Diddakoi W W
Take me home...Hawaii

 HAWAII 2001

In September Mom was asked to go to Hawaii to teach the BSF class there. Since she was going to be there for Thanksgiving, we talked about having Dad and me come out to visit her there. Dad's leg and ear weren't feeling up to the long flights, but I flew out to spend five days on the island of Oahu.

Diamond Head

Sunday, 18 November, 2001 - Philadelphia - San Francisco - Honolulu
I had heard rumors of the ill-health of United Airlines and decided that I should use up some of my frequent flyer miles to go to Hawaii. I had a 7:00 a.m. flight from Philly to San Francisco, and with the increased security and the beginning of the holiday travel period I wanted to make sure I got there with plenty of time.

I got up early and finished packing my suitcase - Alien was not happy - and called downstairs for a cab at 4:45 a.m. It only took fifteen minutes to get to the airport. I tried to watch for the Leonid meteor showers, but it wasn't exactly perfect viewing conditions from the cab.

It took no time at all to check in and get through security, and by 5:20 I was waiting in line at the only open coffee stand at Philly International. Obviously the gentleman running the stand had not yet had HIS coffee, given the speed at which he was moving. They kindly provided a television for us to watch while we waited (and waited) so we were able to catch up on all those old Brady Bunch episodes we had missed. All in all a rather surreal experience for that hour of the morning.

The plane was an Airbus 319, and I had a row of seats to myself. Just after take-off I laid down and slept for about an hour. When I awoke, I did some work on the computer, read magazines and watched the movie - The Princess Diaries - starring Julie Andrews. Cute, predictable, uncomplicated.

We landed around 10:00 a.m. (PST), and I searched out a seat in the terminal near an electrical outlet so I could recharge the laptop. I also stopped at a sushi stand in the food court and picked up a California Roll for later. My flight was due to leave at 12:15, but it was a Boeing 777 which is a HUGE plane and with the increased security checks it took quite a while for them to board everyone since it was a full flight. My seat was towards the front of the plane so I was one of the last to board, and discovered that they put me in "Economy Plus", an area of seats with increased leg room. It still felt pretty tight, so I was glad I wasn't in a regular seat.

I read and worked on the computer, watched the movie - The Score - with Robert DeNiro, Ed Norton and Marlon Brando. Suspenseful, predictable, uncomplicated. I ate my sushi in lieu of the faux beef/faux pasta selections - even though it wasn't great sushi, it looked much better than the plane food.

We were a bit late getting into Honolulu around 4:00 or so. We flew in towards the west right over Waikiki, which is unusual, but I was sitting on the left side of the plane so I got a view of...water. Oh well. It took quite a while to taxi to the terminal, and then we waited about fifteen minutes for our luggage. They put the bags on TWO carousels - my neck was getting tired of swiveling back and forth by the time my bag came off. They don't allow anyone to stop and wait for passengers, so Mom had to circle the airport a couple of times before she spotted me. She's using Rich and Linda's car while she's staying in their house. I loaded the bags in the trunk and off we went!

The house is about a twenty minute drive from the airport, past Waikiki, and between the Diamond Head and Koko Head volcanos. It is set up in the hills, in a gated community, with a beautiful view of the ocean. The house is a multi-split-level - first the garage and entry, then up half a flight of stairs to the kitchen and dining area, up a half to the living room, up a half to the guest rooms, and finally up a half to the master bedroom. Oh, and a roof deck the is reached by climbing up a ladder and shimmying through a skylight! Mom insisted that I take the master bedroom for my stay - it is so lovely.

View From the Master Bedroom

Sunrise From Willowby's

We had a nice light dinner of cheese, liverwurst, bread and crackers and talked and read. I was pretty beat - it was a long day covering five time zones, twenty hours and 5,000 miles, so I turned in around 7:30.

Monday, 19 November, 2001 - Honolulu
I woke early, around 2:30, and did some computer work and read in bed until 5:00 or so. I went downstairs and sussed out the mugs and teabags and was doing crosswords puzzles when Mom got up. We moved up to the living room and watched the sunrise - beautiful! I made bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast and we listened to the very noisy traffic along the street. They are doing a lot of construction further up the hill and huge trucks and trailers rumble up and down the street all day. We called Dad and told him that we'd come pick him up at the airport if he'd come, but he just laughed.

