Hawaii 2023 Trip Report Part 10 - Going Home

Previously in the Hawaiʻi trip report from June 2023, we had gotten a bonus night in Hawaiʻi thanks to a canceled flight. Do we ever make it home? Read on! And if you have not done so already, you might want to read the previous part.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

After a somewhat restless night of sleep, we got up around 9:00 AM. There had been some noises from the adjacent rooms that had woken us up at various times in the earlier morning hours, but I had usually been able to go back to sleep relatively quickly after those.

When we got up, I looked out the window to see that we had a rather nice view of the ocean and Waikīkī Beach. Our hotel, the Queen Kapiʻolani, had a pool down below on the roof of the lobby. And across the street was the Honolulu Zoo, where there was already a line of people waiting to get in. I was almost too tired to notice the night (really early morning?) before, but the hotel had a pretty cool retro feel to it, which was echoed in the artwork in the room as well as the lobby, and even on the key cards. The hotel was obviously not brand new, but it had been kept up quite well. I wish that we had more time to check it out and walk to the beach, but we did not, unfortunately.

The view from our room at the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel on Waikīkī Beach
The view from our room at the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel on Waikīkī Beach

Thankfully, we still had some spare granola bars, and so those served as our breakfast. Also thankfully, we had brought extra clothes, not knowing if or when we might need them. Today was the day, as it turned out. See, overpacking can be a good thing sometimes!

We were going to meet Brant and Karen between 10:30 AM and 11:00 AM to go back to the airport, but Karen texted early that they were already ready. We were ready early, too, so we all went down to the lobby to meet.

Artwork in the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel lobby on Waikīkī Beach
Artwork in the Queen Kapiʻolani lobby

I checked us out, and then I went back and checked the Riedels out as well. And then I used the last travel voucher to request a Lyft to take us back to the airport. This time, the app said that the driver would be there in 6 minutes, so we walked out to the curb to wait. Sure enough, right on schedule, the vehicle we were watching for arrived.

Our driver was slightly older than us, and he said that he had lived on Oʻahu all his life; I believe his father was stationed there in the military. He loaded all our luggage in the back, and then like before I got the front seat while the other three got the back seat. But unlike before, our driver was quite talkative and friendly. He asked what brought us there, and we told him about our anniversary trip. He asked about our flight home, and we told him about our delay from the night before. He pointed out some of the sights as we drove along. He mentioned that he is a surfer, and he has been all over the South Pacific to go surfing. I mentioned how much we enjoyed being there with the beaches and the mountains. He said, “One of the great things here is you can drive five minutes in one direction and be at the beach, or you can drive five minutes in another direction and be at the mountains.” I said, “At home, we can drive for eight hours and be at the beach, or we can drive for eight hours and be at the mountains.” He got a good laugh out of that. He drove us up to our stop and happily unloaded all of our luggage out of the back of his car. He wished us well and went on his way. About that same time, someone else was getting out of a car, and I knew they were in the same predicament as us. The man asked the driver if he needed a tip, and the driver said, “No, I am well taken care of.” Just as I thought from the night before.

We once again sent our luggage through the agricultural check, and once again all our bags passed, as we knew they would. We then went to get in line at the service counter. We might have been able to just drop off our bags, but we wanted to be sure that they did not charge us for them again, since we had already paid the previous day. The line was rather long, but it moved along pretty well, and I recognized several of the people from the night before, too.

Soon, it was our turn at the counter, and the Riedels were at the station next to us. Our airline lady was quite friendly. Laura jokingly said that we wanted to make sure our luggage was going to Memphis because of the tight window in Los Angeles, and the airline lady said over and over again things about getting our bags “IN MEMPHIS” with comic emphasis. Sometimes you can lighten the mood by teasing slightly with people, because they are often used to people just complaining to them. But this lady was quite helpful and friendly.

When we got in the security line, which seemed long but moved along pretty well, a family was behind us that had also been behind us in line in the main terminal, and Laura had answered a couple of questions for them at that time. So the father of that family said to us, “Hey, come this way - it looks like a shorter line!” Three lines went together, but they were just opening a fourth line off at the side, and we jumped in it right behind that family, which got us through quickly. Thanks for the tip! And once again, I was thankful for my slip-on shoes, and for leaving my belt in the suitcase.

So far, everything had felt a bit like deja vu. Because we had done it all about 15 hours earlier, after all. There were a few more people this time around because it was the middle of the day, but it still was not too bad.

When we had gotten off the plane a week earlier, we had seen a Quiznos restaurant not too far from our gate. We Burnses and Riedels (and our kids) used to eat at Quiznos back home all the time, but then they closed all the locations. So for this day, we decided to get lunch from there since it was our last chance before going back home. The only catch was that for some reason their system would not accept our food vouchers from the airline. We suspected that the cashier lady was not entering something correctly on her register, but we ended up just paying for our food. Oh well, at least we got Quiznos. We found a room with lots of chairs across from our gate and enjoyed our meal, which would hopefully be our last meal in Hawaiʻi. Not that I really wanted to leave, but I did want everything to go according to schedule this time.

