I am sitting on the balcony of our condo, overlooking the ocean off the island of Maui right now. Kenny is sound asleep after a morning of frolicking on the beach, throwing fistfuls of sand, and diving headlong into the gentle waves. Casey is beside me with a Corona and I am sipping on a crisp chardonay, catching up on the latest blog news while waiting for my massage appointment, which will begin in about two hours. Tonight we will be dining at a five-star restaurant and looking forward to the next two full weeks we have to spend here, relaxing, eating, strolling, sunbathing and swimming.
Please keep all this in mind as you read the story of how we got here. I know that I am on this side of paradise, and am a blessed young woman, so though the tone of the story may project a minor nightmare, the ends that justifies the means makes it all melt away like the gourmet macadamia and chocolate ice cream I ate last night.
We have been planning this vacation since last January, when we came here for fourteen days with a four-month-old Kenny. We planned each detail of the travel with such minute attention that we left absolutely no (we thought) incidental to chance. Casey even went in person to the airport three weeks ago to confirm that our tickets were perfect.
That didn’t stop a mechanical glitch from canceling the flight that would have taken us to our connecting flight that was supposed to take us straight into Maui.
See, we got up at 4:30 in the morning, got a ride to the airport with Casey’s dad, and checked our exactly-fifty-pound bags, and headed through security. That’s where they confiscated all of my not-too-cheap Mary Kay makeup because it wasn’t in the proper ziplock bag. That was the first indication that even the best laid plans are no match for the TSA. Besides the makeup, the very large and grumpy security lady also threw away my hairspray and Kenny’s sippy cup, because it contained water instead of juice or milk. A much nicer skinny guy guard fished it out of the can for us and returned it, as Kenny wailed, “WALER! WALER!” We got to the gate, played with Kenny, ate a muffin and then heard the announcement that almost caused us to self-combust…
“Ladies and Gentlemen on flight 487 to Phoenix, we have just received word that there is a mechanical problem with the plane. Please sit tight, and I’ll know more in thirty minutes.”
Ok, we thought: we had an hour+ layover in Phoenix. We could still make it. And hour later, we were being told that the flight wasn’t taking off anytime soon due to a part that needed to be replaced: “I don’t know what the part is, when it’s arriving, or where it’s coing from,” said the English-accented flight attendant… “If you have a connecting flight please come see me.”
Another hour later, we were told that our only option, for the next three days (!) was to drive to another airport two hours away the following morning and fly coach (our original tickets were for first class) through LA. We called Casey’s dad, and I went to baggage claim with Kenny to recollect our bags while Casey went to the ticket counter to see if anyone up there had any idea of how to get us to Maui. We had a lot of bags. I managed to get them all myself while Kenny cheered from the stroller and get them onto a cart and up the elevator. Just take a minute to picture a 105 pound woman pushing both a stroller and a cart loaded down with a carseat, a 50 pound duffle bag and two 50 pound suitcases. I almost made it to Casey but I got stuck getting out of the elevator door at the top when the duffle bag fell and jammed the strolled in the door. Casey happened to call my cell phone at that moment, which I answered, incredibly, and ran over to disentangle us from the scene.
We returned home defeated. Casey sprung into action. He got on the computer and found a flight leaving for Hawaii the next morning from Houston. If only we could get to Houston. We managed to convince the airline to book us that afternoon to Houston, put us in a hotel, fly us to Honolulu and then connect us to Maui, causing us to arrive 24 hours after our original arival date. They consented, found us first class seats on a much nicer airplane and we were off, loaded back into the car, a vacation redeemed. Almost. We returned to the airport where they denied any knowledge of booking us on the alternate flight. Casey yelled. Kenny looked up, now awake for roughly 16 hours and no nap in sight, and said, “Dadda?” I started thinking about whether or not it was lady-like to start carrying a flask of whiskey in the diaper bag. Then they figured out the mistake, and sent us on our way to the gate.
This time, all of our liquids were in ziplocks. Good thing, too, because the ticket agent, in an apparent act of revenge, marked our tickets with an “S” which means, in airport security lingo, search these people in every and any way possible. Have you ever seen a fifteen-month-old get patted down, run through an explosive-detecting machine (in my arms, thank God) and inspected like he’s the world’s tiniest nuclear bomb? I joked that they ought to at least offer massages if they were going to touch us like that, but the lady-guard didn’t laugh. They didn’t laugh either when I suggested that they might want to change Kenny’s diaper while they were at it, as he was carrying more than liquids through the gate in there.
But finally we were seated in the comfy seats on our 747 and heading for Houston. The seat was big enough for Kenny and I to sit side-by-side, but by that time in the day, he was so wiped out that all he wanted to do was play with my eyelashes and eat my gourmet airplane food. I shared everything but the double-vodka. The three hour flight went by in a wink (ok, not really). We landed, collected our luggage (which they weren’t able to book all the way through) and headed for the airport Marriott. We got in the elevator, and kept punching our floor, which wouldn’t light up. An automated voice answered with, “Elevator in Fire Mode. Please exit.” and we zoomed to the top floor. Only then did we realize that we needed to insert our room key to gain access to the proper floor. Duh. We got to the room and after filling out the room service breakfast card, collapsed for a five-hour snooze.
We awoke to room service, for which the nice and tidy server demanded cash, as the airline “forgot” to give us our meal vouchers. We paid, ate, wheeled all of our luggage back onto the tram and paraded to the ticket counter to get our passes to Honolulu. This time, the ticket agents were sweet, competant and full of Southern hospitality. We cruised to the gate (after another special “S” rubdown inspection) and settled into the nicest first class you’ll ever see this side of the pond. Though it was only nine in the morning, we ordered champagne (I even let Kenny taste it, since he kept insisting it was “JUICE!” He spit it out and looked at me like I was a maniac for drinking that stuff and defiantly returned to his sippy cup and ritz crackers.) and perused the menu they gave us for the four-course lunch that was being offered on the flight.
The nine hours actually went ok. We ate for the first two. Then Kenny slept for two of them, and woke up to play fairly quietly in the ample space in front of our seats. Casey and I watched a movie. Kenny enjoyed his first cheesesteak sub (offered just before landing as a “snack”) and ate it whole, not settling for the bits of meat and cheese I started pulling off for him. And so we arrived in Honolulu revived and happy to be at least close to our destination.
Our flight to Maui was only 30 minutes from gate to gate, and Kenny and I counted “Aapanes!” and “Copters!” out the window as we gazed on the beautiful string of islands and volcanos strung out across the ocean. We landed and breathed a sigh of relief.
That is, relief until we realized that our luggage was not on the baggage belt. We decided not to fight it (after all, all we needed to do was buy bathing suits and toothpaste, right?) signed out a loaner carseat, hailed a cab and watched the breathtaking ocean-side forty-minute drive to Lahaina town.
As we were seated at dinner an hour later, watching the sunset over the ocean, we got the call that they found our bags and would transport them to our condo. And the rest is history.
Not really history, but the beginings of a pretty awesome vacation. It’s day three, and I need to wrap this up so that I make it to my massage on time. YIPPEE! I’ll write more and post pictures tomorrow. There is more to tell, much more and much more fun. Hi to Mom and Dad! (I’ll call soon!) And a hug to George and Ruby, who are home with Dudley. (And Happy Birthday, George! I knew you weren’t 70 yet…) Thank you!