Finally!

I woke up predictably early…after all, it was cruising day! Jim was still sound asleep and snug in the bed, so I went out on the balcony and started looking for signs of life.

OK, what I was really looking for was a ship! Between binoculars and a zoom lens, I was soon rewarded!

The hours before we left for the ship were pretty unremarkable. We ate breakfast in the club lounge, finished packing up, and actually had time to relax before it was time to leave for the ship. Confession — I felt guilty leaving without purchasing anything at the hotel, so I went down to the art gallery in the lobby and found some sea glass jewelry that I thought needed to leave Hawaii and go back to Houston.😂

I never said much about our hotel room. It was newly renovated and nicely furnished, but the real attraction was the view. The entire hotel was finishing up a major renovation, so things still had that new car smell. They had taken out the bathtubs and replaced them with walk-in showers which I thought was great! One thing I thought was strange was there was only one mirror in the room. It was over the vanity, but there was no electricity anywhere in the vicinity! Thank goodness I have a lighted travel mirror, or I’m not sure how I would have dried my hair. First World problems, right?

This would never get old!

One disappointment was the hotel laundromat had been taken out during the renovations. I was counting on using the laundromat to get our sweaty stuff washed before the cruise. As it was I ended up having to do a sink load on the ship.

Something I wasn’t expecting was the open air/non-air conditioned corridors. I wasn’t surprised that most of the hotel lobbies were open air, but I had expected hallways in high-rise hotels to be enclosed with A/C and they weren’t. I think that contributed a little to the room always feeling a bit humid and sticky. Still, we liked the hotel, the location was perfect for us, and we would definitely stay there again.

Our ride to the ship with Go808 Express was a few minutes late, but that was OK…it was a beautiful morning and our ship check-in time wasn’t until 11:30. Our driver was chatty and personable, and the ride to the terminal only took about 10 minutes.

Check-in and boarding were a breeze. We had a suite, so we never stood in a line of any kind. We were taken to a side room where there were snacks and drinks, and each suite was seated at a desk for check-in. Right about 11:30 the concierge spoke to the group then we were escorted onto the ship. It’s funny, after waiting so long I thought I’d be giddy with excitement when we boarded, but it really just felt normal.

We changed some of our dinner reservations, then had a leisurely lunch in Cagney’s. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit…I decided at that very first lunch on board that the Chicken Milanese was excellent and I ended up having it every time we ate lunch there!

We had to have dessert, because we were on a cruise ship which for us equals having to have dessert! We split a piece of carrot cake, which was delicious.

I’m going to put all the ship stuff here, because to be honest for us the ship was really just our hotel with several restaurants that sailed from place to place. We never made it to a show, there wasn’t a casino, and although we sat down in a bar a couple times for the most part our daily routine was get up, eat, tour all day, return to the ship, clean up, eat again, and sleep.

Many said the buffet was great. I couldn’t tell you, because we only stopped in once for a quick snack after an evening tour. I never even located the main dining room, because we ate all our dinners in the specialty restaurants. I went to the Shore Excursion desk once and Guest Services once. Both were reasonably quick and provided good service. Our room steward seemed efficient…we never formally met him and only saw him once. I guess that’s what happens when you have a butler to take care of you!

I’m not sure I would take the beverage package again. I really don’t think we were on the ship enough to get good value for our money. At most, we each had 2, maybe 3 drinks a day, and it would have been much less expensive to decline the package and just pay for our drinks.

Don’t bother upgrading your internet unless you plan to spend your days sitting on the ship working! We had cell service almost the entire trip save a few hours overnight when we were between islands. For the times we didn’t have service, the included internet was more than enough to cover it.

Our cabin was great! We were in 13518, a Penthouse on a small, quiet deck. We had tons of storage, a huge balcony, and one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. All the soft furnishings were in really good shape, and the cabin was immaculate.

