29 November 2012

Orders aka Magic Papers

Last we spoke about our future Japan adventures, we had 125 days left in the United States.  As of this posting? 77 days. 77 days left in OUR OWN COUNTRY!!!

This can be summed up in one phrase.

Holy Fuck.

It's happening.  It's really happening.  And I'll tell you what's been happening.

After a few weeks of waiting for return phone calls and emails from various staff at various Air Force departments at various Air Force locations, we both completed the necessary various requirements to send in and then patiently wait for various approvals and actual real live orders.  You see, in the military, you are informed (or not informed) of information first.  This is your unofficial-official notification of assignment.  In our case, we were told in March of 2012 that Aaron was assigned to Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan.  Then a few weeks later Aaron received his RIP1.  This is sort of the first non-official official piece of paper (e-mail) that we get telling us him (at this point, dependents are not yet authorized to go) where and when he is going.

On the RIP, instructions are usually given to go find 'the checklist', contact so-and-so, briefings he needs to receive in order to obtain his orders and entitlements.  This is always a weird time, especially for us because we knew nearly 10 months in advance what his RNLTDwas.  Oh yeah, and during all this, Aaron was assigned a 5 month TDY3 a few hours south (still in good ole Ok-lahoma), and we decided we could be making saving an awesome amount of money if we left our house, put all of our belongings in storage, and I move down with him into a furnished apartment.  So anyway, Aaron started his 5 month initial qualification, I tried to get as settled as possible in a furnished apartment with minimal belongings and no friends (yet), and we both started to plug away at things on the checklist.  Things like: more checklists, more briefings, medical clearance for both of us (does the receiving base have the capabilities of taking care of our needs?), dental clearance (another appointment - does my dentist foresee any major issues while we are in Japan?), etc.  Oh yeah, I also tried (er...am trying) not to go crazy living FARTHER in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma and not having complete control of our moving-across-the-world-planning.

Okay.  So following a checklist seems all easy and fine and dandy and all, so we completed everything just to be told that certain items cannot be completed until 'x' amount of months prior to arriving in Japan.  And the poor cat went through so much trauma to get her all approved to enter another country - that deserves it's own post though.  Let's just say, she has more paperwork than we do.  Making ourselves another checklist full of dates and appointments again, we finally submit everything and receive our orders.

*A Big Sigh*

We received our orders.  Aaron's 3 year tour is accompanied4.  That's definitely something important us spouses want to see on there.  See:

Orders. Check.
Flights to Japan with cat booked. Check
HHG and UB5 shipments booked. Check.
Housing application submitted.  Check.

Oh, and we just received an email from a guy named Aaron who volunteered to be our sponsor! 
Sponsor. Check.

So like I said....moving right along.

Report on Individual Person.  A document with important information on a specific person.

Report No Later Than Date.  Report early, report on time, but do NOT report later than this date.

Temporary Duty.  This is duty assigned somewhere other than the members permanent duty station.  It could be for a variety of time, anywhere from a few days to a few months, and your TDY station could be anywhere in the world.  One thing sort of awesome about TDY's is that they come with per diem pay to cover lodging, meals, and incidentals.  Depending on requirements and how the member handles his tour...you could make some cash monies.

4Accompanied Tour
Command Sponsored.  This means that the military approves you (the dependant/s) to tag along and you and your spouse receive all the benefits of an accompanied tour.  There are many reasons why the military would not want the spouse to go: unsafe, expensive, base not being able to accommodate special needs, etc. WITHOUT your name on the orders, you could potentially go anyway but you might only be able to stay for short amounts of time on a visa from the host country, you won't be able to use overseas medical services, they will not pay to move you and your belongings, you cannot live on base and the military member will not receive any additional funds for you.  Basically, the military won't acknowledge you.  So MAKE SURE YOU'RE ON YOUR SPOUSES ORDERS...or atleast understand why you aren't.

Unaccompanied Baggage.  This is a shipment sent separately from your HHG.  Going overseas, your HHG's are crated and sent over via boat, and could possibly take months to arrive.  Your unaccompanied Baggage is a limited weight of your essentials that you would like to arrive earlier.  UB is sent by plane, usually a few weeks before your HHG's arrive.  Sometimes they come after, but that's just the nature of the beast. Things suggested to include in your UB are extra cloths, pots/pans, linens, etc...  Something good to keep in mind is that during a PCS or TDY you are authorized to use the loan locker, borrowing anything you might need until your shipments arrive.

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26 November 2012

California & Grand Canyon Adventures, Part 8, Day 7

If you need to catch up on our California & Grand Canyon Adventures this summer, check out Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, and Part 7!

Welcome back team.  Things are going forward with our moving to Japan and all that jazz.  In fact, we have our flight booked (with Sammy the Cat) and are in the process of scheduling our 'stuff' shipment.  More on that later.  Today I'm going to continue on with our California summer trip!

We woke up on the later side of the morning, and I'm sure that had nothing to do with Wanda and I staying up 'til all hours of the morning chatting (and finishing off a delicious batch of margaritas!).  Jim was an awesome tour guide once again, driving us around Palos Verdes to check out the amazing views and crazy houses on those 'landslide' cliffs!  Insane I tell you!

I had heard that Venice Beach was a cool area, and I'm not sure if we totally missed the 'cool area' or not, but it wasn't what any of us expected.  The beach and 'boardwalk' area were pretty trashy.  It reminded me of Seaside Heights in New Jersey.  I grew up with that, and I could really care less to see anymore crack heads begging for money on a boardwalk.  

That being said, there were a few interesting sites including best permanent signage:

And best working girl.  I just missed the shot of Jim shoving in a dollar bill.  He's a quick one with those bitches bikinis I tell ya!

There were some beautiful houses along the Venice canals though, which makes me think I missed the nice stuff in town/along the beach.

After leaving Venice a bit disappointed, we headed up to Santa Monica to shop at the 3rd Street Promenade, which was a great outdoor (with an indoor) pedestrian mall.  It was just a few blocks from the boardwalk and ocean, which I visited a few weeks later when I came back to California.  

Aaron and I especially enjoyed the topiary's. 

And even though we were on our way to dinner, we were all pretty starved, so we grabbed pretzels, and a pretzel dog.  This was also our first Wetzel's Pretzel experience.  I felt a little dirty eating this one though....

Next up was dinner at Paradise Cove Beach Cafe in Malibu.  Although online reviews say that this is a touristy place, it doesn't seem that way.  Apparently movies are commonly filmed here because of the cove and secluded-ness, and even when movies aren't being filmed, you'll still spot celebrities.  We did!  While we were eating, I peered over to see this trio of punk dudes walking down the beach in black skinny jeans and mohawks and leather jackets.  Oh Green Day...aren't you just too cool for Malibu!  Yup, there went Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool strolling past us in waaaay to much black cloths for the beach.  I bet they got tons of sand in their chucks too.

 Now that I'm back into the blogging mood, I should be finishing up this series soon and hopefully get motivated to talk about some current stuff!!!

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