On Friday, July 24, we awoke in our rental house in Hawaii for the last time. We ate breakfast and finished packing, then took Charlotte for a walk to the park for the last time. We said goodbye to our neighbors, and walked through our house for the last time. All of this felt surreal and emotional, but walking through our house was the part that made me cry. I loved our house. We don’t ever want to live in Hawaii again, but if we do, we can’t imagine living anywhere but there. We loaded up our car, then after one last look we drove away.
We were thankful that we had been able to work out an easy transaction for our car — Curtis drove us to the airport, left Charlotte and I on the curb with all our bags, then drove to a house just a 15 minute walk from the airport to drop off the car. Char and I sat together outside for less than 30 minutes. The terminal was obviously much quieter than normal, but there were still cars coming through, dropping off and picking up here and there. Curtis made it back and we hauled all our bags into the airport and to the ticket counter.
Things took a turn South as soon as the ticketing agent saw Charlotte in her kennel. It was the same kennel we had used to fly 3 years ago, and in our opinion she hadn’t grown any (she flew at age 3 and now she’s 6, but still weighs the same as 3 years ago). The kennel was tall enough for her to stand up, but in the agent’s opinion it wasn’t long enough for her. It didn’t help that Charlie was just sitting right at the door crying incessantly. We started to panic — what could we do now? We didn’t have a vehicle, the nearest Petco was 20 minutes away, the airline didn’t have any other options.
But we couldn’t give up — we needed a solution, and fast. Curtis went for a long walk around the airport to see if any other airlines sold kennels while I waited with Char and our baggage. When that came up empty, I decided to call a wife and friend from the boat — I knew they had flown with a dog larger than Charlotte, and they lived only 15 minutes from the airport. I called her and asked if she could bring it to us and we buy it from her. Thankfully she was available, and within 20 minutes had the bigger kennel at the airport for us, and saved the day! Like I mentioned before, the part of this entire move that gave me the most stress was having to fly with Charlotte, and I don’t like to think about what the alternative would have been, and all the steps we would’ve had to take to get her on another flight. Another vet visit and health certificate, another waiting so many days for her to be able to fly, and either Curtis or I staying behind or both leaving her with someone else… So thankful we didn’t have to make that decision! Additionally, I’m very thankful that the agent who checked me in 3 years ago thought Char was fine in the medium-sized kennel, because having to deal with this in an unfamiliar city by myself at 5 AM would have been even worse!
Oh, but the bigger kennel couldn’t fit on the scale, and the agent started questioning whether it was too heavy, so there was that. Thankfully we were able to get it on a bigger scale and the combination of the kennel and Charlotte *wasn’t* over their weight limit. I can’t stress this enough, I hated this situation, having to fly with a dog. This may be the one thing that keeps us from staying in the Navy — the possibility that we could have to come back someday. Once she was finally checked in, we took a deep breath. Hopefully the worst was over.
I guess there was also some issue with my name not being on Curtis’ official orders, but I missed most of that discussion because I was so concerned about Charlotte. But hey, we all eventually made it on that plane with all our luggage and Charlotte, so I guess it all turned out alright!
The security line was the shortest we’d ever seen here. Besides wearing masks and handling boarding passes on our own, there wasn’t much different about checking in or going through security. They did have temperature checks and health forms for people traveling inter-island though.
The day we left, Hawaii had over 100 new positive COVID-19 cases, the first day they ever hit triple digits. The airport as a whole wasn’t as empty as we had expected and hoped, but it was quiet enough that we were easily able to keep our distance. There’s still a mandatory 14 day quarantine for everyone arriving to the islands, which made us believe there wouldn’t be many people from Hawaii leaving only to have to quarantine when they get back. However, there was also a hurricane headed towards the islands — I doubt many were evacuating but that still could have affected the amount of people flying.
We sat by a window and gazed out at the little bit of scenery we could see. We saw the baggage cart drive by, and then a truck behind with a lone pet carrier — Charlotte! I don’t know if this airline normally only flies one pet at a time or if that was a new COVID-19 policy. Poor girl. The flight attendants assured us that they were monitoring the temperature for her.
Finally, it was time to board. This also went so much faster and smoother than we’ve ever experienced. They let families with young children, handicapped people, and first class board first, then boarded from the back to the front of the plane. As far as seating went, they were intentionally leaving all middle seats vacant, and it ended up being either a single person or a couple in the occupied rows. The plane was smaller than every other plane we’d flown between the islands and mainland, and with much less people. We settled in to our row, and watched out the window as the plane taxied and took off, soaking in our last glimpses of the island. Goodbye, Oahu.
We had the choice to either fly straight to Omaha with 3 different flights, or fly direct to the West coast and drive the rest of the way. We debated either way with which would be the safest and most responsible thing to do, what would end up with the least contact and exposure to COVID-19. On one hand, we could have 3 different flights, sitting in a small enclosed space with who knows how many people, as well as 4 different airports. On the other, we could have one flight and 2 airports, then hotels, restaurants, and gas stations along the way. Things are so uncertain, there wasn’t an obvious answer.
So instead, we did what we knew was best for Charlotte: one direct flight, followed by a socially-distanced road trip. We decided to get a hotel the first night so that we could shower and thoroughly clean ourselves after the flight, but after that we would buy food at a grocery store once and then camp the rest of the way to Omaha. We did research on what different state laws were, we came prepared with masks and hand sanitizer, and we set our expectations accordingly. This wasn’t the PCS road trip we had hoped for (PCS roadtrip choice #1 was a flight to Anchorage followed by a roadtrip down the Canadian Rockies), but we were still going to make the most of it. It didn’t take long though before we figured out that pretty much all of our trips have been ‘socially distanced’ so planning for this was very easy.
That being said, we did spend time with one person along the way. We decided to fly through Portland, OR to see my brother. With how uncertain these times are, we weren’t sure when we could be together again, so I’m glad we were able to work things out for the weekend.
We made it to Oregon around 8:30pm as the sun was setting. We gathered all our luggage and then got our very excited puppy. We made it! We made it through the flight, we made it back to the Mainland together, we made it through 3 years in Hawaii!
Curtis picked up our rental car, we loaded up and drove to our hotel. We went to bed excited for all that lay ahead of us back on the Mainland. And then Charlotte woke us up at least 3 times in the night because she was just too excited to sleep.
Next up: our reverse-Oregon Trail road trip! Stay tuned. 🙂