Will SOMEBODY please shoot me if I ever think about flying out of the Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) airport again. PLEASE!! Gee Whizz what an adventure that was! But I am ahead of myself. Let's back up the wagon here a few days and start at the Beginning.
We had planned(probably our first mistake, planning) to have all the bags packed and in the Camaro early Labor day morning, I would then winterize the trailer and take it to my friend Steve's barn. I had diligently inspected the route into and around his barn yard and other out buildings, looking for low wires and other obstacles that could reach out and grab some part of the trailer. It was going to be a tight squeeze width- wise but doable. I figured that the barn door height was also going to be close but it appeared to be high enough.
So, Monday morning we finish up the last minute packing and I start blowing out the water lines with the air compressor. Loaded up the Camaro with four large check bags, four carry-on bags, two small coolers with freezer and refrigerator food to take to Randy and Lani's, two or three bags of groceries and a bunch of miscellaneous "stuff". Had to leave the kitchen sink as there just wasn't room for it.
I then hooked up the truck to the trailer, pulled it into town to flush the waste tanks and then headed to Steve's with Donna and Joe following to help watch and give directions while I tried to shoe horn the trailer into it's winter parking place. Started to back the trailer in and discovered that the door was was a good 12 inches short of being high enough. Fortunately I was still three feet from the opening when I could see in the mirrors that I was probably in trouble. So much for plan A and there was no plan B.
We took the trailer back home, parked it by the shop and started to cover it with tarps to keep the sun and snow off it during the winter. That worked for all of five minutes until a light breeze came up and made it almost impossible try and put tarps on. I was thoroughly frustrated by now, ready to give up, it was now after 1 pm, I had not had lunch and we were now not going to make it to Portland in time for dinner with Randy and Lani. So this is where God steps in and says "Step aside, Turkey, I've got this handled."
Mind you, I had not sat down and prayed for a solution. Oh, I had prayed a few short blurbs out there, such as "Lord, can you give me a break here??!!" May not be the most religious prayer but apparently it worked because the next thing I know our neighbor, Nancy, wanders down to check on us and see why we were bringing the trailer back. After observing the sad state of affairs that was going on, she states "This looks like a Chuck project", Chuck being her husband. She heads back to her place, rounds up her husband who grabs a 40 ft heavy duty truck cargo tarp he has had for about 15 years and hadn't used in at least 10 years. What are the odds that somebody would have a tarp big enough to cover a 37 foot trailer, be around on labor day, have a wife who knew her husband well enough that he could solve the problem, but not knowing about the tarp? Pretty high when you have a Heavenly Father like mine who cares about even the smallest details in my life.
This heavy duty tarp, with a strong emphasis on "Heavy", because it took three of us to horse that thing from the bed of a pick-up to the roof of the trailer, 12+ ft off the ground. As I watched Chuck and Joe trying to lift it up to me, I suggested that they go fetch my tractor with the bucket on it and lift up with that. Nah, Chuck replies, we can do it! We did it but I almost gave birth to a hernia in the process.
The next challenge was to unfold this 40 by 18-20 ft monster while standing on an 8 ft. wide surface and not step on any of the various plastic plumbing and air vents, which become totally hidden once the unfolding starts, then the challenge of centering the bugger with little space to stand.
Let me be very, very clear on one thing: We would never have been able to tarp that trailer if it hadn't been for Chuck. He is a dear friend and neighbor, a brother in Christ, a Jack of all Trades, can do the most amazing things with what most people throw away, and will come and help on a moments notice. He and Nancy have been amazing neighbors and it has been tough leaving them.
After 45 minutes of tying everything down, I cleaned up and we headed to Portland, arriving a little after 7, thoroughly exhausted. We spent 8 days with Randy, Lani & the grand kids. Then on the 11th we reloaded the Camaro an took off for Seattle. One the way up I suggested to Jeri that we probably ought to drop the bags off at the hotel (room provided by our nephew David, thank you very much) so we wouldn't have to unload and load them into Dave's car and then unload again at the hotel. Besides, not sure what size car he has, and we had a lot of luggage.
After lunch we headed for the last 12 miles to Harbor Island to drop the car off. Matson Shipping had provided an excellent map, detailed instructions on how to get there, phone numbers, everything you would want when trying to find a place you had never been before. So how in the world did I end up in the middle of an industrial park, within view of the cranes on what I thought was Harbor Island, yet could not get there? Thanks to the Washington State Highway Department and all the new construction of bridges and ramps in the area just completed, they haven't gotten around to replacing all the signage, therefore no reference to any Harbor Island exits.
