Unofficial Trip Report: Kauai

Once again, I found myself on the road.  1st trip of the new year.  Where to?  Hawaii.  Kauai to be more specific.  The trip came on short notice, but I managed to get all the arrangements made and the travel documents through the, often constipated, system on time.  Cool! I thought, this shouldn’t be that hard.  Little did I know that things beyond my immediate control would conspire against me.

The weekend came and went, with me doing laundry, setting up the Cat-Sitter, bills, taxes (a bonus chore this time of year) packing, and sticking to my diet without eating the cat, or her food.  No problem.  All was done.  

I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by a phone call from the airline stating that the flight was delayed by an hour.  No biggie I thought, and promptly rolled over to continue sleeping, with kitty comfortably (for her) curled up at my side.  Got up, made breakfast, fed and watered kitty and then called the taxi, at 6 a.m. for an 8 a.m. pickup in order to get me to Oxnard Airport so I could catch the bus down to LAX.  Our department, in a effort to save money, has banned using the puddle jumper from Oxnard to LAX in response to United Express jacking up the prices.  (Note that I said my Department, not the Navy, or even the command.)  Got all the computer stuff done, backups made, e-mail synched, etc… Powered down the house (except for a couple of lights for the cat sitter and the fridge), and was ready to go.  8:20 a.m. rolled around and I called the taxi company, again, wondering where my 8 a.m. cab was.  It arrived at 8:30.  MLK parade caused us to have to detour around and waste more time.  I got to Oxnard airport just in time to see the shuttle bus leave.  RATS!  No problem.  I’ll rent a car.

The car I got was a complete joke.  It was one of those Pontiac Solaris cars.  Not a bad car, if your 5’-6” tall and have nothing to take with you.  I had to put my bags on the passenger seat and belt them in!  I couldn’t figure our how to get the top down (didn’t have time for experimentation) either.

 I felt like Dino, from the Flintstones, hitting my head on the soft top all the way to LAX.  When I finally pried myself out of the golf cart.  I got the the united desk at LAX only to find out that the plane had been delayed for ANOTHER HOUR!  At least I got upgraded to 1st class.

I couldn’t believe how calm and quiet LAX was for a Monday.  Several families with bored annoying, and generally rambunctious kids.  Ugh!  I couldn’t wait to get on the plane and be rid of them for six plus hours.  There wasn’t any free Wi-Fi at LAX, a personal pet peeve of mine, so I played some solitaire and started working on this report.  I had some magazines and podcasts (Google podcasts Mom & Dad) with me, but those were for the flight and in case I had some down time in Hawaii while the sun was out.  The only thing I forgot, was the little piece of cloth I put between the keyboard and the screen on the laptop.  No biggie though, a napkin will did just fine, once I swiped one from the plane (hehehe).  I DID return it on the flight home.

We were scheduled to arrive in Kauai around 7 p.m., local time.  That didn’t happen.  Got to Kauai about 9:30 p.m..  A half hour drive to the hotel, where streetlights don’t exist and the two-lane road is not lit.  Definitely “in the sticks”.  They call Kauai “The Garden Island”, but it’s more of the “Where the Hell am I” Island.  Got to the hotel, checked in.  Wouldn’t you know it.  The travel credit card (company) is dorked up.  More work for me.  Once I got all that fixed, it was time for a few drinks and bed time.  

They had a nice deal here at the Sheraton.  If you opt out for maid service for a particular day, you are rewarded with a free Breakfast Buffet coupon.  Let’s do a bit of math…  One person, two beds, four sets of towels.  Who washes towels, or sheets for that matter, after one use?  I figure I could skate for a week before having housekeeping come in.  By the way, breakfast would have been $20.00, if I didn’t take advantage of the deal.

My schedule was rather tough.  I’d go to work at around 4:30 p.m. and get back to the hotel at 7:30 a.m..  It was a good thing I got on board the breakfast deal!  Driving when it’s dark out in Kauai (about an hour each way) is most interesting.  There are many many speed limit changes as you pass through various towns.  Must keep alert or get ticket.  Luckily the coffee isn’t bad here and the rooms were well insulated so daytime sleeping wasn’t an issue.  Following a week of “the night shift” I got switched to daytime work.  

