This was the first official day of our vacation, but the flight didn't leave until late afternoon, so we had time to sleep in, get packed without being rushed, and go out to lunch. A nice way to start a vacation. Then a friend drove us to the airport, and we were on our way.
Well, sort of. The flight was delayed almost an hour. It seems a faulty fuel gauge was showing that one of the fuel tanks was empty, so they had to check all the fuel tanks by hand. The pilot came on the intercom and apologized for the delay, but commented that he thought we'd rather take the time to make sure the gauge was wrong, than to be in mid-flight and discover the gauge was right! I had to admit, he had a point.
After a mostly uneventful flight (except for some bumpy weather at one point), we landed in Honolulu. As it happens, we also have friends (Milton and Charlene) in Honolulu, so our plan was to spend a day visiting with them before going on to Kauai. However, before we could get out of the airport, we had our first of many adventures on this trip.
A little background: Hawaii has a very strict animal quarantine law. Any dog, cat, or other domestic animal being brought into the islands has to remain in quarantine for several months. This is because Hawaii is entirely free of rabies, and they want to keep it that way, thank you very much!
Well, you can't fault them for that. But the trouble is, that makes it difficult for a guide dog user who wants to visit Hawaii. For several years, guide dog users' organizations waged a legal battle with the State of Hawaii, arguing that guide dogs and service dogs ought to be exempt from quarantine. Sure, Hawaii's concern about rabies was justified, but guide dogs get regular rabies vaccinations, and blind people have the right to travel freely and independently, which they can't do if someone wants to take their dogs away and put them in quarantine.
So, after many years of legal wrangling, a compromise solution was reached. Guide dog users can now bring their dogs into Hawaii without quarantine - IF they fulfill several stringent requirements. So, in order to bring Terry's dog North to Hawaii, we had to:
A lot of red tape, but we willingly complied. The last time we went to Hawaii, on our honeymoon in 1982, we had to leave Terry's dog with her parents. This time, we would be able to take her dog with us. Terry was psyched.
But, as always, reality bites. We had gotten all of the paperwork done, and faxed off to the quarantine office. But when we got to Honolulu, we had some trouble. As we found out later, what was supposed to happen was that an airline representative should have met us at the gate, and escorted us directly to the quarantine office. But when we asked at the gate, we were told to just go ahead to baggage claim, and someone would meet us there. Well, we did, and they didn't. So after several phone calls, and extensive discussions with (mostly clueless) airline and airport personnel, we finally got someone to walk us over to the quarantine office. (We would have gone ourselves, except we had no idea where it was!)
After all that, I was afraid that there'd be further holdups when we got to the quarantine office. To our pleased surprise, we found that they were expecting us, and everything was in order, and we were in and out of there in just a few minutes!
So we got our bags, picked up a rental car, and drive into downtown Honolulu, to meet Milton and Charlene at the Pagoda Hotel.
Hotel? Weren't we visiting friends? Well, yes, but their house is small, and has no guest room. We would have been happy to sleep on a couch, or even in sleeping bags on the floor, but they suggested the hotel instead. And since they were paying, we didn't object.
So we got to the hotel, spent a little time visiting, and then went to bed. It had been a long day.