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Roadtrip Pt 2

We crossed the border back to the US and headed Southwest along Lake Erie. We went through Pennsylvania to Ohio then on to Indiana. I’d never been to Michigan so we stopped in Kalamazoo downtown and checked it out. We averaged about 300 miles a day so it wasn’t too crazy on most days.

We stopped in Chicago, took a boat around downtown and took a tour of Willis Tower formerly known as Sears Tower. The views from the 103rd floor are stunning to say the least. The ledge experience was exhilarating. At 1353 feet above the ground and 4.3 feet off the ledge was a nerve of steel. The traffic in Chi town is not too be underestimated. 

We headed northwest and made stops in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we tried squeaky cheese curds, Minneapolis we tried some Somali food and got to see a friend. We continued on to Fargo,  North Dakota just because I’d never been to that state. There wasn’t much to see there but Bismarck had bison farms and Dinosaur museum. It was also the longest leg of the trip at over 500 miles.  Enroute we went through the Standing Rock reservation which was at the center of protests by the Indian Sioux tribe against the Dakota pipeline. It was quiet when we drove through. Our destination was Mount Rushmore where they have a massive sculpture of 4 US presidents. There were too many activities nearby to be accomplished in a day. 

We then headed into Wyoming and into Yellowstone National Park, another huuuge recreation area with tonnes of activities. We saw more bison, bears, Yellowstone, hot springs and crazy traffic.. and crazy hikers amidst the bears.  It’s a 3,500 square mile park (it spans 2 states,  Wyoming and Montana) and a few hours didn’t do it any justice.  We ticked it off our list but we’ll be back soon to explore some more. 

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Roadtrip Pt 1

We are on the road headed to Alaska.. driving. Life is too short not too take advantage of such opportunities. The Air Force has given me 13 days to get to my new base. I added 2 weeks so with about 4 weeks, I’m touring around. 

My stuff was shipped a couple of weeks ago,  it should get there after we arrive. They shipped some unaccompanied stuff which we’ll need as soon as we get there like uniforms and baby stuff.

We drove wife’s car to Norfolk,  Virginia and it was shipped. Should get there before we do. 

We did a dry run to the Carolina mountains and unfortunately the Audi did not meet the test. The back was too small to fit wife and baby comfortably on the road for 4 weeks. I was able to get a Saab station wagon and a roof luggage box. And it is a 6 speed manual transmission. Just the way I like them. 

We started our trip from North Carolina heading up north. We stopped in Annapolis, Maryland. It’s downtown area is beautiful and classic, it’s by the bay and it’s home to the Naval academy.

Our next stop was Montreal, Canada. It’s the French speaking part of Canada. We didn’t like it much. People were cold and snobbish, the roads were horrible and it sits by a huge river that you have to cross back and forth with only 2 bridges. Crazy traffic. The one interesting thing we saw was bringing your own bottle of wine to a restaurant and just paying for food.. random culture. 

We then headed to Ottawa the political capital of Canada. It’s beautiful,  lots of people doing outdoor stuff everywhere,  has old cathedrals and buildings and even has mass yoga sessions twice a week outdoors by this European style old building. It was thousands of people in this square when we passed thru.

Next stop was by Toronto, the financial hub.  it’s a big mess traffic wise. Too much traffic and small roads for its size. We didn’t explore much here. It sits on the edge of Lake Ontario which gets it’s waters from the Niagara falls.

We headed to Niagara falls,  it’s all its described to be especially on the Canadian side. It’s scenic,  huge, smoke rising from the falls. It’s a wow moment seeing it the first time. There is a skydeck from where you can have a bird’s eye view. We loved it but there was a storm while we were there and we got soaked a good one. 

The U.S side is a state park where you see the water before it hits the falls. There is a island and some caves behind the falls that you can hike down to but you don’t have the full view of the falls. 

We’ll bring the baby back when he’s much older to appreciate the beauty of this God given wonder.

The trip continues.. 

Orders to…

So i’m changing bases from my current base in North Carolina to…Alaska. WTH? Yes ..A Kenyan in Alaska will be my new slogan.  Yes,  I’ll be moving to Alaska soon. Everybody keeps asking about the cold up there in the Last Frontier as they call it.  I don’t know what to expect but I know it’s gonna be fun. Snow not withstanding. That’s what all my colleagues who’ve been based there tell me.  Everyone I talk to tells me about the cold up there but apparently it’s much warmer than the northern states i.e. North Dakota,  Minnesota e.t.c. The Air Force is sending this Kenyan to the last frontier originally bought from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million our 2 cents per acre back then. 

I don’t know what to expect up there but what’s guaranteed is 24 hr sun during summer and nearly 24 hr darkness during winter. I’ll tell you about how true that is once I get up there. 