What didn’t I like? The lighting at the vanity was awful (Once again I was thankful for my lighted travel mirror!), the railing for the balcony was way too high, and the bathtub was a lethal weapon. Seriously, I could have used a step ladder to get in that thing, showering while the ship was moving was an adventure, and I said many prayers before I got out. There was just no way to bathe and feel safe at the same time! Definitely not for the elderly, klutzes, or anyone else who values their life and limbs! The tub alone would cause me to choose a different cabin next time…one with a shower that doesn’t require gymnastic feats to enter and exit. I would choose a cabin with a walk-in shower!

The mirror over the vanity is lighted, but it doesn’t make it lighter!

Evil bathtub!

You can see in the reflection how high the rail was. There is a thick white rail above the normal brown rail…it was more like a ledge, and it was quite a bit higher than a regular rail. Idiot proofing?

We sailed at only 50% of capacity, so the ship never felt crowded. There was never a wait for an elevator, and I never saw any long lines for anything. I thought the staff was warm, friendly, and did everything they could to be helpful and provide great service. There were times we could tell someone was in training, but it in no way impacted our trip or our enjoyment.

I had been a little worried that after such a long wait and so many disappointments the cruise would be a let down, but it wasn’t at all. I will say if someone books this cruise expecting it to be like cruising in the Caribbean with lots of sea days and fun in the sun they need to find a different cruise. If people do their homework and understand what the ship is and what it isn’t they will have a great time. For us, the opportunity to see four islands without having to mess with airports, TSA, rental cars, and schlepping luggage around Hawaii was better than any casino or water slide!

My only gripes (and they’re pretty minor) were disappointment with the wine list and the open hours of the coffee bar. I had expected the specialty restaurants and the wine bar to carry a much wider choice of wine by the glass, but the list was the same (and very limited) in all the restaurants and at the Napa Wine Bar. As for the coffee bar, a 6:30 opening time is simply not early enough for this early riser!

Our muster drill location was out on deck (how did we get so lucky?🙄), and right after that we had a meet and greet with about 25 people from our FaceBook group page. It’s always nice to see some familiar and friendly faces around the ship!

Dinner was at Jefferson’s. I had the veal chop and Jim had the salmon. Both were great, and dinner was pretty much the end of the day for us. That night we started the habit of getting everything ready for the next day before we went to sleep, because we were off the ship early every morning.

As soon as I stretched out on the bed the motion of the ship rocked me to sleep. Next stop, Maui!

Oahu Through My Lens

We woke up at a slightly more reasonable hour on Friday. We were in no rush…we were taking a photography tour and our pick-up time wasn’t until 9:40.

We decided to have breakfast in the Kani Ka Pila Grille both to try some local specialties and to burn more of our resort food credit.

I had never heard of Loco Moco before I started researching Hawaii, but once I read about it I knew it was a must try. Loco Moco is rice topped with 2 beef patties, carmelized onions, mushroom gravy, and topped with a fried egg.😳 I opted for that while Jim had the Hawaiian Style Eggs Benedict. Oh, and we both ordered the smoothie of the day. Big mistake. We had enough food to feed a family of 5 with leftovers for another meal!

Da Loco Moco

Jim’s Hawaiian Style Eggs Benedict with our Blueberry-Banana Smoothies. The smoothies were thicker than milkshakes!

The van for our tour arrived right on time, and we joined one couple who had already been picked up. We were soon joined by a couple from Canada and a young man from Australia.

I quickly realized that this was not going to be like any of the other photography tours I had taken on vacations. Even though we saw some nice sights and enjoyed our guide, there was little that made it a photography tour other than the name on the van and the number of cameras aboard. I expected some discussion of settings for the conditions, or maybe some talk about framing or favorite shot tips from a local, but our guide (who was a very sweet young girl) didn’t provide any of that so in that aspect I was disappointed.

The most popular tours seem to be the longer sunrise tours, which we easily could have done Wednesday or Thursday. If I had it to do over again I would choose differently. Oh well, we don’t get a mulligan. It was still a pleasant day of seeing spectacular things.

