My friend Allison had invited me to her wedding. Over in Hawaii. On the big island. Spent hours and hours trying to find places to stay, things to do, places to go. I found a condo that looked pretty good and had a nice low price. Set the link aside for a few days while I researched other places, trying to find one closer to where the wedding was going to be. No luck. And their price was the best. So, went back and started to reserve the place, and my computer belched. Took 3 days to get it up and running again. When I went back to reserve the condo, 2 of the 7 days I wanted were reserved by someone else. Damnit! So, reserved 5 nights there and then reserved 2 nights at a hotel. Advantage of that hotel was that it was very close to where Allison’s family was staying. But kind of rich for my blood. Hadn’t been able to find anyone in the wedding party to share expenses with or to split condo expenses where her family was staying.
So I had already reserved my flight out of LAX (excellent RT price!) and found through intensive internet searching, a bus that left Rosamond about 3 miles from my brothers house (where my RV was parked) and dropped me off at a transfer station in Lancaster, from which I would take a taxi to the shuttle, that would take me to LAX. My brother was going to be gone on the day of my departure so I couldn’t bum a ride from him, and there’s no taxi in Rosamond. Palmdale, Lancaster, and Rosamond are in a string starting around 50 miles from LA and going to 80 miles away in Rosamond. But, I didn’t like the looks of all those bus transfers and the taxi ride I’d have to take to the shuttle station. And I’d have to walk with my luggage down to the Rosamond bus pickup, about 3 miles. Too much trouble, with the potential of a screw up and missed connection somewhere along the way. However, the shuttle station in Palmdale had a very large long term fenced parking lot…for just $5/day. So I planned to drive my RV down there, park it, then jump on the shuttle to LAX. Looked like a great idea on paper.
The flight was scheduled to depart LAX around 1:15pm on Jan. 1st, 2013 so I headed on down to Palmdale shuttle station in my RV around 9:30am. I get 3 miles from them and glance down at my gauges and see that I’m overheating! DAMN! I slow down, drop to 2nd gear and limp down the off ramp. I’d never been to the shuttle station before so I made a slow bee line to what looked like a shuttle place. Turned out it was just a big parking lot for the local bus. Mostly empty, but I was able to find someone that pointed to those big buildings just up the road that was the shuttle stop. I limp over there, after spotting a large puddle of antifreeze under the front of my (rear engine) RV. Since the leak was under the front, that meant the leak was from one of the heater hoses. Well, that’s better then having a radiator leak or something leaking from the engine. At least I knew that it wasn’t a huge disaster. I was thinking at the time that it would probably cost me $200-$300. And I’d just deal with it when I got back. There must be a mobile RV tech service either in Palmdale or Lancaster, right? These are pretty big towns with several RV parks. Was hoping I wouldn’t have to have it towed somewhere. I limped the RV over and parked in long term, locked up, disconnected the batteries, and boarded the shuttle around 10:30. Thanked my luck that the problem had started close enough to the shuttle station so that I didn’t end up broken down on the road…missing my shuttle and flight in the process of getting it moved.
This trip had been planned for weeks, everything was arranged and paid for, and I was looking forward to visiting Hawaii again. And of course, everything I’d prepaid for in Hawaii was non-refundable. It’s been years since I was on Oahu, this time heading for Kona, which would be a nice change of view as I’ve been to Oahu several times. And this potential disaster wasn’t going to stop me if I could help it.
The flight left LAX on time and we were in the air at 1:30pm. Pushed the problem with the RV to the back of my mind, thinking, I’ll take care of arranging service 2-3 days before I return.
We arrived, thanks to time zones, at 11:15pm. Had guaranteed late arrival at my hotel, and a reserved rental car. Thing about the rental car, from Budget, was that I’d found an on-line reservation service that offered a discount for a rental. And they had contracts with all the major rental companies. Turned out I was the last in line at the check in counter, and it seemed everyone in front of me was paying extra for all those insurances against any and all hazards. Some people were paying $170/day. Mine came to $24/day. I used the VISA card insurance that comes with my Platinum card and opted out of all their add on insurance. Can’t tell you how many hours I worked on-line trying to find a decent daily price for a rental here in Kona. Even the moped rental places were asking $54/day. I’d lucked out when I’d bumped into that discount service. So, feeling a little smug at how I’d saved all that money those fools were wasting, I headed down town into a city I’d never been to before, searching for my hotel. In the dark. Had a printed map but still got off track. Driving down a dark side street, I finally spotted it. Whipped a u-turn in the street only to have the front of the car take a dive off a 8″ ledge due to a new road surface. Scraped the front of the car in the dirt, and crushed (also sharp) volcanic rock…that plastic piece right under the bumper got the brunt of the dive. Damn.
Then, when I got to the hotel, their driveway was chained off. It was around 12am on Jan. 1st though, almost Jan. 2nd, and you’d figure they would have left it open for late arrivals. While I was searching around the building in the car, I ended up being down a dead end street, and when I turned around, there’s a crowd of drunks harassing cars as they passed (but they may have known the drivers, couldn’t tell from where I was). Took a little creative timing but I missed getting the rental car bashed by a beer bottle.
Went ahead and parked in the back parking lot of the hotel. Then wandered around for 10 minutes (it’s a big multi-storied hotel) trying to find a sign, any sign, of where the office might be. No such luck. But while roaming around, found a gap between buildings in the back and stumbled into the central courtyard and there it was. A detached building with an office! Finally! Couldn’t believe that a hotel wouldn’t make it easier to find the office! And they’d chained the entrance for some reason. Checked in, and quickly fell asleep without a care in the world.
Called Allison the next morning after wandering down to the free breakfast of fruit, juice, coffee, and rolls. Turned out that she and Leo had planned on coming down to the street market right across the street from my hotel to buy flowers for the wedding.
We wandered over to the market and they start picking out flowers. Feeling generous, I tell them that the flowers are my treat. My wedding present since I couldn’t bring the large bottle of Crown Royal (Allison’s favorite) safely in the hold of the plane. I only had walk on baggage and couldn’t pack it there either.
Then we headed over on foot to their condo. Nice. Mine wasn’t on the beach. But saving $100/day was a little more important to me, and I could visit the beach anytime I wanted. Just a block away from my hotel. Right across the street in fact.
Kona’s a nice little town. Got all the features you’d find in any stateside town of comparable size, and a natural beauty you won’t. I’d done tons of research on places to eat, parks, rental places (bikes, water craft), brew pubs, etc. so I felt like a near local. And I’d printed out a bunch of maps from my mapping program so I wouldn’t get lost. Turns out that the island is so small to begin with that it’s nearly impossible to get lost. And the city is laid out so all roads sort of lead back to where I was staying. Easy.
I took the opportunity to check out the scape of the bumper on my rental. I could see it, so that started several days of worry about how I could cover it before I returned it. Every store I’d stop at I’d check their automotive section for something to buff out the scrapes. No luck. Nothing seem appropriate as it’s plastic and any cover needed to be the same color. Well, the hell with it. I’ll just leave it to after the wedding.
Well, that’s the first day in Kona. Had a good time hanging out with the wedding party, but I was kind of the odd-man-out as I only really knew Allison and Leo.