On this, our last day, yes, I was still up at 5:00. Though after watching the sun lighten the sky for one final time, DH and I went back to bed and everyone slept until 9:15 or so. Though we hated to miss even a minute of our remaining time on Maui, we knew that we never sleep as well as we expect to on those overnight flights.
Breakfast was scrambled eggs and fried rice and fresh papaya and pineapple. We were doing our best to use up the remaining food we had purchased. During breakfast, dolphins were once again just offshore, and we enjoyed watching them frolic about. Everyone was quiet. I think we were all thinking about how very much we were going to miss this.
After breakfast, we went to Napili Bay. We found parking this time, which surprised us, as it was later in the morning. But perhaps the beaches are less crowded overall on Sunday mornings? I still think that this is one of the prettiest beaches going. There is just something about it’s perfect crescent of golden sand, the amazing colors in the bay, and the way the waves roll up over the beach here that is very beautiful and relaxing. We came to love it here when DS was little. Unlike many other beaches, it has a nice mix of good wave action and sandy beach for kids who just want to play in the waves, and decent snorkeling not too far out for others. On this day, the snorkeling was only average. Much like Kapalua Bay, I think the fish counts were less than when I have been here in the past.
After a short time here, DS once again requested Airport Beach, and we obliged. While we were leaving, a carload of people were just unloading their stuff. They were asking everyone they met what we thought the best snorkeling was on the island. As they worked their way towards us, we heard folks mention numerous different beaches. We also heard that they were staying at the Westin, but had not thought to snorkel there at all. I had to chuckle over this. Yes, there are tons of awesome places to snorkel all over the island, but if I had a really great place right outside the door of my hotel, I am not sure I would drag my gear anywhere else.
Generally, we snorkel a variety of places on each trip, including South Maui’s beautiful beaches. This time, our trip seemed so short, that it just seemed easier to waste less time in the car and more time in the water.
Once again back at Airport Beach, I saw several interesting things, including a yellow trumpetfish that was longer than I was. I am here to tell you that when they are that long, they are also broad, and it looked almost like a little alligator. Scary for a moment, but he was not at all interested in me, and I swam on. (Note, as a snorkeler, it is scary to see anything in the ocean that is bigger than you are, even if you know it’s a non-aggressive species!)
DS proceeded to disappear. I would occasionally catch a glimpse of a blue snorkel waaaay far out there and would wonder if it was him. Obviously, the surf instructor’s lessons on ocean safety hadn’t done much more good than mine had. I am never ever EVER taking that child anywhere near anything like the blow hole. We will not even admire it from a distance.
After snorkeling, DH announced, “How about one last shave ice?” DS and I were all interested in a return to Local Boys West, or in trying out Uulani’s, but DH had other ideas. Not interested in driving into Lahaina and trying to find parking, he took us just up the hill on Route 30 to Island Press Coffee at The Fairway Shops of Kaanapali. I remember coming here for coffee once when it was Hawaiian Village Coffee, and that sign is still up as well, so don’t get confused. Not only was the shave ice pretty good, but on Sundays it is buy one get one free, and the number of locals who were eating shave ice with us told us that this has been the case for a long time and that they often wait for Sundays to get their shave ice fix. (If you want ice cream on the bottom of both though, you will have to pay for the extra scoop.)
Back at the condo, DH, who had fought with me about massages all week, had finally decided that a massage on the lanai sounded heavenly.
DH: “I’m going to go start dinner. Book a massage for the two of us for this afternoon, okay?”
Me: “Seriously? You really think that I can get the two of us in anywhere at this late date?”
DH: “Oh, I don’t want to GO anywhere. I want the therapist to come here and do the massages on the lanai.”
It was Sunday afternoon. It was a gorgeous day with perfect weather. If I were a working person, I would be enjoying my weekend by being out on the beach, and obviously they were. No one even answered the phone. The moral of this story? Everyone needs a reason to come back again and this one will be ours.
After DH mixed the marinade for his pork and set it to soak in the fridge, I made lunch. We once again had BLTs. I rarely eat bacon at home, but OH! Those yummy Kula tomatoes! (I think I cried as I used up the last one.) Halfway through preparing lunch, I realized my annual physical is the day after we get back from Maui. I began plotting how to lose the lab slip for a week or two so that my cholesterol would have time to return to normal levels before it is checked!
After lunch came The Packing Fiasco.
Me: “I told you on Friday that I wanted to ship some stuff back.” (Something we have done numerous times in the past.)
