We didn't have to pay for airfare or for lodging on this trip. The free airfare came because last year we tried to leave Hawaii on September 11th, and for some reason, there was a whole sequence of errors (airplane backing into stairs, electrical problems, crew problems) that resulted in us having to stay in the airport for 8 hours (not fun) before finding out that we were not leaving Hawaii till the next day. Hawaiian Airlines gave us four free flight vouchers that we used on this trip.
Accomodations are because we own a timeshare at the Marriott in Poipu. So I guess calling lodging free is a misnomer, but for the monthly budget, it feels free.
I wrote all this so you can understand why we decided to upgrade to first class flights for the trip to Hawaii. We did this and kept it secret from the kids till we actually got onto the airplane and started putting our bags in the first class overheads. They were so excited, and it certainly made the 5-1/2 hour flight really comfortable. And our flight attendant, Ryan, was the BEST! He answered every question and was so attentive and nice to the kids, and he was on the 20 minute flight from Maui to Kauai with us. He and Tucker talked nearly the entire flight. When we got off the airplane, Tucker announced, "I think we're going to meet a friend a day on our trip, and Ryan was our first friend!" It's a fun way to look at things on vacation, don't you think?
Katie was our day 2 friend. We went to a boutique called Sand People -- it's darling! -- in the Poipu Shopping Village. The kids were eating ice cream, but the cute girl (Katie) working in the store motioned them inside. Austin offered her his last bit of ice cream which she gratefully accepted. We started talking and found out that she's a surf instructor and so is her boyfriend. And she's just as laid back and good natured as you would expect someone to be in Hawaii. She gave us the number of the surf school where they work. Tucker told her she was our day 2 friend.
On the third day we went kayaking, and although we signed up for a group trip, we were the only people in our group. So it was like a private tour with our guide Mike. Mike is leaving for Ireland on Saturday to teach surf lessons for the summer. It was fascinating talking with him, and really great for the kids to meet someone who's just taking a few years after college to just kind of do what he wants to do before settling down. (Tim and I both agreed that we were in way too big of a hurry to start "real" life after college and didn't even know that you could travel and take your time to figure out what you want to do.)
Day 4 brought us Alvin, Katie's boyfriend, who taught the kids to surf. Katie would have helped, but she'd sliced her arm open the day before when her surfboard came back on her, and the tail fin caught her bicep, so she's on dry land for 7 days. But she hugged the boys when she saw them, then turned them over to Alvin, who could not have been nicer. Both boys got up and were even jumping to switch the feet leads WHILE surfing by the end of the lesson. And when Tucker got tired, Tim got out there and surfed too!
Today is day 5, and who knows what new friend the day will bring. We'll be keeping our eyes open, for sure. And it really is a fun way to spend the day, looking for a new friend!