Brad has now almost been away at training for a month.
Last week, I got to go for my first visit! Several people were surprised when I said I was going already... but it made the most sense to go while Wesley is not back in school yet so he could stay at my parents' house.
So - on Wednesday, I packed up and flew alone for the first time in my life!
It was super funny to walk across the tarmac to this TINY plane. I had selected my seats when I bought my tickets. Imagine my surprise when Row 8 was not in the middle of the plane, but rather, the second to last row!!!
My flight landed in Charlottesville at 4:17 pm and Brad would be coming straight from class...
When he walked into the airport the few people who were waiting nearby all turned and stared... because our military uniforms just have that affect on people ... including me!! ;)
I was so excited to see him that the MOMENT we got in his car I whipped out my camera!
It was a short drive back to his hotel and we sort of giddily looked back and forth at each other giggling the whole way like we were excited to be out on a third date with someone we really liked!
That night, we had Chipotle for dinner and it was DELICIOUS! I had never been before, but loved all the information they had explaining their desire to serve responsibly raised meats and healthy, local or organic ingredients where possible... Oh, and it was so massive that I had half for dinner and half for lunch the next day.
The next morning, Brad started his day at 4:30 am (3:30 to my mind since I was not used to the new time zone!!!) He went for his group PT and then reappeared at about 7:15 to hit the showers and grab some breakfast. I decided to hop up and eat breakfast with him (at 6:15 my time!) and that set the tone for the week's daily routine. Every morning he showers and gets dressed in about 10 minutes leaving 5 minutes to go through the breakfast line in the hotel lobby and to eat. I'm pretty sure he didn't have time to chew any of it!! There are about 12 of the JAG students staying at the hotel and they have to share 3 parking passes so every morning, they're all eating and then leaving in groups of 4 to be back at the school in time for class.
I don't have any photos of Thursday because I stayed at the hotel. I washed all of Brad's laundry and made use of the hotel gym. I enjoyed the slow pace and also LOVED feeling like I was really helping him accomplish something so he didn't have to do it later.
The next day, Friday, I didn't have anything so productive planned. I started with the newspaper's crossword puzzle and then spotted the public bus outside. I felt a small surge of bravery and remembered the website Brad had told me about... CatchTheCat.org (Charlottesville Area Transit) I snagged a schedule from the front desk and studied the time table for the one that passed in front of the hotel. Once I was dressed and had my purse loaded with maps, time tables and a water bottle, I headed out!
The fee was 75 cents one way or $1.50 for a day pass... Even I can do the math on that one ;)
I made it to my desired destination and did some shopping. It was so liberating feeling like, "Hey, I've got the hang of this!!" I stocked up on some Christmas gifts and then, it was time to head back to the hotel.
That's sort of where I took a wrong turn.
To go shopping, I hopped on the "#7 Downtown" bus and headed to the right, then got off at the next stop.
To go back to the hotel, I needed to have turned left... But, when I spotted the "#7 Downtown" bus I hopped on and followed along the route in my guide book. I quickly realized that, yes, this bus would take me back to my hotel, but it would go all around the world to do so. I needed to have been on the "#7 Fashion Square" bus because it was headed in my direction!! Oh well, if I hadn't taken the long way home, I would have missed some lovely scenery:
We passed this beautiful church.
I saw several lovely brick buildings with old paintings and murals.
Near the UVA Campus, I spotted the University Baptist Church.
And, if I hadn't taken the long way home, I never would have spotted this character with all his gear...
After realizing we would pass my hotel on the wrong side of the road and would not stop til we looped back around, I opted to get off at the shopping center across the highway from the hotel. I double-checked my map and figured out the best way to cross busy roads and a 6-lane highway that didn't have cross walks... It was an adventure, but obviously I survived :)
That evening, I couldn't wait for Brad to get back from class so I could tell him all about my big outing :) He was quite impressed with my navigating :)
The next day was Saturday and that meant No Class :) It did not, however, mean No Schoolwork :(
Brad spent the morning on an assignment and I stayed nearby happy to be in the same room as my hubby :)
After lunch, we headed out to see Monticello!
My sister had been and I had heard it was truly a Must See place... So I was excited and Monticello did not disappoint!
Our tickets were free, too, because there was a promotion going on for Military members and their families. Score! Our official guided tour of the interior did not start until 2:20 pm so we explored the exterior for a while...
Starting with the Jefferson family cemetery:
I absolutely loved touring Jefferson's vegetable gardens and was green with envy!
I also enjoyed seeing several of the old trees - and their gorgeous roots!
We weren't allowed to take pictures inside so I will just say it was SO cool and worth the trip.
When we exited to the back of the property, I caught site of the most famous view of the home...
Maybe this will help:
After touring Monticello, Brad wanted to show me around the JAG school so off we went.
I took a handful of photos, but none of them were all that interesting.
He DID, however, show me one thing I was VERY interested in.
In the Hall of Heroes, there were small stained glass panels honoring all the JAG Officers who have died in combat since WWII. It was a very small amount of panels, and that made me feel a little better about this whole thing ;)
He also showed me their classes sign up on the climbing rope.
Saturday night, he took me to a really cool pedestrian mall downtown where a section of road was closed off and businesses were allowed to spread out into the brick-paved area...
We also ate some yummy and HUGE pizza...
The next morning was Sunday and I woke up a little sad because I knew it was our last day together. We got all dressed up and headed out to church at The First Baptist Church. The service was a little different than I'm used to, but I was so happy Brad was planning to keep attending AND that he had a friend or two who were going there, too.
That afternoon, he still had plenty of work to do so I packed up all my stuff in preparation for departure and got sad all over again.
For dinner, we walked across the parking lot to a little Indian restaurant...
The food was DELICIOUS!!! I can't say the same for the appetizers, but I can't wait to go back for the main course!
Monday morning was tough because we had to say our good byes at 4:30 am (3:30 to me!) and I really couldn't go back to sleep after that. We ate breakfast together and I tried not to just sit there crying the whole time. When he finished eating, we had one hug and one kiss and he headed out to class. That was probably the hardest part because I knew we had already had our good byes earlier and he couldn't be late. I finished my breakfast and wished I could be like a celebrity wearing dark glasses indoors. I did one last round of laundry for Brad. Then, I hid little notes throughout his room hoping for him to not be too sad to return that afternoon to an empty room. At 9:30 am, the hotel shuttle delivered me to the airport and I was headed home.
All in all, it was a perfect trip because it really helped me understand what Brad's day-to-day life is like (hectic and jam-packed) and made me able to pray for him more specifically than before. I know I should not be so sad being back home without him... And I sure have plenty to do before school starts on Tuesday, but I can't help missing him all the time. I am hoping to go back for another visit in September (for our 5th anniversary no less), but that sure does feel so far away :(