2018 Kauaʻi Trip Part 1: Getting There

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we took a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi (read the introduction here). Now, the trip begins…

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My phone alarm woke us up at 3:30 AM. Who knew anything actually happens at that time of day? But I guess it does if you have somewhere to be.

I was concerned about what the wait time might be at the security checkpoint at the airport, so I wanted to make sure that we got there in plenty of time. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:30, so I figured that getting there by 5:30 would give us plenty of time to get our luggage checked in and go through security.

We ate a quick breakfast at my parents’ house, made sure our carry-on liquids were in bags and our pocket knives were in our bags to be checked, and we were on our way, thanks to our chauffeur who also doubles as my Dad. It felt a little funny not to be carrying anything in the way of tickets, but we had checked in with the airline the night before and had our boarding passes on our phones. Plus, I had emails on my phone with our reservation confirmations for our rental car and hotel. Nothing like living in the modern digital age.

As it turns out, we got to the airport before 5:30, which was fine with me. Dad dropped us off, and we went inside to use the fancy touch screen thing to get checked in. It even printed out our luggage tags, and then we took our bags to the counter to be weighed. I had checked our bags on our bathroom scale before we left home on Tuesday, and I knew they would be fine, but it was still a relief to be told so. Dad had come in by that time, but we decided to go on through security since more people were coming in.

The TSA iPhone app had said that 6:00 AM was the busiest time on a Wednesday at the Memphis airport, but that must have been based on a normal Wednesday and not a holiday Wednesday. When we went through the line, there were only two people in front of us who hadn’t already gotten to the point of placing their items in plastic bins, and we soon joined them. I had forgotten to take my wallet and cash out of my pockets, so I got a friendly pat-down after going through the fancy scanner, but otherwise, we did not have any problems. And I was thankful that I had thought to wear slip-on shoes, even though tying shoes really doesn’t take me all that long.

At that point, we were all through security and ready to go. Except that by that time it was just after 5:30 AM, and they wouldn’t start the boarding process for our plane until around 7:00. So we passed the time by wandering around the airport, enjoying the art by high school students that was on display in various areas. There are some really talented high school artists in our area! We watched the sunrise through the airport windows, which was pretty cool. We also each bought a bottled water from one of the shops, figuring that we could fill it up again at the Phoenix airport.

Sunrise at the Memphis airport

Good morning! Good sunrise! And goodbye, Memphis!

We then went to our gate, where the crowd slowly started to build. I knew from checking our seat selections that it would be a full plane, but it was also not the largest plane around so that there weren’t too many people waiting.

They started calling group numbers for boarding, and they eventually got to ours. I never do understand wanting to be the first one on the plane, anyway. I would rather just get in, sit down, and they take off. No waiting on the plane is necessary for me. No need for me to be in that first group.

We got to our seats, which were an aisle seat and a window seat since there were only two seats on each side of the aisle on this plane. Laura got the window and I got the aisle. During the safety presentation at the beginning, the stewardess mentioned that only the restroom at the front of the plane worked and not the one at the back of the plane. Hopefully, that was the only thing on the plane that wouldn’t work.

After all of the routine checks and whatever else they do, the pilot got us underway and in the air. There was no free wi-fi on this plane, but you could pay for it. We didn’t. We were starting our vacation, so why keep up with things at home? However, you could watch movies on your device streaming through their wi-fi for free, which I thought was nice. I checked out the selection just to see what they had, but we didn’t watch any of those, either. We talked, looked out the window, and just enjoyed the ride. Except that we did not enjoy the baby several rows in front of us who cried on the entire flight. I am thankful that we never did fly with Jaylin when he was a baby. You can’t really explain to them what is going on and why their ears feel that way. I know sometimes it is a necessity, so I felt sorry for the kid. And for the parents.

Thankfully, we made it to Phoenix. Before we even got off of the plane, we were amazed to see the mountains all around us. And the lack of greenery. Everything had a very definite shade of brown to it. After a few minutes of waiting, we were able to get off of the plane and get some distance between us and the poor crying baby. I hope he or she got happy with something to give the parents some relief.