Our first stop was Tantalus Lookout, where we had stopped with Kirk on Wednesday. Since I had those pictures already I switched to a wide-angle lens and also took a panoramic picture using my cell phone.

https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/oahu/puu-ualakaa-state-wayside/

Our next stop was at the Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside Lookout for a fantastic view of the windward side of the island. The place lived up to its name…it was very, very windy!

https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/oahu/nuuanu-pali-state-wayside/

So much for my hair-do!💨

After Nu’uanu Pali we headed to Waimanalo Beach and our lunch stop at Ono Steaks and Shrimp. Shack. This is a tiny place with a deservedly stellar reputation for the food. They were very busy when we were there, and there were few places to sit inside. I also thought it was uncomfortably warm inside.

Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack

Outdoor Eating Area

Jim and I ordered their smallest steak and shrimp plate to split (no appetite due to Da Loco Moco!) and happily grabbed a place to sit outside where there was shade and a slight breeze.

PSA: If you don’t like garlic, don’t order this meal. This is the most garlicky garlic shrimp I can imagine. Look at all the garlic!

Makapu’u Beach Lookout was our next stop. We spent a few minutes looking out over the stunning views of the coast. This was the only stop where I heard our guide make a comment about our photos. She pointed out her favorite view on the island.

Finally, we went to the lookout at the Halona Blowhole (not blowing when we were there) and Eternity Beach.

There was some nice spray at the Halona Blowhole, but the blowhole wasn’t blowing.

Eternity Beach

It was a pretty long drive back to Waikiki Beach through heavy Friday afternoon traffic. I might have caught a little nap on the way back!😴

I spent a couple hours reorganizing things for the cruise, then we were off to dinner at Roy’s. We had been trying to get back to Roy’s since our spectacular dinner overlooking one of the greens at Pebble Beach in 2009. For the most part the food didn’t disappoint, but I don’t think we will ever match the magic of the evening we spent at Pebble Beach. The only negative of the evening was a large, extremely loud, drunk group at a nearby table who seemed to think the entire restaurant wanted to hear their opinions on politics and women’s rights.🙄

We both chose the Prix Fixe menu, and had this meal including subbing the Hot Chocolate Melting Soufflé for one of the cheesecakes:

First Course

Second Course

Chocolate Soufflé

Cheesecake

We walked around a little bit after dinner and I finally picked up a couple magnets, but a Christmas ornament for our travel tree was avoiding us. Since we still had more than a week to take care of that I wasn’t too worried.

Something I haven’t mentioned that shocked both of us is how BUSY Waikiki was. When we were walking around at night we were amazed at how many people there were. It was a lot like being in any world-class city with great restaurants and hotels, interesting people, and high end shopping. The thing that set Waikiki apart and made it not like the others was the beach.

We didn’t linger on the Streets of Waikiki too long. We had packed a lot into 3.5 days, and we would have another day to explore Oahu before we flew home. I was ready to finish packing up to get on a cruise ship the next day! It would be the first time since we left the Ruby Princess on August 31, 2019, and I was more than ready!

Links:

Oahu Photo Tours — https://www.oahuphotographytours.com/tours/beautiful-hawaii/

Roy’s Waikiki — https://www.royyamaguchi.com/roys-waikiki-oahu#roys-waikiki-menus-1

Our Honolulu Triathlon — Biking and Hiking and a Luau!

We slept in on Thursday…all the way until 4:00! Darn jet-lag! The only positive was that we were going to bed so early we were still getting a decent amount of sleep.

We had planned something completely different for the morning — an e-bike ride and climb of Diamond Head. I was a little apprehensive about both activities but we put on workout clothes, grabbed a quick breakfast, and headed out. We had arranged a ride to the starting location with Charley’s Taxi, and were glad we did. It was a little further than it seemed on the map. It would have been a long walk trying to follow the blue dot on my phone to our destination in an unassuming building a few blocks away from the major hustle and bustle of Waikiki Beach.

The e-bikes took some getting used to, but they were a lot of fun! I thought the experience was kind of a cross between a bicycle and a moped, and I appreciated the assist on some of the hills! Most importantly, neither of us fell off, so that aspect alone made it a great day!😂

We started out riding along Waikiki Beach, stopping at places of interest for pictures.

