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kopp May 25th, 2006 11:09 AM

Oahu with Mom & Dad
May 2006

Before beginning, I would like to thank the many Fodorites/TTG’ers who have posted reports and given advice about Hawaii. I have enjoyed your trip reports and took with me many notes on favorite restaurants, scenic drives, sights, and of course the wonderful recommendation of Oahu Revealed. I find that no matter how many times I visit a city, there is always something new to discover, and your advice was well-heeded.

This is around the fifth time I’ve traveled with my parents (Mom 75, Dad 80) in the past 10 years. What began years ago as a daughter & parent get-away has now become a “we don’t think we can do it on our own any longer, so would you mind joining us” type trip. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer, “Yes, indeedy. When are we leaving?”

From previous trips with them, I’ve learned that packing day is very stressful around their house. After 55 years of marriage, one begins to wonder how they made it so long together. For some reason, Dad thinks that checking his blood pressure every hour is the thing to do before a trip. And of course, the more he checks it, the higher it gets. Talk of trip cancellation 24 hours before any vacation they take is commonplace.

So this time I decided to fly to their home in Los Angeles the day before our Hawaiian flight. Upon my arrival, Mom was at the doctor making sure her arthritic knees could make the trip. Does she think something had changed in the past couple weeks? Dad was deciding just how many shoes to take. To him, a trip cannot be taken without at least 7 or 8 pairs of shoes; in fact, a whole suitcase is usually dedicated to their shoes.

In their “packing bedroom” (aka my room as a child), one finds a various assortment of clothes spread out in “his” and “her” piles. Mom’s got enough for a month without doing laundry once, and Dad’s pile is – well, there wasn’t much left in his closet. (This trip is only 7 days.)

The joys of role reversal had begun. It happens to all of us in the best and worst of circumstances. The best advice I could give myself is to just let them be themselves, give a little guidance, and not try to be the over-bearing oaf my Russian/Norwegian ancestry usually displays. So when the suitcases came down from storage, I picked out two 21-inchers, told them this was all they could take, and promptly left the room.

Without a word having to be said, they emerged fairly pleasant upon opening the door an hour later. Packing was finished. Mother muttered something about having the General (who, me?) inspect everything. I let the comment pass. We were going to Hawaii tomorrow. There had just better be a chi-chi ready upon my arrival!

AnnMarie_C May 25th, 2006 11:46 AM

Bless their hearts, kopp. I admire their spirit and hope DH and I are fortunate enough to have our health and wits about us to travel at 75 & 80! Look forward to reading more! :-)

chepar May 25th, 2006 11:47 AM


Our parents must somehow be related. :D

As I'm reading about your parents' packing habits, my eyes are getting wider and wider - I am going through the exact same thing with my parents as we speak.

We leave tomorrow night for a 3 week trip to Europe - and let me tell you, getting my mother to fit all her stuff into a 24 inch suitcase was not for the faint of heart.

Mediating between my parents' squabbles all week has also made me wonder what I've gotten myself into - everything between where my mom put my dad's daybag (15 minute squabble) to the confusion over which ATM card belonged to which account and which ones they were bringing (30 minute squabble).

Undoubtedly we will have a good trip together, but I can relate on all of the pre-trip "stress".

MelissaHI May 25th, 2006 11:52 AM

Aha! You see? I wasn't the only one having flashbacks every time I talked to kopp (or as I read this). I tell ya, there should be a support group for adult children who take their elderly parents & grandparents traveling. As I said to kopp, and now to you, chepar, one line my brother used to recite time and again was, "your reward will be in heaven." And he's an agnostic!

kopp, I'm just giggling reading your post since I know what you were going through. I know you still had a pretty good time, and so did they, right?

kopp May 25th, 2006 01:30 PM

AnnMarie - I hear you about having health and wits at that age!

chepar - 3 weeks - I'll pray for you! Have a wonderful time.

M - Yes, "Blessed are the peacemakers." I sure hope so! (I finally opened the chocolates last night when I had company for dinner. Yum-yum!)

kopp May 25th, 2006 01:30 PM

Morning comes, and I prepare to call a taxi to take us to the dreaded LAX. “Oh, kopp, didn’t I tell you? Dear Friend H is picking us up. She’ll get us there faster than a taxi.”

Have you ever taken a taxi in Naples, Italy? If so, then you know what I mean when I say a Naples taxi is a cakewalk compared to the white-knuckle ride we had the 10 miles to the airport with Dear Friend H at the helm. When are these seniors going to realize they should not be driving? Never mind. That’s another story.

