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Quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess – Day 14, the travel to Texas

2/17/2020 

00:10 Next group – we are next to be called to disembark!

00:14 They’ve called us! Will post a lot of pics as I’m able to. Likely not till I’m stateside. Will post time stamps as reference and fill it in later as I can.

00:36

All of the buses are still here – there are at least a dozen. No one knows which plane is going to which location as of yet. The steps were described by a hilarious gentleman guarding the exit as “say hi to me, hand your passport to that yellow guy, wave at these folks, get on the bus, get on the plane, go to the US!”

Here are some pics of us getting from the boat to the bus.

One of our last views inside the ship – note the hazmat suits!

Our exit, 4th deck, port side. Note the blue tarp protecting us from the outside, vice versa.

On the other side of the tent, we were met by many CDC workers.

One last view of our home for the last month.

Our view on the bus.

00:43 It’s pretty toasty on the bus! We’re slightly concerned over how tight people are potentially infected. We had to turn our passports in upon boarding the bus in a series of tents – we’ll get them back stateside. Less than 400 people are joining us now as some were sick and some refused to come (I.e., spouse in hospital).

1:30 Here we go! The buses have rolled out.

1:43 Media everywhere! We figured maybe they’d be asleep. Nope!

1:55 Looks like we’re driving into haneda airport.

2:10 We made it to the plane! Two Kallita cargo planes are waiting for us. The buses pulled straight up to the planes.

Our ride – a 747-200 cargo plane from Kalitta Air!

Here are our buses for the remainder of plane #2. We were on bus #9.

2:54 Leaving in 10, waiting for our passports to be given back to us – apparently they will be given now instead of back in the states. Bus 1 is boarding now. We are on bus 9.

03:34 They are passing passports back through the bus. A bit worried about this as everyone is touching each others passports. They mentioned that this would be a lengthy process. They are handing out passports both on the plane, and the buses.

03:47 When first leaving the bus, a CDC guy had his glasses fogged up and asks us to make sure we had the right passports. He then shouts, “Am I the best paramedic of the year?” We laughed, then asked, “Which plane do we get on, which one is plane number one or two? “I dunno, just get on!” He said.

04:15 On the plane we go! It’s very easy to trip due to uneven, wobbly platforms. We are pretty crammed together. No in flight entertainment, no wifi, no anything. Just food and water. Luckily, the wife and I downloaded our music!

Our cargo plane had ten seats to a row. Welcome to the freedom express!

CDC hazmat suit respirator.

The Japanese Red Cross supplied us with food and water.

4:23 People are continuously asking where we are flying to. The CDC guy on the plane told us “I don’t know where we’re going, but I know it’s in the United States! 😎” It’s like Russian roulette traveling! Let’s see where we end up?

4:46 The CDC guys joked that they are not flight attendants by trade after fussing at a man when asked where we were going. This was probably the seventh time this individual asked. 😅 They said that it’s going to be a long long trip, but we’re all in it together.

04:55 6 passports are mix matched, and may or may not be on the right plane. We all had to hold up our passports and get this sorted out before taking off. People are assigned a number on each seat to document their temperature at the start and end of the flight.

05:10 The Japanese Red Cross donated water, fire blankets, snacks, and meals.

Potato chips are the best thing we’ve eaten in 14 days!

The Japanese Red Cross.

Supplies delivered by the Japanese Red Cross.

06:36 The cargo plane is a bit bumpy while on the taxiway, and per my wife “everyone’s heads look like jello.”

06:46

Takeoff! Rumor has it that we’re headed for Texas. The entire plane shook when taking off. This is our first time on a 4 engine death trap.

08:26 We’re napping on and off because of the time switch and how exhausted we are. We should be flying a direct route to Texas, Nebraska for those who test positive, and to Atlanta for the people who manned the plane. We filled out a form tying our seat numbers to our name. “We could be doing this with kids!” -wife “Nope, they’d be staying to learn some Japanese culture” -me “So we would just leave them in a foreign country?” -wife “Yep! I draw the line there. An international one.”