Banyan Trees at Kapiolani Beach Park

Ryan, the owner of 808 eVentures was great! He was very patient while we learned to ride the bikes, and very patient with my pathetic, plodding pace while we climbed the volcano! He took lots of pictures along the way.

Along the ride to Diamond Head

I really enjoyed the bike part of this tour. It was fun zipping up the hills with ease! We arrived at the base of Diamond Head in one piece and got ready to start our climb.

Before

I’ll tell you right now that this was more difficult than I anticipated. The climb isn’t overly steep, but the terrain is very uneven and it was HOT!🫠 Add to that I should have chosen different shoes (I wore regular tennis shoes and had a hard time with my feet moving in the shoes) and the climb kind of kicked my butt! There really is no correlation between walking on a treadmill at an incline in air conditioning (my preparation method) and climbing an extinct volcano in full on sunshine!

This was about 1/4 of the way up, while we were still on the fairly flat, paved portion of the trail. If you look closely you can see people walking along the ridge. That’s where we were headed!

Still, I persevered and the views on the way up and at the top were well worth it!

Taking a break!

I had no problem following directions! The drop-off here looked scary!

These were the STEEP stairs to the bunker at the top. We chose the other route, which had more stairs but a gradual ascent.

Worth it!

The pink building is the Royal Hawaiian where we went for a luau Thursday evening.

What goes up must come down, and we were no exception! I thought the downhill hike was easier physically but a little more treacherous if that makes sense. There were lots of places where I thought it would have been easy to lose my footing or twist an ankle. Since I’m a klutz and I’ve had vacations impacted by my klutziness before I was extra careful. I was amazed at the people doing the climb in flip flops while I was wishing I wore hiking shoes!

We left Diamond Head and rode through some residential neighborhoods on the way to our reward for our efforts…a shave ice! We went to a tiny but popular place away from the tourist areas and all 3 of us had a delicious treat for less than $10 total. Most of the shave ice I saw in the tourist areas was at least double that!

After

Back at our hotel (we took an Uber) we decided on a light lunch at the Kani Ka Pila Grille. Unfortunately the concept of a “light” meal is foreign to them. I had an appetizer portion of coconut shrimp and a side salad, and even after some pretty strenuous morning activity I still thought it was too much food. Jim had what he called his first Poke Bowl of the trip, but I’m not sure he ever had another one so maybe it was his first and last!

Jim’s Poke Bowl with my coconut shrimp behind it.

This would have been a great time for laundry! Alas, the laundromat at the Outrigger Reef was taken out during the recent renovations, and taking an Uber or a taxi seemed like too much effort. We draped our hike and bike clothes on every available surface to let them dry before we banished them to sealed ZipLoc bags🤧, and decided a nap was in order.

I don’t think I slept, but I did rest for a while and I went through pictures, so I guess that counts as down time.

At 4:30 we were off to our next event, the Aha’aina Luau at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. It was a fairly easy walk from the Outrigger Reef — about 10 minutes or so.

Photo taken from the Royal Hawaiian website.

Photo taken from the Royal Hawaiian website.

The luau was pricy, but they all are. We debated a little, but finally decided since we hadn’t been to Hawaii before we needed to splurge.

We chose this luau for a couple reasons, and we thought we made a good choice. First and foremost, we wanted to attend a luau outside by the ocean, and the Aha’aina delivered. We also wanted something close to our hotel, so that eliminated a lot of the big names that required an hour on a bus in each direction. Hmm…walk vs. take a bus? It was an easy decision for us.

I thought the event was very well done! The luau takes place out in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with a view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head in the background.

The food was good, not great. They no longer have a buffet. Instead you are served a pre-plated meal. Three drinks each were included, and we both thought two was plenty.

Jim’s Mai Tai and my Pina Colada

First Course

Second Course

Dessert

The show was very entertaining. All in all it was a great way to spend the evening.

