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Hawaii

3/2020 Our worst days in 28 years of travel

As COVID-19 dominates the news, we are in Hawaii hanging out in Maui and Kona in the sun, avoiding any possible snow and not really too concerned about the virus. Once in a while I realize that I’m in the age group of “old” people (older than 60) who are being urged to stay home – not that I’m not going to do that!

Everyone seems to freak out about travel right now and it made me start thinking about what some of the “worst” travel experiences we’ve had since our first trip together 30 years ago. We’ve certainly had some “adventures” but none of them have been too terrible.

Mark and I had the excitement of two Metro strikes in Paris. We camped (in a tent) in a Paris suburb and took the RER into Paris.  The two strikes started in the middle of the day as Paris strikes are prone to do. We were in the city and needed to get back to the campground.  The Parisians were VERY helpful and pointed us in the correct direction. We learned a few things along the way:

  • The Metro and RER share some lines in Paris and the Metro controls the RER signage within Paris. No Metro, no RER signage for which train is approaching. 
  • Every train has a sign in the front window with a  3-letter code designating its final destination.  The locals all know the codes and helped us get on the correct train.

We haven’t really had that many cancelled flights along the way.  A May hailstorm in Denver made us miss our connection in DC to Frankfurt on our 25the wedding anniversary. Our dinner was United Snack boxes!  In case you’ve ever wondered, the Sheraton by Dulles has a bar but it closes at 11 PM so we didn’t even get a glass of wine on our anniversary!  Who would ever think a bar in an East Coast hotel would close at 11?

Susan had an extra night in Hong Kong compliments of United after a fan blade shattered on the runway.

We had a REALLY long day in Australia trying to get from Port Macquarie to Tasmania. What should have been a 4 hour trip ended up taking 14 hours!  Hobart is another city with no restaurants open after 10 PM.  Dominos Pizza was pretty tasty!

Tasmania was lovely after we finally arrived!

Oh, yeah!  Don’t fly from Berlin if there’s a chance of snow.  At Berlin Tegel the de-icers have to come to the plane.  Our flight (1 inch of snow caused this) was so late leaving Berlin for Munich that we arrived in Munich after EVERY flight to the U.S. had departed.  It took a bit of negotiating to get on a flight to Frankfurt and a rush through the Frankfurt airport to the gate with only enough time for a toilet break and grab a sandwich.  Ten hours after leaving our hotel in Berlin, we were still in Germany!  The only good thing about this was that we got home at 1 AM so had no jet lag the next day.

Then there was the direct flight from Denver to Maui that wasn’t!  We landed in Los Angeles for a faulty radio and waited for a replacement plane, landing in Maui about 6 hours late.  Lesson learned – Beer sales stop at 11 PM in Hawaii in grocery stores but there’s no line at the rental car office in Maui at 10 AM and no traffic driving across the island.

We were in London one day and learned that Londoners who ride the Tube aren’t really very good at figuring out the Bus.  The Tube was shut down for a bomb scare and no one appeared to know which bus to take!

Another nature-related travel adventure was in Maui. One Spring Break in Maui began with a night on the floor of the Civic Center after the earthquake in Japan triggered a tsunami warning for Hawaii. Listening to the Hawaii Tsunami alerts all night long was educational to say the least.  Be sure to take a pillow with you if you ever have to evacuate your hotel room.

Then there was the bad traffic day in Chattanooga, TN on a road trip around the U.S.. First, the interstate was backed up for miles with a truck accident. After we picked a random exit,  we drove through the middle of Chattanooga using only a tiny square AAA city map (This was before cell phones.) and came across a torrent of water in the street.  10 minutes later the radio reported a water main break exactly where we’d driven and they shut that road!

In about a month, we’ve booked a cruise from Miami to Barcelona with some time in Barcelona and then in London.  The corona virus news is everywhere but we’ve decided that we’re going on the cruise unless they cancel it.  After all, we went to England for Thanksgiving in 2001 after 9/11. The English were quite happy to see some tourists. We flew home from Portugal on July 4, 2002 and the news was full of commentary about blowing up planes on 4th of July.

So, follow along and we’ll keep you posted on the cruise adventure during COVID-19 in 2020.  We’re sort of wishing we were in Rome right now to see it without too many tourists.

