We left the Jacaranda inn at about 1030 or so to head to Hilo and our flights. We stopped at a greasy spoon for breakfast and also at Radio Shack in an attempt to find a headphone splitter so we could watch a movie while we waited in Lihue(4 hour layover). I was surprised at the Radio Shack...I skipped the MP3 section and headed for the audio section figuring the MP3 stuff would be overpriced and not what I needed. Turns out that was not the case, the audio section only had some mono to stereo y converters, and they cost more than the fancy audio splitter cable in the MP3 section. Color me surprised...the emp actually knew what she was talking about, so no "You've got questions, we've got blank stares" for the Radio Shack in Maimea. I have to admit that the best part of Waimea was the lack of humidity...it was the first time in the whole trip that I actually needed a blanket to sleep and was not sticky humid when I woke up.
We drove on though the rolling hills as we passed out of the drier grasslands and back into the greener tree'd areas of the eastern coast. I made a short detour to Wa'pio Valley just because(it was a 9 mile detour). The valley is impressive really, its a steep STEEP drive down the valley that we were not allowed to take. You have to have 4wd, 2wd or even AWD is not enough...its a 25%+ grade from the ridgeline to the bottom of the valley. Apparently the valley tends to stay green and damp and be excellent for growing even in the worst droughts, and its well protected where it sits with the steep canyon sidewalls. We stopped at the top to view it and take some photos, and then headed back. I think we were both pretty well traveled out, because neither of us really wanted to do much besides just get to Hilo. I kept thinking "I should stop for that...but I don't wanna" and she was just "nope, lets just get to the airport.
We got into Hilo with plenty of time to gas up the rental and rearrange our belongings into carryon vs checked and get to the gate. We got a fairly surly counter agent and I did not get a chance to see if they could check us all the way to Anch, so we had to pick up our bags in Lihue and recheck them(turns out we'd have had to anyway, because USDA does agriculture inspections to be sure you don't take any pests out of Hawaii and we couldn't do that in Hilo at that time). We also saw a rather odd bit of security theater when turning in the rental car...they made us pop the trunk so they could look inside it for security reasons, and I can't think of a logical reason for it.
We made our flight, and even made our fairly tight connecting flight from Oahu to Lihue(10 min between landing and theoretical start of boarding on the next fight...luckily it was delayed a and we had a chance to get something cold to drink). As we walked out of the terminal to get our bags in Lihue I turned to angie_di
and said "I had a horrible thought...its 4 hours to departure, what if they won't let us check our bags yet?" We decided to fetch bags and go see...arriving on Hawaiian Air the bags were at baggage claim in 5 min, unlike when we flew in on Alaska and it took over an hour. We headed down to Agriculture and they told us that the Alaska Ticket counter didn't open til 730...crap, thats an hour away
We checked and sure enough, since Alaskan has only the one daily flight there is no one at the counter till 730. And to make matters even worse, the ticket counter area is open air...and it was hot and humid and nasty with no respite from it. We sat and read for awhile, then I went to see if USDA could inspect us now and ran our bags though(I don't see the point, its a simple xray, how do they see anything on it anyway?). As we waited there were more and more people there, and finaly about 715 someone showed up and started checking people in. We had left out bags in line to hold a place while we sat down(10 feet away, so we could watch them). We got unlucky here, as we got waved forward to a ticket agent that did not know what she was doing or had a computer issue and we ended up watching the entire line behind us disappear as they checked them in and we were still waiting. Ugh. They finally got everything straightened out and we headed off though security and into the terminal.
We got to the waiting lounge and first step was to find a seat next to a wall jack and use it to charge PDA's and my phone(I'd charged it this morning, but for some weird reason it burned though nearly all its battery in just a few hours). I also dug out my laptop and a movie and we attempted to watch it together, but angie_di
was focused on her book, and the cheap earbuds she had from the trip out were so quiet that she could hardly hear. It didn't help that there is something broken on the audio with DVD playback where the voice track is nearly silent but the background track is LOUD(I need to troubleshoot this...its odd). I got my PDA charged and her's mostly charged and put away the laptop as it was nearing boarding time. We were going to take turns watching the gear while the other hit the restrooms before boarding, but when I got back just a few min later they'd already started and were nearly to us. ack...
Anyway...we're now over the Pacific somewhere, so I'll wrap up and grab some sleep before we land. Its a 5.5 hour flight, but the 3 hour time shift between Hawaii and Seattle means we don't land till 730am