Once the luau was over we were done for the night. We walked back to the hotel and did a little souvenir shopping along the way but we didn’t find anything we liked, so we decided to save that for another day. We were looking forward to “sleeping in” since we had a later start to Friday’s Tour — a “Beautiful Colors of Oahu” photo tour with Oahu Photography Tours.

Links:

Charley’s Taxi — https://charleystaxi.com

808 eVentures — https://808eventures.com

Waiola Shave Ice — https://www.facebook.com/WaiolaShaveIce/

Aha’aina Luau at the Royal Hawaiian — https://www.royal-hawaiian.com/dining-overview/ahaaina-luau/

Aloha, Honolulu!

We had plans for all our days in Honolulu, starting with a Pearl Harbor and Honolulu tour on our first full day. In hindsight what I should have scheduled for the first day was something involving sunrise because we were up at 3:00, but I wasn’t thinking about jet-lag, just about fitting things in.

I guess one advantage of having jet-lag is you’re awake for sunrise. Actually we were awake for several hours of darkness before sunrise, but we were finally in Hawaii and didn’t really care. I peeked at sunrise from our balcony and sent Jim out to the beach alone to take some pictures. I decided a shower was much more important than sunrise!

Sunrise over Diamond Head.

Sunrise from the jetty at Outrigger Reef.

After a quick breakfast in the club lounge at the hotel we were off to meet our guide for the day, Kirk Hendricks.

Our fantastic guide!

We had a wonderful tour of the Honolulu area. Our tour guide, Kirk, was friendly and very knowledgeable. We went to numerous scenic overlooks, the National Cemetary of the Pacific, Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial, and then to some neighborhoods for local snacks. I highly recommend Kirk! It didn’t hurt that Kirk has an amazing, super comfortable car (2022 Audi Q7) and we travelled in style all day!

From Tantalus Lookout at Puu Ualakaa State Park.

From Tantalus Lookout at Puu Ualakaa State Park.

From Tantalus Lookout at Puu Ualakaa State Park.

Punchbowl Crater — National Cemetery of the Pacific

National Cemetery of the Pacific

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor — Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor — Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor — Arizona Memorial — Aft Gun Turret

Pearl Harbor — Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor — Arizona Memorial

Postcard of an overhead shot of the Memorial that clearly shows the sunken ship in the shallow waters of the harbor.

We drove through some neighborhoods and downtown after Pearl Harbor, debating what to do about lunch. In the end we decided we weren’t very hungry so Kirk took us to Chinatown where we wound up at Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery. We got some delicious and very inexpensive savory pastries to tide us over. Jim had Pork Hash, and I think what I had was called Char Siu Manapua which translates to pastry with barbecued pork inside. In other words, I had a kolache!

Bakery in Chinatown.

Outside the Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery on Manuakea St. in Honolulu.

We made one stop that wasn’t on a list of sights to see. We stopped at the grocery store so I could get a bottle of creamer for my coffee. That was where my jaw really hit the floor at prices…a bottle of Carnation creamer was SEVEN DOLLARS!😳 Ouch! I know groceries are high everywhere, but that’s more than $3.00 higher than the current inflated price at H-E-B!

We got back to the hotel around 3, which meant we had a very little down time before our dinner reservations. It felt good just to sit in one place and not be moving for a while!

We ate at Orchids at the Halekulani, which was an easy 2 minute walk from our hotel…right next door!🙂 One of the reasons I chose the Outrigger Reef was that we could walk everywhere in the evenings…no taxis, rental cars, or Ubers required.

This is probably a good time to mention I was surprised by how hot it felt to me in Hawaii. I thought it would seem like nothing after a Houston summer, but the difference is almost everything (restaurants, hotel lobbies and corridors, stores) is open-air or not air conditioned. I’m used to cooling off when I get inside, but that didn’t happen in Hawaii. I only remember one air-conditioned restaurant the whole trip. Anyway, back to dinner…

We have mixed opinions about Orchids. I thought it was great, but there was something about it that Jim didn’t love. I don’t think it helped that it was hot, we were very jet-lagged, and I insisted that Jim wear jeans because I thought Orchids enforced their dress code. At any rate, we had a very nice meal in a beautiful setting, but we sweated most of the way through dinner! It got better once the sun went down.