08:30 Still trying to pass the time, cuddling. The wife asks, “Are you comfortable?” “The answer to that is NO for everyone on this plane. 🥴” – me

08:35 So the Japanese Red Cross gave us a lot of food and water supplies for our flight, one of which being brownies. The wife shows up with a fairly large box. I’m thinking.. man, that’s a huge brownie! Turns out she took a whole value pack of brownies. Score!

09:00 The masks are really starting to get to us – to anyone who has worn a N95 mask before, imagining 24 hours straight is not an easy feat.

11:10 We were given a traveler health declaration for repatriation. See below.

Here’s the part we were required to fill out.

Policies, rights, and disclosures.

Our consent was placed here.

11:27 They’re coming around to pick up our paperwork and take our temperature.

13:31 Our paperwork just got picked up. My temp was 36.4, the wife’s is 37.4. They asked her to not bundle up as much – she had just woken from a nap.

14:15 Music jam time! We shared air pods, so people around the plane probably think our synchronized dancing is a little off – our weirds are magnified!

15:36 Only a few more hours. We both look like we just crawled out of a cave. If we were to look into a mirror, we might think “What was it like discovering fire?”

16:43 Looks like they’re coming around for our second and final temperature check of the flight. Still not 100% sure on our destination, but we’ll know in a couple hours!

17:11 The wife started cross stitching – she’s making an ornament for our Christmas tree from the cruise ship.

17:23 Someone was taken into the isolation area of the plane due to a high fever.

17:24 Another person has been taken.

17:35 One of the two taken away have returned. They both were sitting right next to my wife and I! My wife was worried for a second because her temp was 37.5. Mine was 36.9

18:00 Just used the bathroom – it’s flushing with straight pee now. It seems to be full.

18:18 What a tease!! We have to wait for dog to clear in San Antonio, so we’re landing in DALLAS. I live literally ten minutes from DFW airport. Once the fog clears in “some amount of time,” we’ll be off to San Antonio. We should be landing on the next 30 minutes.

18:55 tokyo time *switching to local time, central standard time 2/17/2020 04:00 Parked the jet. Waiting for fog to clear in San Antonio. Landed in Dallas, Texas. Lots of clapping and cheering once we landed!

04:05 UPDATE! We are actually in San Antonio. We all checked our GPS and noticed that it wasn’t Dallas. YEEHAW!

04:40 We just found out that 99 more people tested positive on the ship, and are glad that we got off. However, we also found out that there were 14 positive cases on the plane, and that we will be once again confined to our rooms.

4:45 Off the plane we go! We walked down some stairs out of the plane onto the runway, and into a hangar. We were met with lots of cheering and claps from military/CDC personnel. There was a large staging area with chairs. We sat there, were moved to secondary screening where we got our temperature checked (my wife is mad at this guy for yanking her ear), went through customs (which consisted of standing behind a orange line and having someone squint from 4 feet away at our passports), and getting a phone/room key.

The plane as we stepped onto the airbase.

Large staging area inside of the hangar.

SNACKS. SNAAAACKS.

5:18 My wife’s temperature was a little high again, so we had to be screened by a few medical professionals, as well as the CDC. They opted to not swab her, as she is feeling fine with no other symptoms. No one on the plane was swabbed before boarding other than those who were symptomatic.

5:32 The wife survived, moving on to the housing table now.

6:11 Waiting for the bus to take us to lodging!

6:28 Miserable bus ride – the seats were very small with lots of luggage, and we have to wait for the plane to get going to Nebraska. Almost there! Only 218 miles from home – a lot better than 6500!

6:51 Annnnd we’re moving! The plane leaving for Nebraska now.

7:24 Made it! We have significantly more space here. We have a full sized mattress, a TV, a Red Cross goodie bag, some snacks, microwave, fridge, a sink, a fan, and a shared bathroom. We’re hoping that no one is in the room next to us, as having a shared bathroom might defeat the purpose of the quarantine! PS packages are sendable! Please private message me if you want the address/want to send anything.

Our luggage was at the Q-zone already. There’s Rachel with the blue backpack.

A full sized mattress.

Our Red Cross goodie bag.

A microwave + fridge.

