Previously: Infrequent Flyer Part 1

The next leg of our trip was a short flight from Honolulu to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. We met up with my mom at the Honolulu airport (some confusion in communication had us meeting her in baggage claim, only to have us all go through security again, and having to confiscate the overpriced water bottles we had purchased in Phoenix). Even though we were hungry, we decided to wait until we got to Kailua-Kona before eating, since we didn’t have very much time before our flight, and Ray and I were both tired of overpriced airport food.

The three of us continued to the Big Island in a little Boeing 717 commuter plane, where Ray could stretch out in the aisle seat and I could try to catch a few Zs in the window seat.

Except I couldn’t, because there was a kid with autism or Down Syndrome or something right behind, and wasn’t it just my luck that he was a seat-kicker? He also was very excited about being on a plane, but was only able to express himself with moans and sighs and occasional hacking noises that disturbed me greatly. The flight only lasted 43 minutes, but it felt like 3 hours.

On the ground in Kailua-Kona, we had the great good fortune to have our baggage arrive first, so we were on our way to the car rental place with almost no delay. Once at the car rental, however, we stood in line for what seemed to be an eternity before we finally got our car.

In the car we went, and out came my TomTom GPS device (which I had uploaded with the voice of John Cleese, so we call the GPS “John Cleese”), much to the amazement of my mother, who I think had not seen one up close before.

Our first priority was to find food, so I used the “points of interest” feature on the TomTom to find the closest fast-food restaurant. John Cleese first led us to a Subway, which was closed (it was 9:00 at night by this time), and the second place, a Wendy’s, was not at the point indicated to us by John Cleese. Fortunately, we stumbled upon a Denny’s and decided to eat there.

Ray and I had breakfast, while my mom had dinner; one of the side effects of our travel was that our bodies thought it was 3 a.m., so I decided to treat it as an all-nighter. A half hour later, we had paid our bill (mom came in handy, as her senior status gave us 20% off the total!), and we were on the road again.

The maps we had looked at before the trip never had a scale on them, so I don’t think we really realized how big the Big Island was until we started driving. Sure, I had checked our road trip out on Google Maps before we left, and the estimated travel time was something like 2.5 hours, but I thought that surely that was a conservative estimate, and that once we got on the highway things would go much faster.

Little did I know that “highway” in Hawaii just means “road that is paved regularly.” It has nothing to do with number of lanes, because we were on a two-lane road for the entire 106 miles. Ray was a trooper, though, and while my mom and I napped, he navigated the windy roads up the mountain to Volcano very well.

We knew we were close when we smelled the sulfur dioxide from Kilauea’s crater. It was foggy, so we couldn’t see very well, but John Cleese led us to our destination with no problem, showing us where the road was when we ourselves could not see it. When we finally arrived at the Volcano Guest House, we rolled into bed and slept soundly.

Next: The Valley of the Kings

Infrequent Flyer (Part 2)
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  • We have an excellent navigation system in our car and purchased this Garmin strictly for traveling and use in rental vehicles. We recently used it for a trip to New Mexico and traveled from Albuquerque through Santa Fe and north to Durango, Colorado. We visited many remote areas and found that the maps were extremely reliable. The database seemed to be up-to-date and was useful for researching places to stop for gas or grab a bite to eat. It was VERY user friendly and it captures the satellites a little better than some of the other portables that we have used (but not nearly as good as the built-in navigation system in our Acura; however, we don’t expect that from any portable GPS device like Garmin). We had a bit of trouble activating the MSN service and were told by customer service that parts of Brooklyn, NY, have gaps in the broadcast service. It took a while but finally connected and activated and we haven’t had a problem since then. Overall, we give it 5 stars because it completely lives up to expectations and is very easy to use.

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