Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aloha! 9-15-2011

Such a heavy phrase “The Last Day”, but it felt like a heavy day. We had stayed up very late the night before trading pictures. Yes, we know what you are thinking – the four of us must have had a lot of SOTB pictures to share. Indeed we did, but we were also sharing our #AOL collections as well – so this took TIME!!!

When morning arrived, we got up and went to the balcony of our hotel to say “good morning Diamond Head”, which had become our morning ritual this past week. We went downstairs for our Starbucks and breakfast. With us were the lei that Maddy had given us at the premiere.  Starbucks in hand, we walked across the street to the beach. As per tradition, we were told to either throw our lei into the ocean to ensure a safe return one day or leave them on one of the statues. We chose to leave them on a statue at “our” beach. Anna Sinclair, one of our twitter pals, was standing right near the statue. We wanted a picture taken since this was going to be the last time the four of us were together in Hawaii. We asked Anna to take the picture for us and she obliged. Queens Beach held a special place in our hearts, so the spot we chose was perfect.

Stacey and Ellen had the first flights out, so Maddy and Deb took the rental car back. They “got lost” (really they did) and somehow ended up driving past the H50 production offices.  They did confirm that the bag with Alex’s quilt inside was not in the guard shack anymore. They got back just in time to see Ellen and Stacey off, and let them know the quilt was no longer in the guard shack and hopefully in Alex’s hands.
Many tears were shed and hugs were abundant. Nobody wanted to go home. Some fellow twitter friends made their way down to the lobby to see them off. They were on their way out to see the sights of Oahu for the day. Stacey and Ellen gathered their luggage and boarded their shuttle back to the airport. During the ride back, they watched as familiar sights went by. It didn’t seem possible that so much had happened in only one week.  It started to drizzle the first real rain they’d seen all week. (Except for the quick shower that came through during the H50 premiere) It felt like Hawaii was crying with them because they were leaving.
They arrived at the airport. After saying more tearful good-byes to each other, they went their separate ways to their gates. While waiting in line at security, Ellen texted Stacey: “I had NO idea I would feel this way, it’s SO sad to leave”.  No truer words had never been spoken or in this case, texted. You know how typically the return trip seems to go faster? They were the longest flights both Stacey and Ellen had ever had. What each had left behind will never be duplicated. Sure, future SOTBs will hold special meaning, but that first one will always be “the one.”

Since Deb and Maddy didn’t leave until later that day, they decided to take a walk down Queens Beach for the last time after hanging out with their twitter pals.  It was lunch time, so they just had to stop at the Queens Surf Cafe & Lanai one more time. Kait greeted them and took their orders. After receiving their food, they sat and shared stories of the week and talked about going back home to reality. Kait also gave them a free goodbye treat…smoothies. They were delicious. Mahalo to Kait and the staff at the Queens Surf Cafe and Lanai for making our luau, brunch and culinary experiences so wonderful. The food we shared that whole week was simply divine!

Walking back towards the hotel in the rain showers, Deb and Maddy would stop occasionally to take a picture or two. They sat on the pier across from their hotel and just spent some more time talking. Eventually, they made their way across the street to Lulu’s restaurant for one final drink before Maddy had to leave.  They toasted to friendship and a once in a lifetime trip. They were so glad they got to share it with everybody they had met that week. They left Lulu’s and went back down to the lobby of the Park Shore to wait for Maddy’s shuttle. They met up with their new Aussie friend, Jen McLeod and talked a while longer. 

Soon enough, it was time for Maddy to leave. Her airport shuttle had arrived.  More tearful good-byes were said and Maddy was on her way. Even though the shuttle was full, Maddy said it was a tearful, lonely ride back. Once at the airport she found a quiet spot to sit and plug in her laptop for some twitter and Facebook time. Finally it was time to board her long flight home. Aloha Hawaii, hello New Jersey...or so she thought. After finally boarding the plane her flight began pulling away from the terminal. The plane stopped taxing. Her pilot came over the PA and told them they were going back to the gate. There was a malfunction in the air conditioning on the plane. Everybody left the plane. They sat in the waiting area in Honolulu airport for what seemed like an eternity. It was only an hour. Happily, she started texting her friends to let them know she may be staying for another day if they couldn't get the problem fixed. Unfortunately that was not to be. A customer service rep came on the PA to advise the AC was fixed and the flight was ready to go. Damn! Foiled again!  Maddy boarded the plane again, texted.
Being the last one to leave, Deb found herself on her own. A few friends let her know they’d be around if she needed anything before her flight. Since her flight didn’t leave until late that evening, she decided to hike up Diamond Head. Unfortunately, the trails were closed for maintenance. She decided to head down to Queens’s Beach one last time to soak up some sun. After that she headed to the Diamond Head Health Club for another delicious acai bowl. (Damn, and no Alex sighting)

Before going to meet her shuttle, she stopped to take one last sunset picture featuring the fountain we laid our lei upon earlier that day. She made her way across Kalakaua Avenue for the last time, got her luggage and made her way onto her airport shuttle. Tearfully, she headed for the airport like the three of us before her. With sand still in her hair she boarded her plane home. She didn’t remember even taking off. Once she got to her seat, she fell fast asleep until she hit her connecting flight in Phoenix, all the time dreaming of her amazing vacation.

We all felt a sense of depression when we got home. So many new friends met and memories made that week. One week in paradise and so much damn fun together. How could that week be topped? Back to our realities and our family life. We can all say this about our whole adventure....Hawaii has captured a piece of our hearts. If that's what Aloha spirit is all about, then we want some more. Mahalo to the Ohana who shared this adventure with us. We can't wait to see you all next year for SOTB 3. 
Aloha...for now

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