We lazed around and went to the mall after lunch and shopped for a while. I bought some make-up at Merle Norman, and Mom got some greeting cards and a new muumuu. She's so native! We came back to the house and I checked in with the office and responded to a few emails. A nice restful day. We made reservations for dinner on Tuesday night at Roy's and on Friday night at Kao's Thai restaurant with Nan and Don Fancher. Nan is in China, but should be back by the end of the week, so we hope she can join us. We had cheese, liverwurst, bread and crackers again for dinner - yum - and watched some TV. I didn't make it much past 7:30 again tonight.

Tuesday, 20 November, 2001 - Honolulu
I was up early again, and snacked on some leftover Brie for breakfast. Mom has class this morning, so we got ready and she dropped me near the Ala Moana Shopping Center on her way. I found a place to get an iced coffee, and walked around the shopping center until it opened. I didn't find too much to buy, although they have some lovely shops there.

Mom picked me up around 11:30 and we drove to Ward Warehouse, another shopping center. We had lunch at Kincaid's, a nice restaurant that Nan had recommended. When we sat down and looked at the menus, I realized that it was part of a chain that owns the Cutter's restaurant in Philadelphia. We had soup and salads - very nice. After lunch we shopped - we found a group of stores that reminded both of us of a shopping center in Singapore that we have visited - a rather odd feeling! I found some earrings for Carol and we browsed through the kitchen store. We also stopped at the Verizon store to see if I could get a recharger for my cell phone. They were rather rude about the fact that they didn't have them and sent us off to another location near Ala Moana. They were more helpful there and I got my recharger. We headed home and Mom prepared for her lecture the next day and I took a nap.

We got changed and drove down the road to Roy's Restaurant for dinner. I missed the turn, but we eventually found it. Maura and I had been here for dinner in 1994 when we were in Honolulu for a convention - she's often said it was her favorite restaurant. We had a beautiful table next to the windows overlooking the ocean. We split an order of crabcakes for an appetizer and each had the mixed grill of mahi mahi and opacapaco fish - very tasty. On our way out, I saw that they had Roy's cookbooks available, so I bought one for Maura - it was even signed, "Aloha, Roy." We drove home and I went to bed - it was way past my bedtime.

Wednesday, 21 November, 2001 - Honolulu
Mom had her lecture this morning, so we got ready and Mom dropped me at the bus stop near the church. I took the bus down to Waikiki and spent the day there. I found a Starbucks for an iced coffee and a croissant, and went to the Royal Hawaiian shopping center. After browsing a bit, and buying a beach mat, I went down to the beach and caught some rays for an hour or so. It wasn't very crowded and the light clouds tempered the sun a bit. I went to Duke's for lunch and had a grilled tuna salad while watching the waves.

I went back down to the beach for a while after lunch, and walked along the shore and snapped some pictures of the kids playing in the water. It is so picturesque here.




I also walked around the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. It is the big pink hotel that is right on the beach in Waikiki.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Grounds

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Grounds

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Grounds

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Grounds

Mom picked me up at the Royal Hawaiian in the afternoon and we went back to the house. I checked my messages at the office and heard some good news about Maura. She was doing even better than her doctors had hoped and would be going home by Thanksgiving. We decided not to go out for dinner that night, and just ate a light dinner of cold roast chicken, asparagus, cheese and bread.

Thursday, 22 November, 2001, Thanksgiving - Honolulu
We had another lazy morning. We spoke to Dad, and Mom called all of her sisters and reached everyone except Marlyn. I went up on the roof deck for a while and enjoyed the morning sunshine. Mom had made reservations at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel for Thanksgiving brunch, so we got ready and left a little before 1:00. The hotel is beautiful, right on the water near Diamond Head. The weather was lovely so they seated us outside on the patio.

First we went to the appetizer table - a large variety of salads (green, pasta, potato, etc), crab claws and legs, antipasto, soups, seared tuna slices, fresh ahi sashimi, sushi. We ate and ate and paused to rest before going up to the entree table. Of course they had the full Thanksgiving feast with roast turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, gravy, but they also had many other options: roast pig, lamb, roast beef, steamed dim sum, plus brunch items like omelettes and waffles. We each had tastes of various things, but I ended up going back to the appetizer table for another plate of the delicious sushi and sashimi. And since it was a holiday, we decided to have dessert: boston creme pie, mango cake, and a wonderful bread pudding.

