A zig and a zag across the Pacific

I awoke Sunday morning feeling edgy.  It was 5 o’clock and I waited there in the strange bed for the wake-up call at 6:15.  A crucial day of travel was arising with the San Francisco dawn.  I was so groggy I could barely remember our 9 o’clock flight last night from Phoenix and the late shuttle to the Holiday inn.

I was beginning to think we’d never make it to Oahu for Christmas.

Sadly, there was nothing  to do now but let U S Airways handle it, the very people who had screwed it up to begin with.  I could pray to the gods of travel of course.   But it was those fickle spirits who’d allowed the airline to cancel our Friday night flight to Honolulu.  Mechanical problems, they said.   Right.  Just think, we should’ve been picking up our rental car in Waikiki  about now.  Not languishing in a Bay-Area hotel a thoursand or so miles away.  I know.  I could be more generous.  The airline could’ve flown that “defective” plane right into the deep Pacific, and where would we be now?

Anyway, the day ahead was strewn with obstacles.  Everything had to work clickety-click.  I wasn’t optimistic.

There was a shuttle to catch in 45 minutes to the San Francisco airport.  Two plane connections to make on two different airlines after flying the previous night to San Francisco on a third.  A rental car to pick up by 5 p.m.  A key to retrieve from a mailbox at a vaguely-described shopping mall in a Hawaiian town so obscure I couldn’t pronounce its name.  Then after all that, drive another 12 miles in darkness to our condo rental following written directions that were not much clearer than lava.

As we hopped on the 7:10 shuttle, I was well into possible options should things continue to go awry.

To my relief, and surprise really, almost everything worked out as scheduled.  Almost.

Our United Airlines flight to Kona arrived right on the money, with plenty of time to catch the Hawaiian Airlines connection to Honolulu.  And, ta-dah, there we stood in the Honolulu Airport at 3 o’clock.  Clickety-click.  Until we reached Baggage Claim the Hawaiian carousel.  My bag arrived but Nebra’s didn’t.

While the clock ticked away valuable minutes, we tried to put the baggage mystery in focus.  Finally, we learned Nebra’s roller-bag missed the Kona flight from San Francisco and was sent on a nonstop United flight and arrived on the island long before my bag did.  Trouble was  the bag rested on a carousel at the other end of the airport.  And time to pickup the rental car was fleeting.  It was now 3:30 with a 10-mile ride by taxi to the Enterprise agency on Waikiki looming.  Decision time.

We had saved about $300 by renting the car off-site rather than at the airport Enterprise, and I wanted Nebra to help with the driving.  That in essence meant Nebra had to appear with me in Waikiki to sign on as a co-driver.  Her bag could wait.  We’d pick it up later.

The rental car savings made a $40 cab ride into town palatable.  And the Chinese driver who spoke broken English got us to the car agency in great time despite what I called heavy traffic on the H-1.  “It’s nothing today,” he said as he wheeled smoothly from one lane to another.  No one even honked at us in anger.  Layed-back Hawaiians, I guess.

It took only about 20 minutes to make arrangements with Enterprise and check out the dark gray Elantra.   And we were back at the Airport by 4:45 to snatch Nebra’s bag and start to head north on the H-2 to Hale’iwa, where we would find the condo key with no problem at a closed realty agency.

I felt heady by then, and we walked across the shopping center for a supper at a sports bar called Breakers.  It was a beautiful evening, right there at seaside on North Shore of Oahu.  I  felt so good in fact that obnoxious drunk a table near didn’t faze me.  He went nuts watching his Eagles rout the Bears on TV.

It was dark by the time Nebra wheeled us in to the Turtle Bay Resort  near the northern-most point on Oahu.  And, thankfully, far away from that internment camp for Mainland tourists, Waikiki.  Do not like that place.  North Shore is for all practical purposes the back-country of the island.  “Keep Country Country” is a popular slogan up here.   Surfing is king.  Not much truck for whims of haole tourists.

And, after staggering around in the dark trying to decipher directions to our condo unit, we finally found it.  A gated community south of the big hotel.  We punched in the access code, the crossbar lifted and, after a right turn into a small parking lot, voila, we were home for the Holidays.  Just 42 hours later than anticipated.  But home.

Nothing to it at all.


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