We hoped our getaway to Kauai this past April would work out. It was our first travel experience since the pandemic began.
This time, it wasn’t as easy as booking two tickets to paradise. To board our American Airline flight, we had to have CO-VID tests given by a specific health care provider. Results then had to be uploaded onto the State of Hawaii website, as well as travel documents and completed health questionnaires. We were given QR codes to keep on our phones to show airport staff once we landed.
This time, traveling together we Ubered to LAX just an hour from where we live now. The TSA Pre cue was short, but even the other security lines were uncrowded. Inside the airport was like a ghost town, not the hub bub of the past. Every few seats in the waiting area were cordoned off to respect the social distancing mandate.
Unlike my first trip to Kauai, on board there was no shared movie experience, just everyone plugged into their own devices. And people dropping off their phone conversations when asked to put handheld items into airplane mode. Not to mention, everyone wore masks.
Having heard stories of exorbitant prices and lack of availability, we were thankful to have gotten a car on reserve. At the rental car facility, we had to upload new QR codes even though we had just done so at the airport twenty-minutes earlier.
Although our flight was direct, the island had recently experienced mud slides so getting to our beloved Hanalei Bay took an hour longer than in the past. We were given a timetable as to when we could venture in and out from the north shore. Mornings from 5:30 – 7:45 a.m., mid-day from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. and evenings 5:45 -11 p.m. Even when driving during those hours, we were warned there’d be delays.
At the Hanalei Bay Colony Resort, our favorite place to stay, we were told that there would only be one room cleaning during our week there and the restaurant on the premises, the Opakapa now, would only be open from 4:00-8:00 p.m. We were also told that masks were mandatory on the property, even when outside!
Knowing these new rules and changes, I was feeling stressed even before we left. Throughout our journey to just get there, I kept wondering do we really want to deal with all of this?
From my journal: April 14, 2021 on Kauai in Hawaii
“Took about 11 hours to get here…just the sound of ocean and breeze have me smiling…will be a glorious stay!”
What I considered travel inconveniences the first time I had visited Kauai, almost thirty-two years ago, was nothing when compared to this recent trip. But to be able to travel again, no matter the adjustments, left me feeling grateful. That first night, I felt calmness wash over me as we sat out on our balcony. Everything during the past year and a half had seemed so hard, but just being there I felt hopeful. Like everything was going to be okay again.
While the way we get-to-where-we-want-to-go has changed, traveling is still one of my greatest joys. Getting away, lets me step out of my everyday life. It gives me a chance to be present in any given moment, without the tug of obligations. And leaves me with a renewed sense of well-being.