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Hawaii Chapter 1

Dear Friends and Family,

Another travelogue begins. It has been a while since the last one, and much has transpired. In this adventure, which Pete and I have been planning for a long time. We have never visited the Big Island of Hawai'i, and it popped up when we were considering a place where we could celebrate our 29th Anniversary. It has been 24 years since we last visited the Hawaiian Islands. Our last visit was to the Island of Kauai in December of 1987. We adopted Kauai then as our favorite island. Prior to that we had only been to Oahu and Maui. It now seemed fitting that we should finally visit the Big Island.

The trip began with a number of problems, such that in the end, I was actually toying with the idea of canceling the entire trip. We had made all the reservations for air fare and hotels back in November of 2010. Then if February of 2011 Pete's sister was murdered by Somali Pirates. Pete's nephew Joey Macay was graduating from high school in June of 2011, and Pete's sister Phyllis had planned to attend the ensuing family party to celebrate the occasion. Since we had already made our plans for Hawai'i, and we would not be leaving there until the 26th of June, the day after Joey's party, we decided not to attend. But after Phyllis was murdered, Pete's brother decided to have a memorial service for their sister the day before the party. It was going to be a huge family reunion, and Pete really wanted to go, so we cut two days off our week on Oahu, changed the car reservations, the hotel reservations and bot the Hawaiian Airline and American Airline reservations to get us to Detroit by the morning of 24 June.

Then, on the Monday before we were to leave Buenos Aires, the unthinkable happened.

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Our friend Russell Ferrier who lives in Bariloche said that his property is covered with 6 cm of ash.

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From the very beginning we monitored the news, and called American Airlines to see if the ash would reach Buenos aires before our flight on the 9th of June. They said that no flights had as yet been cancelled. However, on the 9th, the flight that was coming from the United States to Buenos Aires (which would have been our flight to Miami) was diverted to Santiago, Chile, as were all other incoming flights. They put us on flight 996 for Dallas on the 10th of June. We went to the airport and waited, until they gave word that the flight was delayed until 12:30 PM on the 11th. Rather than wait 11 hours in the airport we decided to return home and get some decent sleep. In the morning we were told that the flight had been cancelled, so we called Remis and cancelled our ride at 9:00 AM. I then called American Airlines International in the U. S. and was told that our flight was indeed scheduled to depart Buenos Aires at 11:30 AM. This gave us a little over an hour to close up the house and get to the airport. Pete thought it was impossible, and was ready to throw in the towel. I insisted that we at least try to make it. We hailed the first taxi we saw and asked him to get us to Ezeiza as fast as he could. Our bags were already checked from two days before and would be put on the plane. We cut lines getting into the security area, and then cut the security line, both of which were horrendously long. I felt so guilty, but it was 11:30 and I was sure they were going to shut the door to the plane. We got the the gate, only to find that there was not a soul there. We were ready to exit security and go to the American Airlines ticketing window to find out what was going on, when two very nice ladies stopped us, and said that we just need to be patient, the flight would go, but not on time. They told us that this was Argentina, and things work a little differently in Argentina. It turned out that she was right. In a couple of hours our flight came up on the departures board with a departure time of 2:30 PM. However, they must make a stop in Miami for a crew change before proceeding on to Dallas, and this would cause us to miss our Dallas connection to San francisco. I thought that in Miami we could jump ship and catch a flight from there direct to San Francisco, but unfortunately you cannot break a flight in the middle of it. When we reached Dallas we managed to get on a morning flight to San Francisco, arriving there on the 12th of June. We learned that Hawaiian Airlines had cancelled our entire itinerary when we failed to show up for our flight on the 11th. I got them to reinstate it, and get us on a flight for the 13th of June to Oahu. We arrived at the Kona Reef two days later than scheduled. I always purchase the cheapest non-refundable flights, and when you need to make a change, for any reason, they really gouge you with fees. The total fees for changes after it was all done came to $1,486.60. OUCH!

Well, we finally made it to Kona, and our first job was to explore the immediate area around our resort. The Kona Reef is partially owned by Raintree, and I had exchanged our Club Regina week in Cabo San Lucas that we were not able to use due to cutting our time in Cabo short to be with Pete's Mom last February. The Kona Reef is a far cry from Club Regina. There is no amenities, like a restaurant, not even a small convenience store. Just the bare necessities of a place to sleep. Although it was on the shore, there was no beach, just the remains of an ancient lava flow at the water's edge. Here was however, a short walk from the resort, the Royal Kona Hotel, which was a first class hotel, it was there that we enjoyed our first happy hour Mai Tai and a couple of appetizers to tide us over until dinner on our first night there.

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This is the open air bar at the Royal Kona Hotel. Pete peruses the menu while I scope the place out.

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The pool at the Royal Kona was beautiful, and as you can see it was not at all crowded.

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Our first Mai Tai was accompanied by a couple of appetizers; Seared Tuna and Calamari. MMmmmm good!

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And of course we just had to try the Mai Tai Sampler. For my money, the original Don the Beachcomber Mai
Tai was the winner, hands down. It's the one on the right. How can you go wrong by sticking to the original?

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We spent one night in San Francisco on our way here, and spent the afternoon and evening with Pete's mom and
Al. Pat always has some special gift for us, and the had found this glass bottle shaped like an Army .45 pistol, and
it was full of tequila. Two shot glasses came with it. Leave it to Pete's mom to find something very unique.

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On our balcony Pete mimes filling the shot glass. In the background you can
see the lava flow that graces our sea shore. We did not go swimming there.

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This is our first sunset on the Big Island of Hawai'i. There is more to follow in the next chapter.

 DISCLAIMER: In this first chapter I like to give folks the opportunity to opt out. If you do not wish to receive any further chapters, just email me and say "Remove Me" and it will be taken care of immediately. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the photos, and my banter as the adventure unfolds.

Cheers!

Ron & Pete