From LA, we flew to Virginia Beach, where we spent Christmas with my family. It was the first time in quite a few years where all of the kids of my generation were together, and we celebrated with a photo:
On Thursday evening, S and I got back on a plane to fly back to LAX via ORD. Our flight before Christmas was uneventful, so we had built up some bad karma that came back to haunt us in ORD. At any rate, we landed at LAX two hours late (12.30am instead of 10.30pm). We hurried home to finish packing our new bags and get about 90 minutes of sleep before zipping back to LAX for a morning fight to Hawaii. That flight was truly uneventful, and we're now spending our first of seven nights on the Big Island.
We flew into Kona today and picked up the rental car. A woman in the Avis line ahead of us was trying to find a rental car, but she hadn't made a reservation. No such luck. She was trying all of the car companies, but no one had a vehicle for her. Fortunately, we made reservations, so our car was waiting for us.
We were too early to check into the hotel, so we drove into Kona for lunch (pork sandwich, cheeseburger) and drinks (a mai tai for me), a bit of culture (the Governor's Palace in Kona), and some browsing (I might come home with a ukelele...). The Governor's Palace was small, but it was well-appointed with historical artifacts and attended by knowledgable docents. Our guide did an excellent job telling us all about the building and the people who lived in it and visited it. Kona itself, at least the parts we saw, were very touristy and less exciting for me. We found a neat farmer's market and have made some mental notes of things we want to bring home with us: musical instruments, mango tea, eucalyptus honey, volcanic sea salt.
We checked into the hotel late in the afternoon and spent the rest of the night chilling out and exploring the resort. The Sheraton resort is huge, with a massive pool structure, multiple restaurants, game room, spa, gym, tennis courts, basketball courts, manta-viewing platform, and a sports equipment shop. We grabbed a quick bite at one of the restaurants and were back in the hotel room by 9, pooped.
Tomorrow, we hope to catch up with a whale-watching tour. The tour was sold out, but the guide told us over the phone that the early tour usually has no-shows. If that's the case, then we'll be able to jump on the tour and hopefully see some whales! More tomorrow.