Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vacation #1 Theme: Plans Can Change

We didn't know it but our vacation began months before we left home when we first purchased our train tickets.  We know that Amtrak has much better prices when you plan well in advance, so we did.  We worked out a schedule that we and Becca could live with, and that would bring Tim to Chicago on the exact day he needed to begin his orientation with Radical Journey.

Then we got an email from Mennonite Mission Network.  Because of changes in staffing, the dates would also change.  Tim was to begin two weeks later.

Thus began our vacation theme:  Plans Can Change.

We were able to change our train tickets without additional charges, and Becca was able to change her vacation days, so everything was good.  But that was only the first change of many small and large adjustments.

Included in the changes we experienced before the trip:
  • After we arrived at the Sedgwick County Health Department we found out that that Yellow Fever Shots are given at their new location, and not on the day we were there.  (Yes, I did call for information before we left home!)
  • On the second trip for a Yellow Fever vaccination, it happened to be the week before school started.  The line was very long with children who needed vaccinations for school, and we waited an hour and changed our plans for the rest of the morning errands.
  • French horns
    • Do not fit into carry on measurements
    • Aren't tough enough to withstand being checked without protection.
    • Can be fit into a very strong box built to just within the measurement requirements for checked luggage, and can be padded with clothing.  So we bought a very strong box from a packing company, filled it with horn and clothes, weighed it multiple times carefully to make sure it was under 50 lb, taped it shut, and sewed straps to fasten to the box to make it easier to carry.  The box was also very close to the guidelines for Amtrak luggage---1 1/2 inches bigger than their smallest measurement, 1 inch smaller than each of the two larger measurements, and within their weight limit.
    • At 4:30am, the conductor refused the box without measuring it or weighing it, just because his luggage compartment was already full and there really wasn't anything we could do about it except leave the box in the train station and board the train.  It was time to come up with a new plan.
  • Tim's Bolivia visa was refused by the Bolivian consulate because the money order that was sent with the application apparently did not arrive with the application.  (A new application with another money order was sent straight away and the visa was approved on time, but as of today, we still have not received Tim's passport back from the consulate.  But it will come.  It will come in time for his departure for Bolivia in just over a week.  Either that or we will have to adjust to new plans yet again.)
Although plans did continue to change during the trip, we had a good trip with many new experiences.  I'll add more tomorrow.