|Landing in Hawaii|
I got in on a Tuesday afternoon and hung out in the hotel room while Nick finished up his conference. We went out to eat in Waikiki that night and the next day, our only full day together, we packed in everything amazing Hawaii has to offer: golf and surfing! We started our day on the golf course. Nick had enough notice to bring some of my clubs out with him, so it was awesome to play the course with my own weapons. It wasn't my best score overall, but I did get a birdie that day! Had a perfect tee-off on a par 3 followed by a perfect putt. It was only my second birdie ever, so I was pretty excited :)
Like Guam, Hawaii also had its share of Japanese tourists. Nick and I watched this group of Japanese girls take pictures of themselves for over an hour. They must have taken over a thousand pictures of various ways to incorporate the setting sun. In this one, they are lining up one girl who looks like the sun is resting in her palm, while the other girl is holding it up at eye level. They were remarkably entertaining, so much so I had to take a picture. And they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I'll have to admit, they had some pretty clever ideas. Here's my rendition of swallowing the sun:
|View from Gary & Tina's patio @sunset = Awesome|
With only half a day left in Hawaii together before beginning the journey home, Nick and I got up the next morning and drove to the North Shore. The Volcom Pipe Pro surfing contest was going on at Bonsai Beach. We got to catch some of the surfing, which was absolutely amazing to watch. Not only were the waves absolutely perfect, the surfers were so fearless. Especially after being reminded the day before how hard surfing is, I was extra impressed getting to watch the pros. It was our first time to see an official contest like this and I'm pretty sure we could have stayed all day if we didn't have flights to catch.
|Hard to tell, but there were consistently 20-foot waves!|
We did a couple more essential stops on the North Shore. Behold Waimea Bay
And the North Shore shrimp trucks!!
Yum! Although it was hard to be too impressed about $13 for 12 shrimp when I just came from Pensacola where it was $3/pound. Yeah, sorry Hawaii, but Pensacola still wins in that department.
The Long Way Home
"Aloha" is a funny word, in that it means both hello and goodbye at the same time. It's quite a fitting description of what happened on my Space-A journey home (foreshadowing, check!). With our short but awesome Hawaii vacation at an end, Nick dropped me off at the Hickam Air Force Base terminal. Amazingly enough, there was a flight with 56 empty seats leaving Hawaii for Guam at 3pm that afternoon, which aligned perfectly with the fact that Nick's commercial flight back was at 3pm too. We could conceivably arrive in Guam at the same time! I got my boarding pass, checked my bag, and waited as they called us through security to the holding area. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. And finally we got the news. The C5 we were going out on had a door malfunction, and the door wasn't closing properly in the area where all the seats were located. So of the 22 people trying to get to Guam, only 8 were able to go, since they could sit with the crew. I did not make the cut. You know what they say about things that are too good to be true... yup, it was.
So, Tina and Gary scooped me up and I spent the night at their place and would catch the flight going out the next day. The next day came and that flight got pushed to... the next day. So I used my bonus day in Hawaii wisely, going for a run in Waikiki, reading a book in the park, and getting together with a friend of mine from Annapolis that I had not seen in over five years. Melissa was in my Bible study there and though we'd only loosely kept in touch through Facebook, I was reminded of why I love my Bible study friendships so much.
While I have been so lucky to find amazing girlfriends everywhere, the thing about Bible study friendships is that you get to know someone faster and on a deeper level because we share so much about our lives in our attempt to understand the Bible and our purpose here. Since I'd last seen Melissa, we had both gotten married and moved to tropical islands, and she now had an adorable baby boy, Siah, who was six months and two weeks old. And even though so much had changed, we were able to pick up right where we left off. We had lunch together and seeing her made me so grateful for all the friends in my life.
The next day Gary and Tina dropped me off at the terminal again and things were looking very promising. There were three flights out to Guam before noon. Score! The first opportunity passed me by. There were 8 other people with higher priority levels than me. The second flight ended up not taking anyone. Hmmm.... So the third flight had 15 seats and I was #5 on the list. At that point, it seemed like a sure thing! So we went through the whole process again. Got boarding passes, checked bags, this time we got on a bus, drove out to the KC-135, got on and took off. At this point, I texted Nick, "See you tonight!"
And after ten minutes in the air, just as I was envisioning laying my head down on my own pillow in my own bed for the first time in three weeks, there was a horrible loud noise. Now, I am not a leery traveler. I know too many pilot friends who have assured me that turbulence is "just wind" and military flights are so safe and blah blah blah. So I tend to not worry on planes. Can't do anything anyway, right? Next thing you know, we've stopped ascending and are descending, several people are scampering around the plane, and the rumors start. Turns out the landing gear wouldn't go up properly (the loud noise), so we would need to make an emergency landing back at Hickam. An hour of circling later, we finally landed (we had to dump enough fuel so we weren't too heavy to land safely). And just like that, after an entire day trying to get out, I was right back where I started.
|Fire trucks bracing for our emergency landing - scary!|
Reflecting on the trip, I am so, so grateful to have been able to make new memories with so many friends and family. And while I was sad to leave everyone, it has also made me appreciate my life on Guam now that I am back. We hit our 6-month Guammiversary while I was gone, which means potentially only 18 months left here. I fully intend to get the most out of it, and can't wait to pick up writing about Peyt's Island again soon!