Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Hawaii Diaries - Day One

Below is part one of the long-awaited chronicles of our trip to Hawaii (yes, I know everyone has been waiting for this with bated breath). Unfortunately, this is the most boring part -- it's just about the long long long flight to get there -- but you've gotta start somewhere. Happy reading!

Friday, November 19

After eight long months of waiting, my parents and I were finally on our way to Hawaii. Although I had never been there and I had always wanted to go, self-absorbed as usual, I hadn’t even really anticipated the trip, being too worried about whether my recent decision to become self-employed was going to work out or whether life as I knew it had come to a complete halt. But now the day was here, although far too early, and I was happy to be going.

It took about 0.05 seconds for anxiety, everyone’s regular travel companion, to appear. At about 5:45 am my mother appeared in the stairwell, bleary-eyed, cup of coffee in hand.

“Can we leave at 7 am instead of 7:30? I couldn’t sleep and I’m worried because we don’t know the toll road that well and we’ve never used that parking lot …”

“Sure, Mom,” I said. It was way too early to even talk.

7 am rolled around, and both parents were already in a bit of panic mode. The plane was taking off at 10:20. We only had 3 hours and 20 minutes to get to the airport, park, take a shuttle, check bags, which most certainly were going to get lost, and make our plane. Since it took about an hour to get to the airport, that left two hours and twenty minutes for everything else to go wrong.

Turns out, I had to admit the extra time did come in handy. The skycap at Denver International simply could not comprehend that I too was going from Denver to Kona and not getting off in Los Angeles. He checked two of our bags only to LA, so after holding up the check-in line, which grew longer and longer behind us, we had to go to a special agent to fix his error. By now, even I, probably the most experienced flyer among us, felt that if our bags all made it to Kona it would be a minor miracle.

Even with that little mishap, we arrived at our gate with time to kill and everyone ready for breakfast. We ate, waited at the gate and boarded without incident – except the McDonald’s counter worker not understanding my mother’s dire need for coffee.

The plane from Denver to LA took off right on time and we landed early. First leg completed. We had two hours to kill so we drank beers in a microbrewery in the United Airlines terminal.

By the time we finally got on the plane, of course, some gadget on the pilot’s console was broken and we ended up sitting on the tarmac for an hour. The guy next to me, who had a beer belly and a penchant for Coors Light, kept asking “Are we there yet?” in a loud voice, ostensibly to entertain his son. I was pretty sure he was doing it specifically to annoy me, because clearly the entire world revolves around me.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally pushed away from the gate. We were on our way!

The plane ride was long – 5 hours and 15 minutes – and often bumpy. We had ravioli for dinner (not bad) and the movie was King Arthur (extremely bad). By the time we landed in Kona, it felt like I had done nothing else in my entire life besides travel to Hawaii.

But getting off the plane, 80 degree weather and humidity greeted us. The sweet scent of orchid leis wafted in the air and tank-top-wearing, sunburned people were everywhere, meeting friends and family. And best of all, all six pieces of our luggage, golf clubs and all, arrived intact. It all boded well for what was to come.

It was pitch black outside and we couldn’t really see a thing, except the flowers on the trees around the airport. It’s strange to arrive somewhere you have never been and have no idea what it looks like. Didn’t matter. After five minutes, I was ready to stay on forever.

The rest of the evening – it was about 8 pm in Hawaii by the time we rented our car and got it packed up – was spent checking in and getting groceries. We ended up with a perfectly sweet, two-bedroom (no pull-out couch in the living room for me! And my own bathroom!) unit in a flower-splashed area. Dinner was healthy -- some Maui potato chips and Coronas. It was 2 am for all of us and we were way tired. But tomorrow we were going to see where we actually were, what the golf course looked like and where the beach was. Sleep came easy.

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