A Red Cross blanket.

Red Cross bags, canned water, and pumpkin spice rice krispie treats.

A fan, safe, closet, iron, ironing board, with hangars.

12:40 Just woke up from a long nap – still exhausted! Lunch is here! The great thing about the US military is that everything is punctual! Everything is being brought to us, and phone signal is great for T-mobile. The AC is broken in our room unfortunately. We have some stir fry, plus some sort of soup (aka a spot for me to dump the mushrooms into).

Here’s our lunch!

Our fortune states “Happiness is enjoying what you got. Never from what you want.” Truth!

ALSO turns out that jack and Jill room? We have the other room too! Guess which air condition is working? We just pulled the whole switcheroo.

I will be working on replying to people throughout the day. I have hundreds of notifications, and still somewhat dazed from jet lag so it may take a minute.

16:34 
My contact within Princess reached out to me regarding conditions/contacts within the base.

16:57
The docs came – she’s fine! Back when we had our health screening when arriving, there was a guy who was taking temperatures who was fairly rough with everyone’s ear. I was convinced that my wife was going to karate chop this man. He’s been titled “the ear guy.”
Now, a third medical professional walks in with a thermometer, flat affect, and asks us to take our temperature via ear probe in a mono tone. He is deemed “the ear guy 2.0.”

17:41
We saw a squirrel for the first time in a month!

18:10
We were looking around our room, thinking of what could make it better. Back in japan, there was this magician passenger who doubled as a comedian and did “discount magic.” He would have a card with a few dots on it, and ask how many dots were on the other side. When we guessed, he’d cover up x amount of dots, shout “NO, 2 DOTS, YEAAAHHHH!!” – the crowd went wild!
And so the brainstorming began. We’ve determined that we should move the entertainment center from the room with the broken AC to our current room along with that TV, plug them together and have a little discount magic of our own! “YEAHHH!”

18:42
Food is here! We are so grateful to be back in the US. It was rice, but it was Tex mex! My wife cried because it was so good compared to what we have been getting. We’re not used to people showering us with soda and water – they just kept asking if we wanted more and we stocked up on a fridge full of water and soda. We also got an apple, orange, brownies, and a cinnamon roll.

Some sort of tex-mex rice. Yum!

Food is delivered much like before on the cruise ship, except it’s by military/DMAT personnel in hazmat suits. I’ll get a picture tomorrow.

19:04
The CDC is here at our room. Both of our temperatures are nominal (98f, 36.6ish c). We’re good to go!

Update on replies: actively replying starting will the oldest comments – around 70 to go! Had a lot of catching up to do. My mother in law is being an absolute saint tomorrow and driving down our laptops, Nintendo switch, my razor charger, and a few goodies. With the laptop, I plan on starting a blog, as many of you have suggested I start one!

Thank you all for the constant love and support – we are truly overwhelmed today now that we’re back in the states.

20:20
FYI my wife is here for any questions you may have specifically for her!

22:27
Still replying to the many comments of support that you all have posted! We heard taps being played on a trumpet, and heard the USA national anthem being blasted. What a crazy experience this is?! It truly is good to be back in the great state of Texas.

No new news other than a letter from the quarantine officials outlining procedure. They have phone numbers for us to contact should we need anything.
The CDC will check our temperature twice daily, and asked us to let them know if we have symptoms. Should we have symptoms and require testing, we would be sent to the hospital for isolation until the test resulted.
Lastly, we were instructed to stay in our rooms until further notice, and to wear masks when opening to door.
They are currently working on a schedule to let us outside, as they recognize that staying in the room is incredibly difficult at times.
We are loving it – it is SUCH a huge upgrade from our last two weeks. I wonder how our apartment will feel?

I will be off to bed soon, as we’ll be interviewing with the Mark Davis show at 8am. I’ll continue to reply in the morning, and will get much speedier once I have my laptop hopefully tomorrow night!

I called my grandpa and mom, my wife called her family as well. We FaceTimed with one of my best friends as well as the best man to our wedding. We’ve been taking it easy, and are going to watch some American Netflix before bed.

Continue reading!

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