As I write this I am sitting on the lanai of our beautiful condominium enjoying the balmy evening breeze that is quintessential Hawaii.
We arrived on the Big Island on Thursday afternoon. The last time we were here was in June of 2019. We were supposed to return a year later, but I bet you can guess where this story is going. That's right, there was this little thing called the pandemic that usurped our plans to return as planned, that is until this past Thursday.. We cancelled our plans in June of 2020 and didn't even bother to try to make new reservations in 2021, as Covid 19 gripped the world. But here we are at last, nearly three years later. Better late than never I always say.
With Covid 19 inching toward the rear view mirror I thought I had this trip in the bag. However on Thursday morning, as we headed to the airport, I realized that was just not so. After spending months preparing for the trip (if you have to ask about all the preparations it takes to travel with four kids than this may not be the right blog for you) and at least a solid week of packing, all of a sudden, it all hinged on our harrowing trip to the airport, early that morning.
I got up four and half hours before our flight was to take off, thinking I had ample time. I started with all the last minute packing preparations and getting the house ready for our departure, before getting the kids up about half an hour later at 6:15. Dependable Anna, my dear dear friend, showed up right on time at 7 to take us to the airport for our 10:15 flight. Plenty of time, you might think? I had even put our drive to the airport into Waze the previous morning at exactly the time we were due to leave and it showed 59 minutes,
This is just what I would have expected, that is until we got on the freeway and were met with some of the worst gridlock I have ever seen, which is saying a lot for Los Angeles, a city synonymous with unparalleled traffic.
We soon came to learn that there had been a CHP involved shooting earlier that morning (around 2 AM) and the entire 20 lane (okay, maybe it's only 14 lanes) 405 freeway had been shut down. Not only is the 405 one of the main arteries through Los Angeles, but one of the largest and busiest freeways in the world, and virtually the only way out of The Valley, where we live, and more importantly, to the airport.
The stress level inside our vehicle was palpable. The only person remaining somewhat calm was Anna, because she is basically unflappable. I was behind the wheel (which turned out to be a godsend) and Garin was sitting behind me having a complete meltdown, which in turn caused everyone else in the general vicinity to start crying. I wasn't crying, but rather, using every four letter word known to man. An eerily fast ticking clock, a virtual logjam of cars for as far as the eye can see, and a fast approaching departure time can do that to a person. I was all but sure we were not going to make the flight and that was the only outbound flight of the day on the carrier we were flying. All the weeks and months of preparation to get on that plane and to our destination all seemed to be going up in smoke.
We continued to listen to the local AM radio station for tips on where to go and what to do, since Waze was all but useless. The broadcaster kept promising that if we could just make it on to one of the canyons (Beverly Glen, Benedict or Coldwater), which run parallel, but east of the 405, we could get over the mountain pass. It took us nearly two hours to reach Benedict Canyon, but she was right, because once we did we started to move. It was a miracle. That said, even with no traffic, we were still very far away from the airport and it looked iffy, at best, that we could make our flight.
It was at that point that I had to call upon my inner James Bond to save the day. Luckily for me, I don't have to dig that deep to reach him. However, unlike Bond in his magical Aston Martin, I was driving a 227" Mommymoblile, which doesn't quite handle the curves of Benedict Canyon as well as Bond's svelte sports car. But I didn't let that deter me. I told everyone in the car to hang on because they were going to be in for a ride. Even Fitzy, who was in the car too, seemed to be clinging on for dear life as I went on two wheels down the winding canyon road, onto to winding Sunset Boulevard and eventually onto the 405, well past where the shutdown was.. Luckily all the CHP officers were too busy investigating the crime scene on the freeway to spot me breaking every traffic law imaginable. But alas, we reached LAX safely with just minutes to spare.
Our flight went smoothly, although it took some time for me to calm down after our nerve-racking morning. But once our plane touched down in paradise I was able to leave my 007 morning behind and begin enjoying the trip we had been looking forward to for so long.
I've never been so happy to be on a plane as I was on Thursday morning. I think the kids felt the same.
Five hours later we landed in paradise.
Miles was all smiles as he strapped into the van to make our way to Waikoloa
Home, sweet, home. At least we made it to our fabulous condominium that belongs to our dear friend Larry. This is where we stayed in 2019 so it now feels like our home away from home.
In the early evening, we all changed into our swim suits, ready to go in the pool for a dip.
This was the same crew, three years ago, in the same spot. Boy have they grown!
There's nothing like a sunset swim in Hawaii.
We stayed at the pool until it grew dark so we could enjoy the full moon, balmy breezes, and of course, the tiki torches.
Yesterday morning, Catherine and I headed out for our morning walk together while the boys stayed home and watched TV. Here is Catherine standing atop some of the famous volcanic rock that is so plentiful on this amazing island.
Once back from our walk ,we sat down to our first breakfast together of our vacation.
Then it was back to the pool for a day of swimming and fun.
Stay tuned for stories of our marvelous day today, exploring the island.