Aloha Hawaii

Well, it's back to reality/work today as my two week trek off to Hawaii has come and gone.  A wonderful time was had by all including myself, even with some unexpected events.  As time permits I will be documenting my adventures in the hopefully not too distant future.

Well okay, it did take me some time to get this reasonably well documented.  Here it is more than three months later!  Fortunately I outlined the trip as best as I could as soon as we got back.  From there it took a lot of work to fill in the holes, write the text, track down some good links and get the pictures online.  I still have more photos that need to be added and I will likely need to update this entry again to add some links for those.  But in the meantime, what follows pretty well documents our trip.  

Week 1: Hawaii The Big Island

Day One: Sunday July 11th
3am.  Argh…it's early.  Particularly being we didn't go to bed until 12:30am.  The van is packed and ready to roll.  Just a few more things and loading the peoples and we're off.  It's an early flight…with little ones…and having to park the van and hop the shuttle back to the terminal requires an extra early start.  Fortunately everything went off without a hitch.  It was off to Chicago where we met up with the bulk of my family.

It's a long flight from Chicago to Honolulu, particularly with two little ones.  Claire was sniffling a bit and not feeling quite well, thus she didn't sleep much and did fuss a bit.  Overall though, both Claire and Olivia were pretty good…pretty good, but still grating Dad's nerves none the less!

The airport in Honolulu proved to be rather confusing as there were few signs that would guide you to the inner-island airlines.  After getting to where we needed to be, we realized we still needed boarding passes for the flight to Kona.  So in full fire drill mode, we scurried to get everyone squared away…almost.  Due to some check-in problems with some of my family and my brother's family, we didn't quite make it to the gate before they closed the flight.  Actually it was the [insert female explitive] at the gate refused to hold  the flight for another minute while my wife and brother trodded down the hall from the reservation desk.  This being while I was standing right there at the gate as the very nice person at the reservation desk called down to let the [insert female explitive] at the gate know to hold the flight because it was their problem.  But to no avail, the flight closed and left without us even though my wife and brother were less than 100 yards from the gate..  Gee, Thanks.

At this point we were told that we would be listed as standby for the next flight, but there were currently seats available.  A short while later we were assured that we would have seats.  Let's just say it's been a long day at this point, and we did get on the next flight without incident.  Once we arrived in Kona, the long travel and difficulties were quickly forgotten.  Walking off the plane it became quite apparent that it was going to be well worth it.  It was very hot and humid.  I was quite happy as it's the type of weather I love, but don't see nearly enough of in Buffalo.  My initial thought as we left the plane and entered the airport was that I was at a zoo.  Not because it was crazy like in Honolulu, but it was largely an open air facility with little huts and such that you typically see at a zoo.  At this point we also caught up to my sister Melanie and her family who were traveling from Dallas to Honolulu via Los Angeles.

The luggage and rental vans retrieved, we loaded up and headed up the Kona coast to our home away from home for the week, Aston Shores at Waikoloa.

Once at Aston Shores and checked in, the long distance travel finally caught up to everyone…particularly the younger children.  In the interest of getting everyone back on track for tomorrow, a search party was dispatched to find some carry-out food.  This worked out well until we learned that the several pizza's we ordered were being cooked one at a time and ended up taking far longer than we were told it would.  Thus the attempt at getting back on a schedule was derailed.  Hey, it happens, but we're in Hawaii so it doesn't really matter now, does it?  And after the delay, the pizza turned out to be far from spectacular but suited its purpose of filling the empty stomachs and everyone called it a night.

Day Two: Monday July 12th
On our first full day everyone was looking to unwind and relax.  The bulk of the day was spent hanging out at the pool where more than one of the kids got a bit more sun than they should have.  This included my son Colin who, although a bit crispy, was not as bad off as some of the others.  So right off the bat we had broken rule #1 of pastey white folks in Hawaii!  So a new rule was imposed on Colin; no more swimming without his new surf shirt.