DH: “This has been an expensive vacation. Do you realize that the larger Priority Mail boxes are now $15 each? Two of those and we may as well have paid the $25 checked baggage fee.”
Me: “I told you that I wanted to buy a duffel and check it.” (We needed a new roller duffel anyway, as our old one had died recently after a solid ten year run.)
DH: (Sweating a bit now as he tries to force the suitcase closed and maneuver the zipper.) “It…will…all…fit. There!”
Me: “But what about my toothbrush?”
DH: “Throw it away. Not one more thing is going to fit in those bags.”
We lazed about the condo, sitting on the lanai, watching the turtles feed on the reef, soaking up the sounds of the ocean in the hopes that we would be able to recall all of this once we were back in Colorado, shoveling the foot of snow that was supposed to start falling the day after our return. (At a rate of 1” per hour.) I finished the book Molokai, which I highly recommend. Not only was it a wonderful book, it was a wonderful book to read in Hawaii. I spent a good bit of time trying to decide if I want to run right home and buy Honolulu, which many of you were so kind to recommend, or if I want to save that for my next vacation to the islands.
We ate leftovers all afternoon. The last of the pineapple. The last of the papaya. The last of the Rosalani’s ice cream. The last of the cake. DH told me that there was “enough rum left for one final glass of aloha each,” so we polished that off too.
DH has often said, “In Hawaii, you don’t eat until you’re full, you eat until you’re tired.” And we had. By dinnertime, no one could eat another bite. DH had once again prepared pork, this time in a sort of huli huli type marinade. There was rice, and white been salad, and veggies, but we were stuffed. We carried the food down to our friends on the floor below who had joined us for dinner a few nights before. They did not say no when we presented them with a fully cooked, yummy smelling dinner promptly at 5PM.
We watched one last glorious sunset. One of the very best pieces of information I have picked up on Trip Advisor over the years is to rent the condo for the extra night. It makes the last day so perfect. You have all day to swim and play. You can take a nice long shower right before leaving for the airport. You can continue to cook, so the money you save in eating out helps to defray the cost (unless you too are so full that you give your dinner away!) Best of all, you are not rushing around to meet a check-out deadline. We really feel as if the cost is worth it, since it really extends our vacation an extra full day.
The Hertz rental car was an easy return and then we were at the airport. We had not checked in online, and had thought we’d left ourselves plenty of time, but began to worry a bit when we saw how long the line was. Ever notice how worrying about one thing leads to worrying about another?
Me: “Oh no! I left my Bucky in the back seat of the rental car!”
DH: “Your what?”
Me: “My travel pillow. They call it a Bucky because it’s filled with buckwheat hulls.”
DH: “Don’t worry. We’re in an airport. We can buy you a new travel pillow here.”
Me: “But it wont be the same. Nothing is as comfortable as a buckwheat hull pillow. And mine was covered in really soft flannel. And it was the right size. And just the right shape. And I need it. I’ll never sleep without it.”
DH: “There’s time. You could always take the shuttle back to Hertz and retrieve it.”
(Note to husbands: Remember how I wanted romance? The romantic thing to do would be to immediately volunteer to go get it for me. This go get it yourself thing was just not working for me.)
Me: (sadly) “Never mind. I’m not sure we’ll really have enough time.” (Besides, I forgot it, so it’s only fair that I should suffer a bit for my stupidity. I’m Catholic, remember? We have the martyr thing down to a science.)
At the desk, we found that our connecting flight from LA to Denver had been cancelled, and we were now on a new connecting flight, which would leave LA just 20 minutes after our plane from Maui landed. That made me just a bit nervous. It can sometimes take 20 minutes just to get off the plane, and what if the gate was too far away? I requested instead a different connection. It would require spending almost 3 hours in the LA airport, but better safe than sorry was my motto. After the fiasco on the way out, I did NOT want to have to fly standby or reroute through another city if we missed our connecting flight.
Going through security took forever. Way longer than any other time I have flown from this airport. DS won the “You look like a terrorist so let’s do a really thorough inspection on you,” lottery. As I was gloated over the fact that I would not have to have someone open MY suitcase and paw through MY undies, I grabbed my bag off the conveyer and the zipper completely disintegrated, spewing my undies (and everything else,) all over the floor. Yes, it was true. In our effort to save the cost of a $15 postal fee or a $25 checked baggage fee, we had stuffed my suitcase so full that the zipper was now permanently dead (and the suitcase was relatively new and had cost $89. Talk about false economy!)