It took – and I kid you not – 1 hour and 20 minutes to get through check-in, baggage scan, and security. Poor Dad. Those darned wires from his bypass surgery trigger the alarm every time, even with the necklace he wears. What a trooper, going through the full body scan. But finally we’re on our way. I had to chuckle when the announcement was made, “This is Hawaiian Airlines flight No. 3, non-stop to Honolulu.” I certainly hope it’s non-stop.

So, 5 hours later, we arrive in Paradise. The agent announces it’s a short 5-minute walk outside the terminal to baggage claim. Well, excuse me, but that’s the longest 5 minutes I’ve ever walked; in actuality, it took us about 15. I guess the luggage went to the main terminal while we unloaded at the inter-island terminal. Whatever. This is the land of the ‘hang loose’ attitude, and I was ready for some R&R.

When my husband and I travel together, we almost always carry on our luggage. I like having peace of mind in knowing my suitcase will be there when I arrive. I had purchased a brand new fire engine red roller just for this trip, knowing it would be easy to find coming down the carousel. Yep, you guessed it. By the time we got to the baggage claim, most people had cleared out, leaving only one lone red bag circling round and round. From a distance, I could tell it was not my bag. I don’t know why, but I started visualizing the perpetrator sifting through it with his wart-infested hands before realizing his mistake. Breathe…breathe…

So, with only my purse and parents in tow, we leave the airport via the Alamo shuttle. Thanks to terrific advice on this board, I had signed up for their Quicksilver program, which has a separate and seldom-used (it seems) check-in area. This probably saved a good hour at the car rental counter. I was the only one in this line versus at least 20 in the other (and we all know how long it takes for each person to go through the paperwork). Signing up ahead of time was very good advice!

Gosh, this is getting too long. I’m just now leaving the airport. More later.

MelissaHI May 25th, 2006 01:40 PM

Just had to share one more, re: your white knuckle ride.

You know that handle or strap that is fastened over the back doors of cars? My friends and I call it the "Jesus Handle." When on white knuckle rides, as we round corners and get jostled in the car, we hang on to the handles for dear life while hissing, "JEEE-ZUSSS!"

chepar May 25th, 2006 01:58 PM

Melissa - LOL!!!

Actually, I am more familiar with the imaginary brake pedal that I keep stomping on.

FainaAgain May 25th, 2006 02:09 PM

Melissa, you were getting flashbacks talking to Kopp? I would get off-age hot flashes, that's for sure ;)

Kopp, in only 4 days I'm taking a pair of stubborn parent/step-parent on a short Memorial weekend trip... I don't think it will be as easy for me as it is for you :)

I'll post my memoirs to compare.

lcuy May 25th, 2006 05:39 PM

Well, I never needed the imaginary brake with my father... It was more a case of ignoring the whine-chug-a lug-lug of the transmission as he shifted madly to get up to 4th gear for his cruising speed of 25mph!

Now, teaching my daughters to knee still hurts from floorin' that "passenger side brake" and its been 3 years since they got licensed! One daughter claims she could feel the floor of the car buckle downward, I was pushing so hard. I answer that it was my heart and stomach dropping that caused it!

Sorry I couldn't meet with you Kopps! Melissa invited me, but those were the few days I had both daughters home from college at the same time.

kopp May 25th, 2006 05:53 PM

Melissa - when my son (now 23) got his first car, the dealer gave him an extra key and said it was his Jesus key. Sensing our puzzled expressions, the dealer said it's an extra key for your wallet that only opens the door, does not start the engine. For the times you lock your keys in and then exclaim "OH JEEE-ZUSSS" just like you mentioned!

chepar - oh yeah, baby!

Faina - memiors, to be sure. Just remember, you are woman, you are strong! You can do it!

lucy - so much for our GTG - more on that later. Must have been the shortest GTG on record! Glad you could enjoy your girls.

Aloha, y'all!

Mary2Go May 25th, 2006 06:52 PM


I think we are related too, especially the Norwegian heritage part!Unfortunately, I never got the chance to travel with my Dad as he passed away shortly after retiring. I have taken trips with my 84 year old mom who refuses to use the electric carts in the airport, or god forbide a wheelchair even when her knee blew out on a trip. "People look at you when you are on the cart and it's embarrasing." They look at you more when you move at a snail's pace and have to stop in your tracks every few minutes to rest! No wonder we have to be at the airport two and a half hours early, it takes that long to negotiate the terminal! She is a good little packer though, and all the polyester travels well! I can so relate to the childhood bedroom being the packing room...mine still hase the Sears white French provencial bedroom set with little floral decals. Neat little piles of clothing spend a week waiting to go in the bag. I am accused of waiting til the last minute if I pack the day before.
I hope your trip is swell and you don't experience too many squabbles! Have chi-chi for me and one for Mom too!

kopp May 26th, 2006 05:38 AM

Mary2go - OMG, I think you must be my long-lost twin sister separated at birth! You've described my mother to a T - LOL!

