Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our Trip Home

Warning: this post contains profanity.

Good morning. We woke up to rain here in Ohio. Is it following us? At this point we don't mind. Our heads hit the pillow last night and we were out. I woke up at 10am, thought to myself, "We got to get up," and rolled over and went back to sleep until 11:10am. We could've slept all day but pushed ourselves to get up knowing we need to be able to sleep tonight. I'm in the process of uploading pictures to our Flickr account, so be on the lookout. I know ya'll are just dying to hear our story about coming home, eh? Probably not, but here it is.

To start, our checkout was at 11am. We could've left our suitcases at the hotel but all they do is leave them in the lobby with a big net over them. So we debated to leave them or take them in the car and take a chance with having our car broken into. According to everything you read, car break-ins are huge there and they recommend taking everything with you when you leave your car. With that being said we took our luggage with us and hit the road to try to find something to do.

Since we had no hotel room we had to be careful what we did so we didn't get all funky. We were wearing the clothes we'd be wearing the entire day into our trip home later that evening. We went to Leonards for Malasadas (awesome Portugese donuts that can be cinnamon sugar, or filled with items such as custard to chocolate). They are well known on Oahu for awesome puffy malasadas and they didn't let us down. I'm glad we didn't go there earlier in the weeks because we would've found ourselves there every morning if that had been the case.

After that we went up to the North Shore for the last time. Matsumoto's was open so I got my "official" shave ice. They didn't let us down either. I got the cotton candy flavored with ice cream on the bottom. Yum. After that it was only about noon so we headed back down Kam Highway and ended up at Pearlridge Mall. Grabbed a quick bite to eat and then we were at a loss of what to do. Having that last day is almost like a waste but any flights out to the mainland are at night so no matter what day you leave, you have the same problem.

We decided to head to Pearl Harbor for the last time. We didn't spend much time there and didn't let the car out of our site. Break-ins are HUGE there since they don't allow you to take anything to the Arizona Memorial that would provide concealment. No purses, bags, large camera bags, fanny packs....nothing. So people leave them in the car. Prime target for robbers. They do have a bike patrol for security but break-ins are still on the rise. What we stopped to see was the Healing Field. Very moving. They have different Healing Fields for different occasions but this was to commemorate those lost at Pearl Harbor. Each flag had a purple ribbon attached to the full-sized flag with the person's name, service, and where they were the day of the attack. It was only fitting that we saw it on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

At that point it was 2pm and we had no idea what to do. We didn't want to waste gas by driving. We debated whether to drop the car off but didn't, thank God (I'll explain later). We ended up at the Ala Moana Center for a bit (mall), took a jaunt past downtown Honolulu and Waikiki again and by the time we were back at the Airport it was 6pm (our flight left at 11:55pm). We thought we'd be able to check in and just chill at a restaurant and read or something. Not so. We dropped the car off and showed up at the airport to find a ghost town. Everything's closed and you can't get in. To start, you have to pass through USDA agriculture inspection. You kind of do this upon arrival too, but only have to submit a form. Going into Hawaii you can't take any "foreign" foods, fruits, etc that could damage their environment. Things like peaches, apricots, are totally out of the question. On the way back you have to have your bags x-rayed to make sure you're not taking any agriculture out of Hawaii. The USDA inspection site didn't even open until 7pm so we sat and waited. Before evening being inspected we found out from another US Airways passenger that we wouldn't be able to check our bags in until 8:30pm. Say what? This was a total surprise to us. I just wish that had notified us when we arrived in Hawaii that that's the case. And in none of my travel books was it ever noted. Not only that but it was also a surprise to those around us including those that have been to Hawaii multiple times previously. Thank God we didn't take our car back any earlier. Some others weren't so lucky...some had arrived as early as 2:30 in the afternoon. Just like us there was nothing for them to do and they had to check out of their hotels. In addition, some parking at hotels charge a crazy charge for every 1/2 hour after you're "checked out" Come to find out one of our fellow passengers tried to contact US Air's customer service. To start he had to find a person and the highest ranking US Air employee was at baggage claim (remember the airport is basically closed....I guess this explains why it was a ghost town we arrived in Hawaii, it doesn't "open" until night) and he wouldn't give the customer service number. He ended up getting a phone number some how and called US Air to find that their customer service hours are 9-5 central time M-F and closed on the weekends. So basically you're screwed if you have a problem after hours, if you're in Hawaii since you're pacific time and fly at night, or on the weekends. Somehow we got hold of an actual person on the other end of the line just by staying on the phone, but of course they couldn't do anything.

