This post originally appeared on The Burrow, the family blog that I kept up for a while. I’ve been meaning to rewrite these tales, as I want to improve my skills as a travel writer (and I won’t be going on any new vacations any time soon) so here we go.
It was April 2, 2004. My cousin Kara and were boardeding a plane in Newark, New Jersey, ready for part one of our two-leg journey to Honolulu, Hawaii. We had been planning and anticipating the trip for months. It was a chance to visit Lindsay at school and to see a state neither of us had ever been to! (I, in particular, was excited to see Hawaiian license plates, the bane of my existence for years in the license plate game!) I had just started working that year, and was still living at home, and so I was in an excellent position to just go on a fancy Hawaiian vacation. Kara was, I believe sixteen at the time but had saved up a lot of money from various summer jobs and as our spring breaks matched up perfectly with each other, it seemed fitting that we should take the chance to go. We were really excited to get there, but not at all looking forward to the 11-hour travel itinerary ahead of us. However, it had to be done and so we got on the plane and landed several hours later in Houston, Texas.
The first sight that greeted us from the airplane was what became known as the “Sludge River,” a brownish-yellow looking body of water, and the views did not become more impressive. Because we were simply in the state for a short layover before boarding our much longer flight to Honolulu, we never really saw the outside of the Houston airport. It was simply a chance for Kara and I to say, “Hey we’re in Texas!” However, it did have it’s uses: we managed to get chips, miniature Snickers and Creme Savers (a breakfast of Champions, clearly), which then gave me the world’s biggest stomachache, something you do not want for seven hour ride on an airplane. The airline (Continental) also provided us with a food – pretzels and a nut roll, which became a long standing family joke for a while afterwards (seriously, nine years later we still text each other pictures of other nut rolls we find). All in all, the flight was fine – We spent the entire time (stomachache aside) watching the movies on the individual screens (normally I don’t condone media EVERYWHERE – you COULD read – but on long plane flights, individual on-demand televisions are the greatest invention ever).
When we touched down in Hawaii, we could hardly believe we were finally there! We got our luggage immediately – in fact, it was the fastest I have ever received luggage in an airport (it was actually crusing along down the conveyor belt when we arrived in baggage claim), and then got into a taxi to take usover to the Ambassador Hotel of Waikiki (which has a REALLY cheap internet deal). Checking in caused a problem when they wouldn’t take my expired driver’s license as i.d. (which is just stupid – expired or not, it’s STILL my picture – I didn’t expire!). However, everything ended up working out and we settled down into the hotel room (see picture below). Just minutes later, Lindsay arrived bearing Orangina and after looking at the views from the hotel room a bit, we headed out for dinner.
After settling in, Lindsay showed us around the neighborhood a bit before taking us off to dinner. We had dinner at Buca di Beppo, a family-style Italian place in Honolulu, among other locations though it’s not a popular East Coast chain as far as I know. In any case, family style always translates to massive amounts of food, the only way the Roberts Family eats! Next to our table a family was celebrating Bill’s 50th Birthday Party. We had a lot of fun watching the raucous group enjoy their party, and we all agreed that Bill bore a striking resemblance to Henry Winkler.