4:45 am and I'm was up and about, getting ready to shower. Kathy had been up for a couple of hours already, doing further cleaning and packing. At 6, my mother-in-law and niece arrived to take us to SFO. Our travel agency said that we need only arrive two to two and a half hours before check-in, and that we need only worry about not bringing any knives with us.
We showed up at the newly expanded SFO which doesn't seem to be any better or worse than the old SFO. Well, except for the check-in process. As you can see from the following map of our check-in path,
we entered at gate 7, the first United gate we came to. The lines looked pretty short. Then I noticed that the check-in counter right in front of me was for first class passengers only. So I went to the next set of counters to the right. This turned out to be for business class and some other high mileage class. One of the employees pointed us towards where the common, "lower class" check-in was -- waaaaay over there.
We headed over there, and passed what seemed like about 5 rows deep of people snaking back and forth. We went to where we thought the line ended. Then, from that vantage point we went to the new point where we then thought the line ended. From there we could see where the line actually ended -- at the moment. It was a long way from there to the check-in counter. Surprisingly, it took just a bit less than an hour to get to the front of the line. The people were really efficient, serious about security, and very nice. After that we had to go to another check point where they checked our ID once more and matched them to our tickets.
Below is the check-in line when you get to the final 3 switchbacks.
Then we were allowed into the X-ray/magnetometer area. Any keys and change in your pocket go into a basket like before, but now you put your ticket into the same basket and pass the whole assembly through the X-ray machine. After passing through the magnetometer trellis, they singled me out for a random check with the wand, and singled out my rather heavy backpack for a chemical sniff. In the past, they would have taken my luggage and just put it on the chemical explosive detector machine. Now they take a pad and wipe it all over your bag and put the pad in the machine.
Our departure counter was, as usual, at the very end of the terminal. The new counter displays showed a countdown timer of minutes until boarding, and it was accurate. The plane left close to on-time, and was about two thirds full. The flight was blissfully uneventful. Kathy had a special, vegetarian, nondairy meal and went to sleep. I read and then watched the in-flight movie, "A Knights Tale". I'm sure glad it was a free movie. It was less exciting than, say, watching grass grow. It was less interesting than the Miss America contest. It was less interesting than white bread. No, I tell a lie. It was every bit as interesting as white bread, but white bread has a more believable plot line and people would pay to see white bread.
We arrived about a half hour ahead of time and things went smoothly. A lady from the booking company met us, leied us, and gave us instructions for getting the rental car and getting onto the highway. Finding our way from the airport to our condo was easy. Everything is "just off the highway". It's easy because there is essentially just the one highway.
Our check-in time was supposed to be 3 pm, more than 2 hours later than when we landed, so we drove to the Coconut Marketplace, just a couple of buildings away from our condo, and had a quick meal and walked around. At about 1:30, we decided to see if we could check-in early. Marvis was waiting for us and proceeded to do a major download of information about activities and eating places in the area.
We went to the condo, which was open, as the maid was still cleaning, and just walked in. It's a one bedroom condo that's about 50 feet from the complex's pool and maybe 50 to 75 yards from the ocean. It has a small washer in the bath and a dryer in the hall closet so we didn't have to bring a lot of clothes with us. The cabinets, walls and some of the flooring appear to be teak or some wood that closely resembles it. There's no air conditioing but there are five ceiling fans and a constant breeze that keeps the condo comfortable.
(Special note to Teresa from Kathy: Kauai is a humid tropical island so if you have natural curl or wave to your hair be prepared for not being able to control it. Bring scarves, barretts, clips, and bands.)
After unpacking and setting up this computer to get on the internet, we decided to take a quick tour of the north end of the road. That was when we discovered that they keys Marvis gave us to the condo didn't work. And Marvis had left minutes before.
Actually, when we left Marvis, she hurried out to our car to check the keys. She had another set for the condo and wasn't sure if we got the right ones. But, she examined both sets of keys and thought they were identical. But we called several of the posted numbers at the main office and finally found someone to come and give us the right keys.
|Then we drove north with the intention of driving by the lighthouse, just to see what it was, and then drive further to where the road ended, turn around, and find a restaurant on the way back. Just before the turn off for the lighthouse, we had a brief, heavy downpour. At the lighthouse, the docent there was standing in the road, somewhat soaked, telling anyone showing up that the lighthouse closed at 4 and we should come back some other time. We spoke for a while, learning what there was to see at the lighthouse and wildlife refuge, took a picture of the lighthouse over the edge of the cliff, and headed north again.
The further north we went, the more chickens we found walking across the road. Why the chickens wanted to cross the road we never did discover. Also, the bridges got narrower and narrower and weaker and weaker. Several times we had to stop and wait for traffic coming the other way to clear a bridge before we could cross. Near the end, we made sure to not follow the cars ahead very closely so that we wouldn't have two cars on the bridge at once.
Near the end, there were shear rock walls that edged the road, with "falling rock" signs. One shear cliff even had a rather large cave underneath, but we didn't stop to explore it today. Eventually we reached the entrance to the park at the end and turned around.
On the way up, we didn't see the "Bamboo Bamboo" restaraunt that we planned to visit. So, on the way back, when we reached Hanalei (you know, where "Puff the Magic Dragon" lived), I called them on the cell phone to ask where they were hidden. They said we were just a short distance away, so we headed a bit further on. Unfortunately, they thought we were heading in the opposite direction. And, there are very few places to turn off the road and turn around. So, about 15 minutes later, we managed to get back up the highway about 100 yards from where we made the phone call.
Dinner was fine, though not particularly spectacular. Good, for sure, though. I tried Mahi Mahi for the first time. Since I don't particular like seafood, someone had recommended I try this. It didn't have much taste to it, which was fine with me. Kathy had a bamboo salad. Since she doesn't eat onions, the waitress suggested Kathy try pink ginger. She liked really liked the sweet tangy taste it added. Between the two of us, it cost about $50 for the meal.
On the way back to the condo, we went through another deluge not too far from the same place it rained on our way north. Just before returning to the condo, we stopped at a Safeway grocery store. In the few minutes I was there, buying juice and bread, no less than 6 people asked if they could help me in any way, of if I was finding everything. They people just couldn't be friendlier or more helpful.
Well, it's after 1:30 am PST (10:30 pm here) and I'm getting rather tired. So, I'll stop here and post this.
We have no definite plans for tomorrow yet. We'll see how late we sleep. Perhaps we'll go hiking. Perhaps we'll attend a luau in the evening. We did learn that the soil here is extremely heavily laden with iron. There is one clothing store here that make shirts that are died a brown-red using the soil. One bucket of mud is sufficient to dye about 500 shirts. The dye is a deep, rich dye. I understand that if you go hiking, you should plan on all your clothes and shoes becoming permanently dyed with this color.
When Kathy wakes up, she'll probably edit this some more, so you may find that any of these reports will change once or twice of the period of a day or two. So, you may want to reread the reports after a couple of days.