Monday, September 12, 2016

Hawaii Vacation

Mary and I decided to join our friends in Hawaii for some much needed vacation and to celebrate my Brides birthday. Pam and Ted had already spent a week on Oahu and were headed to Maui, we found a condo just three doors down in the same complex and locked it in. The reservation was completed and the air fare soon followed. Two round trips on American and we were all set.
My work week was busy, installing a new product called pervious  concrete. With things under control and coverage set up I headed home friday singing the I'm on vacation song. Mary and I boarded the fur kids and finished packing Saturday night. We flew out of Salisbury at noon on Sunday.

SUNDAY

I have been watching the weather all week even though I'm not the one flying. Tropical storm Hermine passed farther east of Ocean City and left some winds to deal with.
Piedmont (American) airlines flew the first leg to Philadelphia for our connecting flight to LAX. The Dash 8 provided a smooth flight and the crew made a nice landing despite the winds. On the ground at Philly, we were now looking for the shuttle to the correct terminal. Easy peasy, just two gates away and down one level to catch  our shuttle waiting on the ramp. The bus follows the designated routes in line with all the other aircraft ground support vehicles, an interesting perspective of life on the ramp.
We quickly boarded our connecting flight to LAX. Mary and I upgraded our seats so we had the extra leg room sitting at exit rows.  We agreed to assist with the doors in an emergency and settled in for five hours. I had no WiFi so Foreflight was out of the question, which meant torture for me. Instead, I entertained myself people watching and counting the number of trips people made to the bathroom. One guy went at least four times, maybe he should stop drinking whatever he was pouring in that pie hole.

Mary and I decided to look at our next boarding passes for the final leg, LAX to OGG.  We both looked at each other and said we're not going to make it. Arrival was 4:45, boarding was 4:55, and we were two terminals away. We asked the stewardess if she had any suggestions, she did.

There were empty single seats up front, when we started our descent she would move us up. Our flight was also running ahead of schedule and would arrive early, looking like a twenty minute push. Sure enough she moved us up and made an announcement requesting final destination passengers remain seated to let those with tight connecting schedules get off first, all the passengers complied. Mary and I thanked every row for their help.  Once again we were close to the ground transportation gate and quickly boarded the bus. The ride seemed to take forever but we finally arrived. The flying God's were smiling on us since our departure gate was very close to the ground transportation gate in the new terminal. We fell in line like good little passengers and just made our flight. We were just getting buckled in when they made the announcement that the doors were closing and if Maui wasn't your final destination you need to advise the crew.
Leaving the mainland
We settled in for the long flight aboard an Airbus 321S and our ride was quickly climbing over the coast. It was a smooth flight mixed with sleepy time, movie watching and a few games of battleship.
We started our descent for the islands and finally saw signs of mother earth as the lights surrounding Kahului airport came into view. The landing was rather firm and woke up those still sleeping, their reactions were priceless.

MONDAY

Adjusting to the -6 hour time change would take some getting used to. That and the previous day of flying and being up for twenty-four hours.
The plan for day one was to scout the area. Pam and Ted provided information and with a rough plan we were off to investigate.  We followed RT30 north to north west exploring the coast and designated overlook areas.
Eventually we made our way to McGregor Point and on to the town of Lahaina. We explored the many shops on each side of the street making a few purchases and stopping for a bite to eat.
It was time to retrace route back to the condo so we could change for the beach. I found chairs and an umbrella stashed in a closet in the condo so we packed up and went across the street to stake a claim in the sand.
Our first sunset in Hawaii
Mary and I headed into the water and really had fun. We haven't spent so much time in the water since our Gulf Shores trip. As we were heading out of the water Mary had a sea turtle swim right in front of her, it made her day. Of course I missed it.

First night on the island, sunset video.

TUESDAY

Lava fields exploration!  Today we drove on the moon, ok a road that passed between the lava fields that had us feeling like we on the surface of the moon. Incredible to see this up close, the pictures really don't do it justice.
After exploring for a short time we loaded up and retraced yesterdays road map back through Lahaina and on to the Ka'anapoli coast. We decided on making a stop at the Ritz-Carlton for a much needed "nibbles" and alcohol.  Nibbles is a Pam and Ted term that was adopted for the trip. I think it comes from her aunt, but it stuck.
Sunset, Day two
On the way back to the condo we took the Lahaina bypass, speed limit 45mph. We found a great place to pull off and do as the locals do, enjoy the sunset. I said it every night that the islands are truly paradise.

