Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2000

The true meaning of paradise

June 22, 2000

Back from paradise, which is kind of ironic, considering it took going to hell and back before at last getting the opportunity to sleep in my own bed.

Hawaii is wonderful. Great golf. Incredible weather. A warm, sparkling-blue ocean. Ceelbrities abound (Kiefer Sutherland, looking scruffy and unshaved in his "Jesus Rocks" T-shirt, ate dinner one table from us on the first night).

And did I mention the golf?

But as I sit here, trying to motivate myself to tell my long and harrowing tale of traveling the friendly skies, I'm not sure the week in paradise was worth all we had to endure to get back to the Midwest.

Twenty-two hours.

Six cities.

Six airports.

Five time-zone changes.

And approximately 5,345 miles (as that darn crow flies).

It was a rough journey highlighted by sleep deprivation, cancelled flights and missed connections.

In other words, leaving paradise was no paradise.

We left our Kauai condo overlooking a private beach early Friday evening, which, some would say, was our biggest mistake. They would tell us we should have never left, but all good things must come to an end.

It happens each time I take a vacation. Three or four days into it, I start missing work. Fortunately, my wife is the same way and we were both eager to get back home, which, in my eyes, is truly paradise.

We caught a short flight to Honolulu and then waited for the trip over the pond into San Jose a journey that, when combined with the time change, ate up the entire evening.

The plan was to sleep on this flight, which was nothing more than a pipedream when you consider we were trying to sleep in an upright position with hundreds of people around us. In other words, sleep was a fleeting, sporadic journey that featured a series of little naps, none of which were very refreshing.

Ordinarily, that wouldn't mean much, but my parents drove about 45 minutes south to San Jose to meet our plane and have a little breakfast with us.

There we were, tired, unbathed and each of us with a case of morning breath strong enough to stop a pack of charging rhinos, but it didn't matter to my parents who were just glad to see me for the first time in a year.

Aren't parents (and the unconditional love they provide us) great?

If the trip had ended at that point, it would have been a day made in heaven. Unfortunately, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and you can't go to Hawaii without enduring some pitfalls.

Our flight from San Jose to Dallas was delayed an hour by some bad weather in the vicinity of Tom Landry International Airport. It meant we would miss our connecting flight, which turned out to be a moot point when the flight was cancelled altogether.

So here's where it got interesting or crazy depending on how you look at these things. We were put on standby for a flight out of Dallas. We didn't care that it was on a different airline or that it flew into Denver, which would eventually hook up with a connecting flight to Kansas City.

Getting out of Dallas, which was chaotic because of the weather delays, was the goal.

We made it to Denver with six minutes to spare to catch our connecting flight, which we got on and noticed the flight had been overbooked and there were people in our assigned seats.

I was ready to snap.

I had been through the wringer.

The Hawaiian shirt that was so fresh the day before was now literally wilting on my body. I told my wife at that moment there was no way we were getting off this plane.

As it turned out, we were never asked to deplane (airline lingo). Instead, they just put us in first class and apologized for the inconvenience. It was a glorious ending to a long 22 hours of flying.

I won't bore you any further with useless knowledge of our luggage finally arriving two days after we did or the fact that I still have yet to catch up on the lost sleep or the five-hour time change.

In reality, it took visiting Hawaii to realize that getting back to paradise is truly what makes vacations worthwhile.

That and, of course, the golf.

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