Couples Therapy 2014*

Last December, I took a trip to New York City with my friends, Sherry and Heidi. We gallivanted across the city in our brightly colored jackets, drooling over our dumplings from the Rickshaw Truck, getting makeovers from Irene at Sak's Fifth Avenue, and jumping off fountains in Central Park. It was fabulous. Except that it was bitter cold. And we didn't get to see Jimmy Fallon. And there was that one time that I couldn't figure out why everyone was standing on the subway, so I triumphantly took the last empty seat. . . the one with urine on it.

We made some great memories on that trip.

On August, 3, 2013, this conversation took place, via text message. 

Sherry: I'm ready for a trip, ladies. 
Heidi: I'm in!
Me: Me too!!!!
Heidi: Where?
Me: Hawaii
Sherry: Yes!!! With husbands?
Me: Yes
Sherry: Paul and I were just talking about that yesterday. We've never been to Hawaii.
Heidi: Me either!
Me: We haven't been either.
Heidi: Go big or go home. 
Me: Nobody has been??
Sherry: No!
Heidi: Scott just said that would be fun. Run with it. 
Me: Steve is laughing his head off. Due to the fact that our bank account is empty. (This was just two days after Derrick and Gcobisa's wedding. . . and less than six weeks after we returned from our South Africa trip.)
Sherry: How many mattresses would you need to sell?
Heidi: I am going to check on plasma ;)
Sherry: Haha! Me too ;)
Heidi: Yessssss!
Sherry: That would be so fun!!!

Less than two hours later, Heidi gave us the green light. And just like that, we were planning a trip to Hawaii. 

We consulted Lisa Clawson, who gave us an excellent review of each island and recommended the Hawaii Revealed books (which I purchased as iPhone apps.) Heidi talked to her brother, who travels to Hawaii regularly. We started daydreaming about basking on beautiful sandy beaches, riding zip lines through lush green rainforests, enjoying a long break from our kids. . . and we started saving our pennies.

But planning a trip to Hawaii is complicated. What islands would we visit? When was the best time to go? Was food really going to cost $150 per meal? Who was going to watch our kids? Hotels or rental houses? Direct flight or connections? Out of Salt Lake City or Boise? One rental van or two cars? Could we just ride mopeds?

There were lots of text messages sent back and forth and lots of decisions to be made.

My favorite was the night that I investigated camping in Hawaii. Sherry was somewhat interested, so we texted back and forth about it for a while. And then Heidi finally caught up with our messages. 

"Man, I am out of the loop for a bit and suddenly we are camping? Do you want a no or hell no from me?"

So camping was out. We finally decided that we would go to Oahu and Kauai, in January, over my birthday.

Heidi investigated credit card deals, and the three of us each signed up for an Alaska Airlines credit card. (The Alaska Airlines card is unique because companion fare discounts are valid in Alaska and Hawaii and are issued immediately after card approval, rather than needing to wait for a year.)

Sherry booked three rooms at the Hale Koa Hotel in Oahu. (The Hale Koa is only available to active duty, reserve, retired military, DOD employees, and their guests. . . thank you, Paul Traher!) And then she lined up a great house for us to rent in Princeville for Kauai.

I found tickets to Honolulu for $425, but as soon as I went to book them, they jumped up to $811. There were tickets from Boise to Honolulu for $459 on Delta. I spent hours and hours searching for flights. In October, after much deliberation, we finally booked tickets through Alaska Airlines from SLC to Honolulu for $826 per couple. (If you add in the $75 annual fee for the credit card, then our tickets totaled $901 per couple, or $451 per person. Not the best deal out there, but not too bad.)

After booking, we found tickets from SLC to HNL for $398 each.**

But it was okay. . . the thought of going to Hawaii got us all through some rough days. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I really do need a trip on my calendar to keep me happy and motivated. It was a bad deal when I was diagnosed with an incisional hernia. Steve and I figured that we would have to use our trip insurance and cancel out on the trip, fully assuming that I was going to have surgery at the beginning of the new year. I don't know how or why, but sometime mid-December, my abdominal pain went away. I had a CT scan the first week in January and nothing showed up. Hawaii was on.