The only other big event of the day was being part of the grocery expedition.  Once again comedy ensued when we drove past the plaza with the grocery store.  Upon returning to the main road and continuing on, it became rather apparent that it had to be back in the area we had past.  After failing to get my father's attention in the van ahead of me, I stopped and turned around.  Sooner or later he would realize that there was nothing out in the lava field we were driving across!  So a bit later we all did meet up again at the grocery store.  Amusingly enough, not the one we were told was there, but a suitably overpriced alternative.

In a "this is wonderful" moment, my wife and I were fortuanate enough to have one of my sister volunteer to watch our kids so we could go out to dinner.  A real dinner for two at a real restaurant!  A definate treat for us, as it had been several months since we had been out by ourselves.  In a single income household that requires baby sitting for a two and three year-old, this is a rare treat indeed.

We opted to go to the Coast Grille Restaurant at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel.  We sat out on the terrace balcony that provided us a wonderful ocean view.  There was a nice breeze (as there always in in this area), but it was a quite hot until the sun began to go down.  Just as we finished our dinner we enjoyed a wonderful sunset before leaving the restaurant.  It was still early so we made our way through this lovely hotel and down to Hapuna Beach to go for a walk.  One thing we did note along the way was that this hotel has an absolutely spectacular "infinity pool" that overlooks the beach and ocean.  So onto the beach, off with the shoes and a very nice walk to the end of the beach and back with my lovely wife.  A very wonderful end to our first full day in Hawaii.

Day Three: Tuesday July 13th
With everyone well rested and ready to go, it's "Volcano Day"!  The distances to various places on in Hawaii aren't overly large, but the road and terrain make much of it slow going.  Add to this the time it takes to stop and enjoy the various sites and this adds up to the need for an early start as the first order of the day.  And of course, being the one with the two littlest one's, we were about 10 minutes behind our designated start time.  Oh the horror!  ;)  This probably aggrevated me far more than anyone else because I don't like to be late and it's rare that I am.  (Later in the week after being late for just about everything, we discovered the clock in our condo was 10 minutes slow!  Mystery solved.)

Heading south along the west coast, our first stop was Napo'opo'o Beach Park located on Kealakekua Bay.  This is a very rocky beach with a pretty good surf pounding it.  Certainly not a place to play in the water.  Another big thing you will find here are crabs…lots and lots of little crabs scurring along the rocks.  And although it's pretty far across the bay, you can also see the Captain James Cook's Monument across the bay.

After a long steep climb back up to Highway 11 (Mamalahoa Highway), we drove further south before stopping at a roadside restaurant for a quick breakfast and then on to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach.  By the time you get this far south on the Big Island, it gets pretty rural and frankly wonderful!  From this beach you have wide sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.  The obvious big feature of this beach is its black sand.  The result of hot lava exploding into small particles when it hit the (relatively) colder ocean.  Very unique and quite beautiful.  The other big draw here are the sea turtles that come here to lay eggs.  There were a number of turtle just offshore in the water and one that was up on the beach.  You can get fairly close to them, but it is illegal to get closer than (I believe) 15 feet to them.  Which is a good idea because people are just stupid and would likely be sitting on them if they could!  You can find some nice shots of this location here.

From Punalu'u we headed to the far southern end of the Big Island to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  This was the primary reason for coming to the Big Island…my mother wanted those of us who had never been to Hawaii to see the volcano.  There is a lot to see and do here and we took in as much as we could.  The one significant exclusion would be driving down to the ocean to try and see a lava flow.  (In hindsight we wouldn't have seen much if anything had we made the trek.)  This was largely a time issue as we also wanted to make a couple of stops on the way back up the eastern side of the island.

