit under-dressed in t-shirts and jeans but there were a few parties dressed similarly so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I thought the prices were a bit high at first but the portions are huge, so they are actually fitting for what you get.

Our server was amazing, very sweet and, since we weren’t there at a rush, stayed by the table for a while and talked to us about our trip as well as food recommendations while we were ordering. What I loved the most, however, was a small gesture I’d never thought to ask about: when she asked if Ryan wanted his leftovers packaged, we said that we were road-tripping so couldn’t take them. Instead, she brought us ice water in to-go cups because it was hot and she knew it was a long drive ahead of us.

Again, between the food, the service, and this kind gesture, I totally recommend the Redrock Canyon Grill.

The next stop was Barnes and Nobles – in no way a local hot spot. To start, Ryan and I are both big book nerds so whenever we get a chance to hit a bookstore, we will. And, as a book nerd, I love seeing the variations even in these big chain book stores. For me, this is a great line between travel and staycations – it’s not near home, however, it’s like home but different enough to want to run around and explore.

Finally, we wanted to do something very traditionally date-like but also new, so we looked for an open escape room that would be available early enough that we could still hit the road in time to get to Fort Riley before nightfall. This was impossible since these book up pretty far in advance, but we quickly discovered Glow Golf instead. Again, this isn’t an experience you can only get in Wichita – these kind of entertainment zones are popping up all over the country.

This particular location has a lot of choices, and while not expensive, each thing costs you a little and they add up. First off, everything is black light so if this messes with your eyes, you may want to skip out; if not, jump on it! We played golf (two games for the price of one), the laser maze (a thief-type game that we played over and over again), ping-pong, and cornhole with light-up bean bags. Dating with some fun competition thrown in? Yes, please! Especially to break up a long drive day.


Again, none of these activities really scream ‘exploring Wichita’ because they weren’t for that. Sometimes in travel, you need a slacking off day, and I loved our day slacking off in Wichita and wouldn’t take it back for all the explorations we could have done, especially on our time table. But more of that to come as we continue to explore Kansas.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Palling Around Wichita

The pros and cons of hotel jumping

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A Stop in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. 1 July 2017.

During my 5 days in Kansas (and Missouri), Ryan and I stayed in three different hotels in three different cities – if traveling to one place isn’t enough to drive you nuts, having to pack up your bags everyday and switch outfits between driving and dates is quite a pain in the butt.

As we have talked about, I am the kind of traveler that (first) likes to take her time when exploring new places – you don’t get a lot of this when you are traveling between two states in 5 days – and (second) likes to settle into the places I am staying – I pack in such a way that I can live out of my suitcase if I need to, but it is nicer when I don’t (toiletries have their place, separating clean and dirty clothes, and hanging up dresses because I get to unpack, is absolutely lovely). Again, you don’t get to do this a lot when you are moving from place to place.

Still, when you know that you will be moving from place to place – even if you do plan on staying for more than two days –  if you unpack or not, you must always triple check every hotel room you stay in, because, in all likelihood, you will not be coming back for anything. And honestly, the more hotel room jumps you make, the more likely it is that you are going to misplace a thing or two along the way.

Luckily for me, on our journey from Kansas City, Missouri to Wichita, Kansas, I didn’t forget anything. However, Ryan left his dress clothes either hanging in the closet or laying on the bed for the play we had in Wichita that night.

Basically, due to the late night at the Starlight Theater and my slight jet lag, we got up a little later than we expected, but with an 11 am checkout time, I wasn’t to worried about us being late. However, with me showering and doing my basic bathroom routines (that I need the sink for) then him showering and doing all his business (while I folded both our random bits of clothes – mostly his since he had the room before I came into town – and finished getting ready), the time did slowly ebb away until I was knocking on the door giving him 15 minute updates.

Once we were both ready to go – after I had reminded him about his suit which he may or may not have moved – I double checked my stuff and we headed down to the car. I will admit that we may have been distracted by one another even as we were walking down the hall – new couple who hadn’t seen each other in about a month: yep. Also, Ryan was more interested in fighting over who carried my bag than double checking himself.

I talked about the stuff we did in Kansas City in my last few posts, which was followed by the almost three hour drive to Wichita. We chatted, sang, watched videos, and snapped pictures – basically having a gay old time. Then, about 30 minutes from getting to the hotel (that he booked earlier as we left Kansas City) which was a tiny bit out of the way of the actual city, but really convenient for a night stop over, he looked over his shoulder and burst out laughing. At my confused look, he told me to look out the window and pay attention to both the completely unblocked back windows – no suit.

We were still 30 minutes or so from our hotel (which was not located near stores) and probably had another hour and 15 minutes before we were supposed to get to the playhouse, which would be another 30 minutes away (give or take). It was time to reevaluate and arrange accordingly. Ryan jumped on the phone and canceled our reservation, looked up any local department store that we could pick up some nice clothes at, and locate a hotel close to both the store and the playhouse so we could have time to breathe and get ready before heading back out.

