Friday, July 23, 2010

Adventure Day on Maui

Airfare to Maui: $385.20
Admission to the Maui Ocean Center: $60.11
When we first arrived in Hono and were unpacking at the hotel, David laughed and brought my attention to his backpack. He had unwittingly but successfully brought his Swiss Army knife through Logan security in his carry-on. Initially surprised, on reflection I assumed that maybe the rules had changed, as they had with sewing scissors, and maybe now it’s okay to carry a Swiss Army knife on a plane. Still, I thought to myself, “We should check that on the way home”.

For our daytrip to Maui, since we had no baggage to check, we planned to arrive about 45 minutes before departure. We drove to the airport, parked in central parking, and started looking for our airline. We finally learned it was as far from where we were while still able to be in the airport. The clock was ticking, and we were about 30 minutes prior to departure now (and we had not checked in online the night before because the Hilton Hawaiian Village charges like, $24 a day for internet.) We finally hailed a cab and jumped in, but the driver seemed not to understand where we want to go. So I got the dispatcher to explain to him, and the cabbie got all bent out of shape that he was only getting a $5 fare from me. He didn’t want to take me, and frankly, I had heard enough bellyaching this week: “ENOUGH! Just take us to the airline, please.” Yes, I may have yelled at the guy, but at least I was polite about it. We finally get to the airline and check in at the counter with a few minutes to spare.

We can walk casually, at last, through security. Shoes and belts off, laptops in their own bins, pockets empty, we walk through the metal detector, and are waiting for our bags to come through, when I hear it. “I need a bag check please … strap” Oh, crap. There it is: David’s knife is still in the pocket on the strap of his backpack (a Swiss Army backpack, by the way, with a special pocket just for the knife). “Ma’am, this can’t go through. You can check it or discard it. What would you like to do?”


Now, if this had been my Swiss Army knife, I probably would have abandoned it and hoped that the TSA guy ended the day with a nice new-to-him knife. But this was Tom’s knife, which holds so much more value than any old knife ever could. So, feet still bare, I run back to the counter while the flight begins to board and find Charmaine, the facilitator, who takes pity on me, grabs the bag, literally writes my name and destination on her hand so she can hand check the bag while I run back to the gate. I’m still not sure if she even charged me the $10 checked bag fee.

I get back to the gate and go through security again. The TSA folks smiled at me and were very nice but (and I really think this is a good thing and I’m totally not complaining) were just as careful in their search the second time I went though. Not that I'd ever try to pull a fast one on TSA ...

We arrive at Maui (still wondering where the airport abbreviation OGG comes from), and go to baggage claim. Suitcase. Suitcase. Duffle. Carton. Suitcase. And on it goes, but no almost-empty backpack, save for a Swiss Army knife in the strap pocket.

No one’s in the baggage office, so we make our way to the airline ticket counter where, a few phone calls later, we learn it will arrive on the next flight, in about 90 minutes. Nothing to do except sit at a nearby Starbucks (Is this the only Starbuck’s in the US that doesn’t have free wifi? Grrrrrr.), sip our beverages v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y and wait for the next flight. I used the time to figure out how to get to the aquarium most cheaply, and it turns out Maui has a pretty good public bus system. We could take a cab for about $45 each way, or we could take the bus for $2 each. Ca-ching. Only problem is, the shuttle bus arrives about 10 minutes after the flight lands. If David’s backpack is the last thing off the plane, we simply won’t make the connection, and we’ll have to wait another hour for the next shuttle. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Hallelujah, it’s here, it’s down, down the chute, and at last within reach. I grabbed the backpack and on cue, we all run to the shuttle stop. Within seconds, the bus is there, and we’re on our way to the aquarium. We make our connecting bus, and the bus stop is, thankfully, right in front of the aquarium. We’re there at last, and have a wonderful walk through this marvelous little place, see the jellies, walk through the tunnel, and catch a fleeting glimpse of Geoffrey’s favorite, the tiger shark.

Visit over, we meander back to the bus stop in time for the next bus, and grab a ramen lunch at the Queen Ka’ahumanu mall before making our 4:30 connection to the airport bus, with plenty of time to check the bag and make our 6:18 flight.

So we’re on the shuttle, and the drive announces each stop. She announced the airport stop, and so I prepared to depart. Geoffrey even stood up, ready to leave. But I waited for the bus to stop before I stood up … hmm, I wondered to myself, what’s up with that sign, “Airport Exit Left Lane”? I turned to the passenger behind me. “Did I just miss the airport stop?” Yup.

So I fly to the front of the bus, and ask the driver. No one got up to debark, so she didn’t stop. And we didn’t get up to debark because she didn’t stop. Oh, well, can we just get off here? (We were at a red light.) Nope, only at stops. One thing I had already noticed about the Maui bus is that stops are not every couple of blocks, like on the T, they are miles, literally miles, apart. Stuff in Maui is, itself, miles apart. Little groups of houses and businesses comprising separate little villages and towns, and probably a stop for each.

I was not angry at the bus driver, because I totally get the rule that you can’t just drop somebody any old place they request. But it’s miles to the next stop, and another 40 minutes before we loop back to the airport. So yeah, I’m mad at myself for missing the airport. I look at the bus schedule, look at the scenery (it’s beautiful on Maui), look back at the bus schedule. At the next stop, after about a 20 minute bus ride, I tell the kids to grab their stuff because going to debark and find a cab. The man sitting next to us, a very nice man carrying his pet cockatiel, advised me to stay on the bus, that there simply aren’t any taxis upcountry.

Deep cleansing breath. Okay … we stay on the bus. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. I look at the schedule again and see that we will arrive at the airport at 5:45, and look at our boarding passes (during the long wait this morning, I had the good sense to check in for this afternoon’s flight) to see that boarding will commence at 5:50. Deep cleansing breath.

The bus driver has announced each stop as she arrived at it. At the Hali’imale stop, she had the grace and good sense to add “Next stop: Airport” (unspoken comma stupid). So we pulled that string requesting a stop, and then sat, breathing cleansing breaths, for the remaining 20 minutes. I like to think she picked up the pace on my behalf, because each stop heretofore has been exactly on schedule, but we arrived at the airport at 5:37, a full 8 minutes early. We ran to the ticket counter, checked the bag and ran to security. Shoes and belts off, laptops in their own bins, pockets empty, this time we make it through uneventfully. I had absolutely no expectation that the bag would make it onto the plane this time, though, and had already decided to come back tomorrow and pick up the bag after it arrived on the next flight, whenever that might be.

In line to board the plane, the luggage truck arrives to load everyone else’s luggage – all those fellow travelers that don’t have weapons in their checked bags and arrived the requisite two hours ahead of departure. I see the distinctive suitcases belonging to the family that checked in before us, a family of 10 from Salt Lake City. I am all but certain that their day was less chaotic than ours.

With the sun dipping behind the mountains, clouds circling the island, I saw the most beautiful sight. It took my breath away. I saw some beautiful blue, tinged with red, and some silvery-grey. Not the sunset, it was that sucker of a backpack being loaded into the plane! It made the flight with us, we would pick it up in Hono, and after a quick drive back to the hotel this crazy daytrip to Maui would be over.

Adventure day on Maui: priceless.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness - what an adventure! Think of all you taught your kids that day about flexibility, thinking on your feet, patience, creatively dealing with adversity and new situations...the aquarium was just a footnote on your day. All great life skills they will use in their future when you are not there to guide them. p.s. now I feel guilty that I spent 10 days on Maui and never even went to the Ocean Center - and you all went to such efforts to spend a few hours there.