It’s our final day on Maui, and it starts early for Patty at 5:15. I sleep in for an extra house–getting out of bed, I then sit on the lanai, drinking my mornng coffee and marveling at how the shadows come up over Lanai nearly every day.
We walk over to the Pioneer Inn for a final breakfast at 7 a.m. Alex is there, of course, and yapping a little bit so we sit somewhat further away from him than we did on our first visit. Patty gets her usual oatmeal–she loves how they make that stuff here–and I get the two egg breakfast with an added order of whole wheat toast and Portuguese Sausage. It’s a great meal to start off our final morning on Maui.
After we finish, Patty walks the beach for an hour and a half and I finish packing. I locate the TSA lock I thought we had lost, in a camera bag pocket. I understand these things won’t deter a determined thief, but they will deter the casually curious. Good enough.
Grocery-wise, we gauged fairly closely how much food and beverages we would need. I left behind two 20-oz bottles of Gatorade. All the milk and POG is gone. A couple apples, one of the four pineapples we received as part of our Maui Gold Pineapple tour, and some chips were left behind. Overall, we did a good job of finishing off what we bought at Safeway and Times Supermarket.
With every drawer having been looked through one final time and every nook and cranny examined to ensure we didn’t leave anything behind, we turn in our key cards, get our final bill (the only item being for 18 days of parking @ $3.35 per day) and bring our bags down to the 505 garage. They are on Day 2 of the re-do of the parking lot and driveway, so were weren’t able to drive our car up to the resort entrance to aide in loading up our bags.
We hit the Honoapi`ilani Highway one final time. It’s fairly cloudy here today, and we reminisce about the best parts of our previous 18 days here. We stop off to top the tank off at the Chevron station in Ma`alaea, then drive to Kahului. Locating the Alamo car rental return place easily (how could it not be easy, considering we’ve rented here ten times?), we drop off the car and hop the Alamo/National bus to the airport.
We’re designated as TSA pre-check and sail through security. I start to take my sneakers off and the agent says “Hey, you don’t need to do that in this line!”. I mention that I was used to taking off my shoes like peasants and he responds “No, you get treated like royalty today”, with a wide grin.
We are here with probably too much time to spare–it’s just past 11 a.m. and our flight doesn’t leave until 3:04, so we grab lunch at Burger King and then locate our departure gate. The gate is full with people waiting to board a noon flight to San Francisco, but empties out soon enough and we have the waiting area to ourselves for quite a long time. Patty stretches out on the seats and naps for a half hour, and I sit and stare out the windows at Haleakala. Not a bad viewpoint for an airport terminal!
I watch the Groups lines (similar to Delta’s Zone lines) and as soon as someone gets in one of the five lines, we get into the Group 3 line. This really helps when it comes time to board, since the groups correspond roughly with areas of the plane; it you’re the first one in your group to board, you almost always have easy access to the overheads in your seat row.
We’re in the fourth row from the rear of the plane, and a large group of foreign people board and take up the other side of our row and the rows behind us. I can’t gauge what language they are speaking, it sounds Arabic. We later found out that the group is from India and their language is a form of Hindi. I googled it when we got home and found out there are 122 different languages spoken in India! I wonder how well it would be received if there was a movement to speak only one language in India as some “Knucks” would like to see in the United States.
It’s a fairly long flight, 4:41 in length and we’re a bit fried by the time we reach San Francisco. Patty managed to get short spurts of sleep. I manage none. I just don’t do well in these damn sardine cans which are referred to as “coach” by the airlines.
We catch a wonderful view of the San Francisco skyline lit up at night as we descend to the airport. I really like the airport here; it’s wide open and bright! We find our next departure gate and I speak with the lady working the counter about our connection in Chicago. It is scheduled to be only 50 minutes and feels like it could be a problem. After a few minutes of speaking with her, it occurs to me that she is either new or dumb.
Again, we’re in Group 3 and again, we’re first in line. They say this aircraft is completely full and warn that the overheads could run out of space by the time Group 4 boards. We find a spot for my bad just behind our row, and a spot for Patty in the row in front. The guy sitting in seat C says “well, I was wondering where you were”. Cute.
He’s a businessman who lives in Chicagoland and he has a Smart Phone so is able to look up which gate we land at and where our flight to Minneapolis takes off from. We land at Gate C31 and depart for the Twin Cities from B7. He says it’s not a bad walk, about ten minutes so it shouldn’t be a problem. We trust him with this, since he knows O’Hare and we’ve never been there!
Again, it’s a long flight. There is no in-flight entertainment since this is an Airbus A320. I try to sleep and can’t. The sun comes up about an hour before we land. And here I miss a golden opportunity for some great camcorder footage as we circle the downtown area just south of The Loop, cross over onto Lake Michigan and veer north, catching a good chunk of north Lake Shore Drive. In the early morning light, this city looks great! Patty says we should spend a long weekend here some time. I’d like to spend about five or six nights, take in the sights, maybe take in a Cubs or White Sox baseball game. This would be fun.
Landing at O’Hare, and it was very easy finding our way to the tunnel connecting the terminals. B7 is the second gate after exiting the tunnel via an escalator. Our seating companion walks with us and then had to go in another direction to his car. We thank him, shake hands and part company. Very nice guy!
The Airbus A319 taking us to Minneapolis has less overhead space, but we’re still in good shape. We also arrived a full ten minutes before we begin boarding, so it’s another case of a gloom-and-doom scenario by me having no reasonable substance. We breathe a sigh of relief as we board. A short hour and a half later we’re on the ground in Minneapolis.
Our checked bag comes down the carousel, but the handle is jammed and difficult to operate. This bag was a cheap one (about $60) and has served us well over the past six trips to Maui. It’s time for a new one!
We find our way to the Skyline Shuttle desk, which is not occupied. We’re here well before the 10 a.m. departure (we’re schedule to leave here at 11:30 but hope to catch an earlier shuttle). We call to see if we can transfer, and there is room! We’re told to look for a Chippewa Valley shuttle bus; a company had just bought out Chippewa Valley and Skyline Shuttle so some buses are being moved around.
Just before 10:00, a bus pulls in and who walks in but our friend Rob! There are only four of us on this shuttle, a lady who is going back to Duluth to care for her mother and a guy who is a pilot for Southwest Airlines and is headed to the Scanlon Park-And-Ride to meet someone. We have a conversation about Southwest’s expansion and the possibility of it expanding to Hawai`i. It doesn’t appear that this is in the foreseeable future, if at all.
There is moderate traffic in I-35E heading north this morning. A patch between Rush City and Hinckley is undergoing construction and is down to one lane in each direction, which concerns Rob. He decides not to detour onto Highway 61 and the traffic on I-35, as it turns out, is moving fairly well.
Rob drives us right up to our doorstep! Very nice service. We thank him and walk in the front door. An hour later we’re reunited with Kimo. Susan said he was pretty good, more so with her than with Randy. Kimo is very happy to see us, in stark contrast to two years ago when he gave us the cold shoulder upon our arrival at a different local kennel. We get him home and start unpacking. We’re back home again!