Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Wonderful Block Leave

PHOTO: At PETCO Park in San Diego, California, on a wonderful tour of the home of the Padres. This was one stop on a great Block Leave vacation.

I sometimes forget that not everyone lives and breathes Army terms and events. I recently sent an email to my cousin talking about our upcoming leave plans and current events in our household ... and she promptly wrote back with a list of questions, including "What does block leave mean?"

So for my cousin and any others who may want to know, Block Leave is a period of time provided for Soldiers and their Families, usually just before and just after a deployment, to enjoy some time away from everyday work. "Block" because the entire unit is provided this opportunity at the same time and "Leave" because the Soldier is on official "leave" from the Army. In other words ... vacation!

We have taken a majority of our Block Leave times from Fort Hood, Texas. We have enjoyed several great places near our home, including San Antonio (can't beat the FREE admission to Sea World for active duty military) and Wimberley (fun little B&B town in the Texas Hill Country), but really love to take the opportunity to travel and see something new.

We’ll also include trips to see family and friends that we haven’t seen in awhile … Atlanta and Savannah are favorites for us (it’s very cool to have family living on Skidaway Island on the Georgia coast!) … and to see family that lives close by. Because my husband and I both grew up in Texas, and a vast majority of our individual families are still in Texas, we are able to spend time with our immediate families as well.

As our boys grow older – and begin having opinions of their own – are leave plans are changing somewhat. After this deployment, we had a good family discussion about where we would like to visit for Block Leave. “Alaska!” and “Hawaii!” were immediate, simultaneous suggestions … then Washington DC, Maine, the Grand Canyon, and San Diego were added to the list. In true military fashion, we listed out the pros and cons of each location and eventually decided on San Diego. The boys were thrilled about a plane ride (their first since they were babies), and could not wait to see Legoland.

As I write, the boys are sleeping in their hotel room on the Pacific coast after a very fun first day in California. We spent the entire day at Legoland and Legoland’s “Sea Life” aquarium (both fabulous and highly recommended!) and have a few more days already full of things to do from our “Go San Diego” book of ideas.

All in all, a great trip so far. I’ll be back with more as we experience this wonderful Army tradition of Block Leave …

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