Kai’s birthday! Very exciting, even though it meant our vacation was coming to an end. We arrived in Hawai’i on my birthday, and left on Kai’s, which was kind of awesome.
Now that we had done all our souvenir shopping, we could pack up the rest of our luggage, which was an undertaking but we managed. We left the hotel around 11am and packed up the car. Our flight was at 7pm so we had time for some last adventures. Of course we chose to snorkel! I’d totally gotten the bug for it and we went to a rental place that had prescription goggles, which I knew would make the experience even more magical. The rental place gave us a map of the best spots on the island, and luckily most were really close to us.
The first place was about a half hour away. It was a lovely beach but because of the coral, it was difficult to get into the water deep enough to actually swim away. It was also quite busy! But we managed and once in the water, we were in heaven. This was the time I went off solo and Kai got a little worried because she couldn’t find me. There were many other snorkelers so it took her a while to track me down. We stuck together for the most part but once I saw a school of fish, I had to follow! This spot had intense waves which would crash and then all you could see was bubbles in the water and when it cleared, you could be right about to hit a wall of coral! I got freaked out a couple times because the coral is like a maze and when the water is deep, you’re way above it, but with the waves and the shallower water, we often almost hit it. Trying to get out of the water was really difficult too – because of the maze, we ended up getting pushed over coral and my knees and the tops of my feet got really scratched up. Kai’s too.
Before we headed to the last spot, we stopped at the food truck, and I got an iced coffee with a ‘snow cap’ (sweet and condensed milk on top, yum) and Kai got shave ice and we shared a plate of nachos. Kai fed a fat little bird out of her hand, and I tried as well. Which I understand you’re not really supposed to do…
The second place we snorkelled was the Place of Refuge and it truly capped off our amazing snorkelling experience! It was less busy and easier to get in and out of the water. There weren’t as many varieties of fish, but we saw a sea turtle. It was something I had asked the universe for and I’m so grateful it happened. This huge, elegant creature sweeping over the coral, and we were above it, staying the recommended ten feet or so away. It just looked so perfectly at home in its environment, so efficient and ethereal. Other people saw it too, so it had a bit of an entourage, but they fell back, including Kai, who had seen them before and wanted me to have a moment with this one. And I did. We swam together until it went off where I couldn’t go. I was so happy I almost cried.
We got back into the car and made our way toward the airport. Our stop at a gas station took forever because we used the time to go through the car and clean it up, get rid of some garbage, and lay out our wet stuff in hopes it could dry a bit before we had to pack it. We also returned the snorkel gear which was an ordeal because suddenly they didn’t have our reservation on file. The guy says it’s fine, doesn’t even take my name, and I’m like no, because I need proof saying I dropped these off otherwise when you DO find my reservation, I’ll be getting a bill. So he looked me up again and it turned out they’d put my name under the reservation of a guy who had the same last name as me. Thank goodness I was persistent!
Our last dinner in Hawai’i was Da Poke Shack again – we’d had it on our first night and now on our last. Lots of bookends on this trip. We took our food and sat on the grass outside, loving life. Poke is sooo good, I could have ate it every day. They have it in some restaurants in Canada but not nearly enough. I think we’ll be making our own!
Back at the car rental spot, we got our stuff our and returned our well-loved vehicle. We took the shuttle to the airport with plenty of time. The line for security was non-existent, but they needed us to put all our food into one bin, which was brutal because we had food everywhere – some as souvenirs, some for the flight, pretty much in every pack. There goes our careful packing! Then I got pulled out of the line because I had forgotten about the honey I’d haggled for at the farmer’s market – definitely more than 100ml! Sob! They confiscated it. I had two jars and the first was certainly over size, but the second but more questionable and didn’t have a volume written on it. She let me keep it, though I do suspect it was probably over as well. I asked her if anyone could use the honey they confiscated because it would be so good but she said no, obviously.
Once we got reorganized and settled on a little bench, I went off to use the bathroom and fill up the water bottles. It occurred to me that we hadn’t checked the centre console of the car, and I just had a feeling… Sure enough, I saw I had a missed call from the car rental, and they found Kai’s travel wallet, complete with passport! Oops! I asked if there was a way they could bring it to us since we’d been through security but they said no – and I asked if I could come get it, since Kai was pretty tired and it was her birthday after all but that got a no as well, for security reasons. Which was a little on the nose, because when Kai went back to the shuttle, the guy who’d been driving us said he would just send the next shuttle driver with it so Kai could just wait there. Well, that worked!
