Friday, November 03, 2006

1 November 2006 (9:30am EST)
We are waiting at the gate at the Columbus Airport for our 10:30 flight. The morning has been relatively smooth and stress free. We had a little tension as we were driving to Columbus and realized that there are two international airports in Columbus. The advantage of living in the age of cell phones is that a quick call set us straight. The long-term parking with SunPark was very convenient with a shuttle meting us at our car and taking us directly to the Continental departure desk. A few minutes on line last night gave us a $1/day discount so that we will only pay $4.36/day. This is the first time we’ve had to have our check-in baggage scanned. Not surprisingly, the heavy metal ammunition case I brought to secure my camera equipment raised a red flag. They swiped the lid and the inside of the bag with some sort of swab which detects explosives. I’m glad we were there to watch, though. I had visions of them taking my bag out on the tarmac and blowing it up. We had anticipated the box causing a problem, but fortunately it wasn’t enough to delay anything. I’m a little concerned about the “dime bags” of powdered laundry detergent that Julie has in her bags. We’ll see if we ever have to explain that. Actually, the biggest problem that we had was the small bottles of hand sanitizer that Julie had in her carry-on. Regulations now require that bottles of liquid must be smaller than 3 oz. and be stored in a quart-sized Ziploc bag. No water bottles are allowed through security, but they will gladly sell you a bottle for $1.75 once you pass through.

Our first flight this morning is to Newark, New Jersey, which is a little frustrating, since it is the opposite direction from Hawaii. That’s the disadvantage of getting tickets with frequent flier miles. The advantage of course is that they were free. Almost completely free considering that the miles were earned from a 20,000 mile bonus for applying for a credit card with no fee for the first year. How can these companies afford to do that? We were concerned about using these miles as soon as possible, since they were on Delta, and we were unsure whether or not they would honor their program, since they went into bankruptcy. Julie and I have since applied for and received bonus miles on another carrier. Kristin and Jennifer have also received cards and miles, so our next trip should include the whole family.

6:50pm EST

We are flying over Washington state right now, although you would never know it since we are over a cloud layer. The flight over the continental U.S. is about 2500 miles, with another 2500 miles to Hawaii. It’s always interesting to get a bird’s eye view of areas that you have only seen on maps before. We flew over the finger lakes in New York which looked somewhat unnatural, almost like some giant bear had swiped across the landscape. We flew a northerly route to avoid some “weather” we were told, which took us into Canada. The area north of North Dakota looked as barren as any landscape I have ever seen. There was a layer of snow cover on the ground and it appeared that there were no trees for miles in any direction. We had a chance to see the Rockies before the cloud cover filled in. That was quite a sight from the air. The sun was setting which added to the impact.

2 November 2006 (7:50 Hawaiian Standard Time)
We have realized that we are 5 hours behind Cincinnati time. While we were making our plans, there was 6 hours of difference, but when daylight savings ended back home, the time did not change in Hawaii. Our day started very early today. The neighborhood seems to have more then its fair share of roosters and they seem to have come from New York, because they are still on Eastern Standard Time. They started crowing at 2:00 and continued on and off until we left for the day at 9:00.

We are staying these first two days on the north shore of Oahu east of Haleiwa at a place called Sharks Cove Rentals. We are sharing a house with two others; Jerry from New Orleans, and another young man from Italy. We each have a private room with a shared bath, kitchen and family area. Jerry is a surfer and has been to Hawaii about fifteen times. The Italian is one of several people who seem to be staying here for the month. There is another couple who is from Germany. It is always interesting to meet new people and hear their stories.

The day started out rainy today. We tried going to the grocery store, but the electricity was out so we decided to drive around a little. We visited a soap factory where they make “hand-made” soaps. Across the street was the local library where we passed some time and got a $10 visitor card. We were able to take out several field guides that we were unable to find at home (birds and fish). It’s almost become a joke that we go on vacation so that we can visit other libraries. It amazes me that we can check out books on Oahu and keep them all vacation and return them on another island. I have to keep reminding myself that Hawaii is a state and not some foreign country. They allowed us to access the internet to check e-mail, but their system was crawling, supposedly because of the frequent power outages throughout the day.

After lunch at a Hawaiian Mexican restaurant (???) we went to the Waimea Valley Audubon Center which is an 1800-acre botanic garden dedicated to preserving the flora native to Hawaii and other islands. They have quite a task ahead of them, since much of the native flora has been destroyed by introduced species. Most of the native flora has no natural protection against predators, since there were historically very few on the islands. We took a guided tour from the director which was very detailed and informative, but I’m sure we’ve forgotten most of the specifics already. The Waimea Valley ends in a box canyon with a beautiful waterfall spilling into a natural pool. Normally they allow swimming at the base of the falls, but the water was too high due to the rain. We made good use of our newly acquired bird field guide since we have yet to see a bird here that we have at home. We’ve learned to identify eight birds that we had never seen before.

On the way back home we stopped along the shore where we could see some surfers riding the waves. There was a big crowd on the beach that I had assumed were watching the surfers, but they were actually watching sea turtles which had come in very close to shore. We could watch them poke their heads and fins out of the water, and occasionally the water would recede around them revealing their shells which looked to be about 2 to 2 ½ feet in diameter. By sunset, the clouds had broken up enough to make it really beautiful.

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At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep me posted.


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