Aloha! February, 2016

Winter can be an ugly time in the great Pacific Northwest! After a spate of rain and cold…DURING a spate of rain and cold, a flight from beautiful NAS Whidbey Island to Honolulu (Hickam) popped up on the forecast.  We called the terminal to sign up, and got packing!

On the appointed day, at the appointed hour, we arrived at the terminal, travel ready!

Sponsor walked up to the desk to mark us present.

PAX rep: You know they’re going to Kona (the Big Island) now, not Hickam, right?

Sponsor: Uh, no, we didn’t, but we do now!

PAX rep: So, do you still want to go?

Decisions…decisions!

On one hand, there was another flight forecast – to Hickam – in about four more days.  On the other, we were all packed and ready, and it was raining buckets outside, and the weather forecast anticipated more of the same – a LOT more of the same.  We had already cobbled together lodging for four nights on the Pearl Harbor side of Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH), and had a rental car reserved. We just needed to get from Kona to Honolulu!

Quickly, we huddled over the Hawaiian Air app on our smart phone to scope out one-way fares. There were a couple available that evening for $130 per person. Ouch! But, Ok, we thought – we’ll go to Kona, rent a car for the day and hang out, then catch the flight over to Honolulu in the evening. Much better to spend some cash than endure the rain and cold for another minute, much less another four days.

Hawaiian tickets purchased, sponsor went back to the desk and said “YES!”

While we waited to board, we contacted the car rental and moved our reservation back one day. We would still be arriving in time to keep our original lodging arrangements intact. We were Good.To.Go!

Five comfy hours on a C-40 later, we landed at Kona and taxied up to a business services terminal off-airport. When the escort came out to bring the duty passengers off the flight line, she very graciously offered to run us down the road a half mile to the airport, and we very gratefully accepted.  Once there, we got down to the business of renting a car for the day. Unfortunately for us, there was some sort of convention going on, and the car was going to be $125 for just one day! Fortunately for us, Hawaiian Air said that for an additional $30 per person, we could move up to the next flight out. So, we forked over the money, checked in, had some lunch, headed out to the gate, and soon were on the 45 minute flight to Honolulu. Where it was warm and sunny! We caught a taxi over to the Lockwood complex on Subbase Pearl, and were settled into our lovely room before the sun set.

Our plan was to explore Honolulu and the western end of Oahu for a few days before visiting our friends on the windward side. We also wanted to host a few get-togethers to meet some fellow space a passengers from blog and online group in person. We had planned just about a week or so before we would begin looking for a flight back to somewhere in Washington State.

Day one on Oahu: A wonderful day on the north shore!

The sun was shining, the waves were gentle, and the shrimp truck food was out of this world! We drove all the way to the end of the road past Dillingham Air Field, intending to hike out to the point where north meets west Oahu. Getting caught in a band of rain, we decided not to chance a slippery trail. Instead, we headed back into the sun. That evening, we fought through hellish traffic from Pearl Harbor to Waikiki to meet up with some new friends at the Barefoot Bar at the Hale Koa. A wonderful time was had by all – so wonderful we all decided to extend the evening by dining together! By the time we were ready to return to lodging, the roads had cleared, and it only took about 10 minutes to get back.

Day two: touring Honolulu.  In all the visits we’ve made to Hawaii, we had yet to spend any time in the Capital City. The day began with dim sum breakfast in Chinatown, followed by a ride up the Aloha Tower, and was capped off with a visit to the FABulous Bishop museum. We spent so much time enjoying artifacts and docent talks about the history and culture of the Hawaiian people that we never made it to the Iliolani Palace – next time! Evening found us at the bar at Sam Choy’s, on Hickam, for meet-up number two. The bar was a madhouse! If we ever do that again, we’ll just make early dinner reservations and start out enjoying our drinks at a nice table in the restaurant!  Becoming acquainted with some more new friends we enjoyed a lovely evening sharing stories and tips for traveling space a.

Day three found us heading out to the very western end of the H1 for a seven mile round trip hike to the tip of Oahu from west side, since the northern route did not work out previously (it would have been shorter, though!!!).  On our way, we checked in with our friends, only to discover that they were sick with some nasty virus, and there would be no visit this time around. Disappointed as we were, we knew it was better not to expose ourselves.  At dinner that night, we checked the Hickam Facebook page and noticed a flight to McChord the next night. After calling the terminal and being told there was nothing else on the forecast for the rest of the week, we decided to follow space a rule #1 – always take the first flight headed in the general direction you want to go.

Roll call for the McChord flight was not until 2300, so after stopping by the terminal to mark ourselves present we still had a whole day to enjoy the beach at Bellows before saying “Aloha” to Oahu. It was a rough surf windy day, but still perfect for lounging and strolling on the beach. Then, sadly, we returned to lodging to get cleaned and packed up and grab a bite to eat before it was time to head to roll call.

It turned out that four of our new friends were trying for the same flight we were! Fortunately, there were plenty of seats available and we all got on – no new friendships were tried in the crucible of seat competition! Following the normal “minor maintenance issue” C-5 delay of about two hours, we all boarded and took off for McChord. Five roasting/freezing (Hawaii from the waist up, Alaska from the waist down!) hours later, we touched down at McChord. Saying farewell for now to our new friends who were hoping to catch a hop to Andrews the next day (they did!), we hopped in our rental car and headed for home.

A short, but very sweet, visit! 

Only a few more weeks of rainy weather left to endure, then on to Italy in April!

 

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