Been a while

Since we got home and there hasn’t been much that inspired me to write, first with the cold and the post trip catch up and subsequently just getting back into my regular routines. So, it feels like time for a bit of a catch up.

We do try, for the most part, to schedule an ‘away from home’ time in October when the Ironpeople are here, but this year, as well as last, we have been here for the big event. It isn’t my favorite time to be on island by any stretch of the imagination, as the iron-folk move in like a conquering army, many with either a strong sense of entitlement, or so much focus on the race that they check their brains at the airport on the way here. The signs go up from the race supporters reminding all us residents that we have to be extra careful of the ‘Athletes in Training’ and for the last week or two of September and the first week or two of October you can anticipate that zero body fat (yes, you DO hear a little resentment there…) people on bikes will decide suddenly and without warning to change sides of the road, cutting across traffic in both directions with no signal or indication, simply expecting that traffic will stop and allow them to complete this brainless maneuver.

Poor Kona residents get to put up with the run and swim training as well as the bikes, and are also treated to people in speedos showing up everywhere from restaurants to Walmart – this got to be such a local issue a few years back that some people invented the ‘Underpants Run’ as a mockery of the speedo wearers, but it in turn got to be a sort of inside joke and is now a fund raiser and an official part of the annual Ironman festivities.

The only good or interesting thing for me this Iron-season was that when I was in one of the local grocery stores, I saw Gordon Ramsay shopping (all decked out in his Ironman gear and wearing bike shorts and fluorescent sneakers) – he was here for Ironman, raising money for a charity in England, but he didn’t complete the course as it turned out. Did the swim, but got ill on the bike ride and had to drop out.

So, that was finally over on the 10th of October for another year (although it seems like we have some kind of triathlon about every other month now, just not as big) and life is drifting back into normalcy. We had the opportunity to go over to the Hilo side and up to Volcanos National Park this week. Some friends were here on a cruise ship and we made the trek over the Saddle Road to see them and went up to the summit. Unfortunately, no red lava, but lots of steam and smoke visible. We took a side trip down around Pahoa, which is also getting back to normal as the flow that threatened the town remains in abeyance since around Christmas time last year. There is still some activity along the margins and around Pu’u O’o vent but so far Pahoa is okay.

The University of Hawaii has done a study in the area, though, assessing community response and resiliency to both acute and long term stress, since the community was first hit by a hurricane, and then was, and continues to be under threat from the lava flow. Not surprisingly, the community resilience was found to be tied to the reactions and leadership of a few key individuals in the community, but driving around in the area, you would never really know that there was a disaster waiting in the wings to happen.

Other than that, we’re just back to our regular activities, and starting to get serious about our planning for our Spring travels – back again to Europe, but this time to Italy and France.

Going home

I had the last post in draft waiting to add pictures that my small travel computer wouldn’t process and intended to post after we got home.  Then I got the ‘travel flu’ and what with that and all the mundane tasks like laundry, bills, and grocery shopping after over a month away, it didn’t happen.  So, at long last, it got posted and now I’ll finish the story for this trip.

We had a relatively uneventful stay at the Newark Marriott, which is surprisingly nice for an airport hotel, and then started out early in the morning for the airport where we hit our first issue.  United refused to check our baggage through to our home airport in Kona, allegedly because they don’t do ‘interline’ transfers.  But, I said, Hawaiian is one of your partner airlines, and our bags were checked through by Hawaiian all the way to Amsterdam on our outbound leg.  Too bad said the semi-nasty attendent in Newark.  As it is never wise to argue with the airport/airline personnel, and as we had a decent amount of time between flights in Honolulu, I dropped it, but when we got through security and into the United lounge, I asked the guy at the desk there and he claimed it was a new regulation that was based on complaints by consumers about not getting their luggage after interline transfers, but assured me that if I had purchased a ‘single ticket’ – i.e. booked my Hawaiian flight through United on a single itinerary, the bags would be checked through.  How, I asked, is this different than checking my bags through on two different tickets?  He had no answer.  I will be writing to someone as soon as I figure out whose rule this really is.

Our trip across the country was remarkably clear, particularly after we reached Denver so I amused myself taking photos out the window from Denver to the coast.

Leaving Denver
Leaving Denver
Denver
Denver
In flight
In flight
In flight
In flight
in flight
in flight
in flight
in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in flight
in flight
IMG_0160
in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually, the cloud cover came in and there wasn’t much to take pictures of over the ocean anyway, so I watched the new live action Cinderella – not that impressive – and napped a bit until we were approaching Honolulu.

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Approaching Hawaii
Oahu
Oahu

 

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Getting ready to land in Honolulu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turned out that we had a strong tail wind and were nearly an hour early, which helped with our issue of having to pick up then re-check our luggage, then go back through security. Managed to get everything done, and, wearily, finally, boarded our last flight of the trip, the ‘bus with wings’ from Honolulu to Kona, arriving right around sunset.

 

 

Home at last
Home at last

 

It was a great trip, but it is always good to come home, be in your own bed, and get back to ‘real life’ – and, of course, plan for the next adventure!

 

 

 

 

Coming to an end

We’re in the Newark Marriott waiting for the final flight home tomorrow.  Our arrival in New York this morning was really gorgeous with a lovely sunrise reflecting off the high rises.  We disembarked early and then had to wait quite a while for the buses to get to us for our tour of New York and transfer to the airport.  Our guide looked (and sounded!) like Robert Deniro, was born in the Bronx and lives in Greenwich Village on Bank Street.  Our last stop on the tour was to walk a few blocks in his neighborhood, which was fun and not on the official itinerary.  We also got to see Times Square, Thirty Rockefeller Center (too early in the season for the ice skating rink – now that area is a restaurant) and the 9-11 Memorial, too, all to a funny and often irreverent commentary from our guide.

 

Dawn New York
Dawn New York

 

Dawn Arrival New York
Dawn Arrival New York
9-11 Memorial
9-11 Memorial
9-11 Memorial
9-11 Memorial
Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center
Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village Restaurant

Our last day on board was the usual round of packing and tips and also the concert from the Princess Pop Choir.  We’ve been following their rehearsals as a lady at the table next to us at dinner was a member and we’ve enjoyed seeing them progress.  Since it is the 50th anniversary for both Princess Cruises and the Sound of Music film, Princess is working with the movie folks and using the songs for the Pop Choir, and the concert featured The Sound of Music, Edelweiss, 16 going on 17, Do-Re-Mi, and So Long Farewell, and the group was really really good.

Princess Pop Choir performance
Princess Pop Choir performance

 

I’m attaching the pictures from the last few days of the cruise, too.

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Singers and Dancers 50th Anniversary song

IMG_1741 IMG_1726

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50th Anniversary Balloon Drop - Caribbean Princess
50th Anniversary Balloon Drop – Caribbean Princess
Balloon Drop
Balloon Drop
Balloon Drop
Balloon Drop