And somehow, he managed it.

We did the quickest run through a department store – being a good shopper with a good sense of direction within stores finally paid off – to pick up a tie, button up, slacks, and a belt (replacing all the slightly nicer but missing items –  he had had the old ones fitted and dry cleaned, while the new ones didn’t even have time to be ironed) and then crossed the street and check-in to the new hotel.

So yep, hotel jumping is hard and you should always, always send someone to do a final run through check after you get everyone and everything else out of the room – you never know what you may have missed! If you did forget something and aren’t too far away – ie, Ryan lives a few hours away – you should also definitely call the hotel and see if they can send you your lost items.

However, as always, when it comes to misadventures, sometimes the unexpected become great adventures and great stories for later.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The pros and cons of hotel jumping

Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

… Kind of…

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The Community Bookshelf. Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch. Kansas City, Missouri. 1 July 2017.

Welcome back, my lovely book nerds and tack another quick stop (if only to enjoy some time with pictures) into your Global book nerd to-do list. For those following along as more than book nerds – ie. the current Kansas saga or my life and travels in general – this is a continuation of my odd-date involving Ryan driving me around Kansas City and following me around odd places, like this book wall.

The first thing you ought to know is that you need to research which branch you are visiting within Kansas City. This book wall is located at the central branch, but we accidentally hit another before we made it there, but the branches are relatively close by car so if you get a little turned around, it’s not too bad.

Also, while this wall is lovely (and I loved playing around with it), there have been changes since the pictures that pop up on Google were posted and, truthfully, the book-wall is not actually part of the library, but the parking lot located next to the library. The trees have grown a lot which means there is a lot of shade, but the view of this amazing wall is really obstructed, especially in whole. Still, I loved looking at these large spines and the staircases into the parking garage – usually overlooked – which are a pile of stone books (yes, I definitely took pictures on them – I am a nerd), even if it had nothing to do with physical books or reading.

This being said, I will never say no to popping into the actual library when you are here – every place like this deserves all the love they can get.

Again, this is a quick stop and a quick post, but if you are in the area, stop by and enjoy yourself!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

Using the LAX Flyaway…

So, I’m back! And as such I have quite a lot to talk about as time (and posts) go on, but first things first, a little from Los Angeles.

Whether you are from the greater Los Angeles area or visiting, there is something about driving to The Los Angeles International Airport that causes a headache. If you are from out of town, the traffic – dealing with the LA driving style more than anything – and stress caused by traveling alone is enough to make people avoid this city. And as a local, driving around LAX with people who don’t understand LA driving and the fierce, crazy taxis, we generally avoid it as well.

This is why for years my parents have relied on the amazing service provided by LAX Flyaway. This bus service gives quick, reliable and cheap round-trip or single fare options for getting to LAX from a variety of locations – Van Nuys (our usual drop off location), Hollywood, Westwood, Union Station, or Long Beach. This not only makes traveling to and from LAX easier but makes flying into the city easier.  While we may make the drive for long term travel or international destinations – for sentimental reasons – the fact that you can really only pick up and drop off at LAX means there really are no reasons to drive into the chaos especially for quicker trips, ie Kansas.

Of course, if you aren’t looking to go into the city and have other options – like Burbank, if you are more valley-bound – you can avoid the whole mess. However, I have to caution (as always) to research locations. My brother-in-law had an out-of-town guest who didn’t pay attention to this and, thinking the Long Beach airport was closer as well as cheaper, booked a flight there only to need a pickup an hour away with no traffic.

If you are from out of town, this is a great service that can get you to Union Station which can then get you all over the city and beyond.

I know this isn’t about Kansas – but trust me, you will hear plenty about that in the weeks to come – and a little disjointed, but I am still a bit travel-lagged and promise that this service is well worth talking about. But for now,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Using the LAX Flyaway…

Going Unplugged… Kind of.

To start out, happy Fourth of July and a long weekend to (hopefully most) of you Americans; and to the rest of the world, happy fourth and another Tuesday finished.

Technically, I’m writing this post a week early so I’m off celebrating my own Fourth not spending the evening with all you lovely people, but I hope you will forgive me. Why? you may ask and the answer is simple: with everything else that is going on, I really don’t need to spend my time on my computer.

My real reasons for wanting my computer would be to offload pictures and write this blog, but as with most things in travel planning, there are always ways around lugging heavy computers and space consuming chords. Instead, I’m writing and scheduling this blog now and am making a camera plan.

I have multiple data cards and batteries which will allow me to check pictures and keep the ones I want. If you want to offload pictures with less space you can also buy an external hard-drive that off loads from memory cards or, if you have access to someone else’s computer, you can bring your normal offloading device and a flash drive to store the pictures on.

Again, I’m only going partially unplugged – I will still have my phone which, let’s face it, basically means I will have a computer in my pocket at all times. This also means, if you want to follow my week of travel before I get to blogging about it all, feel free to check my Instagram for more up-to-the-minute updates.

But until next week,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Going Unplugged… Kind of.