So to see what we could and still have some time for the return trip, we drove around Crater Rim Drive (Fantastic Overview) which allows you to visit pretty much all of the key features within the park.  As nice as the weather was the entire time we were in Hawaii, the weather in the park was pretty dreadful.  In short, chilly, very, very windy, mostly rainy and fairly foggy.  Not the ideal weather, but we would not be deterred.  Anyhow, we started at the Kilauea Visitor Center where we watched a short movie about the volcano and got the nickel disertation on the park's history.  Working our way counterclockwise, our first stop was the Steam Vents…which should be pretty much self explainatory.  It provided an opportunity to get warm, but the fumes are not healthy for you and it is steam after all so you can get burnt if you're not careful.  Our next stop was at Kilauea Overlook where you can look into Kilauea's caldera.  Just after this, we stopped along the road.  From there we tromped out across a lava field, into several crevices and got to see a number of steam vents.  It just seemed to go on and on, but unfortuantely we had to turn back.  Continuing on, we stopped at Pu'u Pua'i Overlook where you can see deep into the Kilauea Iki Crater.  Truly a stunning view!  From here we moved on to the Thurston Lava Tube.  One thing we immediately noticed as we got towards this area of the park was the change in landscape.  The West/Southwest area of the park is very dry and desolate.  There's some scrub vegitation, but for the most part the lava flows have wiped out all life in the area.  Only after many years does any substantial new growth of any kind begin.  On the East/Northeast side things are very lush and tropical.  Quite the contrast.  You're on the moon and then you are in the Amazon.  Once at the lava tube you can follow the trail and walk through…assuming you can find a place to park!  Sort of a log jam where you have to wait for a car to leave so you can park.  But well worth the wait as it's pretty cool.  There was once section that is closed off by a gate that you can enter if you want, but with two little ones and no flashlights, we passed.  You really need to go here to appreciate what you see in the pictures.  It's far, far better than my lame explanations could ever convey!

Having "done the volcano", we decided we would stay and have lunch at the Volcano House where we opted for the lunch buffet in the Ka Ohelo Dining Room.  The view is truly amazing as the dining room overlooks the Kilauea Caldera and Halemauamau crater.  And the food?  ACK!!!  This was easily one of the worst dining experiences we've ever had and certainly our worse during our time in Hawaii.  It was $14 per person —which in Hawaii is actually a pretty reasonable deal, and the food was mostly just dreadful!  And it gets better…it's $14 for everyone.  Thus I paid $28 to have a 2 and 3 year old pick at a plate of really bad food.  So after parting with $70 plus tax for the five of us and still being hungry, we began our return journey to Waikoloa.

We continued our counterclockwise journey around to the east side of the island where we stopped to visit Akaka Falls State Park and Kahuna Falls.  Truly a lush tropical paradise.  I'd recommend taking some time to peruse these really nice pictures.  Or at the very least, take a peek at this picture of Akaka Falls.

It had already been a very full day, but we still had a long drive to get back to the condo in Waikoloa.  From this point on it was mostly just a lot of up, down and around driving taking in the sites as we drove back.  There's a lot to see, but there's only so much time in the day.  I guess next time I'll have to spend more time on the Hilo side of the island!  ;)

Day Four: Wednesday July 14th
After yesterday's grand tour around the island, everyone was looking for a little R&R.  So most of us spent the morning lounging around at Hapuna Beach.  This was the beatiful beach where Mary Lou and I took a stroll after dinner on Monday night.  It was a beautiful day as usual, but we quickly learned about being on the beach on the windward side of the island.  It's dry, it's sunny and get this, windy!  At times really windy.  Wind on a beach always leads to the chance of sand in the eyes, but some of the wind gusts would literally sandblast your skin.  Yow!  Dermabrasion anyone?  Not to be deterred, a good time was still had by all.