We ordered from the Prix Fixe menu to save money, but it was too much food for these tired travelers!

The gorgeous view from Orchids at dusk.

Sunset at Halekulani

The coconut cake was phenomenal, but we could barely keep our eyes open and only finished one piece. We took the other one back to our hotel, but never found an occasion (or the appetite!) to eat it!

Links:

Kirk Hendricks — https://www.toursbylocals.com/Private-Guide-Hawaii-Oahu-Honolulu-Top-Rated-Best-Spanish

Orchids at the Halekulani — https://www.halekulani.com/dining/orchids/

Has it Really Been That Long?

I’m back! Actually, I never left…I just stopped updating the blog. I think I got busy, then Covid hit and I lost interest for a while. At any rate, I was bored at 35,000 feet en route to Hawaii so I decided this trip would be a good time to make a comeback!

I’m not usually a numbers person, but I’m still shocked at how long we waited to take this trip. 1,184 days. That’s how much time had passed since we booked the flight we took on September 27. Don’t bother doing the math. I’ll save you the trouble. It was July 1, 2019.

901 days. That’s how long it had been since the flight we booked on July 1, 2019 was supposed to fly.

895 days. That’s how many days had been since I turned 60, which was the reason for the trip.

We were on the plane and still kind of in disbelief that my countdown clock finally hit zero!

My United widget finally hit zero!

Let me back up a little and explain how the whole idea of celebrating 60 in Hawaii came to be…

In June of 2019 I went to Annapolis for my nephew Jack’s induction into the Naval Academy. Jim stayed home because of that pesky thing known as work.

This picture was taken by the USNA.

My mom with Jack on I-Day

I was scheduled to fly home out of Washington National on a small plane using a short runway on a very hot day. I was all settled in with my belongings stowed when the gate agent boarded and said we couldn’t leave until 20 people volunteered to deplane. We were overweight because of the runway length and heat. That’s another number that kind of blows my mind. They had to get 20 people – over 25% of capacity – off a plane that holds 75.

Of course, compensation was involved. They started at $1,000 and nobody budged. I got Jim on the phone and had him pull up the United website to see if I could get home that day if the offer became irresistible, and I could. Several numbers were thrown out but they still weren’t having a lot of luck. The gate agent left and came back on a few minutes later with a firm and final $2,500 offer. I told Jim, “Gotta go,” grabbed my stuff and took the voucher! In other words, I took the money and ran! All told I think I got home about 8 hours after I was due and had to go through Chicago, but on an hourly basis I thought that was a pretty good use of my time. It was a good day for me, but expensive for United!

The day after I got home we were talking about what to do with the voucher (it had to be used within a year) and Jim came up with the idea of going to Hawaii (we had never been) and taking the Pride of America cruise that goes from Honolulu to Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. At the time my voucher was enough to cover the cost of one first class ticket and miles covered another. We booked the flight and the cruise and I started planning.

I’ve held on to this voucher for over 3 years in anticipation of this blog post!

Little did I know that by the time the voucher actually got used we would be making plans to travel to Annapolis for Jack’s commissioning!

Some things just aren’t meant to be, and some are meant to be, but not when we think they should be. So it was with our Hawaii trip. Covid had other ideas and we waited through multiple cancellations and disappointments, but we finally found ourselves at 35,000 feet at the start of a trip we thought might never happen. In a twist on the words of Red in my favorite movie Shawshank Redemption, “I couldn’t wait to see if Hawaii is as beautiful as it’s been in my dreams!”

We did have one glitch in the trip which ended up being a non-issue but could have been huge. We flew to Hawaii on September 27, 2022. Do you see a problem with this picture?

Oops! The valid license didn’t make it into Jim’s wallet!

Jim didn’t see a problem either until the agent at the TSA checkpoint casually mentioned to him his license was expired!😳 Thank goodness for very good friends who know the alarm code and where the spare key is hidden, and don’t mind risking life and limb (well, limb anyway) to hop the fence and retrieve Jim’s VALID driver’s license and his passport card for good measure!