WEDNESDAY

Island Air to Oahu
Just as we are getting used to the time change we need to get up early (4:30) so we can check in at Kahului airport for our Island Air flight to Oahu. Today's adventure will include Pearl Harbor (on our bucket list),  downtown Honolulu,  the National Cemetery, the north shore famous beaches, a macadamia nut farm and of course the Dole plantation.
Mary and I were really humbled walking through the USS Arizona memorial.  Here we were on a gorgeous day much like the men and women that day, only our day would go on as planned, their day and lives would change forever. So many sailors lost as well as Marines, Army and Air Force personnel along with civilians, almost too much to comprehend. Walking through the Arizona memorial left me with a sad heart, futures cut short, the suffering and loss endured. It surely makes one appreciate the freedoms we have today because of the sacrifice, of so many.
The Mighty Mo
King Kamehameha
Diamond Head
National Cemetery

Hawaii 5-0 building on TV
We landed back on Maui just before 8p.m. and headed to the condo. We contacted Pam and Ted to see if they wanted to meet us for dinner, instead, they were cooking dinner for all of us.

THURSDAY
Today was another early start.  Up at 6:30 and out the door by 7:10,  back to Kahului airport and Maui Aviation for a fun flight. We are on Island time and things are laid back. Maui Aviations office in set up in a hangar, it's comfortable, welcoming and takes full advantage of the open air perfect climate.

We are introduced to Eric, my instructor for the flight. Eric is from Michigan but moved here for the flying and prefect weather. He's a busy guy flying as a fish spotter, instructing and flys a Cessna 208 to transport cargo.
We sat and reviewed the sectional chart and the route of flight for today. I observed the pre-flight walking around shadowing Eric. Mary climbed in to get out of the wind as we finished up. It's been awhile since I last climbed into a Cessna, I really love my Sundowner, enough said.
 
After getting familiar with the Cessna 172 I taxied out and departed runway two climbing out over the ocean. About five hundred feet I made a left turn for the Mokeehia Island, a big rock formation. We continued around the island following the coastline until reaching a valley. The winds were something new and I got a crash course on flying the valley and crossing out of the valley.
overflying the cliffs west of Nakalele Point

 Mary snapped pictures capturing some of the beautiful waterfalls. Next we crossed the Pailolo Channel and flew along the north Molokai Coast. In the distance I saw the Kalaupapa peninsula, this is the location of the Leprosy Colony. The NE side had scars of the original settlement and the new buildings on the NW side were organized and more modern. I pointed 09V across the island returning to the south side just east of the Haleolono Harbor. Here we passed a single home up on pilings and our pilot knew the owner. Some interesting tales were shared.
Elephant rock




Next we crossed the Kalohi Channel headed for the north coast of Lanai. I zeroed in on a pair of shipwrecks. The first was a schooner, The Alderman Wood, a British ship that ran aground in 1824.

The second was a WWII Liberty Ship (YOGN42), a concrete ship used by the navy to transport gasoline. This ship was purposely grounded in 1949, it seems it was the most economical way to dispose of the vessel.
Molokini Crater
I wanted to check out the airport located in the high rent district near Kapalua Airport. This airport was along the coastline but was relocated for a golf course. Now it's off limits to GA, scheduled service only. After my grumbling about no T&G at Kapalua we headed south along the coast to check out Black Rock beach and the  high rent hotels.  I crossed the Maalaea Bay and pointed home for the airport. A long straight in, mixing with commercial traffic and following controls directions to make a soft field landing on runway two. I taxied clear and headed back to the Maui Aviation ramp.
Following our flight we headed back for some beach time. We picked up a few sandwiches, cold water and tea, packed them in a cooler and headed out. The winds had picked up and there were warnings for the wave breaks so we took a pass on the ocean.  We said goodbye to our company, a pair of red crested cardinals then made our way back to the condo. We headed for a quick dip in one of the two pools. The temp was like bath water, perfect for a swim and unwind.
Red crested cardinals
Our day was not complete. We had dinner reservations for Sarentos on the beach. It was Mary's birthday and I wanted to take her somewhere special to celebrate and we asked Pam and Ted to join us. The food was excellent and the view amazing.  We had a great time and I think Mary enjoyed her birthday dinner and sunset.