We returned to the condo for lunch and lounged around the pool later in the afternoon.  In the evening my wife, the girls, my father and I went to Kona Brewing Company for dinner.  For my father and I, a brewpub is like a HUGE magnet…not that it takes much convincing to get Mary Lou to go either!  I found out about Kona Brewing Company while reading Hawaii The Big Island Revealed so this was a preplanned, "must visit" destination.  (SIDEBAR: If you are going to the big island I would highly recommend this book.  Same is true for their Maui Revealed book if that is your destination.)  You can view their menu if you would like.  We had the Roasted Garlic appetizer and Dad and I started with the Fire Rock Pale Ale while Mary Lou had a Hula Hefweizen which was also a good choice.  (Click here for what's on tap.)  Moving on to dinner we opted for a couple of pizza's: Kona Wild Mushroom and a Puna Pie.  Dad I of course moved onto a heavier beer: Black Sand Porter which required a couple of servings to really appeciate! ;)

After rolling back from the table it was time to pickup some souvenirs.  Although a "Lava Man Red" t-shirt seemed appropriate for PolarLava and I liked the design, I couldn't bring myself to buy a shirt for a beer that a) I hadn't tasted and b) I'm not a big fan of "red" beers in general.  So in the end I opted for the very cool Fire Rock Pale Ale shirt instead.  I had had the beer, would proceed consume several more bottle while in Hawaii and I liked the volcano design.  I also picked up a single Kona Brewing Company pint glass as I've sort of started collecting these.  I also aquired a few coasters that they threw in for free.  Ah…BURP!  Time to call it a night.

Day Five: Thursday July 15th
This day began by just hanging out by the pool, which seems to be a pretty good trend actually!  This is because we had scheduled a helicopter volcano flyover trip for the afternoon.  This would be a very long and expensive trip from Waikaloa, so we booked the Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls tour with the highly recommened Blue Hawaiian Helicopters leaving from Hilo.  This meant we would need to make the long drive around to the other side of the island.  To say it was worth it would be a huge understatement.  This roughly 45 minute trip took us right over the volcano where we could see lava flowing in tubes through a skylight opening.  There wasn't any significant surface flow the day we went, but you could see some of it spilling out from underground and into the ocean.  This was truly an incredible way to really see the volcano, the coast, the waterfalls and the surrounding area.  Suffice to say, a good time was had by all.  If you want to know more about Hawaii's volcanos and/or an update on their activity, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) website.

Day Six: Friday July 16th
It had been a pretty event filled week thus far, so we spent this day just hanging out.  You know, the usual…sitting around the pool, drinking beer…just another day!  A man could get VERY used to this way of life!

Day Seven: Saturday July 17th
The bulk of our final day on the big island was spent snorkeling at Pawai Bay Marine Preserve with Body Glove Hawaii Cruises.  I'm not much of a waternik and although I didn't get sick, I basically felt pretty shitty the whole day.  It was worth the minor suffering I did as the snorkeling was really a fun time.  This was the first I've ever snorkeled so doing so in such a wonderful location was a real treat.  Not sure what else to say, saw fish, saw dolphins, saw lots of funky bottom dwellers.  The only bummer for me was my sister later told me she saw a manta ray that was pretty good size.  That I would have liked to have seen.

After snorkeling, I spent the remainder of the day firmly planted on the terra firma mostly just hanging out and getting ready to leave for Maui tomorrow.

Week 2: Maui

Day Eight: Sunday July 18th - Destination Maui
After a wonderful and full week of running around, it was time to say goodbye the big island of Hawaii and say "Hello Maui!".

In a happily uneventful travel day, we caught our flight for the short hop over to Maui.  After retrieving our luggage and rental vans, we made our way to The Kapalua Villas, dramatically self-described as "Overlooking the dramatic emerald fairways of Kapalua's Bay Course".  Which was a very accurate description as we learned upon our arrival at our condo.

As much as we enjoyed our accomodations on the big island, we were very thrilled with our new split-level condo arrangement here on Maui.  The entire complex is build up the side of the mountain with 3 holes of the Bay Course between the condos and the ocean.  Our unit was a second level unit, with a loft master bedroom on the third floor.  From our bed I could sit up in the morning and look through the trees and out over the Pacific Ocean.  Yeah, I guess this is okay.  ;)

We didn't do much else on this day as it was spent largely getting settled into our new accomodations.  One very memorable event was going out our our balcony after the kids had gone to bed and stargazing with Mary Lou.  It's very dark on the golf course and the sky here was so clear that you could see thousands of stars.  A very relaxing and incredible sight.