We quickly made arrangements for our kids. (We hired one of our favorite babysitters, a senior in high school, to come stay at our house.) And we attempted setting up a planning meeting with the two other couples. We had to reschedule three different times and couldn't figure out how in the world we coordinated our schedules for a ten-day trip, but couldn't manage to get together for dinner.

Steve and I went to work on our massive to-do lists. (Nothing inspires us like a trip!) And then we crammed in as many family activities with our kids so they would get tired of us and not miss us as much while we were gone. (Or maybe it was so we would get tired of them and be ready for a break?)

Before we knew it, we were driving to the airport.

It didn't seem real. . . not even on the plane. Steve and I posed for a selfie:

And some lady sitting in seat 20E photobombed us:

It looked like we were headed to Alaska, not Hawaii:

It kinda looked that way out of the window too:

But three flights later, we finally arrived in Hawaii:

It took some searching, but I found a minivan rental through Discount Hawaii Car Rentals for $70 per day. The Alamo shuttle picked us up right outside of baggage claim at the airport. We walked into the Alamo rental office and drove away in our minivan less than ten minutes later. Easy peasy. 

I sat shotgun and navigated as Steve drove us a few miles to Pier 38. We were a little confused where the restaurant was, but then we saw it. . . right there across from the waterfront: 

The old Nico's Pier 38 was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The new Nico's Pier 38 is a beautiful, modern seafood restaurant, designed to draw people down to the "fishing village". 

Here's a picture of their signature dish, the Furikake Ahi: 

Steve had the Fish and Chips (he upgraded to the Truffle Fries):

I had the Crab Cake Salad. . . I love a good crab cake. Everything was perfect. . . a sublime welcome to Hawaii. 

The receptionist at the Hale Koa wasn't quite as welcoming. She was a little coarse and turned down our request for king rooms, but we we didn't mind too much. . . because WE WERE IN HAWAII!

- - - - - - 

*As we all started posting pictures on Instagram, we needed a hashtag for our trip. (We first had to teach Scott McKay what hashtags were.) Steve suggested #couplestherapy2014, so we went with it. (Has anyone seen the movie Couples Retreat? I don't like admitting watching that because it's a little crude, but I think that's where he was going with it.) Anyhow, there were a few questions about our hashtag, so at some point, it was changed to #EHO2014. More on all of that later, but we loved the idea of a trip to Hawaii being our Couples Therapy. And I'm pretty sure if I lived in Hawaii, I wouldn't ever need therapy. . . Mahalo!

**Since returning from our trip, we've heard of tickets through Allegiant Air from Boise or Las Vegas to Honolulu and Kauai for $99 each way. If you ever come across these fares, please let me know!


Lisa said...

Furikake IS my new favorite thing!!! I just had it for the first time in Nov. when we were in Hawaii with all my siblings. Fantastic!! My favorite was Furikake dusted french fries. Yummy!!

And I've heard some not so great things about Alligiant to Hawaii. Do you know Wil and Lauren Wood? They're from Logan, but now have the GH is Boise. They did the Allegiant flight to Honolulu last year, and got stuck there an extra 5 days. Allegiant paid for 2 nights I think, but reliability is an issue. Also when you add the price of bags into the mix (even a purse) it's pretty close. I think you guys got a screaming deal!!! Hawaii has been super pricey the last couple of years. If I get below $700 I feel like I got a deal. So glad you guys had fun!!! It's the best! And I'm afraid to tell you.........but it will become a regular thing for you now. You'll find out a way to go to Hawaii instead of St. George now. You'll find a way to make it affordable, and you'll get on the 6 month rotation:)

emily ballard said...

Lisa, thanks for your comment and good info about Allegiant. Makes me feel better about our tickets.

We are all dying to go back!