Once we were through security, I sent DS into a nearby airport kiosk to buy me a new travel pillow. Luckily, something told me to go check on him a few minutes later. I caught him standing in line waiting to pay for a travel pillow all right. A pale pink one with a teddy bear attached to it that said, “I (heart) Maui” on it. We traded it in for one with an aloha print that will always remind me of Hawaii.
After a long (but uneventful) wait at the terminal, we were on the plane. People were still shuffling aboard when suddenly, the lights went out. All of them. And the little emergency aisle lights came on. A few minutes later, the lights came back up, and as the attendant’s voice came over the loudspeaker, reassuring us about this simple glitch, the lights went out for a second time, this time killing the sound system as well. Hmmm. DH and I attempted to keep a brave face. DS turned to me and said, “I have a really bad feeling about this plane. I think we should get off.” (Remember, this is the child who exhibited no fear all week long as he caused his mom’s heart to stop numerous times, and now he’s afraid of a little electrical problem on the plane?)
I really expected them to put us on a new plane, but we pushed back from the gate minutes later without a hitch, unless you count the fact that the lights flickered a few more times as we taxied down the runway. Once airborne, I put in my fluorescent green earplugs, (and wondered why they were that color,) put on my sleep mask, and pulled my hoodie over my head. If the plane fell out of the sky, I was hoping that no one would wake me, or that they wouldn’t wake me until the last darn minute. If I was going to die, I was going to die with my aloha intact.
I fell asleep instantly and I NEVER sleep on the plane.
I came awake a few hours later. DS had leaned over to ask me something and he’d startled me out of a dream. I’d been dreaming of the dolphins. I jumped, which sent one of my earplugs hurtling out of my ear (which is apparently why they are fluorescent green, so you can find them on the floor of your airplane.)
We have two German Shepherds at home. We call them big dog and little dog. Big dog is neurotic and when something startles him, he makes a distress call that sounds like “meh! meh! meh!” I began to make that sound (luckily, only in my head). It was for my lost earplug. It was for my lost pillow. No it wasn’t. The reality of it was that it was for Maui, and for having to leave the sun and surf and sand behind. It was for returning to the real world, with the snow, and the all-consuming jobs, and the lack of aloha. Maybe the surfer dude was right. Maybe there IS something to be said for “living the dream” instead of slaving away all year to pay for your Maui vacation.
I tried to fall back to sleep. The next thing I knew, the flight attendant was waking me to ask if I would like some orange juice. We were due to land in Los Angeles in another half hour or so. The fact of the matter was, this new pillow was way more comfortable for my bad neck, and I had actually slept really well on the plane. Imagine that.
As the plane descended into L.A., the lights flickered a few more times. It occurred in the middle of the “in preparation for landing, please return all seat backs to the full upright position…” speech. DH and I made eye contact at that moment.
At the end of the speech, the flight attendant added calmly, “Should an emergency evacuation become necessary, please remember to leave all carry-on items behind.” DH and I once again locked eyes. We knew that we’d heard that before, but as part of the take-off talk, not the landing talk. Either the attendant had goofed, or something really was up.
DH, who has an interesting background in both federal law enforcement and emergency/disaster management quietly began to prepare for an emergency landing. He made DS take his earphones off and open the window shade. He slipped on his shoes, even though that is usually one of the last things he does as the plane is taxiing to the gate. He slipped on his jacket, even though the plane was hot. He surreptitiously checked all of our seatbelts. It was all so subtle that DS had no idea what his father was doing. And that’s when it hit me.
I remembered why I had married my husband. He was NEVER the consummate romantic, not even in the early days of our relationship. But he takes care of things. It’s what he does. And when we said “I do,” I knew without a doubt that not only would he always be there for me, but he would take excellent care of any children we might have. So maybe I never needed the fancy dinners out, or the couples’ massages that we never got. Maybe all I needed was to gain a new perspective on how incredibly lucky I am.
The plane touched down without incident of course, and everything was fine. The connecting gate was right next to the arrival gate, and we could easily have made that 20 minute connection. I know, because I watched sadly as at least a dozen people on the plane with us made it, and we were stuck in L.A. for another three hours. Being the good guys that they are, D.S. and D.H. bought us all hot chocolate, and told me that they still believed I had done the right thing in changing out tickets. See? I really am lucky.
I am now home in Colorado, awaiting the second of two snowstorms this week, and trying to get the measurements right on my pineapple upside down cake so that I can post it. DS is gone for the weekend. DH and I just returned from the store. We bought some passionfruit, guava, orange, and pineapple juice, not exactly POG, but close. We’re going to light a fire in the fireplace, and drink tropical drinks, and look at our photos of Maui, and dream together about our return.