By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 6/17/2019
Posted: 4/24/2010
Topics/Keywords: #Hawaii #Kauai #Lihue #Travel Page Views: 3568
Michael and I fly to Honolulu and then Lihue for our Hawaiian vacation!

Today was a travel day, spent flying 3000 miles from Phoenix to Kauai, the 4th largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago.

As usual, the traveling started last night, when I finally got my packing done. I didn't pack just clothes. Clothes are easy. But I had to load dozens of albums of music onto my flash drive (which almost all newer cars accept as input to their stereo systems), burn a handful of CDs in case we get a rental car that doesn't read my flash drive, and take a fistful of DVDs from NetFlix to watch in our room at night, where our host has thoughtfully included a DVD player.

Then, there's the electronics. I'm borrowing Michael's netbook (a small laptop) so I can blog along the way. I'm also bringing my new Garmin GPS so we can find our way around. (My old Tom Tom GPS was a lifesaver in Maui last year, despite its certainty that I should take a road where there was, in fact, a sheer cliff.) There's also the noise canceling headphones for the flight, and my Canon Powershot G10 digital camera, and its waterproof bag (used last year rafting in Alaska). Plus various chargers and car adapters.

I had bought a new gym bag for the trip but it was too small for all that stuff, plus clothes. So I had to resurrect the rolling duffel I last used in Maui.

By 12:30 this morning, I was done and went to bed.

Michael had not yet started packing. I warned him that if he wasn't ready when we had to leave I would be going without him. But by the time I woke up at 8:30, he was packed. I think he slept for six or seven minutes.

Still, that left us time to run some errands (bank, post office, Wal-Mart) before we had to leave the house at 11:30. In fact, we actually left early! Jenny drove the SUV and got us to Sky Harbor Airport in plenty of time.

I had printed out all the travel documents we would need, except our boarding passes. I checked us in last night online with no problem, but every effort I made to print the boarding passes failed with a cryptically-worded apology and the suggestion that I get my passes at the airport. I was a bit apprehensive over that, but US Air has redesigned their check-in section, with lots of kiosks but also plenty of real people. There was room for a thousand people to queue, but in fact no one was in line and we walked right to a Person who listened to my story and then printed up the boarding passes instantly.

Security also had no waiting and Michael and I passed through without incident, partly because I am travel-savvy enough to wear easily-removed sandals when I fly.

That placed us at our gate a full hour before the plane was to board.

Michael asked the desk attendant about meals and learned they do not serve free food on the plane. They have "bags" of food they sell. Since this is a nine-hour flight, it seemed prudent to pick something up here at the airport. He got a sandwich and I got a Cobb salad, which I had added to my plastic extras bag.

Boarding the plane went quickly. I took a little longer than Michael getting my stuff in carrying order so he wound up in line about 20 passengers ahead of me. Even so, when I got to our row, there was an empty compartment just above it and I hurled my rolling duffel into it and sat down.

I had been assigned 23A, a window seat. Michael was in B, next to me. In C, the aisle seat, was a young man who introduced himself to us as Acura. He was from Detroit. Michael began talking to him about naturopathic medicine, in which the kid seemed to have no interest; but of course that never stops Michael. I didn't say anything, being obsessed with wondering why did parents in Detroit name their kid after a Japanese car? If they wanted to name him after a vehicle, why not Ford or Chevy? Alas, that will remain a mystery forever, as the flight attendant came by to tell us that we could move into any empty seat if we wanted. Acura moved across the aisle from Michael so quickly all he left was a breeze. But then he began asking questions of Michael, sporadically, so that every time Michael began to doze off another question would wake Michael up.

We took off, and the first of two movies began. I wanted to see it, but discovered my headphones, which were in my duffel, were positioned in such a way I couldn't really get to them. So were the books I'd brought. So I gave up on both and tried to get some sleep. Every time my feet touched my extras bag, all I could think of was that Cobb salad in there, though I wasn't hungry. Finally I fell asleep, awakening during the second movie by Michael's laughing at it—although he wasn't wearing headphones and so couldn't hear it.