So first we had to wait for USDA agriculture, which was a total joke. They weren't even watching the screen as our bags passed through the machine. Not kidding. Then we waited at the check-in counter as every other airline checked in. And remember, the airport is all open air meaning we're "outside." Thankfully there's still a roof but that doesn't help humidity. There was only one US Air flight going out that night so we became quite close with our fellow travelers during the waiting time. There was one inparticular named Ross. He was the one that called customer service. The best description I can give is a cross between House and Jeff Foxworthy. He wasn't as arrogant as House but kept you rolling at all times. Just hilarious and he helped pass the time. During our wait time we found that we weren't the only ones that had a horrendous week of travel/weather. Anyone that had been here more than once stated that it was the worst week of weather they had ever seen. It actually made us feel better, allowing us all to vent and not feel as though we were crazy for feeling they way we did. The time finally arrived to check-in, yes! That's when the wonderful customer service of US Air continued. After sitting there for how many hours we had a woman come up to us saying that we had to move back that we were blocking people getting by the desk. Say what?! You've got to be kidding me. At no point was there a person that couldn't get by us. Whatever, we moved.

We checked in, had no problems with security and hung out with our new friends until our take-off. That's when we realized we got the "chosen seats" again. Yes, the same shitty seats that we had on the way there. They weren't so bad going there considering it was day time and we didn't need to sleep. But this time we wanted to sleep. The only way I can explain them is that you have no recline in them. They actually lean slightly forward. Add on top of that the people in front of you reclining in their seats, you have NO room. Here's a picture of David.

It's the best view I could get the situation. You cannot put a 12 inch ruler from your nose to the back of the seat in front of you. David's knees were hitting the back of the seat. They were the worst. We understand that someone has to sit there but come to find out when we were getting off the plane that there were 15 empty seats in the back that we could've been moved to. You've got to be shittin' me! And this time they didn't even acknowledge us getting the crappy seats. In addition the crew was quite rude and inconsiderate. Upon entering the plane there was no place above our seats for our carry on luggage. We were in row 7 and the closest overhead compartment was row 15. Instead of helping us get our luggage to there all we got was, "It can't go up got to put it somewhere back there." I couldn't help but give her a "Oh no you didn't" look. We put our stuff there and returned to our seats. During the flight we found our "neighbor" was a gold member of US Air and got stuck in the same crappy seats as us. Oh heck nah. I'd be raising heck with the airline. She told us that she was getting up to stretch so we all got up to stretch and go to the restroom. She went first, then me, then David went into the lavatory. Immediately when he got into the lavatory the "fasten seat belts" light came on. And you bet that witch of a flight attendant came running to us saying, "You must get in your seats!" We tried to explain the situation that we were waiting for David but needless to say David didn't get to do his business. We got no sleep on the 7+ hour red eye flight and then when we were unloading we got to deal with the flight attendant again. We were patiently waiting for everyone to get off the flight so we could go back to get our carryons when here she comes and says, "What's going on? What are you waiting for?" David replied with a, "We're waiting to go get our frickin' luggage!" That's when a supervisor showed up on the plane and was talking to a fellow passenger saying, "Well, it looks like you two aren't in a hurry and are relaxed from a nice vacation." Basically trying to make us look bad. I've never wanted to get in someone's face so bad and say, "You have no idea!!!" Then when we were leaving the plane the witch attendant said to a fellow attendant, "We got a mean face...." David couldn't help but look her straight in the face and said, "fuck you." Yes, my husband cussed at a flight attendant. You didn't want to mess with us at that point. Horrible vacation, waited forever at the airport for your sucky service, only to be treated like total shit by your airline and have no sleep. Not happy.

David grabbed a quick bite to eat in Phoenix. I was so pissed I couldn't think about eating. That's when I realized the person in Honolulu never gave our Charlotte to Cleveland connecting tickets. We had our 1st and 2nd leg tickets but not the 3rd. I had to go to the desk and get that taken care of. It wasn't a problem. But at that point I wasn't surprised at US Air's mess up. Our second flight was much better. It's amazing how much room we had being in normal seats. You know that those 1st seats were tight when we were rejoicing for the amount of room we got in a normal seat. We ended up not having a person in the seat next to us, which allowed us to stretch out a bit. The customer service was no better, as we had another unfriendly flight attendant. We put our carryons above, as we usually do only to have her come and yell, "Who's luggage is this? Who's luggage is this?" We said it was ours and she said, "It can't go that way, it must be moved. I guess how we had it, it wouldn't fit or something. Kind of funny because it fit in the last plane which was the exact same model. Whatever. We got up and moved it ourselves. I'm kind of surprised about that. Any other airline they would tell us it couldn't go there but then would move it themselves. Even with budget airlines like USA 3000. Not with these 2 crews. They wouldn't touch it and expected you to do it all. I went in and out of sleep on the 4 hour flight. Note to self: never fly with US Airways again and if you're in a B757 don't get Row 7 D, E, or F, or Row 8 A, B, C.