MelissaHI May 26th, 2006 12:16 PM

OMG....perhaps I should change my name to kopp! Too funny! Parents are all alike!

CaliNurse May 26th, 2006 12:33 PM


However, I have slighty different take and "learning experience" from your writing. You give great insight into why I make my kids nuts before trips. Thanks for the pointers on behaviors I'll TRY to curb.
We're going on another multigenerational trip soon, so i'll print this thread for my son and DIL. They'll be grateful for the commiseration.
Knowing some of my limitations, I'll insist that Son drive on St John, so Grandma (me) can experience white knuckle syndrome on the "wrong" side of the road there.

kopp May 26th, 2006 01:01 PM

One of the many perks of having a retired Army soldier for a father is that the Hale Koa Hotel is available for us to enjoy. Filled with retirees as well as those currently home on leave, the Hale Koa is everything Hawaiian dreams are made of: the swaying palm trees, the lush tropical plants, the luau gardens, the gigantic pool with the barefoot bar (and very good chi-chi’s!), a huge park with playground and BBQs, and even a PX where you can purchase groceries, personal items, and every Hawaiian souvenir imaginable at super prices. Several weddings took place on the grounds while we were there. Oh, the beautiful leis for the bride and groom! Oceanview rooms run around $120/night, with no taxes. There are several perfectly adequate restaurants on-site, best of which is Koko’s Café for breakfast. Sitting at an outside table, listening to the birds chirping and feeling the wonderful coolness of the tradewinds is a terrific way to start any day. And the delicious Kona coffee gives you a good kickstart for the day’s activities.

Dad’s after-breakfast routine was to sit in the open-air lobby with newspaper in hand, adjusting his hearing aids to compensate for the winds blowing through his ears. Before long, it’s the morning “Military Retiree GTG.” It was quite adorable watching him and all his new-found buddies gather for their little chats about the places they’d been, wars they’d fought in, etc. Good stuff, Dad. We’re so proud of you!

When traveling with my parents, the days go something like this: breakfast promptly at 7 am, then the GTG in the lobby, sunbathing under the umbrellas, naptime inside at 10 am, medications at designated hours throughout the day (with absolutely NO excuses if you’re 5 minutes late), lunch promptly at noon, napping again for a couple hours in the afternoon, dinner at 6, and bed at 8:30. One evening we had to wait for a table so we didn’t finish dinner until around 8 pm. When walking the very short distance back to the hotel, Mother remarked about the number of people out (“Why are there so many people out at this time of night?”). Of course, the fact that it was Saturday at 8 pm in the middle of Waikiki had no bearing on the matter.

So each day I tried to make the most of their “awake” time.

If you had mistakenly taken someone else’s suitcase from a baggage carousel and did not return it to the rightful owner for over 24 hours, I am certain – all you well-mannered wonderful experienced travelers – that you would have at least written a note of apology or thrown in a free drink coupon, right? Okay, kopp. Stop whining over the suitcase. You got it back the next day. Move on.

To be continued…

kopp May 26th, 2006 01:30 PM

Somehow this got deleted from that one liner about "awake" time:

Some days I would find myself cringing at their antics as I would become restless, wanting to make every second count. I had to keep reminding myself this trip was not about me, realizing how selfish I was becoming. I am very blessed to have such wonderful parents who still have a zest for life and want to travel, albeit in a limited capacity. My brothers don't know what they're missing!

FainaAgain May 26th, 2006 02:58 PM

What a small world!

"Mother remarked about the number of people out (“Why are there so many people out at this time of night?”). Of course, the fact that it was Saturday at 8 pm in the middle of Waikiki had no bearing on the matter." - is it possible she had a twin brother separated at birth, and now I am married to him :))

starrsville May 26th, 2006 03:03 PM

Oh, kopp! This is delightful. I can't wait to read more.

Mary2Go May 26th, 2006 06:21 PM

I just snorted outloud at work"adjusting his hearing aids to compensate for the winds blowing through his ears" Too funny!
When my Aunt and Uncle (also in their 80's) went to Oahu and visited Pearl Harbor they were shocked there were Japanese tourist also visiting. I was glad I wasn't there to cringe listening to my Aunt grumble about "them bombing the place to bits then having the nerve to vacation here" I had to stop myself from telling her that my son visited Hiroshima when he was in Japan...

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