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Trip Report It’s Time for a New Songdoc Ongoing Trip Report

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First: I flew Nashville to LAX. I was nervous flying American in the midst of all their reported delays and cancelations during their pilot dispute. But we took off on time and arrived a few minutes early. Then came the insanity.

There was no information about my flight to San Jose on the boards. Then I remembered it was a codeshare with Alaska Air—so I’d need to get to Alaska Air. But since the flight wasn’t listed on the board I didn’t know the terminal or gate. I waited in line and a gate attendant informed me that I’d have to take a shuttle to the Alaska Air terminal. It should only take about three minutes. (HAHAHA.)

In the shuttle waiting room I told the attendant that I was headed to SJC on Alaska Air and he explained that different shuttles went to the various terminals; they would announce when mine arrived. Several came & went—but not mine. But no problem because I still have an hour left of my 90 minute layover.

Announcement: “The shuttle for American Eagle is boarding.” The attendant told me to board. I responded, “But I was told I needed the Alaska Air shuttle. They announced this one is for American Eagle.”

“Noooo. You MUST get on this shuttle.”

Of course, the shuttle delivered me to American Eagle—where they knew nothing about Alaska Air flights. I’d need a different shuttle to get to my terminal. They’ll call and order my shuttle …

Twenty minutes later I’m getting nervous. My flight will soon be boarding. (I checked on my new fancy iPhone; the flight is scheduled to leave on time.) Now, I’m getting REALLY nervous. Wait … is that my shuttle??? “YES!” I finally arrived at the gate when boarding had already begun.

I deplaned in SJC and hailed a taxi. It was after 11PM in California (1 AM on my watch) I’d booked a room at the nearby Executive Inn for $64 on Hotwire. The description said “free shuttle” – but it had stopped running. Fifteen minutes later I’d set my little travel alarm, double checked it, and was peacefully snoring and dreaming of palm trees. (The hotel room was surprisingly nice for a 2-1/2 star hotel.)

I woke in utter panic. OMG, my alarm hadn’t gone off. I’d definitely double checked it—but it didn’t work. I’d woken 45 minutes later than planned and could still make the flight if I hurried. Two minutes later I was out the door—no shower; no coffee; no brushing my teeth …

The hotel shuttle was called. Mr. Desk Clerk told me to wait in the breakfast room for 5 – 10 minutes. The breakfast was bizarre—and mostly horrible. Scrambled eggs were fine. Waffle sticks were burnt and seriously hard enough to crack a tooth. (I didn’t even try.) There were prepackaged muffins, but I don’t eat sugary things. No toast; fruit; yogurt; or anything else. But there WAS coffee which was desperately needed and much appreciated.

The lines at security were long, but they moved pretty quickly. I got to the gate with just enough time to grab a sandwich for lunch – and get on the plane!! Thank heavens I hadn’t slept twenty minutes longer.

I’d heard good things about Alaska Air, but had never flown them before. The flight attendants were great—but everything else was disappointing. I was shocked that on such a long flight there is no free entertainment whatsoever; not even audio. The only option was to rent a little digital player for $10, but the movie selection was terrible, so I passed and did some work on my laptop.

The next surprise was that my seat didn’t recline. I guess it was because of being in front of the emergency exit row. I check these things obsessively on seatguru.com—but this time, there hadn’t been any other open seats unless you paid “premium” prices. I felt cramped, and being unable to recline made sleeping almost impossible. Shortly before landing they handed out free Mai Tais. I guess that’s how they get the good ratings—but I don’t drink. Otherwise, just a long, boring, uneventful flight—with an early arrival. Uneventful is good—compared the alternatives!

As on my previous trip I’d rented a car from a tiny, privately owned company. This time it saved me $150 over the best Hotwire rate. On the previous trip car rental rates had been through the roof and I’d saved more than $700 on the six-week rental. The car was waiting for me in the airport parking lot.

First stop: Walmart … for sunblock and staples, and then I was headed for Costco. I filled the tank with the cheapest gas on the island: $4.44/gallon, and proceeded to buy all the same, boring, healthy things I buy at Costco when I’m in Nashville.

And somewhere between the rotisserie chickens and the frozen veggie burgers the exhaustion and jet lag teamed up and slammed into me like a truck. I’d been working under intense pressure for weeks, 12 – 14 hour days to finish a tedious project so I wouldn’t have to work on it in paradise. I’d gotten a sinus infection and had just finished an antibiotic. But how can I be so exhausted? It’s only 1 PM. Oh … that’s 6 PM to my poor body—and now a 45 minute drive to Princeville. I am not having fun yet.

It takes countless trips to unload all the groceries and luggage, but now I look out at that view. Breathtaking. I’m home!!!!!

I love the unit – SeaLodge J2 (which is a good thing because I’ve already rented it for my next trip—Jan./Feb.). The furnishing and lots of little extra touches make it a step up from some of the other SeaLodge units I’ve rented. But it’s that view that makes it “WOW.” For my taste, it’s one of the best views in the complex—very close to the edge of the bluff and facing the lighthouse and Anini reef.

I somehow kept my eyes open until 8:30 PM (which my body kept reminding me was 1:30 AM) and slept to the sound of the ocean until … 4:30 AM. Ugghh.

By the time the sky began streaking with pink and orange, I’d been answering emails and dealing with more pesky work for two hours. The world simply refused to stop because I’d arrived in paradise. Grrrr ….

I sat on the lanai, sipped my Coconut Caramel Crunch Kauai Coffee Company coffee, talked to the nenes, and watched the sun paint the sky. It was an utterly spectacular sunrise and I couldn't stop taking photos. I was beginning to forgive that I’d spent what felt like a month getting here.

By 8 AM I was at Hanalei Bay—and I knew that I am the most fortunate man on earth. The beach was almost deserted and the mountains were etched like crystal into the sky. I’ve rarely seen it so clear. With my feet in the surf I walked every inch of the beach – from Black Pot to where the sand meets the highway. Twice, I took short swims, and felt all the stress and tension floating away. The water was perfect—almost too calm—but I’m not complaining.

Now … time to sit on that lanai and work on my book!

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