After we ate, we moved over closer to our gate. When the boarding had started, a lady in a tiara came over to talk to Laura about her “Vintage 1973” shirt that Karen had given Laura for her birthday. As it turns out, the lady was Mrs. Hawaiʻi from one of the pageants going somewhere on one of her appearances, and she was also “vintage 1973”. Pretty cool!

At the appropriate time, we boarded the plane, and we were in fact sitting at the front of the main cabin area. Laura and I were on one side of the aisle, and Brant and Karen were right across from us, and we each had a third passenger sitting by the window. We all got comfortable for the flight that was ahead of us. This time, there were no issues, and we took off right on time, headed for Los Angeles. The flight was relatively uneventful. We read, watched things on our phones, and dozed a bit along the way.

We also got to Los Angeles right on schedule, which was a good sign. We got off the plane as quickly as we could, and our next gate was only a few gates down. That gave time to make a quick restroom stop and then grab a drink from a shop to go with the snacks that we had with us. And as it turned out, our next plane was delayed for just a bit. If we had known, we would not hav been in quite as much of a rush. And fortunately, it was not delayed all that much, so that it was still scheduled to take off just after midnight, which was about a 30 minute delay, and which should give us plenty of time in Chicago.

While we were waiting, a shop proprietor came chasing after a lady, saying “Hey! You did not pay for that!” So she went back with him, and I am guessing that she did pay or gave back what she had not paid for. Some people!

We boarded the plane, and this time we were not all sitting together, which was one of the casualties of our late flights. Brant and Karen had seats together. Laura and I had seats that were separated by a seat; I had the aisle, Laura had the window, and there was a seat between us. We waited around to see if the inhabitant of that seat would mind switching with one of us. When the passenger did arrive, it was Miss “Did Not Pay for That!” So apparently, airport security had not taken her in for questioning. I asked if she would switch with one of us, and she did. So Laura and I got to sit next to each other after all.

On the plane in Los Angeles, waiting to depart for Chicago
On the plane in Los Angeles, waiting to depart for Chicago

I slept a little here and there on the overnight flight, but not all that well, and Laura was the same. We got to Chicago a little after 6:00 AM, which gave plenty of time for our 8:00 AM flight to Memphis. We checked out our options for breakfast, and I got an orange, a granola bar, and some orange juice. And fortunately, we were able to use our food vouchers for breakfast. We found a place for all of us to sit at a tall table. And then I saw a McDonald’s down the way; if I had seen that first, my breakfast would have been different, but probably not as good for me. We texted Zach and Leah Riedel to say that we were in the same state as them, although we were a couple of hours away. Brant went to get a drink from one of the shops, and he came back saying that we could use our food vouchers in the shop, so Laura and I went to use our last one since it would expire soon.

Breakfast in Chicago
Breakfast in Chicago

Can I push the middle button to get someone to wave at me?
“Can I push the middle button to get someone to wave at me?” - Steve

It looked like there would be a lot of people on our flight to Memphis, judging by all of the people waiting at our gate. But then we realized that the gate actually was for two planes, so that made it a little better. Our plane was on time, which was nice. We did not all sit together, but spouses did sit together, so that was nice, too. And then, a couple of hours later, we were back in our home state. We got our luggage, which did all make it to Memphis with us, loaded up the car, dropped the Riedels off at their house, and then went home.

And as always, it had been a great trip, but it was good to be home.

Conclusions

Here are a few parting thoughts in reflection:

Aulani was great. Not as much “Disney” as we might have thought, in that there were not characters everywhere all the time. But it was enough Disney for us. Definitely more Hawaiian than just straight-out Disney, so it was a good blend. While staying at the resort the entire time that we were there was not our goal, it was nice to be able to have it as our home base.

Oʻahu is much different than Kauaʻi. While Kauaʻi was more laid back and relaxed, Oʻahu was a bit more touristy, with lots of tall buildings near the main beaches. But there was perhaps also a little more to do on Oʻahu, depending on what you like to do. That being said, I would be happy going back to either island.

Always make sure you have some extra time around your flights. And always make sure you take some extra clothes. Just in case.

Going with friends is a blast!

I knew before we went on our first Hawaiʻi trip (to Kauaʻi) that I would be hooked. And I was. And this trip did nothing to change that.

If we go back to Oʻahu, we will find time to do more of the historical kinds of things, such as touring the ʻIōlani Palace, while still finding plenty of time for beaches and water stuff.

You can find friendly people all over the world. Hawaiʻi is no exception.

When can we go again?

That concludes the trip report! Thanks for reading! Be sure to check the Hawaiʻi 2023 page for more about our trip, including more photo posts in the future!


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About Burnsland
Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.