Hawai'i One-3, Day 11: Aloha Nui Loa, Hawai'i

It's always a bummer leaving Hawai'i and coming back home.  Today is no exception.

We wake up, take a few last pictures of ourselves on the lanai with the ocean in the background (and I will never get tired of that view -- my wife or the ocean -- let me tell you), and pack our luggage.  It's grown from two suitcases to four in the week and a half since we've been on the Islands (taking an idea from my mom, we've been nesting our clothing suitcase inside of a larger suitcase on the way over, matryoshka style, and filling the larger one with souvenirs [coffee] and stuff [coffee] that we buy [roast] while we're here [drinking coffee]), so we call down and have a nice brudda help us wit da bags.

We pay the bill -- as always, made substantially larger by hotel-related taxes and fees as well as our bar tab -- and overstuff our poor convertible for the drive to the airport.  We manage to fit the two smaller suitcases in the dinky little trunk, but the larger suitcases have to be put into the rear seat of the car.  Convertibles aren't known for their luggage hauling capacity, and every trip here reminds us of this.  Fitting for our moods, it's gray and cloudy today, and we need to stop a few miles out of Kailua-Kona to put the top up when it begins to rain.

I drop Lucie and our luggage off at the airport (the cloth interior of the car gets a bit damp because I have to lower the ragtop to get the suitcases out of the back seat) and I  hitch a ride with the shuttle once I drop the car off at the rental agency (the attendant who signs the car in sees all of the rain spots in the car and on the cloth seats, just grins, and says nothing about potential water damage -- obviously not an uncommon occurrence here, I'm guessing.)  By the time I get back, our luggage has been checked by the porters (love those guys!) and Lucie has our boarding passes in hand, and it's a relatively easy walk into the gates through the metal detectors and TSA agents with their grabby and judgmental hands.

Because we're hoity-toity Important First Class Passengers, we're able to access Hawaiian Airlines' "Premiere Lounge" while we're waiting for the connecting flight to Maui... and believe me, until you get to experience the Kona Airport's Premiere Lounge, with its fountain drink dispenser and free WiFi, not to mention high-speed PC hookup (note the lack of plural there), you haven't lived a full life.  Okay, so it's not the Ritz or anything, but there are comfortable seats, and it's an air-conditioned room, and we do appreciate the WiFi, so it really is a nice touch.  We sit at a table and pull out our iPads for the twenty minutes or so before our plane is set to arrive, and then make our way out to the gate.

It's a short jump over to Maui -- we wave at the sugar cane fields as we land -- but the ten minute wait for the flight to the Mainland turns into almost 45 minutes as the plane we're scheduled to board isn't yet at the assigned space.  There's no early boarding because of this, and no "delayed" notice on the info board, but while we're not thrilled about how crowded the waiting room becomes during this time we're certainly not going to complain about getting to stay in Hawai'i for a little while longer.

The flight back (once the place finally arrives) seems to take much longer than usual, due to the turbulence that we hit on the way.  The flight attendants are instructed to take their seats on two different occasions, the drink carts are delayed a few times for safety reasons, and it's a bit of a challenge to watch the movie selections on the entertainment tablets (iPad minis with Hawaiian Airlines branding and operating software) they loan us First Class passengers -- although if you time the turbulence jostling just right, it totally cancels out the camera shaking in Star Trek: Into Darkness so it looks like Kirk and Spock are just drunk.  Hard to follow some of the archery shots in Brave, though.

Dinner on the flight -- when we're flying smoothly enough to break out the flatware, at least -- is enjoyable.  I opt for the salmon roulade appetizer, while Lucie has the chicken salad with ginger sesame dressing; she has the macadamia nut chicken entree and I have the red pepper gnocchi with cream sauce; and I have the chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bombe they offer for dessert.  The bombes are kept under deep freeze with dry ice, apparently, because it takes a good 10-15 minutes before I can even break the chocolate coating with my spoon, much less scoop into the ice cream... but it's refreshingly cold, sweet and creamy, and worth the wait.  a drizzle of raspberry sauce on the side adds a welcome sharp fruity bite.

We arrive back in Oakland a few minutes early, and are greeted by Dean, our usual driver, who we missed on our drive up.  We fall right back into casual and entertaining banter on our drive back to San Jose.  Lucie briefly considers asking Dean to hit a drive through for a burger because she's never ordered fast food from a stretch limousine before, but opts not to.  We take one more silly selfie of the two of us in the limo as one last digital souvenir, and arrive back at our place without incident.  Dean brings our luggage up to our front door, we thank him with a nice tip and some coffee -- we do have some to spare, and we bought some specifically as a tip in case he was our driver (in all honesty I wouldn't tip Demetrius nearly as generously) -- and pronounce an end to our latest Hawaiian vacation.

Mahalo, and aloha a hui ho.


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