We arrived in Charlotte. It was our first ever stop there. It's a very nice airport. Clean and up to date. Even better, they had a huge pump bottle of Listerine and mints in the restrooms. Definitely something that was needed after not having been able to brush our teeth. The last leg from Charlotte to Cleveland went fast and the crew was great. Why couldn't we have had that crew on any of our other long flights? They were funny, enjoyable, and helpful. They were US Air but called Mesa. Probably contracted or something. And even better, we got into Cleveland 15 minutes early and our luggage was immediately available. Ah, home sweet home. I've never wanted to get down on my hands and knees and kiss the ground in Cleveland. Cleveland, for God's sake. I didn't care. We were home.

When we got home mom and dad helped us unpack and get settled. Then when we went up to bed we found St. Nick came while we were gone! Yay! Thanks St. Nick!! I don't even remember my head hitting the pillow. I was out. It was the best night's sleep ever.

Just wanted to thank the 'rents for all of their help...from watching the pups, checking on the cats, cleaning up any messes, taking in the mail, shoveling our snow, and taking us to and from the airport. We appreciate it so much. Thank you!


Mom said...

Aw,'re welcome!! It was nuthin'.

Cheryl Aloha said...

I'm glad you made it home! I've vacationed in Ohio 3 times... yep... why? why? why? ha ha.

... my dog died yesterday... she was 14 years old... a shitzu.... my eyes are sore and swolen from crying so much.

Heidi's Mom said...

God Bless you. You have been an angel. You came out of nowhere, advised, encouraged and suggested. I wish to thank you for the ray of sunshine you have given to the kids during their adventurous vacation. I wish you the best because you deserve it. Hope you are able to have the repairs done on your home real soon.
So sorry to hear of the passing of your dog. We lost ours almost three years ago and one never forgets. A family member for sure. My prayers are with you.
Again, I thank you. You are a very special person.

Heidi said...

Oh Cheryl, I'm so sorry to hear about your pup. I understand what you're going through as I'm a veterinary technician. However, it's never easy, especially when it's your own. David and I do not have children, only our pets, which we consider our "kids". I dread the day when the "time" comes, but try not to think about it too much.

I hope you stick around to read posts and comment here and there. And feel free to email whenever you'd like....

kyleroth said...

Wow, you need a vacation from your vacation. I wish you had a better experience in Hawaii, it was the best vacation we ever had.


Anonymous said...

You're husband said "F@#k you" to the crewmember? You sound like a lovely couple. Really, you recieve from others exactly what you put out there. The behavior you describe of yourselves - embarrassingly childish, with unrealistic expectations, and an irrational sense of entitlement. You were victims of the weather and not much else. Really, you need to take an honest look at yourself. Having said that, I hope you have a much better vacation next time - but remember, most of that will depend on your attitude.

Heidi said...

I sat and read the previous comment from "anonymous" above several times. I debated whether to just delete it, leave it, and/or reply. But considering "anonymous" thinks we're already rude and childish what more harm can I do by replying?

So to you "anonymous":
I understand your input and take it to heart. With that being said we were congenial with every individual we met throughout the week during our stay in Hawaii. Even to those that treated us poorly...a person who came and stood right in front of me, blocking my view as I was watching a performance. Or those that walked out into the street, put up their hand, and believed they had a sense of entitlement to enter the street during busy traffic. Or even those that walked on the sidewalk, not using the "stay to the right" idea, just walking, expecting you to move over and walk on the grass so they could get by. I could continue but I think you get the idea. We continued to smile, bite our tongues, and went on our way. We attempted in every way to enjoy our vacation. Why the heck would we spend over $3000 to have a horrible week?

The blog is our "out" per se and we come here to vent, give opinions, and write nonsense. That's all we were doing during our trip. Most of those that know us know where we are coming from. Other than the blog we portrayed little to no negativity during our time in Hawaii. So forgive us for coming to our wit's end by the time we were on our way home. The bottom line is we were sick of being treated like crap, tired of putting on our "happy faces", acting as though it wasn't happening, and just wanted to get home after a long week.

Victims of weather? Yes. But there's so much more to it that isn't even included on this blog. I think people who oppose what we wrote and how we acted and felt would feel quite different having been in our shoes for the week. And once again forgive us for having some sort of expectation as everyone that we know who's been to Hawaii has called it "paradise".

Mom said...

Gosh...I HATE it when someone is so strong in their opinion, yet so WEAK in self confidence that they must hide behind "anonymity".