Credit where credit is due. Annie took the beautiful banner picture for this page. Makes we want to go get a new iphone!
After flying up to Auckland from Dunedin in the morning, we got to spend a very exciting day hanging around the Koru lounge at the airport. There was a later flight, but it would have left no room for error and neither of us felt like missing our flight to Hawaii. All in all, the lounge is pretty nice and they even had a seating area outside where you can get some fresh air. Plus free food and drinks! Well, not exactly free…prepaid, shall we say?
We didn’t want to spend the coin to go Biz class, so we were stuck in cattle class for the overnight to Honolulu. Luckily it is a “short” 9-hour flight, but it does go overnight. Neither of us were looking forward to that, but we did manage to get a row to ourselves. As we sat there futzing about getting ready for our flight, I noticed that this row had the configuration to be turned into a skycouch! Yeah! At least we could lay our heads down for a while, even if it wasn’t officially a sky couch. If you have the official one, they give you a pad and some seat belt adapters, so we didn’t have those, but the important part, the locking extender that creates a little platform, was there).
Although the skycouch is not ideal for two grown adults, we did manage to squeeze in there together and stay horizontal for 3 or 4 hours. I think I managed to get about 2 hours of sleep. We landed in Honolulu at 7 am. We both agreed it wasn’t as bad as we were fearing, although the plane was super hot the whole flight.
Before the world had cratered with COVID, we had taken the effort to get our global entry cards. We had never be able to use them until now. It was pretty fast and interesting. You just walk up to a machine, scan your passport, it does a quick facial recognition on you, and then sends you on the way. Cool! Although the thought that I can be so easily tracked by cameras is a bit disconcerting…
Annie (Susanne’s sister) and her husband Peter picked us up at the airport. Peter is a super generous and sweet person and he even brought us leis (and sparkling water!) for our arrival. They have a beautiful house on Oahu right by Diamond Head. We were staying with them for about 4 nights before we headed to the mainland on the 27th. It was great to see them and it is awesome that they put us up in their amazing house.
I had wanted to go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, but evidently it got so beat up by everyone, they now control the entry very strictly. You can only get a reservation 2 days ahead of time, and you only get a 90-minute slot to marvel at the sea creatures. Evidently, the place was closed during COVID and the marine researchers saw an incredible recovery that set them on the pathway of controlled and limited access. Now this may sound draconian to some, but the choice was this or have a big barren dead reef with no fish. Personally, I’ll take the draconian choice, as annoying as it might be.
We had a few adulting things to do, like get a flu shot, so it wasn’t overly exciting. I did go down to the beach and swim around in the surf. The water was all chewed up by the wind so there were no surfers out there, and I decided to not risk going to the outer reef on my own. I am sure this results is some nods of approval from those friends who still marvel that I haven’t been eaten by a shark or bear or something by now (you know who you are!).
Sadly, I forgot to log on to the Hanauma Bay reservation system in time and got totally shut out for the one day we could do it. Bummer. We decided to go down to the Outrigger Canoe Club where Peter has been a member since the early Triassic. There is a nice private beach and it’s a great place to go for an open water swim. In order to not get turned into a lobster, I put on my nifty “stinger suite” to swim in. I guess all the surfers in Australia wear them to help prevent jellyfish stings.
We were in official closeness to both Susanne’s and Peter’s birthdays, so we decided to make a celebratory meal. It had been a while since I had made anything complicated, so we opted for ribs and coleslaw (not overly complicated) with a chocolate mousse with port ganache and whipped cream topped with a walnut crumble (complicated). The ribs and coleslaw came out pretty well but the mousse was my best effort ever. The walnuts were the winner addition. We couldn’t find the correct mixer attachment, so I had to whip the egg whites by hand. Oooophh. That was hard and everyone chipped in on the whipping, which took a fair bit longer than usual.
Annie and Peter had a custom deck built on the top of the house where you can sit and look out at the ocean (usually in the late afternoon and evening, to avoid heat and sunburns). A little cheese and wine with a view. Yes, please! That is what we did most evenings. I can’t say I would ever get tired of it. What a brilliant idea, Annie. I guess when the whales are going by, you can sit and watch them breaching right from the deck. Definitely giving Peter and Anita a good yelp review.
Sadly, Susanne came down with what felt like a crappy cold, so that put a damper on the festivities (we now know it was COVID, darn it all). Peter offered to take me back over to the Outrigger Canoe Club so I could swim. I had another nice swim and even got to see a sea turtle this time! It’s pretty amazing doing an open water swim and looking down at all the fish as you swim by. We basically spent the last day isolating. Bummer. Though at least we did have a distanced evening happy hour.
When we got to LA, Susanne decided she better test herself for COVID, as some of the symptoms were becoming suspicious (that smell thing) and dang it all, she had it. Ugh. We were supposed to go stay with my sister, but now decided that we would have to get a hotel in Santa Barbara for a few days. I can safely say, this COVID thing is really getting tiring. Sigh.
The good news is that we’ll get to spend more time in Hawaii on our way back to New Zealand. The whole thing highlights how much slack you have to put into the schedule when making long trips these days.
Welcome back to reality, I guess. Damn this adulting.