Day 16: Coming Home

December 20, 2018

And, then we went home. We did make it, (yesterday) safe and sound, back to the coldest of cold Northwest winters. But, first we had to travel, yet again, to get there – or here.

Because of my travel anxiety, I made my driver plan for an extra early exit from our condo in order to get to the airport with a three hour window. I couldn’t imagine what the crowds would be like, and every news program was reporting “the busiest travel time of year.”

So, we left the Royal Sea Cliff at 7:30; stopped to fill the car with gas at the Costco gas station (which opened at 4:30 a.m.); returned the rental car to Hertz; grabbed their shuttle to the airport; and arrived before there were any clerks at the Alaska ticket windows. We had printed our boarding passes and baggage tags, but we needed the nifty little plastic pouches to put the printed baggage tags into. There were none to be seen anywhere. And, there were no lines. There were no clerks! We were the only people there. We had to ask a cleaning guy if he knew where we could get an Alaska tag for our luggage. He kindly informed us the counter people would be out in a minute. They were having their morning meeting. (Or was it just their morning coffee? I wondered.) But, eventually, someone did come out and after trying three different keys in three different cupboards, found some baggage tag pouches for us.

We folded our printed pages and affixed them in the pouches and to our bags and went to the next check point – the agriculture check point. We had to send all our checked baggage through the agriculture screening before it could be checked with the airlines. Thankfully, there was no line and we walked right up to the conveyor belt and dumped our luggage on.

Then we wound around to find a TSA line, which at that hour was, thankfully, minimal. We had to remove our shoes, and cameras, laptops, tablets, game systems, and any snacks and put them in buckets to go through screening. Since I had all the tech equipment, I carefully took off my shoes first this time, before dealing with the cameras. They all happily took their conveyor ride through the x ray and waited on the other side for us.

Meanwhile, we were sent through a full body scanner. Stand here; face this direction; feet here, raise your hands over your head . . . “Ok, step, over here please.” There was another set of little printed feet where I waited, not knowing what would be next. The TSA agent came around and pulled up my left sleeve. “Oh,” she exclaimed, “It’s because you have two on.” And, yes, indeed, I did “have two on” as I wear a regular watch and a fit bit. When she saw my watch she exclaimed, “Oh, that’s pretty neat. Where did you get that? Online?” Yes, I replied, online. She liked it very much and wondered if they had it in men’s sizes because she thought her husband would like a watch like that. “This is a man’s watch,” I informed her. She waved me on. A moment later, as I was packing up my cameras after their ride through screening, she came back and took my arm again, pulling my wrist away from its packing chore. “What’s the name on that watch? I really want to get one for my husband.”

I can only imagine that little scenario took place because there was no one else in line . . . I hope her husband gets a new watch for Christmas. If she ordered it by today it might have time for delivery before the 25th.

Heaving a sigh of relief that we were through security without mishap, we found our gate (not hard to do as there were only 10 gates in the whole airport) and found a seat to camp out and pass the time until boarding at noon.

In the open air of the concourse of the airport there were men playing and singing while women danced hula dances. It was very mesmerizing – and their dancing and voices were lovely. Every airport should hire them to sooth the masses. Kona airport is also unusual in that they have no jet causeways. Passengers climb into and out of the planes on “old school” ramps and stairways in the open air. I guess it’s easy when you never have to worry about foul weather.

Eventually our time came to board the plane and we were off – about 20 minutes late by the schedule. But no matter. We were in the air and on our way home.

Six hours and thirty minutes later, we landed in Seattle and our son picked us up. The airport was packed to the seams by that time with holiday travelers. We were so thankful this was the end of our trip and not the beginning.

We got delivered to our doorstep after paying our driver with a pizza and salad dinner. It couldn’t have been a more perfect way to end two weeks in paradise. Home again.

It was wonderful to do; wonderful to be there; wonderful to experience and explore new and different places; but oh, so wonderful to be home! The entire excursion was graced and we are immensely grateful and filled with memories and pictures to entertain us through the winters to come.

Now, we get to enjoy the pineapples we shipped to ourselves. Just a little reminder of the golden sun and graceful, sweet taste of Maui.