Passengers with window seats cannot watch the in-flight movies.

I couldn't actually watch the movie, even if I had headphones, because the US Air engineers had placed the TV screens in such a position that they couldn't be seen from the window seats. Well, I could see half of the screen. But I didn't want to half-watch a movie anyway.

That was my only complaint about the flight, though.

Water, water everywhere…

But if I couldn't see the movie, I could look out the window. The first hour or so of our flight carried us over desert; but then there was ocean, ocean, and more ocean, with only the occasional punctuation of cloud masses, quickly passed and gone.

One good thing was that the flight, which I thought was to last 9 hours, was only 6 hours. It must be my dyslexia, but nines and sixes always look pretty much the same to me, which back when I was dating guys I met on the Internet led to any number of disappointments (albeit the rare, delightful surprise).

The flight was fairly smooth, and we landed ten minutes early.

Before we landed, we were handed a form to fill out, in which we pledged to have not brought any animals or plants with us from outside Hawaii. (Exotic plants are forbidden, and animals must be quarantined for some time after landing.)

On the way into the aisle, Michael managed to cut his leg on some exposed metal part of his seat. It was a very small gouge but it was bleeding so Michael decided he needed to find a Band-Aid. Acura quickly offered one, a weird type Michael had never seen before, with a bit of gauze at one end and a snake-like tail of adhesive. I felt bad because Michael had suggested I bring the little travel kit from the car when we were riding to airport but I was holding too many things already and declined. (On the other hand, he could have put it in his pocket but didn't.)

The view from inside Honolulu airport.

Honolulu airport is lovely and open; most areas have no walls and the gardens outside waft sweet scents inward. However, we had to walk about a quarter of a mile to our connecting gate. Inter-island flights leave from their own building.

The humidity hit Michael and me as soon as we left the plane like a large, wet, sponge. The temperature was only about 80 but the humidity must have been 410%. We both instantly began to sweat. And since the airport was so open, it wasn't air-conditioned. There was no place to escape.

The Hawaiian Air inter-island jet also took off exactly when it was supposed to. Michael and I had been assigned seats in different rows but there were plenty of empty seats so I moved to sit across the aisle from him. It was only a 37-minute flight anyway. The sun set across the ocean as we flew; it was night when we landed.

Since we had no checked bags, we didn't have to bother with any baggage carousels (which always sound like more fun than they are), and went directly to the Alamo car rental kiosk, in which was posted a sign telling us to go behind the kiosk to the Alamo shuttle. The shuttle was there waiting for us; we boarded and in five minutes were at the end of a short queue waiting to rent a car.

I took the minimal insurance option and the fuel option and was handed the keys to a black Hyundai Elantra. Very comfortable. I mounted my Garmin GPS and told it to guide us to the Island Home Lanai Villas, which address I had pre-programmed before we left.

After a half-hour drive we pulled up to a house. A man was in the driveway; I opened the window and Michael called, "Is this 1707…?"

"Paul?" the man called. "Yes, this is it!"

We parked in the driveway and stepped in. A small sheaf of papers was taped to the lintel with my name on the top one in big letters.

ALOHA PAUL

Your room, THE KING KAM ROOM, is inside straight ahead. The large key is for the pool and the smaller ones are for the room…

It when on to explain where the pool and beach were located, and gave the WiFi access code. The room is lovely, and seems to include two kitchens, one on the porch and one in the bathroom closet. I'll have to ask about that, but for now we're too tired to worry about anything. I put one of the DVDs into the player and we watched Eating Out: All You Can Eat, a sexy gay romantic farce that had us both laughing out loud (funniest line: "I feel dumber than a flock of Palins"). When it was over, I turned out the lights and we were out for the night.

But as I fell asleep, I had to note: This was, without a doubt, the smoothst trip I've ever taken. Nothing got lost; we don't seem to have forgotten anything, and I didn't humiliate myself in front of anyone, as far as I know.

So, hopefully, this will be the keynote for the entire trip!