I googled Kenyans in Alaska and instead found out there are Somalis in Alaska. Good enough. Somali food is delicious. 

I’m awaiting my orders from the Air Force to get this show on the road.  The trusted Audi unfortunately won’t be making the trip. We dry ran it the other day 5 hrs from base and it didn’t make the cut for wife and baby.. it’s too small.  In its place we are getting a SAAB..Yes,  a Saab. I didn’t know much about it either but it’s a kick ass car. A Swedish car manufacturer bought out by GM who then took it under.  There aren’t many of those babies and I got one out of Massachusetts. 6 speed manual transmission 2.8 V6 Turbo.. who knew?? The Swedes don’t play. 

I haven’t seen it yet but the reviews are amazing. 

Anyway,  that’s what’s happening.  Hopefully I can get done with my Private Pilot License (PPL) before I PCS (Air Force lingo for Permanent Change of Station). If not that’s fine.  My new base has an Aero Club. I can fly on base.  

Wish me luck on this cold winter thing hanging over our new outdoor paradise 😁😁😁

Random Chopper moment

So I was at the local airport building my solo time for my private pilot license..clear sunny evening,  calm winds.. just what a student would love to perfect his landings in. I had done 2 landings in the pattern. Then as I was coming in for my third landing I heard on the radio and saw a Marine Corps V22 Osprey conning into the pattern to land. The V22 is a tiltrotor military aircraft with vertical landings and takeoff capabilities.. meaning it comes in to land like a fixed wing plane would but touches down vertically. He circled and landed,  I had to keep circling in the pattern until the chopper departed the runway. Which they did after a while but my instructor on the ground was uncomfortable with me the student being around the chopper so he called off any more landings. I landed the third time and that was it. 

Fortunately the Osprey remained in the pattern and performed a couple more landings. It was so cool to watch at close range as the the pilots hovered in place. 

Here are short videos of the maneuvers 

Babies are work..

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Babies are a lot of work..a lot.  Especially in America. It’s very different having a baby in America. We were blessed with a baby boy in February.  It’s been a lot of fun and “fun” ever since. 

Having a baby in a new country is different. In Kenya you have all the relatives helping out and also getting you a househelp or a “mbotch” as we say in Kenyanese 😁

Luckily my mother-in-law flew in to help us with the bundle of joy. She has been of immense help for the two months she’s been around. She went back home last week. We are eternally grateful. Mothers are saviors.

In America unfortunately you cannot have a househelp as its  very expensive. We’ll take him to daycare once he’s old enough. Daycare It’s not cheap either running at around 200 bucks a week. Yes a week..

It’s been a rollercoaster since he arrived on this beautiful earth. He’s fed, cries, sleeps,  poops and repeats hundreds of times. It doesn’t get easier. He sleeps well on some days,  he cries endlessly on some days.. and we are are always tired and sleepy due to the reason above. 

I’ve learnt to catch snoozes whenever I can.. be it half an hour,  an hour I’ll take it. When mum was around we could hand her the bundle and catch a few snoozes. Not anymore.

Whenever I wasn’t working or in school the wife and mum would take a break. It can be overwhelming for mothers  and they need breaks every so often to recharge.

Did I say diapers are expensive.. oh yea,  the single most expensive item this far. Luckily there is online shopping and there are always deals so that helps. 

And who knew babies can scream that much and loud and don’t seem to run out of steam.. You worry the neighbours might call the cops on is for all the wailing.  One late night he cried for so long that neighbours started banging our walls, they couldn’t sleep.  Luckily they didn’t  call cops. The crying drives me crazy sometimes but we made the bed of roses now we gotta sleep in it. 😊😊😊 Everything I do to try calm him doesn’t work and sometimes I just sit and watch him cry..a little crying never harmed anyone. That’s how some of us toughened up growing up. 

Insurance that the Air Force has us on has been helpful but complicated to navigate. It’s really helped considering prenatal and postnatal care. Healthcare is expensive in this country. It’s not a joke. 

He’s growing fine and we are blessed to have him. He’s touched our lives in amazing ways and we look forward to him growing into a young God fearing man.. despite driving us crazy at times. 

It’s been a great journey thus far, I came to the US a single man,  i married a wonderful woman and now we have a son, we are a family.  It’s a blessing and we are thankful everyday. I wish my mum was alive to see her grandson 😞😞😞 All glory to God.. 
NB.

We’ll be moving soon from the east coast to a new base. The Air Force journey continues.. Guriix US journey continues.

Blessings

The new year began well. Wifey has been getting her bearings of the new town. It’s a small rural town with many military retirees. She’s figured it out with the help of Uber as I’m working most of the time. 

