Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Aloha

So I decided that I needed a vacation from my vacation home. The valley can get pretty constrictive for all its beauty and I had a need to see somewhere else, and where better in the middle of January than a tropical Island right? So here I am in Maui, Hawaii. But it wasn't easy.

The drive out of the park itself was something out of a horror movie...it has been snowing/raining for the last two weeks, all the roads have been closed by a variety of avalanches 2 foot deep snow drifts and rock slides, on and off for quite some time. We decided to take 140 out as it was the only road without restrictions. More the fools we. Not even to El Portal we had to stop the car three times and get out to clear rock slides that we wouldn't have been able to drive through or around if we had been on motorcycles. about 45 minutes into the drive we got stopped by a huge utility truck whose driver told us that the road was out up ahead due to a massive rock slide and would be out for at least a couple of hours. So we turned around, and went to my friend Nicks moms house, and hung out there calling periodically for road conditions. By the time the road had been declared driveable it was almost 2am and Nick was quite firmly passed out on the couch. So I decided that we could sleep some and leave early in the morning on Monday for Fresno.

My mistake, I decide that I need something from the car, I walk out into the gale force storm to get into the car and manage to neglect to leave the door open enough to get back into the house. So, standing out in the pouring ass rain I despartely hammered on the door in order to wake Nick, but he was non-compus-mentis. So, I managed to get a few hours of sleep in the car...COLD. Oh well.

The next day proceeded as planned we left early, around 8am, and made it to Fresno without too many mishaps. A lot of storming and whacked out drivers, but nothing serious. In Fresno I decided that it would probably be a good idea to verify my tickets with the airport. Well, apparently AIRPORTS don't do that...you have to contact the AIRLINE itself. So after playing phone jockey for about 2 hours I get a hold of the customer service for Delta. I then end up spending 45 minutes talking to a woman that couldn't have been working there for more than 30 seconds before answering the phone, who told me that my tickets didn't exist and the flight was booked under a different first name, and that you cannot fly to Kahului on their airline, and a number of other things that I know firsthand to be demonstrably untrue. Once I FINALLY get that worked out it's time to go back to bed to get up and catch the flight on Tuesday.

We, Nick and I, make it to the airport 2 hours early, which was good because although I purchased the tickets through delta, and my itinerary said delta, and every other indicative factor pointed to delta, I was told at the delta terminal that I was flying American...no sense at all. So I spent some time in the bar before getting on the little 2 engine Saab prop plane to get to LA. After getting pretty well mentally armored versus the coming potential disaster, I board the plane, which is less than half occupied thank god, but starts shuddering like a monster truck when they turn the engines on. Taxiing to the runway took at least a half an hour and the pilot was kind enough to set the mood by explaining that there is a warm front and that at 17000 feet where we'll be it's gonna be pretty rough. Terrific.

So on a tiny prop plane 17k in the air, the turbulence is more reminiscent of a maniacal elevator dropping in between floors. 3-5 foot drops and surges were pretty constant for the 46 minute flight and they explained that they would normally be distributing refreshments but that they would be more likely to infest our clothing and coat the walls than be imbibed.

That flight done. In LA. I get off the plane feeling as though the worst is over, and that I handled it all pretty well, although at this point I'm trying desperately to ignore the massive headache and muscle cramps from tensing like I was in a body-building showcase. The lady at the front desk at the incoming terminal told me I needed to go to terminal 4 to get on the plane I needed...I had at this point about and hour to get to the plane. So I get on the bus, get to terminal 4 and look for my gate. The only flight out of terminal 4 to Kahului doesn't leave until 5:55. My ticket says 3:25...I start asking questions. No one knows what I'm talking about. I get told to just wait for the later flight...I'm understandably uncomfortable with this idea. I ask some more questions, then get told I'm at the wrong terminal. I'm supposed to be at terminal 5, I now have about 40 minutes to get to my plane. I can't just WALK to the terminal there's no way with security guys and planes taxiing, I get rushed onto another bus. THIS bus takes me back to the god damned front desk, where I'm told I have to wait for ANOTHER bus...at 25 till I start asking where the terminal 5 bus is...they call it, no answer. I start getting really anxious and demanding and someone hops in a little van and just drives me straight to the loading gate for my plane. I get on the 767 with 10 minutes left. Closer than I wanted to make it for sure. I get on the plane and find my seat, it's located at the exact rear of the plane. Right up against the rear wall of the plane next to the service area, which makes for easy access to the coffee, but makes for a lot of fun during takeoff. To top it all off, during THIS flight the pilot starts out by telling us that we're flying into a 150+ mph headwind and we're likely to be late and experience a lot of turbulence. To which, at this point, I think, "yep, gonna die." No question this plane is going down over the Pacific all hands lost. It was a rather calm realization, no panic or sweating, just acceptance. One of those "oh well" moments when you go all in on a bluff and get called. No amount of whining or gnashing of teeth is going to help and is just gonna cause you more grief than necessary.

So I drank about 2 pots of coffee, and read most of an 800 page book, but I lived. Made it to Hawaii, got my hiking pack from baggage handling and tried to walk out the shakes. Since then I've been picked up by Misty from the airport only to hear that she wrecked her car earlier that day. Her car runs, sort of, but the front end isn't really there anymore.

Yet throughout this harrowing experience I have high spirits and a positive attitude for the most part. I made it this far, I'll make it back, and I can do anything I want. Next big thing is Ireland. I'm gonna go, don't care if it takes a couple of years, but it's going to happen. It's beautiful here, but the first thing I noticed is that you can almost chew the air. From 4000 feet in the Sierras, where no matter how much it rains or snows it's still dry as a bone, to basically sea level in the tropics is a pretty severe atmospheric change. But there's no comparing the sunset here, it's like perpetual spring...everything is green as can be. And not from mold and lichen like in Eugene. It's all bright colored and leafy and petaled and growing. Stark contrast to the white/gray of the valley right now.

This is my first day here and I mean to make the most of it. The beach awaits, and I can already taste the sea wind in my face. Gonna soak the sun, make a sand bed, and try to forget that I can't stay. I'm definitely going to come here again, when I have less on my plate at home and more time and resources to be a bum.

I hope that this finds you all well and happy, here's wishing you all margaritas and paradise.

4 Comments:

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Scifikillr said...

So I guess the Oregon trip is out for February eh? :) heh. Glad you're having a good time, was shocked to hear that you actually got on TWO airplanes.... I thought one would have big enough of a trauma. When are you getting back to the valley? Write me, biatch.

Later
C

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger Jen said...

isn't travel fun? congrats on surviving your first airline experience. hope you have a ton o' fun! hope that cherry red speedo works out for you and gets you the chicks. sunscreen is your friend, paleboy!

get ready for snowboardin' when you get back!

 
At 12:18 AM, Blogger MOM said...

Hey there Rich ..so you decided to go where it was warmer with out taking your family..? That wasnt very nice..lol...WEll have a great time be thinking of you..hope you make it back ok ..the snow is so bad in the mountains right now to bad you cant wait till it clears up..Keep us updated OK..love mom

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger sanourra said...

All I have to say is... "You dirty whore!"
Good job on getting on two airplanes. I hope you're having a great time. Say hello to Misty for me.

Keep blogging- it makes me laugh.

 

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