Traveling to Maui

A great stopover at SFO, followed by a great flight with amazing window views at sunset over the Pacific Ocean

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 Our journey to Maui took us on a slightly different flight path this time, as we intentionally opted to travel through San Francisco International Airport instead of Los Angeles International Airport.  The more I fly through SFO, the more I like it and appreciate what it has to offer.  It is such a great airport with awesome traveler comforts, like comfortable seating areas, great shops and restaurants and many electrical outlets to recharge a phone or laptop and easy gate connections, at least for what we’ve needed in the past.  If possible, we will likely connect through SFO on any future trips when possible, too.

Let me add how very difficult it is to stay on a low-carb eating plan while in San Francisco, the home of Boudin, even when at the airport there.  I love how so many airports these days really reflect the food culture of their area in a quality way, and SFO is a great example.  I took a one-week break during this special trip and made a vow to walk as much as I could while we were gone to help mitigate the effects of that decision, with good results.

Lunch at SFO
A great lunch at San Francisco International Airport

We did not see our bay area kids on this trip, which was the only sad part of the trip for me.  It was all the worse when our plane flew right over the area where they live, too.  I was just there a month earlier, though, so I really should not complain.

For me, the highlight of the flight to Maui was the most amazing golden hour over the Pacific Ocean.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a magnificent display of transitional color from an airplane window, or anywhere else for that matter.  I literally watched the sky and ocean go from their normal hues to varying golden shades over the course of about thirty minutes, snapping pictures with my trusty camera phone.  Yes, I am that annoying person that routinely takes pictures from my window on the airplane, even though in this case, I doubt my photos can even begin to accurately convey what I saw.  Watching the Belt of Venus appear and then disappear was just fabulous.

Flying Into Golden Hour 1

Flying Into Golden Hour 2

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Flying Into Golden Hour 4

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I had no clue at the time that this was going to just be the first of many amazing times at sunset for us during our week in Maui.  We made a point to be in some great viewing spots each evening around sunset as much as possible, and what a memorable time we enjoyed every single evening.  Our sunset memories will definitely be one of my special memories from this trip, and I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences here soon!

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The Flight to Kauai

One of the most challenging parts of our recent trip to Kauai was simply getting there.  We had to change our outgoing flights three times, including a last-minute change due to a large snowstorm that hit the Denver area and could possibly have delayed or canceled our flight from there onto Kauai.  The airline was very good to work with us and allowed us to make the changes without any fees, including that last-minute change, since we had a good reason each time to make the needed changes.  Unfortunately, making the change to go through Houston instead of Denver caused us to lose almost a full day in Kauai, but we made the decision to make that change in hopes of just getting there and not get caught in the middle of the snowstorm in Colorado, which dumped a foot of snow in the Denver area.  It was a good decision.

We left on Monday afternoon and first flew to Houston, where we spent the night in a hotel near the airport.  Our flight was almost an hour late arriving at Bush Intercontinental, though, so we ended up having a late dinner with our dear friends that live in the area.  We ate at Pappasito’s Cantina, which is always a treat, to be sure, as we do not have one in our area.  I had the Shrimp Brochette, which was legal on my diet and so very good.

Pappasito’s Famous Shrimp Brochette – “A skewer of mesquite-grilled shrimp, stuffed with cheese & fresh jalapenos, wrapped in bacon with pico de gallo”

We had a nice visit with our friends, and just as we finished our dinner and headed to our hotel for the night, the rain began to fall.  I think it rained all night, which was quite welcome in that area.  As we left on the airport shuttle bus the next morning, it was still raining just a bit, but several roads in the area were apparently flooded, as it rained almost 3.5″ overnight!  Fortunately, we made it to the airport without any delays, and our flight to Los Angeles left right on time around 9 am.  I later learned that several flights that left after our flight were delayed, though.

Houston Rain
Raining in Houston

The flight to LAX was uneventful, which is always a good thing.  Hubby napped and I listened to some great tunes that I had downloaded from Spotify, which is a new thing for me and something that I am truly enjoying, I might add.  It is well worth the $10 each month for me.  I think we also flew over Meteor Crater on the way, too.

