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!
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.
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.
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?
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!😰
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!
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.
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?
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?
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!
Up next…views, Pearl Harbor, and a little bit of exercise!
Go 808 Express (Ground Transportation) — https://go808express.com
Outrigger Reef — https://www.outriggerreef.com
Kani Ka Pila Grille — https://www.outrigger.com/landing-pages/services/orf-kkpg