The Efficient and Expeditious Hawaiian Family
Denver to Hawaii 3/30/2012
The excitement of travel is an amalgam of exhaust fumes, human murmur and stank bodies. Wayward travelers staking property claims on polished airport floors under backlit destination adverts waiting for their “connection”. My kids have been trained for travel; over the past 6 years we remind them, whatever you pack, you carry. So three moppets with rolling suitcases in tow as we head to one of my favorite places in the world: Hawaii, The Big Island.
We have travel expectations: expedient and efficient, especially through Security. Our kids rise to the TSA-occasion. My son stays close, as directed, so I can quickly snag my computer out of his bag for the TSA scan wizards, those able to decipher nail clippers from pocket knives in the blink of an x-ray. Etrain scurries through the metal detector to his father - expedient and efficient. However, my heart sinks as I realize my husband picked the body scanner cue. Without my kid, my chances increase that I will be “asked” to go through the advanced imaging for most-people-need-to-buy-me-a-drink -first technology. Thankfully, my daughter lingers, indecisive if she should wait for me or join dad. I see her brain churning: what is more efficient? “Stay," I whisper (as a Sutherland scream enters my mind) before she has a chance to follow her sibling. I step one step closer to the detector station (and to the credit of the human-side of TSA), the guard says quietly, “You are with her, (my daughter), go on through.” Phew, no invasion of the body snatchers, today.
Off we trot to our gate, dodging the Thursday Tourist Traveller, whom seems to need to stop in the middle of the concourse and gaze up, like it’s the Sistine Chapel. Lord help the deft cart-driver. Note on travel etiquette: it is not okay to abruptly stop in the middle of the flow of traffic. It is not okay to be stupid and oblivious when traveling. Of course, you probably drive that way and live most your life that way, so basically, wake up and move!
Tip: There is a very good chance, if a flight is full that they will check your bags at the gate free of charge. For us, that was ideal, they checked 5 bags all the way through to ITO and we saved $125.00! Somehow that seems to justify the $7.99/person private TVs and $7.99 meals. (Somewhere marketing must have discovered that pricing things just under $8 make things more palatable.)
Tip: Be courteous and do not lay your seat back all-the-way, if I am sitting behind you, I will need to cross my legs several times and bump your seat regularly. Or I might put my ADD child behind you. Sometimes cranky children have their advantages.
Finally, 16 hours later, we land in Hilo and disembark. One of the best feelings in the world, next to a full day skiing and sliding your feet into Uggs, is the blast of 73ºF/80% humidity wall of air which greets you as you cross the threshold, leaving our “cabin” air and the working stress behind.
We arrive after an $11.00/2 mile taxi ride to Hilo Seaside Hotel (ehm - misnomer - motel). I went cheap here - it’s only one night, we arrived late and are to be picked up by 8am. Motel passes the bedbug check and we are good to go. The hotel is clean and friendly, but the rooms smell like latrine cleaner. It’s the kind of place where you pull back the shower curtain to make sure there are no geckos planning to give you a wet-willie or other personal treat. And if your lucky, he has two-tips to his tail to tickle you with.
We have a late night meal at The Hilo Coconut Grill, the hotel’s restaurant. It was surprisingly descent food and, while not worth a detour, it filled the stomach of a very tired soul. Sleep comes easily; however, a 3 am nightmare about my father’s passing wakes my jet-lagged mind. I woke with tears in my eyes. Normally, when one wakes-up, you realize the bad dream was just that. However, I woke and realized my dad is still gone, that’s a nightmare I cannot wake-up from. I know my dreaming is because I spent much time with my dad in Hawaii. It’s a place he loved and it is natural for my thoughts to reflect about him.
Thankfully, one block away is a 24-hour diner: Ken’s Pancake House. This location is not by happenstance and might be worth the detour. Many families are on mainland time and hungry at 5am. And my kids were hungry! Off we tromp and have our fill of coconut, banana, macadamia nut pancakes with mango and rum syrup, scottish sausage and black coffee (well, OJ for the kids). My dad would approve. Not only was he an efficient and expeditious business traveller but he was known to experience as much of the local’s food as one could enjoy.