On Friday, August 31st, we flew from Pittsburgh PA to Kona HI via Denver CO.
We awakened at 5:00 am, showered and got dressed.
At 6:00 am we went to breakfast only to learn that breakfast was not included with our room. We chose not to eat breakfast at the hotel.
At 6:30 am we caught an airport shuttle to Pittsburgh Airport. The shuttle dropped us off at United ticketing. We quickly went through the electronic procedure to obtain boarding passes and to check one bag. It cost $25.00 to check one bag.
We made it through the security check within 15 minutes. We would have made it through the security check even quicker had we known we could use the TSA Pre✓® expedited screening line. Apparently the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) selected us for TSA Pre✓® expedited screening. Eligible travelers do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. When we were in the line for security check, I noticed TSA Pre✓® on our boarding passes. I saw signs posted as we proceeded through the security check line encouraging us to enroll in TSA Pre✓®. I didn’t connect the dots, though, that non-enrolled travelers can be selected for TSA Pre✓®. We ended up not having to remove our shoes, as the attendant red stamped our boarding passes “expedited”. We did, however, have to remove our tablets and kindles.
Once we were through security, we hopped onto a tram that quickly took us to the location of the departure gates.
Our first stop was at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. Bob ordered bacon, egg and cheese on a multigrain bagel with coffee. I ordered a multigrain bagel and cream cheese with hot tea.
By 7:30 am we were seated at gate A2, waiting for boarding to begin.
Boarding began at 8:15 am. We were in boarding group 4, the next to last group. We were seated by 8:30 am in aisle seats, directly across from each other. The seating arrangement was our choice, when we reserved our seats.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8:50 am. The pilot informed us that the flight path was changed to fly a southern route over St. Louis, rather than a northern path, to avoid thunderstorm activity. We were taxiing by 8:45 am and in the air at 8:50 am.
Soon after the flight was airborne a male steward passed out a snack, a small bag of Maple Wafers.
At 10:05 am beverage service was suspended due to turbulence. Thus far, the seat belt sign had been lit for most of our flight.
At 10:55 am we received beverage service. Soon afterward the seat belt sign was lit up again. Makes me wonder what the turbulence would have been like had we taken the northern flight path.
We arrived in Denver at 9:49 am local time, which was about 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. We were delayed on the tamarack. Another airplane was parked at our arrival gate! We arrived at gate B55 around 10:17 am and began to slowly disembark.
It was a long, quickly paced walk to gate B25. We arrived at the departure gate around 10:45 am and discovered that departure time had been delayed from 11:55 am to 12:30 pm, due to operational difficulties. We walked a few gates down to gate B21, where we learned that our flight was scheduled to leave at 12:00 pm instead of 12:30 pm.
We were seated on airplane at 11:48 am. Once again we have aisle seats, across from each other. We purposely reserved aisle seats for all legs of our air travel. When it appeared that Bob would have a whole row of seating to himself, I did move into the window seat. My change of seating didn’t last long. Two last-minute passengers arrived with assigned seating next to Bob. If our airplane had departed on time, these two passengers would have missed their flight!
We were told this was not the airplane we were originally scheduled to board. Departure was delayed, while luggage was moved from that airplane (which is now flying to Maui) to this one and the airplane was refueled (so we don’t run out of fuel while over the Pacific Ocean!)
We were airborne at 12:35 pm, with an anticipated Kona arrival of 3:30 pm local time.
What a LONG flight. We were in the air a little more than 7 hours from Denver to Kona. We occupied our time with food and drink, reading and playing computer games. I probably played 50+ games of Solitaire and lost each game! We purchased two “Classic” snack boxes during the flight. We asked to purchase a new item “salami and cheese tray”, but that item was not in the serving cart. The stewardess allowed us to purchase two of the snack boxes for the price of one because she didn’t have the snack that we wanted. The salami and cheese tray was priced at $5.99, whereas the snack boxes were priced at $9.59 each. So, we ended up spending less than planned for lunch. Our snack boxes contained Cheddar spread, OREO cookies, crackers, pretzel crisps, root beer float marshmallow, salami and Twizzlers. A little later we were provided complimentary beverages. I asked for a Diet Coke. Bob got coffee.
We landed at Kona International Airport at 3:38 pm local time. We disembarked the airplane via portable steps and walked across the tarmac and through the open-air airport. We were pleasantly surprised that an assault of hot air did not greet us, as we stepped out of the airplane. It was a pleasant 84 degrees, with a very nice breeze.
Bob’s brother, John, and our sister-in-law Dorothy met us at the airport, gave each of us hugs, and put leis around our neck. The arrival information at the airport still showed our arrival time as 3:19 pm. We arrived about 20 minutes late. Dorothy and John were wondering what had happened to us.
We retrieved our luggage (one suitcase) from baggage claim. We had to pay extra for checked baggage ($25 each way), so I was happy that we were able to fit our clothing, toiletries and a few odds and ends in one checked bag. In addition to that one suitcase, our carry-on baggage included my camera messenger bag, Bob’s backpack-style laptop computer case, and my purse.
After retrieving our checked baggage, John and Dorothy led the way to the parking lot and their car. We placed our baggage in the back of the car, hopped in the car and left the airport en route their home. That drive did not take long, as John and Dorothy live 4 miles from the airport. John and Dorothy live high above the airport, along the slopes of the Hualālai volcano.
According to a Wikipedia article Hualālai is the westernmost, third-youngest and the third-most active of the five volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii, following Kīlauea and the much larger Mauna Loa. Its peak stands 8,271 feet above sea level. Hualālai is estimated to have risen above sea level about 300,000 years ago. Despite maintaining a very low level of activity since its last eruption in 1801, and being unusually inactive for the last 2,000 years, Hualālai is still considered an active volcano. Dorothy and John live approximately half way up the volcano.
Dorothy took me on a walk around the house, soon after we arrived, pointing out various trees and plants. Their house is perched on a small piece of property, which is beautifully landscaped. There is a very nice large lanai (patio) with entry from the living room and master bedroom. Dorothy took Bob and me on a house tour too. Their home is one floor. There are three bedrooms (the master bedroom, a guest bedroom and John’s office) and a “great room” consisting of the living room, kitchen and dining room. The master bedroom with bath and large walk-in closet is on one side of the great room. The guest bedroom, John’s office and a bathroom are on the other side of the great room. There is a one car garage, which seems to act as an extension of their home. The garage is carpeted; a screen door leads from the kitchen to the garage.
We ate dinner around 6:30 pm. Dorothy prepared a delicious dinner of barbecue meatballs, rice and peas. For dessert we had chocolate lasagna. While we ate, we watched the sun set and drop into the ocean. Here is a photograph of the sunset, after the sun had dropped into the ocean.
We had been accustomed to seeing John and Dorothy frequently over the years. They used to live in Virginia, which was only a 5-6 hour drive from our house. John and Dorothy moved to Hawaii in December 2009. Since then we had seen them only a few times. We saw them in May 2010, when Bob and I vacationed in Hawaii for the first time. We saw them again in September 2011, when they visited with us. I believe the last time we saw John and Dorothy was in October 2016, when they once again visited with us and met our granddaughters, their great nieces, for the first time. It was so good to see John and Dorothy again!
The long day caught up with Bob and me around 7:30 pm. At that time we had been awake for 20 1/2 hours. It was long past bedtime! We found a surprise, as we pulled down the bed linens — rose petals strewn in between our bed sheets. A memory flashed in my mind, as I recalled the first night we got into bed as a married couple. We found rose petals in our bed that night too. Dorothy had strewn the rose petals between our sheets that day.