Meteor Crater Arizona
I think this was Meteor Crater in Arizona, as seen from our plane

When we arrived at LAX, we decided to find a place to eat lunch, which proved to be quite a challenge.  I had not been to LAX in many years, and honestly, I don’t care if I ever go there again after our horrible experience on this trip.  We were relegated to a very small area in the terminal that was extremely crowded with few options for dining.  After checking out our options, which took only about five minutes, we decided to eat at a 50’s style diner.  The food was terrible and very overpriced, and I ate only about three bites of my burger.  That was likely three bites too many because in about an hour, I started to feel quite sick at my stomach.

Our layover at LAX was just under five hours, and it was a miserable time there, to be sure.  It was about 100 degrees outside on that day, and part of the airport had no air conditioning, including a long hallway that went to our next gate area.  It was so miserably hot, and I started to feel even sicker for that reason.  Fortunately, when we finally made it to the gate area, the air conditioning was working well.  We waited there for about an hour, then boarded our flight to Lihue, Kauai.

As we boarded the flight, we quickly discovered that there was no air conditioning on the plane, and my heart just sank.  I had just started to feel a bit better, but after only ten minutes on that hot plane, my stomach started up with a vengeance once again.  I got up and went back out to the gate area for about fifteen minutes while they finished loading passengers, but then I had to get back on the plane as that task was completed.  I have never, ever been on such a hot plane.  The unit that was to cool the plane while it was on the ground was not working, or that was the excuse that was given to us, and I guess they had no problem loading us on a plane that was 100 degrees inside.

The first three hours of that six-hour flight were horrible, as the plane never really cooled off during that time.  Fortunately, about three hours into the flight, we heard a compressor kick on, and the plane finally started to cool off.  I must sadly say that our cabin crew was bad, too.  I have never had a stewardess refuse to get me a simple drink of water until this trip, but that actually happened.  On the entire six-hour flight, I only managed to get two small cups of water.  I learned a valuable lesson on that flight, and I will never get on a plane again without buying a bottle of water before I get on the plane.  In fact, we will also make sure that we buy food to take along on longer flights, too, as the food to purchase on the flight looked very unappealing, and many people just passed, despite the fact that we were in the air for just over six hours.  Lesson learned – do not rely on the airline to provide food and drinks, no matter how long the flight is.

By the time we arrived in Lihue, about 7 pm Hawaii time and midnight our time, I was pretty dehydrated and very miserable.  However, it still did not reduce my joy to just be back on the island once again.  It was cloudy and cool when we arrived, and the open-air airport is always a treat, and immediately you feel that you are a million miles from the rest of the world.  I waited with our bags just outside baggage claim while Hubby picked up our rental car, and it was wonderful to just breathe in the cool, moist air and realize we had finally made it back to paradise once again.

Welcome to Kauai
The welcome sign at the airport in Lihue

Fortunately, we spent our first night at the beautiful Marriott, which was only a ten minute drive from the airport.  I was never so glad to see a hotel room and comfy bed in my life either.  Hubby got me a cold drink from a vending machine across the hall, and after I sipped on it and took some nausea medicine, I finally felt much better and slept well that night once my stomach finally settled down.

Thankfully, the rest of our flights on the trip were very nice, and all of the equipment worked just fine.  However, if we ever go back to Kauai again, I will do everything I can to avoid connecting through LAX.  The connection through San Francisco was so much better.  SFO is a beautiful, well-equipped airport, and LAX does not even fall in the same category, in my opinion.  I miss the direct flight on Continental to Hawaii from Houston, but I guess that is now a thing of the past.  That flight was so much fun, and the cabin crew always dressed up in mumus and leis to really make the flight a lot of fun with outstanding service.  There was no such fun on this horrible flight, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirit once we finally arrived in Kauai.

In a future post, I will share about our time in Kauai, both on this trip and a couple of previous trips.

Update 6/26/14:  If you would like to continue on this trip journey with me, read Two Days in Kauai and Magnificent Big Sur!😉

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