I didn’t see the hotel grounds with the sun out for a week.  They were quite striking and beautiful.  While working days, I didn’t get to partake in the breakfast buffet.  I had to leave too early for my hour commute (Dad, how you did it all those years, I have no idea!).  But there were several little Mom & Pop stores along the way where I could get a cup of coffee and one of my favorites for breakfast, only found in Hawaii.  SPAM Masubi is a slice of SPAM, which is fried/grilled and placed on top of sushi rice and wrapped in nori (seaweed sheets).  

Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.  How bad could it be.  Pork and rice with some veggie to hold it together.  This is a VERY popular snack/quick meal in the islands.  Some places have it warm, some have it cold.  Either way it’s quite the treat.  I didn’t have it every day, but one piece will hold you over until your next “real” meal.  Yummy!! For meals while working nights I usually went to the local market and got either a Bento Box, or some instant Oriental noodle soups.  The selection in Hawaii dwarfs anything I’ve seen in the states.  . These were some of the best cup-of-noodles style soups I’ve ever had.  The bentos were very well done and moderately priced compared to going out.  They were all made fresh, daily at the grocery store There were many many different kinds, ranging from “traditional” Japanese sashimi to Hawaiian style (SPAM, Portuguese Sausage), Ribs, Chicken wings, Omelet w/fish cake and green onion – one of my personal favorites – whatever you were in the mood for, they had it.  These were definitely “Da Kine”.

On one of my two evenings off, I went to the Japanese buffet at the hotel.  WOW!  SO YUMMY!  They kind of “watered it down” a bit for the tourists, but all in all, it was pretty good.  As all places in Hawaii, they do have Japanese items on all the menus.  You can even have miso soup and rice for breakfast if you want.  I never wanted…

Needless to say, I haven’t starved.  In addition to the SPAM and Bentos, there was plenty of fresh, local fruit and nuts available.  I ate real healthy while in Hawaii and didn’t gain ANY weight.  YEA ME!

I didn’t get much of a chance to take any pictures, and on the days when I did have some time, it rained.  Oh well, I did take some “artsy” photos of the flora here on the hotel grounds.  Met a few neat folks at the hotel and ended hanging-out with them whenever our schedules happened to coincide, usually “Happy Hour”.  There are a few picks of me, but I won’t be getting those until they’re e-mailed.  I’ll put them up somewhere.  Either the Kodak, Facebook, Shutterfly or Flickr.  Pretty sure the Kodak and Facebook sites will get the updates.  I can’t promise much about the other two, those are more for temporary storage…

Watched the “Big Game” at the pool with Jeanine and a few other pals.  It was a pretty good game.  Congrats to the Steeler Nation.  Cardies, sorry ‘bout that, at least you showed up to win, unlike my Seahawks a couple of years ago.  Following that, we went to dinner at a local spot called Roy’s, stopped back at the hotel bar to chat with our favorite bartender, and then went out separate ways.  If you “Benjie’s Braddahs and Sistahs”  are reading this, I hope you all had a great trip and please send me those pics if you haven’t already.iPhoto Library

Monday I got up, packed, and headed off to the airport.  Following a half hour delay, I made it to my next layover.  4 hours in Maui.  BOOOOORRRRIIIINNNNNGGGG!  Visited the “Everything Hawaiian crapola shop, the other Hawaiian crapola shop, the super expensive Hawaiian crapola boutique, and the newsstand.  What to to for the next 3 hours and forty-five minutes?  Why these stupid airports don’t have free Wi-Fi is beyond me.  I’d even put up with pop-up adds or at least let me have the 1st half hour free to post a few e-mails and Tweets, or maybe even download a couple of podcasts for the next flight.  UGH! the greed! 

Following an uneventful flight, got to LAX and drove back up North.  It was quite late (11pm).  Took Tuesday off to catch up and recharge.

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