07.12.2016 - 07.13.2016
Tuesday, July 12. The flights from Narita to Houston were all full. So were the flights from Narita to just about anywhere else in the world. It looked like our best way home would be to go from Narita to Honolulu then Honolulu to Houston. Plan B involved a stop over in either LA or San Francisco. Since the flight from Narita to Honolulu was getting overbooked with airline employees we opted to buy tickets for that leg.
The flight departed in the early evening so with the checkout time there wasn't any time to sightsee (especially with our bags in tow). We went to the train station and decided to take the Narita Express since it allowed for reserved seating and shaved about 30 minutes off the regular train ride. We were looking to kill about 5 hours from when we left on the train until our flight. Glad we left early....the train got delayed and we arrived at the airport about 30 minutes later than advertised. Then when we went to check in Alyson's ticket would not show up. We went to the customer service desk and they said that there was no record of us buying a ticket for Alyson. Fortunatley I had saved my confirmation email showing all of us listed on the booking as well as the payment confirmation. The customer service representative made several phone calls and explained that I may have to purchase a new ticket for Alyson and then work on a refund after returning home. I explained that wasn't an acceptable option and she made some more phone calls. It all gets worked out and we all have our tickets to HNL. It took over an hour though so we are very glad we arrived early. After we have our tickets it takes another 40 minutes to make it through security and make our way to our gate. At this point we are all pretty hungry but food options are limited. Lo and behold we find a McDonald's so Macca's it is (big surprise...). But here is a surprise, the price for the food at Narita's Macca's was nuts! If you eat there be prepared to drop about 12 bucks per person.
The flight is a red-eye as it leaves NRT in the evening and arrives in HNL at about 7:30am. The flight was uneventful, smooth and one where we all tried but couldn't really get any sleep. We arrive on Tuesday the 12th since we passed the international date line heading east. Crazy right! We clear customs in HNL and it feels good to be back in the States. Especially since we can now use cell service! Wifi is ok but when you are used to having a data connection all the time it feels like you lost a body part when you are restricted to wifi only. Turning the cell service back on was like getting an early birthday gift.
After customs we have 10+ hours to kill so we decide to take the kids to Pearl Harbor. We call a bag storage company and they come pick up the bags at the terminal. We grab a fresh Starbucks and make our way to the city bus that goes directly to Pearl Harbor. A quick 5 minute bus ride and we are there. We are in line for tickets to the Arizona memorial at approximately 0915 and the only tickets left are for 2:30pm. So we decide to walk through the muesums and then do the tour on the submarine (The USS Bowfin).
While walking the grounds we see an elderly gentleman on a motorized scooter with a Pearl Harbor survivor hat. There were serveral people talking to him so we went over and were so fortunate to meet him. Herb Weatherwax. Herb is 99 years old and was in the Army based at Schoefield Barracks. He witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor and then went on to fight in the European Theater and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. This guy is a true American hero. He gestured for the kids to come over to him and they all got to meet him and get their picture with him. It was really amazing!
We went through the muesums and then did a tour of the USS Bowfin. All I can say is WWII submarines are pretty cramped for space. We had lunch at Pearl Harbor but then decided to head back to the airport since we had to get our bags back, go through security, etc, etc,. And really we were all wiped out. Jet lag was starting to catch up to us and we were all exhausted. We get back to the airport and after about an hour make our way to the gate where we all just collapse into nap land.
After getting the quality sleep you can only get in an airport chair in a terminal where announcements are made every 5 minutes we were ready for the flight! We were hoping for plan A which was the direct flight to Houston but it was going to be tight on available seats. We lucked out and made the flight with 4 seats to spare.
The flight to Houston is a red-eye and is scheduled to arrive in Houston at approximately 7:30am. Sleep was elusive my friends. The flight was smooth and we arrive on time. We go to our car and drive home. The trip is over!