At this point you have to be aware that in order to ship a car on a boat, there has to be LESS than a quarter tank of fuel. So, on the way up I am juggling that requirement, doing all the calculations of fuel mileage, distance left, etc.. Stopped once on the way up and added two gallons of fuel and figured that it was going to come out just right. Unfortunately I hadn't planned on driving around the industrial area trying to find where I was on the map. Finally had to find a gas station, add another two gallons, then using my excellent navigation skills, made it to the required gate where David, bless his heart, was waiting for us to take us back to the hotel. And, no, his car was not big enough for all our luggage and us so it was a good thing I listened to that voice in my head and dropped off the luggage before hand.
That evening we had dinner with David, his brother Jon and his wife Hiromi and their 10 month old daughter Aya. We had an enjoyable time catching up on what all of us were doing.
We were up the next morning at 5:30, ate breakfast at 6, had everything down in the lobby at 6:45 for the 7 am shuttle to the airport, just across the road. Here is where it got real interesting. It is a 15 minute drive from the hotel to where he drops us off. The road went into this giant parking structure and access on this road was limited to buses and shuttle vans. The driver stops and lets the only other passenger off for American Airlines, only we are still in the middle of this parking structure. He instructs the guy where to go and starts driving on forward. About 1/4 mile later, stops again and says this is our stop. We are still in the middle of this parking garage, no terminal, no lobby, no nothing!!. I ask him "Are you kidding me? " He explains how we go across the street, take the elevator to the next floor, points to a sky bridge to nowhere that we are to cross, take another elevator to the next floor and we will be in the Hawaiian Airlines lobby. Mind you, there are NO carts, NO curbside baggage checkers, no people, no nothing, zip. I feel like I am being dumped off in the middle of the dessert, good luck on finding your way back! Adios, sucker!! I remind the driver, who now is starting to resemble people I have seen in Mafia movies, that I have eight, count them, eight heavy bags. He points back the way we came and said there was a cart rack back there on the other side of the street. I can't see it, but he points it out again - the road curves - and sure enough, I barely see what appears to be a cart wayyyyyy back there. It was at least 150 yards. So I truck on back there, put a 5 dollar bill in and push the cart back up to where the driver was unloading the bags. As luck would have it, small cart, only holds 4 bags. So back to the cart rack, drop another $5, load up the second cart which Jeri is now going to have to push.
After two elevators and the sky bridge to no-where, we arrive in a huge lobby and make it to the Hawaiian kiosk, print off out boarding passes, and make our way to the counter to check in our bags. Throw the first bag in the scale and it weighs - remember, 50 lb. limit - 58 Stinking pounds!! So much for bath room scales. Throw the second one on, 56 lb. I'm thinking we are in so much trouble, this is going to cost a fortune. Third one was 49 lb., last one was 54 lb. She puts tags on all of them and puts them on the conveyor. I'm thinking the scale is totaling this up or she is making notes. She then says we need to weigh the carry on bags. These have a 25 lb. limit so the first one is 28, and I just took a deep breath and asked how much do we have to pull out. She smiles and says that if we want, she can check those in at the gate when we board and we can pick them up at the carrosel in Kona. I replied that would be great since I already have four bags to pick up, whats two more. So now I am waiting for the hammer to fall as to what all of this is going to cost me. She hands me all the luggage claim tickets and says we are all done, have a nice flight. What?? Did I miss something, that's it? That's right, no excess baggage or weight fees. Glory Hallelujah!!
There was a long walk to the security check point, where the longest line I have ever encountered was, and then a very long walk to our boarding gate. I honesty believe that they look at the age of the passengers and then assign the boarding gate for that flight the very furthest point they possibly can.
Flight to Honolulu was fast and uneventful, arriving 20 minutes early. Again, the arrival gate was at one end of the terminal, the departure gate clear at the other end. Fortunately we had a three hour layover. Needed the time to rest and recuperate. Treated ourselves to ice cream.
Took a shuttle - only thing big enough for all our luggage - to the house for $23, hooked the battery up to the Volvo, started right up, changed into shorts and slippahs(flip flops to you main landers) and took my lovely, exhausted wife, to "Quinn's Almost by the Sea" fish restaurant for the best fish and chips in town. Only we have it with sweet onion rings. Good to be back where the fish is fresh daily.
The bottom line on all this adventure is that no matter how tough the day seems to be going, if we trust God, and persevere, and lean not into our own understanding but let God provide the answers, in the end all will turn out good. The nation of Israel had to suffer in the wilderness for 40 years to get to the promised land. We only had to suffer for a day and a half. Piece of cake! Aloha.