Day 9: The Price of Paradise

13 December 2018

If there is a price for paradise, I think we’ve paid it many times over. We certainly paid for it last Sunday; and indeed, again today. I think we’ve paid every penny for this trip. What price, you ask? The price is travel.

After a quick yogurt and muffin in the room this morning, we finished packing and still had two hours before the shuttle would pick us up at noon. So, my travel partner read his book while I went out for one last walk through the paradise that is Ft. DeRussy and Waikiki. It had been windy overnight and all the evidence lay about the grounds like Mother Nature’s trash. Palm berries and nuts; huge palm fronds; as well as various other leaves and branches were strewn all over the park. There was a man with a little tractor and trailer driving around picking them up. He must have a really big clean green can for all he was collecting! I took a few last pictures in the bright midmorning sun and returned to the room to join my travel partner in checking out.

We left Luana Waikiki after paying an ammenties fee for amenities we did not use once. Well, that’s not true. We did use the Wifi . . . to the tune of $25 a day! But we were in paradise and that makes it all worth it.

Robert’s shuttle picked us up promptly at noon and took us direct to the airport. As we got off at the Hawaiian gates my heart stopped. There were thousands of people milling about and there seemed to be no order at all. Not only that, there was no signage at all. We had said a prayer of thanksgiving after printing our boarding passes yesterday and seeing we were TSA prechecked. But now, here in the airport, we couldn’t figure what line was what and there were several snaking all over the check-in area.

After several false starts we finally located the “inter-island travel desk” and got our luggage tagged. Then we had to stand in a long line to get our luggage to the check-in area. Once we arrived at the head of the line the woman said, “No laptops or computers in any of these bags, right?”

Wait. What? “Yes, he has a laptop in his bag.”

“It has to come out. You have to carry that on.”

“But we looked it up and it said we could put laptops in our checked luggage.” (No acconting for the fact that we’d already checked that laptop on two other flights in the last week!)

“Well, think about it. If a battery burns up and it’s in the hold we can’t stop the fire. You have to have it with you in the cabin so if it starts a fire, we can put it out.”

So, now the flight attendants are also firefighters? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to disparage anyone, but each person along the way making up their own rules just about sends me over the edge. But what can you do? If you don’t want to stand in this line forever . . . if you want to get on the plane . . . if you expect to check your bags and move on . . . you open your suitcase in front of God and everyone and take your laptop out so you can carry it (along with the two other items you have to carry on) over to the TSA check point. Which was yet another long line. . . . But wait! We were prechecked- where do we go for precheck? To another long line, of course. (Still, I have to be honset and report it was not as long as the other line, but it was long enough.)

So we get up to the front of the TSA precheck line and the person says “Nothing out of the bags, sir. You don’t have to take anything out of the bags.” Well, it wouldn’t be out of the bag if the last person hadn’t told me I had to take it out! So now we have to fumble to find a place to fit the laptop into the already stretched to skintight bag – but it did fit. And, we didn’t have to take anything else out of our bags. We got to leave our shoes on, too. What a treat.

By the time we made it through security we were exhaused. We found our gate and took a seat. My travel companion went to find coffee and a sandwich while I watched our bags. The flight left on time and was another short trip from the island of Oahu to the Island of Hawaii. The fun part for me was I got to sit by the window and see us flying over Oahu; Molokai; Maui and Hawaii, where we landed. It was easy to spot Waikiki, Diamondhead; Lahania and Haleakala from the air. It was a beautiful clear day, although at 23,000 feet, there were a few clouds.

Landing in Kona, we deplaned down an old-school ramp and into the open air gates of the airport. Each gate was a little hut and all the surroundings areas were out in the open air! After some searching, we found the direction to baggage claim. My travel partner made the comment that if you were a sign maker in Kona, there would be no work for you, since it’s quite obvious no one is making signs here.

As soon as our bags came up we took them out to the street and there was a Hertz van just waiting for us. He took us directly to the rental car lot and we picked up the car we will have for the week, a Nissan Altima. We fired up our Gypsie (that’s GPS, for those of you you haven’t traveled with us before) and followed her directions to the Royal Sea Cliff Kailua-Kona and checked in.

Our rooms are lovely. The condo is on a cliff and we have a deck looking out to the ocean. We are not as close to the water as we were at Maui, but it is very nice. It’s a one bedroom unit with full kitchen and a deck that joins the living space and bedroom. The sun was just beginning to set as we brought our bags in and started to make ourselves at home. It will be nice to have this as a base for the next seven days.

Now, for something to eat! I was starving as I didn’t have a sandwich at the airport. My driver (yes, he’s turned back into my driver, but is still the same lovely traveling companion) had scoped out a place called The Harbor Grill. Some just plain, good food sounded like the best. We found the grill and had a very satisfying dinner in the open-air dinning room right at a little harbor. As we ate, the sky turned pink and golden; purple and gray, to dark as the sun set.

Next order of business: a trip to Costco for some supplies and an auxilary trip to Safeway so we can stock our little kitchen and have the makings for a few inhouse meals.

Settled now, I think we will be able to relax a little. This travel business is a high price to pay for paradise, but I’m hoping this time and this place will all be worth it. It has been so far. I just have to remember nothing is free. If I want the beauty of an exotic destination, I have to be willing to put up with the price of traveling there. Arriving is its own grace. And, the place is beautiful.