After eating (and eating!) we walked around the grounds of the hotel. They have several large salt water lagoons that are home to a variety of sea creatures: dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays. They offer a program called Dolphin Quest that allows people to swim with dolphins and we watched a group being introduced to two of the dolphins. We also watched two other dolphins who were in a separate pool - they played and swam, moving several balls and toys around their pool, all the while looking enviously at the dolphins that were participating in Dolphin Quest.

We were stuffed, drove home and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. We had planned to eat up the rest of the roast chicken for dinner, but we were both so full that neither one of us ended up eating anything at all! What a fun Thanksgiving - thank you Mom!

Friday, 23 November, 2001 - Honolulu - Los Angeles
We were hungry when we got up and Mom made bacon and eggs for breakfast. We stripped the bed and Mom did a load of laundry. I spent some time on the roof deck again, then showered and changed. I packed up my suitcase and prepared for the long trip back home.

We went to the church at 5:00 to meet Nan and Don. They were a little late because traffic was so heavy. We left our car there and rode with them to Keo's Thai restaurant near Waikiki. They seated us at a table near the open windows, and the waiter recognized Nan, Don and Mom immediately! Nan and Don ordered for the table: crispy noodles, spring rolls, spicy eggplant, ginger beans and "Evil Jungle Prince" with jasmine rice. It was all so good!

We talked and talked. Don is an Emergency Room doctor and he asked about Maura - they had met her when we came to Hawaii on business in 1994. In fact we all had dinner at Keo's during that trip! Nan had just returned from China, where she had gone with a friend who was adopting a baby, and she filled us in on their adventures. It sounds like her trip was really wonderful - what an exotic experience. We were so glad that she could stay awake long enough to have dinner with us.

After dinner, Nan and Don dropped us off at our car and Mom dove me to the airport. We said our goodbyes and I checked in and made my way through security. My flight wasn't until 10:20 p.m. so I stopped at a cafe in the terminal and watched TV until it was time to board. Once again I was seated in the "Economy Plus" section, and shortly after take-off I fell asleep and slept until we were just off the coast of Los Angeles.

Saturday, 24 November, 2001 - Los Angeles - Philadelphia
We flew into LAX, and for the first time that I can remember, we landed straight in, landing toward the east! Since the prevailing winds are from the ocean, flights normally take off and land to the west. While we made our approach, I was expecting us to fly north of the airport and turn back over the city before landing. As we descended lower and lower over the water I thought, "Where are we going, and how are we going to turn around before we land??" Surprise!

We were early, so once again I found myself in line at the only open Starbucks stand at about 5:15 a.m. There was a National Guardsman in line behind me with his M-16 rifle. I mentioned that he could probably cut in line with that gun, and he replied with a grin, "I could probably do a lot of things."

I found a place to sit near my gate and read until they called my 7:50 a.m. flight to Philadelphia. The flight wasn't crowded and there was an empty seat between me and the woman on the aisle. We pushed back from the gate on time and taxied out to the runway.

I decided I would take a sleeping pill for this flight, but I wanted to wait until we were ready to take-off - I wouldn't want to be delayed in the terminal, falling asleep in the corner! Just as we turned onto the take-off runway, I took my pill and settled back in my seat. We thundered down the runway, but halfway down we came to an abrupt halt! The pilot asked everyone to remain seated and he quickly pulled us off the runway. After a few moments, we stopped and the pilot explained that the back-up generator faulted out as we began our take-off. While the back-up was not being used, if either of the primary generators stopped working, it would default to the back-up, so they needed to check it to make sure everything was OK. Luckily everything turned out to be fine - if we had to change planes I probably would have overslept. After an hour's delay to check the generator and let the brakes cool down, we tried it again, and took off for Philly.

It was an uneventful flight after that point - probably because I slept through it. We landed an hour late, but I was delighted to see that the weather was not cold. I caught a cab back home and called Mom to let her know I arrived. Despite the long flights, this was a really wonderful trip and very relaxing - just what I needed!