Hello, Phoenix and its mountains! And goodbye, Phoenix! Thanks for lunch!

We took some time to check out all of our food options. It was only around 9:30 AM local time, but that meant that it was 11:30 AM back home. And we had eaten breakfast at around 4:00 AM, so it seemed like a perfect time for lunch. But none of the restaurants there looked like what we might want for a light lunch. So instead, we got sandwiches from one of the smaller shops, along with Coke for me and Cherry Coke for Laura. We found a place near our next gate to enjoy our lunch. And to charge my watch, since it hadn’t had much time to charge when we were getting ready in the morning. It is nice that some of the seats in the terminal have charging ports built into them.

The Phoenix airport was a happening place, with lots of people everywhere. We were happy to have a place to sit down because seats were starting to become scarce. We had just barely finished eating our sandwiches when our next flight started boarding. Perfect timing!

This time around, the plane was larger, with three seats on each side of the aisle. When I was booking our flight, I had picked a window seat for Laura and a middle seat for me. In some ways, I wished I had gotten an aisle seat so that I could get up without having to climb over someone, but I knew Laura would like the window seat. I figured I could climb once or twice without being too much of a bother. They were also handing out blankets when we were getting on the plane. Laura was happy to get one because she had been cold on our previous flight. I wasn’t sure if I would need one, but I took one just in case.

On this flight, they had a cleverly-produced video for the safety stuff. I always like when they try to make that interesting. The previous flight did not have that because there were no video monitors on that plane. So that’s a good excuse, I suppose. Hard to show a video when there is no way to show it.

Soon, we were up in the air again and on our way, soaring up above the clouds. From time to time, we could see the ocean through breaks in the clouds, which was cool. Some people might feel like they have to wear their life vests on those flights over the ocean just to be safe, but I felt okay without mine.

This time around, there was no crying baby, for which I was thankful since I had developed a headache along the way. I tried to sleep it off while Laura read a book. The guy in the aisle seat talked to his friends quite a bit. Apparently, they were a part of a group, but they didn’t get to sit together. So it seemed like there were always people coming by to talk about what they were going to do or where they were going to go when they got there. They did show a movie on this flight, but I did not bother plugging in my earphones to hear it. I can’t even tell you now what it was, although I did watch some of the American Ninja Warrior show, but still without any headphones for sound. Fortunately, my headache was gone well before we arrived at our destination.

When we were still planning our trip, I had joked about being glad that we did not have to go through customs or fill out any forms to go to Hawaiʻi. So imagine my surprise when they showed a video about a form we would have to fill out. Isn’t Hawaiʻi still in the United States? The form was stating that you were not bringing any plants or animals into the state, which we were not. And then the other side of the form was a general survey about why you were going to Hawaiʻi. I’m sure they get lots of tourists there, and it helps them to know what we all want to do, so I didn’t mind filling that part out. I did just have to fill out one form for the both of us, so Laura didn’t have to fill out the same thing. And then I let the guy next to me borrow the pen that I had borrowed from Laura to fill out his form.

About that time, an island came into view out our window. It was one of the Hawaiian islands, but that was not our island, and we kept on flying past it. Soon after that, Kauaʻi was in view. And what a view it was! Big green rocky areas that went straight down into the ocean! I knew there were plenty of beaches around, too, so I wasn’t disappointed, because those coastal cliffs were really something to see. I was hoping the rest of the island would be just as interesting.

The plane landed at the Līhuʻe airport, and we pulled up to a gate in between a Hawaiian Airlines plane and an Alaskan Airlines plane. Cool! We exited the plane, and just like that, we were in the baggage area. It was a pretty small airport, much different than our airport back home. I was a little disappointed that we weren’t met with hula girls and someone handing out leis, but that was okay. I was interested to see that the baggage area was open air, just as I had heard that many buildings in Hawaiʻi are. It was nice to feel the warm breeze after being on the cold airplane.

And with that, we were there and ready for the fun to begin. Watch for more soon in the 2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report!