Ah Hawaii … full of warm sand, gentle breezes flowing through towering, swaying palm trees, and the Pacific Ocean stretched out as far as the eye can see in glorious hues of blues and turquoises. See? Doesn’t it seem like a good idea?
Hawaii holds a special place for us. Husband was born there, has Hawaiian blood running through his veins, and we were lucky enough to call it home for three years. We moved away three years ago, trading in island life for 10 months in the rolling hills of northeast Kansas (which, in all honesty, we adored). We hadn’t been back to visit since we moved, so we decided to add it to our summer travels back in February. The plan: Fly from Germany to San Francisco, pick up our wayward kiddos after a fabulous six-week adventure with my parents, hop over to Hawaii for two weeks to visit Husband’s family and then head back in reverse order. A couple of days in Oahu, the rest of the time on the Big Island (Hawai’i). It seemed so easy.
Travel tip #1: Don’t move after you’ve bought your tickets.
So, there’s that. We bought through a third-party agency that shall remain nameless (there might be an R, and two Ts in front of the word “travel” in the name), who proved to be ridiculously less than helpful. When we simply inquired about changing our originating and return point from Frankfurt to London, we received a “Hell no, you can’t go!” Well, not really, but it was essentially a middle finger. Husband graciously sat on the phone with United for more than 40 minutes (I’ll be honest … after working in customer service, I despise customer service phone calls. I even make Husband call to make reservations for dinner), and was told a little more kindly that we would basically have to buy all new tickets. Nope.
Travel tip #2: Codeshare partners come in handy.
We ended up buying round-trip tickets from Frankfurt to London via Lufthansa. Not only were they cheaper than British Airways, they were also codeshare/alliance partners with United. When we checked in, we were able to check all the way through to San Francisco, which saved us the hassle of having to re-check in at Frankfurt. Win!
Travel tip #3: Check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self.
To paraphrase Husband, don’t break yourself before you travel. He managed to break his right collar bone, and get a hairline fracture in his left wrist about 10 days before we left. He doesn’t know how to sit back, relax and drink Mai Tais. He loves to swim, snorkel, boogey board and throw the kids around on the beach. Needless to say, his activities were slightly hampered by his soccer shenanigans, and I ended up sounding more like Nurse Ratchet than anything. Not cool, yo. Not cool.
Travel tip #4: Someone will inevitably barf … or go to the E.R.
Unfortunately, this trip consisted of anything and everything G.I.-related. The morning after we landed in Honolulu, Boy Child managed to make a spectacle of himself on the beach. He triumphantly declared later, “It’s now officially a Roman family vacation!” Unbeknownst to him, his grandmother would steal the limelight. Mom R. came down with a virus so badly that she ended up in the emergency room. Thankfully, she was okay and is much better now. Unfortunately, that E.R. trip would be repeated by Boy Child for the same bug, and then again by Girl Child who managed to develop an ear infection. We can expertly tell you where the E.R.s are in Hilo, Waimea and Millbrae, California.
Travel tip #5: In the end, it didn’t matter.
While we may have been ready to cry “Uncle!” at the end of the trip, in the end the craziness didn’t matter. We still had a great time with family. We managed to do a pancake tour (Cinnamon’s, Hawaiian Style Cafe, Ken’s Pancake House, and Millbrae Pancake House), see our old stomping grounds, drive around Oahu, have a brew at the Kona Brewing Company Koko Marina Pub and, most importantly, spend time together as a family with family. We were able to see Auntie and Uncle, and attempt to reduce the glare from our pasty legs (to which I failed miserably) in the hot Hawaiian sun. Hula Pie from Duke’s was had, and we saw the most spectacular glow from the crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at sunset. We found hilarity in the crowing roosters inside the Kurtistown post office, and joy in seeing my mom and dad one last time before we had to fly home to England.
I could write for days about the places to see and what to do in Hawaii, but I’ll leave that for another day and another flashback. But for now, I’m going to close my eyes and savor the feeling of the warm water rushing around my ankles as I wriggled my toes into the sand. Aloha.