Day Nine: Monday July 19th
The day started with getting packed up to head out to Kapalua Beach.  While packing the van I discovered that the front right tire was nearly flat.  What to do, what to do???  Hey, it's a rental and we're only going a couple of miles…

Once at the beach I got the family settled in on the beach and went back to the parking lot and fixed the flat.  After this little detour it was back to the beach which was…you guessed it wonderful!  Sorry everything was "wonderful", but it really was!  We swam for a quite a while and I did a reasonable amount of snorkling also.

Keeping our promise to ourselves to relax this week, we headed back to the condo to kick back and relax.  This was pretty much our modus operandi for the week.  As much as we enjoyed everything we saw on the big island, we knew Maui would be more secluded and quiet, thus less activity oriented.  Later in the day the rental company brought out another van and exchanged it.

Day Ten: Tuesday July 20th
This day unfortunately started off with me suffering from some intestinal discomfort, intestinal earthquakes if you will, but after breakfast I seemed to be feeling a bit better.  So we stuck with our plan of going swimming at the The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.  This hotel is part of the Kapalua properties like our condo, thus you can use any of the facilities located there.  This is a fairly swanky hotel with a very nice three-tiered swimming pool.  Once there we scouted out the pool area and opted to hang out at the middle pool.  We were having a very nice time except after a while my insides started to churn again.  I decided I would hike up to the hotel store and see if I couldn't find something to quell the churning.  A good idea that went downhill very fast.  By the time I made my way to the lobby I could hardly stand, was very dizzy and felt as if I was going to pass out.  After sitting in the air conditioned lobby for a bit I found my way to the store and bought some medication.  Still was feeling lousy, I began the trek back down to the pool to retrieve my family.  Unfortunately I really needed to go back to the condo and lie down for a while.

As we learned when we first entered the hotel, you have to go through a maze to get from the hotel lobby to the pool area.  Just as I came down the right walkway, I saw my wife and the kids just about to go into the hotel from the left walkway!  I yelled at my son who just heard me.  By this time I was trying to stay upright when I really just wanted to lie down.  But that would be a bit as I had to shepard the kids out to the van —carrying the youngest one, while my wife went back to retrieve towels and the like.

After returning to the condo I promptly crawled into bed and alternated from overheating to freezing.  In short, I passed out for the next several hours.  Upon awakening, I was pretty exhausted but not as sick as I had been.  I originally opted to skip dinner, but my hunger finally convinced me to try to eat some soup…which actually helped quite a bit.  By the end of the evening I was feeling almost normal again.  Very strange, but thankfully over.

Day Eleven: Wednesday July 21st
I woke up Wednesday morning feeling under the weather again, but stable enough that we decide to venture out.  Our first destination was the Farmer's Market at the Kahului Shopping Center.  Here we aquired some fresh salad greens, sprouts, Maui sweet corn and some Haiku honey.

After dropping off our market finds we set out to explore the remote north/northwest end of the island.  The highlight of this was to be the Nakalele Blowhole.  The girls were sleeping when we got there so Mary Lou stayed with them while Colin and I ventured down to the coast to check it out.  Unfortunately the surf was very calm, thus the blowhole, wasn't blowing!  Still very scenic though.  I had hoped that we could could see it raging like this guy did.  Oh well.  I made it here and the drive up was very nice, but it was time to head back.  My internal problems began to flair up again of and on.  I'd feel fine for a while and then the internal quaking would begin again.  Thus it was back to spending another afternoon in bed. :(

