Aloha,

Karen and I left last Tuesday for Hawaii and we’ve since been in the lap of service luxury, starting with a limo ride to the airport–the same limo company that took Harper on her Make-A-Wish trip. I wanted to support them and discovered it was only a few dollars more than a taxi ride.  Plus the cabs servicing our area have been dirty. The drivers rough (e.g., convicted felons), and their credit cards never work when exiting the airport !? The limo was clean, big, on time, the driver looked like a million bucks and regaled us with stories of his Make-A-Wish trips, for which he is a volunteer driver.

Outstanding service continued when we landed in Honolulu and the hotel shuttle greeted us with a lei and baggage service.  When we arrived at the Royal Hawaiian we were greeted another lei and baggage service and a gracious check-in (seated) at a desk in a open-air passageway to a garden with a refreshing drink of acai, lemon and vanilla.

The first three days of our trip we were at the Royal Hawaiian (Pink Palace) in the heart of Waikiki.  We had walked through the hotel and grounds but had never stayed there. The beauty, the quiet elegance of this place makes your soul quiet. The service, historical interest, and architecture are outstanding. Karen was particularly impressed with the poolside waiter who asked if she wanted him to keep her doggie bagged lunch in their refrigerator until she was ready to leave. Oh yes!

We walked around Waikiki one day and rented a car another and drove the north shore, famous for its giant winter surfing waves. The drive was beautiful, Karen did a little shopping, but the ocean was relatively calm.

I often tease Karen that she attracts travel excitement. One time her plane blew a tire on take off so emergency crews met her plane.  Another time the pilot couldn’t tell if the wheels were locked in place for landing so it had to circle the control tower and then hope for the best–again, emergency crews were present. Most recently, the jet engine by her window started on fire and we had to make an emergency landing in Oahu–with more emergency vehicles. Well this time, we were asleep at the Royal Hawaiian when I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to the smell of smoke and a fire alarm. Karen was sound asleep but I got up, checked our room, checked the door for heat, looked in the hallway, opened the curtains and saw lots of people walking around in the courtyard. Eventually I went back to sleep and found out later the fire was at the Cheesecake Factory next to the hotel and that one of the wings of our hotel was evacuated but we were not.

Last Friday we took inter-island flight from Oahu to Maui and have settled in to the condo we have rented for six years. Home!

Many friends surprisingly came to visit today, our first full day in Maui: the humpbacks, honus (green sea turtles), and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal.  So nice to see old friends!  We rarely see the seals at the condo and not that often the turtles, so what a fun surprise to see them all the first day. Now where are the dolphins?

We are having a great time and the Minnesota-winter-dry-air cuts in my hands and feet have already healed.  However, my mom in Kansas is still struggling with her recovery from colon cancer surgery.  Much of my energy and thoughts go to her and my dear family in Kansas who have all the responsibility for her care. Please keep them all in your prayers!

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