Day 5: Moving Day

The itinerary today required a move from Lahaina on the island of Maui to Honolulu on the island of Oahu. And, If ever there was a day when I longed for the technology and expediency of the transporter from Star Trek, it was today. If I had millions of dollars to spend, I’d invest it in the research and brainpower to make such a handy device happen.

We arose early and did our requisite packing and cleaning up. But we still had a couple of hours to wait before our shuttle bus would come to pick us up. So, we sat out on the balcony, had our breakfast and listened to the surf crash against the sand beneath us as the sun rose one more time. We read our books and both got drowsy, wishing we had the time for a mid morning nap like we had yesterday. This traveling and sightseeing is hard work!

We checked out of our room and sat in the lobby to wait for the shuttle driver to arrive. And, we waited and waited. About the time we got worried enough to call the service, he pulled up. There were only two seats left in the van – but not together. He did get us to the airport, however, and that was a good thing.

Lining up for security was a nightmare. It was Sunday and everyone on Hawaii was traveling somewhere today. Our loooong line was diverted about half way back to split off to another check line. We scampered away following the barricades to keep us in our assigned place. And, unlike when we left from Seattle, today we were required to 1)take off our shoes; 2) take out any electronics larger than a cell phone and place them in a separate bin; take out any snacks; etc.; etc.; etc. I think the state of Hawaii is on high alert for any unauthorized snacks! I couldn’t believe it – but I complied. I pulled out my little Nook reader and my big Nikon camera with her zoom lens attached and put them in a separate bin.

As I leaned down to take off my shoes, a TSA person brought another huge pile of bins back and set them right in front of me. In an instant, the woman in front of me shifted and her elbow knocked my bin to the floor. It was the bin holding my little Nook and my big, beloved, EXPENSIVE Nikon camera and lens. I just about went into shock. Of course there was no time to stop and inspect anything – the masses were pushing us forward. I picked them up and put them back in the bin and kept being pushed forward. Once they had gone into the x-ray, I looked up, but  was so disoriented I ran into the side of the security arch I was supposed to walk through, setting off the alarm. And, I thought I was rattled before! I stood frozen, waiting for someone to tell me what to do. I hadn’t even actually gotten to the arch yet! The TSA guy at this point just said with exasperation, but absolutely no affect: “Step back and away. Step back and away.” Okay. Okay. I stepped back and away. The alarm stopped. Then he waved me into the walkway arch and I just kept walking as no alarm sounded. I retrieved my beloved camera that I hoped was still working as a camera and stuffed everything back into my carry-on bag before the people behind me trampled me. I was so rattled I had to stop and sit down to put my shoes back on. I was glad I had a traveling companion – but in situations like this, there really is no help to be had. This is the state of travel in the 21st century.

We found gate 11 and flight 251 going to Oahu and managed to squeeze into two of the last seats that were vacant. I was so wound up I had to take everything out of my bag and at least check to see if my camera was still working. Thankfully, it still was. But it was a heart-stopping experience, let me tell you.

I offered to walk back out of the waiting area to get my companion some coffee, as I needed some water. I stopped at the first kiosk I saw and asked if there was a Starbucks located within the security area. “No security!” she said. “No security! It’s right down there.” Not wanting to stop and clarify anything, I gingerly went out into the “main” part of the airport being careful no to go through any gates that might require me to go back through security again! What a trauma.

I did find the Starbucks and got the coffee and water I was after. Our flight was called and, like cattle going to slaughter, we all crowded at the gate and fought for a space while keeping within the barricades. Thankfully, the flight was only 40 minutes long. About the time we took off they offered juice or water, which was served from a little 3 oz cup with a foil cap. About the time we drank the 3 ounces of juice or water, the pilot called for the flight attendants to ready for landing. It really was that quick. But I’m sure the transporter would be altogether less hectic – and faster, too.

We found our bags and located the shuttle service that had our reservation to take us into Honolulu. If I wasn’t already stressed, this little scenario might have been comic. I was beginning to wonder if any one of them had a license to drive – they couldn’t do much else. We followed our bags closely, lest they end up at some other destination than we were going. Thankfully, an entirely different man, wearing a different colored Hawaiian shirt (meaning he was with a different company than those who had just handled the baggage) got into the van to drive us. He introduced himself as Johnny and he did seem like he knew where he was going. And, he did.

As we drove into Honolulu, a huge rainbow filled the sky. Well, that’s a sign; a promise, if you will, that this part of the trip will be just fine. My camera will work and we will be in the right place at the right time. Johnny dropped us off at the Luana Hotel in downtown (right next to what used to be old Ft. Derussy, but is now a beautiful city park and beach) and we checked in. The room is fine, but a far cry from the beautiful spot we had just left on Maui. This is city living now – and there is no way we could have afforded a spot on the beach here. I’m so glad we had four days in Lahaina first.

Not having had a bite since our little breakfast on the balcony back in Maui, we were famished. We quickly made the decision to go to the closest place we could find that was reasonable. That turned out to be a Tony Roma’s just a block away. If it had been any farther we might not have made it. The dinner was fine, although I sent my baked potato back because it wasn’t even hot – and I NEVER do that kind of thing. I guess all the jumble of the day just made me WANT a hot baked potato! And, the waiter kindly took it back and did bring me a hot one. Thank you!

As we ate, the restaurant filled with visitors from Japan, speaking Japanese all around us. The rain that was off in the distance creating the rainbow we had seen earlier caught up with us and came down in sheets outside. It was still raining when we left, but in Hawaii, I’m not sure anyone ever really gets wet. The heat almost dries up anything that gets wet at about the same rate as the rain falls.

We stopped at an ABC store for some yogurt and muffins for breakfast and then walked one block further to find the exact spot we will be picked up from tomorrow for our tour of Pearl Harbor. That begins at 6:45, so tomorrow is another early and long day. But, I am so looking forward to it.

Through all the gyrations of today, I couldn’t help but think that somehow we have lost a measure of civility we once had. Traveling is big business, but no one seems to think that a little kindness or compassion, much less simple directness and information, might be a small salve to see us through the necessary requirements of our times. Just because we have to suffer the demands of our challenging days, does not mean we should think it acceptable to be treated like cattle. Can’t we be screened and questioned in a civil manner as we do it? We are not suspects. We are travelers. Just a thought after a harrowing day that should not have been as harrowing as it was.

We will sleep well tonight, dreaming of transporters and travel in a kinder and gentler way. Maybe it can be less hectic and exhausting, too.