After sleeping for a couple of hours I was feeling somewhat better, but realized I should probably see a doctor.  We had nearly 3 days left and I didn't want to ruin what was left by being in this oscillating state of feeling good/feeling sick.  So after pawning the kids off on my sister, Mary Lou and I headed off for my appointment at Doctors On Call over at the Hyatt Regency Maui.  Unfortunately, their office at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua closed at 5pm. The Doctors On Call people were very friendly, but couldn't do much to help to me.  While at their office I had three "attacks".  Basically I would feel fine and then my intestines would start quaking and I would have very sharp abdominal pains.  (Like you really wanted to know this!)  Two of these attacks where while I was with the doctor.  His assessment?  Either an acute gastrointestinal virus or appendicitis!  Great.  His recommendation was to go the hospital for further test because if it were appendicitis, we all know what would need to be done.  More great news.  So it was off to the hospital on the other side of the island…

It was late in the evening by this time and I was once again feeling okay.  Mary Lou had not eaten all day so we stopped at Maui Tacos so she could get something to eat.  Although feeling better, Mexican wasn't something I really desired at this point in time.  This was until she ordered two HUGE burritos —a "Haiku" and a "Paia" I believe.  So while I was vacillating between life and death on our way to the hospital, she tortured me by eating one of these monsters while I drove!  Definately not fair as I had talked about going there for lunch at some point, but hadn't made it there, nor would I.  (It's making me hungry just thinking about now, more that 3 months later!)  :(

Upon arriving at Maui Memorial Medical Center I checked in and waited…and waited…and waited some more as I really wasn't dying at this point of course!  When I finally did get in they started pumping me with fluids via an IV because I has started to get dehydrated from not eating or drinking much.  Then I had to drink a quart of this metallic orange "contrast material" before having a CT (CAT) Scan.  While waiting for scan results —they had to be transmitted to the mainland to be read, I continued with my IV.  Fortunately it came back negative and I only need to finish up my IV before I could leave.  Disaster averted.  Thank God for insurance because this little "island adventure" cost $4157.00!  But I did get this lovely little souvenir:

Kevin's ID bracelet from Maui Memorial Medical Center

Day Twelve: Thursday July 22nd
I awoke this morning feeling much better, but still rather tired from the previous couple of days adventure.  We headed out fairly early for Lahaina to have breakfast at Longhi's which gets rave reviews everywhere…except here that is!

Breakfast at Longhi's was a pretty sad affair for us.  Nearly as bad as our experience at the Volcano House.  The food was alright, but certainly not spectacular, but then again we are talking breakfast so I'll cut them some slack on that.  They don't offer a kids menu so you have to order ala carte for the little ones.  So the girls each had a single pancake.  Not too difficult, but when the bill came they had charged us the $9+ for two standard 3-stack pancake plates!  This was never mentions by the less than courteous waiter.  Gee, how generous.  On top of this my wife and I are vegetarians so my wife ordered her breakfast without the included ham.  This request was fulfilled…at an additional cost of $0.50!  Apparently it must be quite labor intensive to exclude this item.  When my wife enquired about this the waiter gave here the "non-standard order, blah, blah, blah" then offered to remove it from the bill.  After declining his offer and paying the bill we tipped our gem of a waiter appropriately: $0.00.  You earned every cent of it you smug jerk.

After our breakfast escapade we wandered around the various shops on Front Street and purchased some souvenirs.  My big aquisition was a Rob Spenser Raku vase.  We then made our wayto the Banyan Tree which provided a nice photo op.  We wandered along the waterfront to look at the boats and then headed back to Kapalua for some more R&R.  We did make one stop on the way back, The Fish Market at Honokowai.  Here we purchase some fresh shrimp for dinner.  Hopefully my insides would allow this treat.

We spent the afternoon lounging by the pool (as always) before Mary Lou fixed us a wonderful shrimp dinner including our finds yesterday from the Farmer's Market.  My insides were good to me, thus the shrimp was very good as was the incredible Maui sweet corn!

Day Thirteen: Friday July 23rd
Boo hoo…our last full day of fun and sun before we head home.  I was up bright and early as Colin was hoping over to Oahu with his Uncle John and his son Patrick for a quick trip for the three of them to go to Pearl Harbor.  We opted to go to the Plantation House for a very nice leisurely breakfast.  And it was very nice except the very persistent birds looking from something to eat!