We had a new addition to the family this month. We thank God for blessings. The bundle of joy is quite a handful. Many nights with only a couple of hours sleep is the order of the day. He’s loving it at our expense. 

It was only two months before birth when wifey got here but the military insurance has been a blessing. It’s called TRICARE and to say its sorted us out would be an understatement. It’s been there for prenatal visits for the two months, delivery and now the paediatric visits. I’m be forever grateful to the Airforce for being there for me when I needed it. Insurance is ridiculously expensive here. 

Some people have asked about insurance options here. I didn’t have insurance for the year before I joined the Air Force. Luckily  I didn’t make a lot of money to be penalized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when I filed my taxes . You are penalized according to your income at the end of the year for not having insurance. Luckily for me the $300 a month deductible wasn’t an option. It was too expensive and I thank God I didn’t need to go to hospital during that period. 

Flying is going on well, I just completed my first solo flight. I take flying lessons once a week on the weekends and so far it’s been good. It’s a great experience. Combining college classes for my undergrad aeronautics  and flying hasn’t been easy and is kicking my behind. They said chasing dreams has never been easy so will keep working at it.  

Financing the flying is affordable too so I’m grateful for the endless opportunities moving to the US brings. It’s the main reason we made the decision to come here. 

There is a new Sheriff in town but so far it’s been ok for Kenyans save for a case I read about a girl being sent back to Nairobi after landing in Chicago. They went thru her stuff,  checked her phone and denied her entry and put her on the next flight out. 

The military loooooves the new Sheriff but as an immigrant there is alot of negative anti immigration vibe going around. There must be an uneasy feeling for those who are here illegally as they don’t know what the future will bring. The dreaded Immigration & Customs Enforcement aka ICE have been making the rounds detaining illegal immigrants and initiating removal proceedings. Even for legal immigrants holding green cards,  they must be on their toes about the fine print in the travel ban. I did refugee resettlement for many years back in Nairobi and the refugees admitted here are more than what the rest of the world does combined. The security checks by US security agencies is sometimes frustrating to the refugees but they are necessary in today’s insecure world. It’s been a country of immigrants and believe it’ll continue to be in long run despite the current situation. 

One year down,  three to go in my Air Force contract. It’s been a good year. To another great year ahead and what it brings. 

Wifey is here…finally

She finally got here roughly 274 days since we submitted her paperwork. It’s been a long and tedious process. Just like the Air Force, immigration is a “hurry up and wait” kind of a process. Most people wait for much longer than we did so I’m not complaining.

We got the interview confirmation at the end of September for a mid November date. We prepared all the necessary paperwork then went ahead and requested for an earlier date. We put in the request and fortunately it went through.  We got a mid October date. 

The interview went well,  nothing out of the ordinary. Just the regular expected questions normally asked at these interviews. Where did you meet,  ‘how long have you known each other-where was the wedding-proof he pays taxes-kind of questions’. We were still nervous about it before the D-Day.  You never know what to expect from the consular officers. 

Wifey needed to serve her notice at work,  dispose of some of her stuff before making the big move. Luckily for us she got 8,000 pounds worth of personal goods shipment approved by the Air Force. I’m forever grateful for that. We could only use less than 1,000 pounds. Roughly 4,000 kgs is a lot of weight. All electronics were out of question as Kenya uses 240 volts and here it’s 110 volts, most of the furniture too didn’t need to make the trip. She shipped just the necessary stuff as I already have most of the household appliances we need. They ship by sea so the stuff should hopefully get here in 2 months or so. 

That calmed our nerves quite a bit as I would have been forced to pack my 2 suitcases to the max on the recent return trip from Kenya. That wasn’t necessary with the shipping gift.

The month went by really fast, she served her notice at work. I prepared for her arrival here, as I’d been living a bachelor life and you know how guys live. 😆😆..I did my best before she got here. 

The Air Force also sorted out her airfare. I’m grateful to them for taking good care of us despite the long distance involved. 

She arrived this week and I drove the 70 miles from my base town to pick her up.  Finally we get to live together in the same space nearly 17 months after our wedding. 

It’s not been easy being so far apart but we made it work under the circumstances. The biggest challenges in the reunification process are the long wait times with USCIS and the National Visa Center (NVC); and the many processes to navigate between the two agencies. 

We had forgotten to pay the USCIS Immigrant fee which is required to be paid for a green card to be produced. It’s supposed to be paid after the immigrant visa is issued but before travel. We paid it today. Well see how it affects the paperwork. 

If you have any questions about the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative do not hesitate to hit me up. Been there done that. 

Grateful to the Big guy upstairs. Happy holidays.