3/2020 Observations about shopping at Costco in Kona on a Sunday during the coronavirus

We’re in Kona for a few weeks, arriving yesterday afternoon.  We’ve rented a condo and needed to visit Costco and Safeway to stock up for 2 weeks before we return the car later today.

Costco in Kona on a Sunday is always chaos but today was worse.  We can safely report that buying toilet paper for the coronavirus is a “real thing”. 90% of all the carts had at least on of the BIG Costco packs of toilet paper; many had cases of bottled water (Why do you need bottled water in Kona where the water is perfectly drinkable?) and quite a few had cases of beer.

Costco is restricting the number of cases of bottled water and TP you can buy but I didn’t venture to that section of the store to look for signs or information.

My new research project if I were a Consumer Science prof would be to find out the average number of rolls of TP a home stores at any one time.

2/14 A Valentine’s Day in Hawaii

Happy Valentine’s Day! Since it’s raining, we have some time to work on pictures (deleting many) and post some on the blog. Maui is always good in February – no snow to shovel – but it’s been a wild weather two weeks, so far. If one of these weeks was your only week in Hawaii, you would not be happy! We’ve noticed, though, that rain does not keep children from the pool.

The rainbow greeted us this morning for Valentine’s Day. You can see the wet boardwalk at the bottom of the picture. It’s been raining for the past few hours which is why there’s a new blog post!

A huge winter storm ran over Hawaii this week bringing heavy winds, big surf and rain. The west shore of Maui, where we are, didn’t get huge waves like the North Shore of Oahu but we had a prime view of 5 and 6 waves lined up at a time waiting to break on shore. This wave pattern was caused by two wave patterns colliding or so the weather people reported. The wave report said these colliding patterns also kept the waves on Maui pretty small. Normally, waves are pretty mild around here and come only one at a time.

This is what the water normally looks like around here.
A few waves lined up in the storm
A few more waves in the wind

The storm caused a tree at the Honolulu Zoo to fall over and take out a fence which released 2 African Ground Hornbill birds. One has been recaptured but the other is still on the lose. http://honolulufamily.com/news/missing-african-ground-hornbill-at-honolulu-zoo/

My birthday was the day of the storm. I had some champagne while trying to capture the waves in pictures but the wind was blowing too hard to venture out to the beach, some of which was washed away by the storm.

The wind blew popcorn out of a bowl I had on the porch so I held onto the champagne tightly! The birds enjoyed the lose popcorn.
My birthday cake at Hula Grill, an outdoor restaurant on the beach. They had to put down the canvas sides and even that didn’t block all the wind. We highly recommend it for dinner.

The hibiscus are in full bloom so I have to take pictures of them!

These plumeria (my favorite) were on a tree by our balcony. The storm blew them all away!
Plumeria up close!
Yellow hibiscus in full bloom.
When the rain falls, you have time to play around with photo editing software.
More playtime!

There can never be too many sunset pictures!

The sun setting behind Lanai.

Feb. 2019 – An ice maker in paradise

We’re off on our next adventure!  It’s actually a pretty mild adventure – a month on Maui to escape cold weather and snow in Colorado although Winter had actually been pretty easy in Fort Collins when we left. This week the temps hit -5F for a few mornings in FC.  It’s days like this I really enjoy retirement – no 8 AM classes to get to!

 The flight over was very uneventful – left on time, arrived 45 minutes early to not have a gate available until the American flight finally left the gate! We picked up the car, made a Costco stop for groceries, and headed off to Kaanapali.  For a Friday evening, the drive was easy with no traffic jams and a gorgeous sunset.

Sunset was gorgeous driving from the Kahalui airport over to Kaanapali. And the traffic was light!

Saturday was rainy off and on, but we picked up the rest of the groceries and returned the car to Avis. We only rent a car for a day and then just use the shuttle or walk for the rest of the trip.

Here’s where the icemaker story starts. We thought we’d dropped an ice cube on the floor, resulting in a small puddle as it melted. We dried the floor and headed to bed.  When I woke up in the middle of the night and walked to the toilet, I realized we had a bigger problem when my feet got wet!

We called maintenance on Super Bowl Sunday and Richard magically appeared to fix the leaky icemaker.  That fix lasted for 26 hours when the leak reappeared on Monday afternoon, bigger and wetter!  Visit number 2 from maintenance and another fix.