After breakfast we did some final shopping, mostly for the girls at The Kapalua Shops where we had a $100 gift certificate that was given to us when we checked in.

We returned to the condo and recruited my father to go with me to pick up some good bread at the grocery store and Pacific Rim Chowder from The Fish Market in Honokowai.  The previous day when we bought the shrimp, Mary Lou had seen this chowder as the soup of the day and though that would be nice for lunch.  They told her they started cooking it in the morning and that it would be ready for sale at about noon but it often sells out quickly, thus we had planned to be there to pick it up ASAP.  Upon arriving shortly after noon, we learned that it wouldn't be ready for about another hour!  Welcome to island life!  So instead of hanging out or driving back to Kapalua, Dad and I opted to go to the Fish and Game Brewing Company and Rotisserie.  We had driven past the place many times during the week, but just hadn't found the time to get there and had written it off.  But *fate* intervened and presented a Penguin XX Imperial Stout as a tasty reward!  Unfortunately we only had time for one before we had to head back to The Fish Market to retrieve the chowder.

We arrived back at the market just as they were ready to start serving, so we procured 2 quarts and headed back to the condos, now a good 1-1/2 behind schedule!  Upon our arrival a serious chow(der)fest ensued.  This stuff was truly phenomenal and it was easy to see why it would sell out so fast.  Even with our eager appetites there was enough left over to send with Dad for dinner.  For Mary Lou and I wouldn't need it because were were going to the laua…

That's right, it's off to the obligitory Hawaiian vacation event!  These things are everywhere and it really is a matter of quality versus cost.  For us the tradeoff was the luau at the Maui Marriott Resort & Ocean Club.  I honestly didn't have any particularly desire to go, but it was one of the few events this week that nearly the whole crew attended.  Because of the long lines at Pearl Harbor, it looked like Colin wouldn't be joining us.  But my brother-in-law John said he would drop him off as soon as they got back.  Not a big deal and certainly not necessary, but a very nice gesture on his part.  And actually it worked out very well as they arrived only about 15 minutes after we sat down.  So we had a couple drinks, ate —mmm, paste 'er I mean poi and watched the show.  A good time was had by all and it made a fitting end to our two week adventure.

Day Fourteen: Saturday July 24th
Our flight didn't leave until later in the afternoon so we had plenty of time to pack in the morning and lounge around the condo.  It was kind of sad that our trip was over, but it had also been a long two weeks and being home would be nice once we got there.  So we packed up, checked out and headed toward the airport.  We stopped for some lunch and to kill some time at a small shopping plaza before returning our rentals and checking into our flight.

Once on board we settled in for the long flight to Chicago.  While in flight Saturday became Sunday…

Day Fifteen: Sunday July 25th
The girls did wonderfully as this was largely a night flight so they slept most of the way.  We also had a strong tailwind that shaved about an hour off the flight.  This was somewhat of a mixed blessing as we already had a 3 hour layover scheduled in Chicago.  Once we arrived in Chicago we said our goodbyes to my parents and siblings who live there.  We then trudged off to find our connecting gate.

I looked at the departure board and found there was an earlier flight leaving for Buffalo in about an hour and a half.  Quick Batman, to the reservation desk!  We were allowed to switch to this flight on a standby basis but were told there were plenty of seats available.  Just like that we had cut our layover by about 60%.

We hopped our flight without incident and returned to a very cool 50° morning in Buffalo!  Before we left home the summer had been wet and cool, but it looked like some warm dry weather was arriving just as we left for Hawaii.  As I would later learn, this was not the case at all and it actually had been very cold and rained nearly the whole time we were gone!  We retrieved our luggage and the van and headed for home.  Everyone was very out of sorts because of the time change and jet lag, thus we snoozed on and off the whole day.  It took several days before everyone had their sleep clocks straightened out.  All in all we had had an absolutely wonderful time on this vacation.  Thanks Mom & Dad!  The only real lingering question is when can we go back?  ;)

July 26, 2004 @ 12:40 pm | Category:
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