Catch up with the story!
Part one: Vacations Give the Loveliest Headaches
Part two: Some Vacations Don’t Need an Airport
Part three: Am I Actually on Vacation Yet?
Six entertaining (but killer on the legs) hours of travel and my little familial unit was in Kona, Hawaii. Since we were in a half coma by the time we landed it really only felt like a couple of minutes before we were out the front door. I guess I wasn’t paying ANY attention to what had been going on to this point because I was extremely surprised to see that I was going to be walking off a large staircase and onto the tarmac! I literally “squee’d” (yes, I claim that as a word) out loud because it was my first time ever getting to do that. I couldn’t decide if I felt more like Holly McClane at the end of Die Hard 2 or Lorna Patterson at the end of Airplane! Except we hadn’t crashed and we were walking down the stairs and not sliding down a life raft. I can’t lie, it was cool.
As we dragged our overflowing backpacks across the tarmac we quickly came to stand in long line of passengers waiting to pass through the gate and into the airport. But it wasn’t an airport in the DIA sense. This place was small, dark, and basically had no walls. A large piece of machinery blocked my view and I couldn’t initially tell what the hold up was but as we inched to the front of the line it became apparent that we had landed into some kind of Hawaiian welcome party. It was just as fun and jovial as you might think a party like that might be. Hawaiian music began to waft down the line and a passing airline employee let it slip that we were going to be surprised by what awaited us ahead.
My curiosity totally piqued, I finally got a chance to see what was up there. Airline employees were handing out gift bags to everyone as they entered the airport. Then another employee started handing us warm containers of laulau (pork wrapped in banana leaves). Miss Hawaii-Kona lei’d each of us (ahem) with a real flower necklace. Then someone handed us bottles of water and topped the whole experience off by giving each of us a special box of chocolate dipped macadamia nut cookies.
But…what the hell was all of this stuff for?! It seemed a little over the top for an airline that I had to sell my left kidney to get tickets on (that wouldn’t even let you have a whole can of soda) and didn’t give a meal on the actual flight. My son pulled on my shirt, pointed to a sign that basically thanked us for helping them kick off their first flight from Seattle to Kona. (Sorry son, I know you tried to tell me before we got on the plane, but I was still in the glow of having a newly emptied bladder). Who knew?
Feeling like celebrities we gathered our luggage and made our way to the car rental shuttle. A necessary part of the vacation process, I was a little bit wary about how long it was going to take us to get set up. We still had a pretty good drive ahead of us to the resort and it was pitch black outside–not good qualities for a couple of drivers who have never made it to any destination without having to turn around at least once. It wasn’t looking good for the home team for a minute because after our very exhausted driver got everyone loaded onto the bus and started driving away one of the men seated across from us asked, “What, this isn’t the shuttle to Budget?” Uh no, big guy. The big white bus had big red letters that said AVIS on the front. But, you knew that, didn’t you…
Not even remotely feeling like celebrities anymore (we had a system and all of our new goodies were weighing us down) we dumped our stuff into a corner of the rental car office and prepared ourselves for the dance. The hubby and I are not people that dream about driving around on vacations in a jeep or convertible, we just hope for something that can keep up in traffic and get us from one point to another but still hold all of our luggage. So it’s always entertaining to see how the various desk staff try to break down our wall and get us into a fancier vehicle.
We watched as the family in front of us moved gradually from a four door family sedan to a Ford Mustang convertible. No resistance was offered by the vacationer doing the purchasing and he was gladly seduced to the dark side. They left with smiles and probably had the time of their lives from that point on. We were not going to make THAT mistake! Awesome vacation be damned.
Admittedly, when the hubby is around I fade into the background. He’s ramped up to do his thing and I just let him go for it. It gives me a moment to just chill and I don’t have to do any heavy thinking. Unfortunately, back when we were going through security at DIA it was pointed out that Greg had an expired driver’s license. Dun-dun-duuuuun! But aside from the initial panic that our vacation would stall out before it started he got through all the checkpoints okay and we were good to go. But…guess who gets to be in charge of the rental car? Me, baby! And he wasn’t happy about it. While I had been trying to get some sleep and trying to control my temper about our late start he was renewing his license online and he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to drive at all. Boo-hoo.
Which meant that I couldn’t just let him flex his muscle at AVIS. I had to be there too. And I am just not that good at the dance. Put me in a convertible? Sure! Put me in a Hummer? Sure! Put me in a 2016 Cadillac Escalade with 10 miles to the gallon on an island with $2.50 gas?! Hell’s yes! (But not really.) The AVIS guy started his pitch and I looked him in the eye and let him have it, “Um, no, we’re good thanks.” He pointed out that for only $14 dollars a day more we could have the convertible. It had good power if we were planning on going into the mountains. Again, “Um, no, we’re good thanks.” Besides, we have a Prius at home, dude. It has four cylinders and can make it through the Rocky Mountains (very, very slowly and it starts to sound like it’s screaming for help) but it does the trick. We know all about lower powered vehicles. Give us the smallest you have!
Luckily we were working with someone who was willing to give up the fight and just go with the flow (besides, he probably saw the next shuttle dropping off newly arrived vacationers) and we were sent on our way to a nondescript, worse for wear Altima. Perfect. No worries about dings, sandy feet, or trouble getting through the Hawaiian wilderness–we knew it was exactly what we needed. We tossed the bags in the car, pulled Waze up on the phone and headed out into the darkness.
© DRB 2016
Part five: The Vacation I Still Haven’t Seen