If you follow me on social media then you know a bit about the mess we are in. For those that don’t, you should at least follow me on Instagram ;)! Anyways it’s a long story so here we go.
We got orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina 9 months ago in February 2018, which is earlier than most people get orders. My husband’s ‘no later than’ date being October 12th, 2018. Read more about it in our moving announcement.
We got on the waitlist for base housing in the beginning of April for our neighborhood of choice, we were 29th on the list. Every month we checked our progress on the list; it was slow, but we still had hope that we’d get a house by the time we arrived or at least by Christmas. Housing for my husbands rank is very hard to get into, because there isn’t much and apparently people stay longer than normal in this duty station…
By some miracle (!!) we got an email the first week of September saying that we got a house!! We were so excited to know that we would arrive to North Carolina to a house of our own right away. We’d live in an empty house for at least a month, but it we would make it work.
We had flights booked for September 29th leaving Okinawa to Seattle. Ponzo would be leaving on Friday, September 28th via ANA Cargo and staying in a pet hotel at Narita Airport until his flight to Dulles Airport on Monday, October 1st. We would be flying from Seattle to Dulles to pick him up, spending a day at my aunts house before driving down to North Carolina.
…Then came Hurricane Florence…
We watched this massive hurricane approach the East Coast and wreak havoc over our new home. Everyone evacuated, homes were destroyed and flooding was everywhere.
…Then came Typhoon Trami…
Sarah’s Pet Paradise, the amazing third party shipper we used to get Ponzo out of Okinawa was able to get him on an earlier flight out of Okinawa on Wednesday, September 26th. After sending him off we checked into the WestPac Lodge on Camp Foster. Our military flight on September 29th got delayed 48 hours thanks to Typhoon Trami making landfall in Okinawa that same day.
We were all set to leave on October 1st… but when we arrived at the Kadena Passenger Terminal we learned the flight was delayed 24 more hours. All lodging was booked that day thanks to the typhoon… they offered empty rooms to those who had lost power. Thankfully we were able to stay at our friend Emma’s house, who had dropped us off at the terminal. (If you’re reading this thank you so much Emma!!)
That morning we heard back from our Lease Consultant saying that everything was still good for our lease signing the next day. We rejoiced!! That night we heard from another housing employee that effective immediately they would be implementing a housing hold for all of Camp Lejeune. Hundreds of houses got damaged in the hurricane and they needed to move these families into empty homes. We cried.. okay, I cried. That same night we put in an application for a short-term lease apartment that apparently had opening for October 8th. We sighed of relief.
Thanks to the hurricane most hotels got damage as well, so they had limited rooms open and they were full of displaced families. Thankfully we had 1 night booked at a pet friendly extended stay and we were able to extend our stay to 6 days.
We were able to finally leave Okinawa on October 2nd, with a short stop at Iwakuni Air Station and then headed straight to Seattle Tacoma Airport. We arrived at 5:30AM… but had to wait 30 minutes on the plane for US Customs to open. Our commercial flight wasn’t until 1pm, but thankfully we were able to change it to the 8AM flight. We had no time to recharge from our TransPacific flight before getting on a 5 hour flight to Dulles. It was a nightmare, but we’re so glad we were able to get it over with.
While we were mid-air my aunt had to go pick up Ponzo at ANA Cargo; so so thankful we had family to rely on. We arrived to Dulles, grabbed our rental mini van and headed to my aunts house to be reunited with out boy. We were all so happy to be together after almost a week apart.
The next day we drove 5.5 hours down to Jacksonville, North Carolina. We checked into our hotel and started trying to come up with a plan.
We got a call from the apartment complex we had applied to, to come to hand in some documents. Sadly their website sucks and the pet part of the application showed up blank for them. We were written down to move into a 3rd floor apartment… but because of Ponzo we would need a 1st floor apartment. She said we could stay on the waitlist, but likely nothing would be available until December. Back to the drawing board we went.
We started looking at off-base rentals, even though we didn’t want to go this route… we had no choice. Thanks to the hurricane there are basically a handful of rentals available, and even less were pet friendly that would allow an 85lbs German Shepherd. None of the websites are updated and finding a realtor to help us was hard… but thanks to my friend Kassie she was able to put us in contact with a friend of hers. She quickly looked up rentals that were pet friendly and within our price range and took us to look at some the next day.
(Side note: German Shepherds are on the restricted breed in Jacksonvile!! Absolutely insane! Another reason why we wanted to go the on-base route.)
First we saw a house in Carolina Plantations (that neighborhood was great), but the people were in the process of moving and the house was an absolute pigsty; it smelled too. Second, a smaller house in Jacksonville which we loved. I was holding out for the third one in Richlands and it was absolutely amazing!! The realtor called the management company and of course it was too good to be true… the house wasn’t pet friendly. We decided to go ahead with the second one, which we liked as well and when she called both the first and second already had applications in. The fourth one was exactly the same as the third one… but not as good.
While we were driving to see the houses we got a call from the apartment complex we had applied to that there would be an open 1st floor apartment come end of November, asking if we were interested. We said YES!! We were still hoping to find a place off-base at this point, but at least we had something concrete as a Plan B. Thank god we did.
None of the houses worked out and there was basically nothing else… and nope we did NOT want to buy a house in Jacksonville. So we decided to go with the short term lease apartment for 6 months. We are still hoping that by beginning of PCS season (summer) next year when our lease ends housing on base will be back to normal and we can get a house. *Crossing our fingers and toes*
Back to square one
Now that we had that sorted out, all we had to do was extend our hotel stay… and then they told us we couldn’t… so we were basically going to be homeless the next morning. We decided to rent another mini van and road trip back to my aunts house in Virginia. Ponzo and I will be staying here until the end of November. Husband also had nowhere to stay… there are also no barracks rooms available, but someone from his office offered him the spare bedroom for the next month and thank god for that!
…and that’s it! Our mess of a life, the PCS from hell, as I’ve been calling it on social media.
If you’ve made it this far you’re a saint! We would appreciate all the good vibes, prayers, or whatever for this unexpected separation we’re going through. Ponzo has had it a little rough. First he was stuck in the pet hotel at Narita for 6 days, long flight all by himself, 10 days stuck in that hotel with little to no grass, and then my husband having to leave us in VA. Thankfully he’s feeling a lot better, he’s LOVING my aunts fenced in yard and the 50 degree weather we’ve been having.
I absolutely cannot wait to settle in (as much as possible) to our apartment come December. We are so thankful to have found a place to spend the holidays in. My biggest fear wasn’t having to spend Christmas in a hotel room.
Anyways, I will be spending the next month blogging as much as possible to pass the time. I will start sharing about our trip to Bali, then comes our 2 trips to Mainland Japan. Stay tuned!