Now it’s Tuesday afternoon when water once again made its way under the fridge and across the floor.  Visit number 3 from Maintenance involved Richard from visit number 1 along with his supervisor. Take the entire ice maker apart, install new parts, add a part … OK … it should all work now! 

We walked to the beach to watch sunset just to find MORE water on the floor when we returned to the room, resulting in call number 4 to maintenance!  This time, no fix to the ice maker!  They brought an entirely new fridge to the room!  We hoped try number 4 would be the magic one so we can make ice for our gin and tonics and not find water on the floor!

Plumeria in its natural environment – my favorite!
The island of Lanai across the water. It has a nice State Park for snorkeling. This is whale migration season but none of them chose to make an appearance in my picture.

Update to the icemaker… the new fridge works great and we have plenty of ice.

The wind is blowing today. The North Shore of Oahu is expecting 40-60 foot waves and road flooding! No big waves here since we face the wrong way.

We’re starting week 2. Here are a few sunsets we captured last week. Sunsets are a beautiful part of Maui since where we stay faces west looking at Lanai and Molokai islands.

Sunset over Lanai
A purple sunset with the help of the camera!
The new moon shining in a clear sky.

Hawaii update

After 17 days on the Noordam with 1900 new friends, the ship docked in Honolulu and we disembarked.  (Note: the ship went on to Lahaina but Honolulu was the only port you could disembark with luggage.)

The ship arrived on time in Honolulu about 7 AM and our flight from Honolulu to Maui was booked for 12:15 PM. Everyone on the ship had to clear US immigration before they could go ashore in Honolulu and clearance was to be held in the theatre. What would you think when you hear “immigration, customs, and 1900 passengers” all in the same sentence?? Given how long it can take to clear immigration at an airport, we were prepared for the worst!
We climbed out of bed at 6:30 AM, showered, and hustled off to the theatre where the line for US passengers’ immigration was half the length of the ship! We started timing the line because we bet it would take at least an hour to clear U.S. Immigration, but the line moved in a slow walk to the front of the ship where the ship officer scanned our cruise card and a U.S. Immigration official looked at our passport for about 3 seconds and waved us on. We thought there must be another check point so Mark asked if Global Entry is available. The Immigration guy said, “I am Global Entry.”
They made no differentiation between passengers disembarking for good and passengers just going ashore for the day. Total time – 8 minutes from the start of the line to the end! Note: International visitors took longer – about 45 minutes.

Hey! We had time for a quick breakfast before we picked up our hand luggage in the room, left the ship, walked through a warehouse, turned right and found our suitcases sitting in the Pink group! Holland America gave the disembarking passengers (us) the standard Customs cards the night before. What would you think? Somewhere we’ll have to go through Customs, right? Wrong! We picked up the bags and walked out the door, across the street and took a taxi to the airport.
Mark’s comment about Customs – “This would have been the time to bring back a $20,000 watch”.

Next stop was Maui.  The flight landed on time, we made a Costco and Safeway stop, and checked into the Condo for 2 weeks. Maui was incredibly green thanks to all the rain they had this winter.

White and pink hibiscus

Pink and white hibiscus was one of the beautiful flowers we saw on Maui. Maui had lots of rain this year and flowers were bigger than we’ve seen on past visits.

Mark met Seattle Bob at the grills one night. Seattle Bob asked if we like ahi and snapper because a friend with a fleet of fishing boats sent over several BIG packages of fresh frozen fish and it was too much for them to eat. We love fish, thank heavens, since we ate fish for 5 straight days before we took a pizza break.

Big piece of ahi

A BIG chunk of ahi to be grilled!

It was Iowa week in Maui. Iowans are everywhere and Maui is no exception. Two guys Mark has known since freshman year were in Maui!

Another U. of Iowa connection. Dale and Sue just happened to be in Maui for a week at the same place we stayed.

Chris lives on Maui. He and Mark have known each other since freshman year at Iowa.

A little champagne in a wine glass during sunset

Lunch at Kimo's

Lunch in Lahaina with 2 Norwegian friends we met on the cruise. We disembarked in Honolulu and flew to Maui but the ship went on to Maui in 2 days.

At the end of 3 weeks we flew back to Denver! Home again after 263 days!