I’m only telling this story because all’s well that ends well. If we were going out of the country I would have double checked for passports as obsessively as I double checked for vaccination cards, but I thought we were in the clear because we were staying in the US.

Knowing that we probably (not worth the risk!) couldn’t get on the ship without valid ID, our friend Charlie overnighted the IDs to us in Honolulu so we could continue to enjoy our vacation and I didn’t have to abruptly stop writing this blog when it had just barely been resuscitated!😰

The spelling wasn’t good, but it served its purpose! The package was on its
way long before we got to Honolulu!

Now, back to our many times rescheduled almost cut short by an expired license vacation!

The flight was long but amazingly uneventful. We were served lunch twice. The first one was pretty awful…a piece of rubber chicken with a way-too-vinegary rice and cabbage mixture, but the second one was actually good! It was a Japanese noodle salad and both of us liked it!

Rubber Chicken🤢

Lunch #2 was pretty good!

Would it be inappropriate for me to have flown in first class and whine about the plane itself? United should be embarrassed that they’re still using antique planes with a 2-4-2 “domestic first class” configuration on an 8-hour flight. Half of the seats face backwards! Granted they were lie-flat seats, but the seats actually felt cramped and there was NO storage at all. Anything more than our iPads and teeny (clutch sized) bags had to go overhead.

Despite the less than optimal first class cabin and the rubber chicken we made it to Hawaii 30 minutes early, our luggage arrived at baggage claim the same time we did, and our driver from Go 808 Express was waiting for us. You can’t ask for a travel day to go any better than that.

Nothing to see yet!

Pearl Harbor from the air.

Landing in Honolulu

I was ready if things went wrong with our checked bags! After reading about luggage woes all summer I equipped our bags with color-coded Air Tags so I could locate them if needed. I thought they were very accurate…when we were still in Houston I could see that our carry-ons were with us and the suitcases were on the plane but further away.

When you plan something as far in advance as I planned this trip and wait through multiple cancellations it can get built up in your head to be something the reality could never measure up to. I was worried about that, because with 2.5 years to obsess over the details and tweak things I expected to be wowed. You know what? I was! For the most part we liked/loved the choices we made, the weather was almost perfect, and Hawaii was even more beautiful than I imagined it could be.

We were already exhausted by the time we got to our hotel — Outrigger Reef on the Beach. It was a great choice! Our room was comfortable and newly renovated, we got a GREAT deal on a club-level room through Costco, and it met my #1 requirement…I had to be able to look out and see only ocean. After all, I had never been to Hawaii and that’s the main attraction! I wanted to make sure I saw the Pacific Ocean, not the busy streets of Waikiki Beach.

Who wouldn’t want to relax on their hotel balcony and see this?

Looking straight out we had the jetty and the ocean!

If we looked left we could see Diamond Head.

Our only goal for our first day was to stay up as long as possible to try to acclimate to the time difference. We went to happy hour in the Voyager 47 Club, and then decided to use some of our resort credit (thank you, Costco!) on dinner in the Kani Ka Pila Grille at the hotel. I guess it was good…I was too tired to really care! We ordered only appetizers and ate too much. The portion sizes were huge. We found that to be the case throughout the islands, which I guess is how they justify their prices?

From the Voyager 47 Club terrace at the Outrigger Reef.

From the Voyager 47 Club terrace at the Outrigger Reef.

Dinner at the Kani Ka Pila Grille

Dinner at the Kani Ka Pila Grille

At any rate, by the time we finished we could barely keep our eyes open. I think we both fell asleep about 8:00 and slept until 3ish which is a nice 7 hours of sleep for a completely different time zone!

Good night, Honolulu!

Up next…views, Pearl Harbor, and a little bit of exercise!

Links:

Go 808 Express (Ground Transportation) — https://go808express.com

Outrigger Reefhttps://www.outriggerreef.com

Kani Ka Pila Grille https://www.outrigger.com/landing-pages/services/orf-kkpg