Kailua Vacation Diary

  Idea Becomes Reality

John booked the airline tickets and rent-a-car for Kailua-Kona on the west side of the big island of Hawaii and I began scouring the internet for places to stay.  (Some of the web sites that I found most helpful and informative are listed on the links file.)  I learned a lot about all of the different areas around the island but it was only internet knowledge.  There was really no way to tell what these places were actually like or whether or not they would appeal to us personally.  I found a host of bed and breakfasts, condos, houses and cottages for rent as well as low, medium and high priced hotels.  Some of the b&bs, condos and cottages were already booked and I wondered if we should book the full vacation in advance but we were reluctant to commit ourselves to places sight unseen.   We finally decided to book just the first three nights in a medium priced hotel in Kailua and then wing it from there, finding places that appealed to us.

We set off from our home along the Oregon coast on Wednesday afternoon, the 18th of February, 2004.  It was just the beginning of Pisces and the day before the new moon which felt appropriate for the beginning of an adventure.  As we drove off we wondered what we might have forgotten, hoping it wouldn’t be anything important.  It rained throughout the three hour drive to Eugene where we would spend the night before an early morning flight to San Francisco then on to Kailua-Kona.  During dinner, John asked me if I had packed the cables and battery charger for my digital camera and I was hit with a sinking feeling.  "Remember when we were wondering what we forgot?  Now we know," I said.  This was indeed a blow.  I’d just gotten a new 512k card for my camera so I could takes lots of pictures but without a way to charge my battery or download them to the laptop, I would be limited to maybe 50.  I thought that maybe our daughter Sarah, who has the same camera, could send her cables and charger on to the hotel.  With that hope in mind and a faith that all would work out okay we finished our dinner.

We planned to see "The Return of the King" at the movie theatre that night but opted to browse Barnes and Nobles instead.  John bought a paperback version of James A. Michener’s epic, "Hawaii" and I picked up the latest edition of "The Big Island Revealed" and a large Hawaii atlas.  All of these proved to be worthwhile purchases.  When we returned to our hotel, we called Sarah and she agreed to Fed Ex the cables and charger wiki wiki (very fast).

After a comfortable night at the Valley River Inn and a dawn breakfast overlooking the gray-green Willamette River, we boarded the shuttle service to the airport.  The only other passengers were the affable flight crew who would be flying us to San Francisco.  While the captain and stewardess waited in a long line for cups of Starbuck’s coffee, we chatted with the co-pilot.  At least we didn’t have to worry that we were going to be late for our flight.  When we did board, they invited John up front into the cockpit and showed him all the computer upgrades that had been introduced since he had last flown a plane.  It was an easy one hour flight to San Francisco and as we walked from the plane across the tarmac to the terminal, we enjoyed the last crisp, cool sunshine that we would feel for the next two weeks.  After a short lay-over we boarded our United flight, delighted to find it not fully booked.  We were able to spread out across three seats – ahhh.

John got sucked instantly into Michener’s "Hawaii" and I studied "The Big Island Revisited".  Five hours of flying across nothing but water and clouds gave me the very real impression of just how far out of the way Hawaii really is.  At 2,394 miles, San Francisco is the nearest port to Hawaii.  In the unreal world of a jet at 25,000 feet, time warped.  Meals were provided and we were glad for the whole grain, nutritious sandwiches that we brought with us.  A movie and television kept all of us in the illusion that everything was as normal as it is back home safe on terra firma.  In a sense, we were a small island of solid earthiness flying through space not so different from the rocky islands we were approaching that seemed to float on that immense ocean.

Looking out the westward window, we saw a different shape to the clouds.  Before too long we saw that it was land that had captured those clouds forming them into high puffs.  The feeling that came to me as we saw Maui growing out of those clouds, the first land we’d seen in five hours, must have been akin to what Columbus had felt or the Polynesians when they first discovered the islands of Hawaii.  "Land Ho!" expressed it well.  All the anticipation and imagining was now turned into real excitement.  A smooth landing and the sight of palm trees as we taxied to the terminal brought us to the beginning of our Hawaii experience.



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