And of course by then the line at security was much longer when she went through again.
When the gate opened, I tried to ask the staff for a birthday upgrade since it had worked so well when Kai tried that with me, but it’s true that she is the charming one because I had no luck!
We didn’t have the row to ourselves; I had the window seat. Almost immediately after taking off, Kai had a terrible gallbladder attack. It was brutal and lasted for hours until finally she could fall asleep. But she was so uncomfortable and couldn’t remain still because of the pain, and I think the woman sitting in the aisle seat asked to move. It was a bit better after that because Kai could try different positions but what an awful way to spend a birthday!
We landed in Denver in the morning – it was an almost seven-hour flight and then the time change. Kai was feeling better and we were both ravenous. Kai was kind enough to let me sit down while she hunted for food. It didn’t feel like morning and she had been craving pizza for ages, so off she went. Of course there was an issue with their debit system – apparently they don’t take any international cards, in the international airport… Did I mention this was a brutal birthday for my beleaguered girlfriend? She came back with Wetzel’s Pretzels, which I hadn’t had before and I was thrilled. Mmm cheesy bread…
I tried again for birthday upgrades but no joy. At least we had a row to ourselves. We watched the rest of The Descendants, which was okay at best, and tried to nap. This flight was only two and a half hours, which felt like a cruise compared to the last.
We landed in Toronto and our friends Nancy and Jay, who had dropped us off, were back again to pick us up! We quickly hopped in their car and began the long journey home.
The Hawai’i portion of the travelogue has concluded, but this drive home was hilarious so I have to share it! We were both so exhausted that we felt a little drunk, to be honest! But Nancy and Jay entertained us. We stopped for food at Lick’s and I got a veggie burger and fries, which was yummy. We stopped in Scarborough to pick up Kai’s cat Bozo from the woman who was watching him. Then on the highway, the vehicle started to make weird sounds and we had to pull over in Washago and call CAA. They’d recently had their winter tires swapped, so it seemed like the lugnuts were loose, and because it’s a Jeep, apparently the tool needed is pretty niche, so the phone operator didn’t know if a driver would have the right equipment! Oh my goodness…
While we were waiting, we went to get ice cream because it was the only thing open. I forgot to mentioned I’d gotten my period early so I didn’t have my menstrual cup (which by now I should have learned, bring it with you even if you aren’t expecting it! Why wouldn’t I?). I was literally bleeding all over the place. I went to the bathroom and it took me fifteen minutes to clean up – both myself and the mess I made in the bathroom. Horrifying. So yeah, I was not in the mood to have a car breakdown!
Nancy talked to some random guy to ask if he might have a proper tool or know somebody who would. He didn’t, but sure enough, about ten minutes later, the garage across the way opened up, just as CAA got there. The CAA guy weren’t to the garage because apparently he knew the mechanic, and they got us back on the road at last.
So Kai had left her car at her mechanic’s while we were away so he could do some work on it, so we had Nancy and Jay drop us off there, only we had a miscommunication about the keys – I had brought my house keys with me to Hawai’i but not the car keys (I have Kai’s spare) and she didn’t have her car keys because the mechanic did and it was after hours. When she at some point asked me if I had my keys, I said yes, not knowing she meant the car keys. So when we got to the mechanic’s… No keys.
Well, Nancy and Jay then drove us to my house, and I took my mom’s car and drove us back to the mechanic’s, after thanking Nancy and Jay for being such dear friends to us and sending them home at last!
Then of course once we got to Kai’s car, it wouldn’t fucking start. Can you imagine my absolute doneness by this point? I had to work at 8am the next day!
So we boosted her car and it was fine. We finally, FINALLY arrived home! Once there, I had a quick bath to try to help with cramps and because I was a mess. I heard later that the freaking cat escaped twice while Kai was trying to get him situated. I can’t remember ever having such a comedy of errors! After such a delightful trip where it truly felt like everything had gone so perfectly, this was not a very pleasant re-entry into Canada. But I can tell you, nothing felt better than crawling into bed at the end of that journey and falling asleep wrapped up with Kai.
Start again from the beginning! Why not?!
Or talk to me in the comments about your impressions. Would you stay away – or hop on a plane? Did you learn something about Hawai’i you never knew?