Sunset day four
FRIDAY

The plan was to sleep in! Ok, I was up at 6:30 and Mary  got up around 7:45, not exactly what we planned.  We made some breakfast and then packed up for a day long trip to the upcountry to include Iao Valley Park, Haleakala National Park, Pu'u Ulaula summit and the Ali'i Kula Lavendear farm.  In order to get to the park we had to travel around the island. A long day driving but the view was very much worth it.
Iao Valley Monument
We all headed back to our condo so Mary and I could cook up dinner, chicken parmesan and spaghetti.  We all enjoyed some good laughs, recounting the days adventures and the amazing views. We were pretty much beat so after cleaning up we crashed for the night.

SATURDAY

Another road day... and another early start. Today we met with Pam and Ted for a 6:20 departure for the reserved Molokini Crater snorkel tour on the Four Winds II.
The snorkel time was absolutely fantastic.  We agreed there wasn't the variety of fish like in Key West but the water was perfect. The captain and crew were excellent.  We had breakfast and lunch on board and it was very good. As we approached the harbor the captain came full stop and drifted for a bit looking for turtles. Ted called out a young turtle that surfaced as I was calling out three o'clock turtle. The captain thanked us, he doesn't like getting skunked.
We headed back to the condo to shower and change for "nibbles" and eventually dinner. We've definitely adopted Pam's new term for appetizers. Our first planned stop was for the elusive Franks Haute Dogs.  This is our second attempt as we try to beat the closing time. Traffic was bumper to bumper making our way around the island coast from Kehei to Lahaina. We needed to be there by 4pm and arrived at 3:45, sadly they closed early. The Island life.
New plan....We loaded back up and decided on the Hulu Grille for nibbles and alcohol.  We all tried different dishes and enjoyed the unique combinations.  After enjoying some music we once again hit the road.  We retraced our steps back to Kehei and farthe south to Wielaia. We cancelled our one reservation and decided on dinner at Tommy Bahamas.  Food and service was very good!
I was beat and I think everyone else was running out of gas too.  Ted pointed the rental Escalade back to the condo and we parted for the night. I fell into bed and was asleep before I hit the pillow.

SUNDAY

I was up at 7 am Hawaii time, 1 am EDT. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 2:52pm and our check out time was 11am. We wanted to do some shopping and I still had to top off the rental and return it. We headed to athe shops at Wilea so we could pick out Marys gift, yes, jewelry. My Bride loves it and if it makes her happy, I'm happy. We walked into Na Hoku, the place that "captures the essence of Hawaiian lifestyle and tradition." MAry loved the Maile Leaf Pendant I purchased along with a beautiful necklace. A Maile lei represents Aloha (Love), Ho’ohanohano (Honor), and Mahalo (Respect).
We saddled up for the drive back to the airport. I can honestly say I did not want to come home. Usually by the end of vacation I'm ready to come home, sleep in my own bed and hug the pets...even the cats. This time I didn't want to leave paradise.
We returned the rental and caught the shuttle to the terminal. After dancing with TSA we were headed for our gate. Once again we flew home on an Airbus 321S and had the exit door seats which means added legroom. We had a layover in LAX before heading to Charlotte . Once on the ground at CLT we had a quick trip through the airport to go from B12 to E38 in order to make our flight connection north on the Dash 8 to Salisbury. Another smooth flight and we land on time, we're home!

By the time we picked up the pets and got everybody settled in we were ready to call it a day. It was now closing in on 6:30. That's right, not a typo, 6:30.  We had been up since 1am Sunday morning EDT, just over 42 hours. Despite the flying time, we're ready to go back this winter to enjoy whale watching.



2 comments:

Chris said...

Looks like a terrific trip, Gary. I think it would have been worth it for the sunsets alone!

Gary said...

Chris,

It was a busy trip! We got to see and do just about everything on our list. We could have used another week of down time just to relax.

The locals flock to the beach for sunsets, it's really something to see. On weekends they all camp along the beach, big BBQ's and those blow up bounce houses, it's a very big ordeal.

The sunsets were beautiful....the fly time was amazing!