Thursday, June 7, 2012

Traveling with Dogs to the Big Island of Hawaii

Bill, Rachel, Frisky and Toto in San Francisco 6-6-2012

Bill, Rachel, Frisky, and Toto from the day before.

It took two days to prepare to leave San Jose, California for the Big Island of Hawaii.  Well it took months, but it took two days to pack for the flight.  We'd purchased a luggage scale to help with the process.  There was much shuffling of items from one suitcase to another.  We mailed some things ahead that we didn't want to carry but would need, like the car jack and battery cables. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012 was spent at various airports.  At 5 a.m. Bill dropped Rachel, Frisky, and I at the San Jose, California airport, along with a very large dog crate, five suitcases, one large box, three bags of skis, three bags of ski boots and helmets, and four things of carry-on luggage.  It took two porters and multiple trips to get us to the luggage check in desk. 

Bill then drove to the Oakland, California airport with Toto, a small dog create, two carry-ons (his computer and video camera), and Rachel's ukulele which was packed in a case with small stuffed animals surrounding it for padding.  Alaska Airlines only allows one animal per plane.  And so we had to leave early enough that the dogs would arrive in time to be released to us and before it was too hot.  It meant taking take two planes from two different cities.  Everyone at 
Alaska Airlines was great. 

Everyone who worked at the Kona airport was very nice.  I asked the police officer if the haze was unusual.  He said, "No it was a pretty typical day.  I was prepared for the landing where you walk downstairs both in the front and rear of the plane to the tarmac.  It was much warmer than California.  We followed, like lemmings, the other passengers to the luggage area.  Rachel asked, "Is the whole airport outside?" Yes, and by the time Rachel and I had removed our luggage from the carousel I was red-faced and sweating.  I'd worn jeans, my leather hiking boots, long sleeve shirt and sweater to deal with the airplane.  I couldn't get off enough layers to be cool. 

I ask around until I found where to go to get Frisky.  I left Rachel with our luggage.  Vet Jenny Chartier, from Kona Veterinary Service, had already examined Frisky and had him waiting.  We completed some paperwork, and helped me load him onto my luggage cart.  It was too hard to balance with Frisky inside and I wasn't supposed to remove him from his cage until I got to the "pet relief area."  So a Airline staff member found another rolling cart that would work and helped me get back to Rachel to tell her where I'd be. 

Frisky had spent from the time we delivered him to the airlines until the time they gave him back, trying to chew his way out of the cage we'd purchased for this adventure.  He almost succeeded.  He'd bent the metal bar which was holding the cage shut, chewed holes in the bottom of the cage, and tore his bedding into tiny pieces.  His face and gums were bloody.  He'd had a bowl movement and he, and the cage, smelled terrible.  Our poor baby was a mess when he arrived.  I left the cage with Rachel and walked him across to the pet area.  Prettiest pet area we've ever been, by the way.  Then we went back to get water for Frisky.  I'd brought a water dish in my computer bag so that I'd have it to give him water.  Rachel and I took turns sitting with him while the other went to the water fountain to get him water.  Looking back, we should have gotten the water from the bathroom sink even though that would have been difficult.  He threw up twice during the two hours we spent waiting for Bill and Toto to arrive, and it might have been because the water was cold.  He was exhausted.  I can't imagine making him go through that ever again.

When Toto arrived she whined to be let out of her cage.  But she was in good shape and looked happy to see us.  The most stressful thing about the whole trip was making sure everything was perfectly planned for the dogs.  Everyone there and safe, and I finally relaxed knowing that there would be no more nightmares of everything that could have gone wrong.
Bill walked across the street to smoke a few cigarettes before he could relax. 

Alaska Airlines had been wonderful all the way.  They even let Bill carry on Rachel's ukulele. 
We'd shipped our van from Oakland, California two week's earlier, and Jim McCain, The Kona Car Guy, had someone bring it to the airport for us from the Hilo side of the island where it had landed.  I'd thought we'd need two trips to the house just to transport three people, two dogs with crates, and our luggage; but we were able to squeeze everything and everyone into my 2001 Nissan Quest van.  It was easier than fitting everything into the Suburban we'd rented to get us to the airports.  We had more room, because I'd been able to finish the job Frisky had started of dismantling his cage, and because there was no third-row bench seat in the van. 
I had emailed Bill the address of the house we were renting and the security code, but had done it too far ahead of time, so it was no longer on his phone.  I opened my laptop and retrieved the address, and Rachel put the address into the Garmin GPS, and used it to find the nearest gas station.  Gas wasn't much more than California, and even less than some places in California.  Then we let the Garmin direct us to the house we'd rented. 

The house was nice with the breeze was nicer.  Teresa, a speech therapist, and our downstairs' neighbor had opened all the windows before we got there and turned on some music, which was sweet.  She showed us around the house and gave us some tips.  Then we quickly unloaded the van, and drove to look for a beach where we could at least get our feet wet in a warm ocean.  We couldn't find a single beach that allowed dogs, and after their day's ordeal, we weren't going to leave them in the car or alone at the house.  It was frustrating. 
We were too hungry to grocery shop and then fix something to eat.  We drove slowly down the strip, but couldn't find a place to park.  It was getting late, so at least it was cooling off.  We ate at Pizza Hut.  Good service and good food, but not where I imagined we'd be eating our first night in Hawaii. 

Then we shopped at Safeway for our next days' meals and replaced a few items.  I thought Lake Tahoe and California had prepared me for the prices, but it hadn't!  I mentally balked at the prices to the point I didn't buy some things I knew we needed, even knowing I'd just end up coming back and getting them later.

Long sigh of relief.