Hawa1'1, Day 11: "Aloha, a Hui Hou."

(Side note -- it's actually taken me almost three weeks to type this last entry from our vacation... Something to do with not wanting it to end a second time?)

Our last day in Hawai'i... This year, at least.

Okay, next year, too -- can't afford to go every year, as much as we'd like to.

It's a fairly standard morning otherwise, with high waves, bright sun, and no cruise ship in the bay. We wake up, finish packing, and divide our forces as I go get our Mustang Sally from the parking lot while Lucie escorts the bellboy to the outdoor lobby and settles our bill (somewhat larger than advertised due to our bar tab.). By the time I drive around to the front of the hotel and assist the bellboy trying to get everything crammed into the microtrunk and back seat, Lucie's done with the financials and ready to go.

We make our last drive up along the Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway to the airport, and I drop off Lucie and our luggage while I return our rental. The first two times we came to Hawai'i, we used Thrifty car rentals because of the price; but after I was given attitude by the desk clerk (in Hawai'i, attitude!) and a sorely underpowered vehicle on our last trip, I'm glad we made the change. Our Mustang was more powerful, comfortable, and just looks so much better than the Chrysler Sebring that Thrifty offers, so I think we're going to coming back to Budget from now on. Plus, hey -- no seat belt extender needed on the Mustang.

By the time I get back to the airport terminal, Lucie already has the luggage checked (thanks to our old friends the Hawaii Porter Service) and has our tickets in hand. Unfortunately, we got a bit of a late start this morning, so we don't have a chance to check out the first class lounge before we make our way to the gate. We tell ourselves that we'll check it out next time, and board our flight to Honolulu.

We disembark our shuttle flight, hike our way across the miles and miles of Honolulu International Airport walkways and corridors and escalators and construction sites, stairwells and rock quarries, temporary plywood flooring, and assorted debris from the seemingly never-ending construction; and eventually find our way to our departure gate.

It's dark and deserted, which is to be expected; we have a two and a half hour layover, so the gate is unmanned for the time being. We take a short walk over to a Starbucks (and yes, I know there's probably some aphorism that only haole tourists visit a Starbucks in Hawai'i, but Mountain Thunder doesn't have a kiosk here yet so it was 'Bucky's or Gordon Biersch, and I've never been that much of a beer drinker) and grab some bottles of water for later and some caffeine for immediate use. My coconut mocha Frapuccino is almost too sweet, but still refreshing, and it gives us the energy to wander further along the concourse to an airport gift shop.

We peruse the area, buying last-minute gifts (fridge magnets), snacks (pineapple flavored gummy bears), and assorted items for the flight home (Hawaiian print neck pillows, and ear plugs since on 2 of the 3 flights so far we've ended up sitting in close proximity to a crying baby.) We drink one of the bottled waters (even in the airport terminal it's incredibly warm and humid -- we think the air conditioning is shut off due to the nearby renovations) and head back to our waiting area.

We spend the next hour or so reading books, playing Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies and Words With Friends, drinking water, and taking pictures of the restroom signs that have Aloha wear on the silhouettes.

Soon enough, though, our plane is ready for boarding; so we gather our things, head to the front of the line (yay for first class tickets!), and board the plane for our flight home.

We spend the next several hours watching movies of questionable quality (The Expendables and Battlefield L.A.) and enjoying food of much better quality (I have a gourmet cheese selection; grilled salmon with miso cream sauce, asparagus, and mashed potatoes; and Sichuan-style eggplant with red peppers and brown rice. Lucie has Asian chicken salad; hoisin barbecue ribs, steamed rice, and mixed veggies; and the Sichuan eggplant. My dessert is a Kona coffee ice cream bombe glacée, with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.)

We land at Oakland airport late at night, and have only a short wait before we're picked up by Dean -- no stretch limo on the ride home, but the town car is just fine with us. We run into a huge amount of traffic on the way home, since apparently they're doing construction on I-880 about a mile or so before our exit. No worries -- I just direct Dean back to our place using city streets, and we arrive back home safe and sound (if more than a little sad we're no longer in Hawai'i.)

So our third trip to Hawai'i has come and gone; we've celebrated our tenth anniversary; had our luggage searched once again by the TSA; and I gained a little over ten pounds (mostly through alcohol and POG consumption.)

I'm also considering starting a new blog: "720 Days in San Jose", counting down the days until our next trip.

"Day 720: counted down the hours until Day 719..."