A Mainland Rendezvous or Two (or Three)

Ready to go through Lihue airport security and head for the mainland along with four suitcases (one overweight), two backpacks, and two shopping bags.

We’ve had a whirlwind of a time here on the mainland these past nine days. We got a LOT accomplished, but overall it was exhausting for all of us.

Pre-flight cocktails before take-off: a mai tai for me, mango-passionfruit juice for YaYu

Our flight from Honolulu to Portland in first class was completely wonderful – I’ve never felt so spoiled in my life. I’ve always said I’m not a first class kind of gal, but after that flight I sure could get used to it. I doubt we’ll ever book first class outright again, but if the upgrade is affordable . . . who knows?

Our cozy cottage in SE Portland was in the perfect location for all we had to see and do. Plus, it was air-conditioned (It was 95 degrees when we arrived).

Everything went swimmingly in Portland. The car we had booked would have been too small for us and all our luggage, but the car rental company offered us an upgrade special at an acceptable price so we took that. Our Airbnb cottage was cozy and comfortable, and in a good location for us to get around town so YaYu could take care of her shopping needs. We spend two full days at the mall, but she found everything she wanted and needed and the only items she has left to purchase are a winter coat and boots but she’s going to get those in Pennsylvania.

The lobster had been alive moments before this amazing dish was fixed and brought to our table to complement our dim sum.

We were able to get together with a couple of friends in Portland and wished we had had time to visit with more. We had delicious dim sum brunch (along with some amazing lobster noodles) one morning with our good friend Sylvia, and went out to dinner with our long-time friend Joan for Vietnamese pho that evening. Joan is storing our household goods for us while we travel, for which we will be forever in her debt. We’re looking forward to getting our families together when we’re in Portland in December.

The old PDX airport carpeting (which was famous) was changed after we moved to Kaua’i, but the tradition of taking a picture of your feet on the carpet remains.

I wondered how I would feel being back in Portland again, whether I would feel a tug to return or something but that didn’t happen. It was nice being someplace where I knew my way around, but I also came to realize how much driving I used to do, whether it was doing the grocery shopping or going to the doctors or whatever. I used to feel like I lived in our car, and now I know why, and I’m really not interested in doing that again.

One of the many delicious things we enjoyed in Dallas was personalized, custom-made ice cream (mine was green tea + fresh strawberry). The ice cream was scraped into rolls and served with various toppings.

We spent two busy but fun days in Dallas with Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, who wined and dined us and spoiled us rotten. We ate out every evening, got together with some of their friends for a tasty Sunday brunch followed by going to see Crazy Rich Asians (highly recommend!!) that afternoon. We got important paperwork taken care of and turned over all our official papers for them to hold for us while we travel. All of our mail is being forwarded through them as well, and they had a big stack for us to go through when we arrived, including a jury summons for me from Kaua’i County! I can’t believe I got another one of those less than year after the last time I served (I emailed to let them know we don’t live there any more and have been removed from the rolls). Also, our former landlord almost non-stop messaged Brett while we there, wanting us to go to the post office and look for the check (“I sent it. Honest!). Brett sent him a simple message back that we were done with him and we’d see him in court. As of today it still hasn’t arrived.

Bags and bags of dorm accoutrement from Target . . . along with a mini-fridge YaYu bought for herself.

We left Dallas very early Monday morning for Philadelphia. The drive out to our hotel in King of Prussia was easy, but we all promptly collapsed when we got there. We were still somewhat on Hawai’i time and the jet lag had finally caught up to us, so we slept through to late Tuesday morning and then headed out to Target and the Container Store to find the remaining items for YaYu’s dorm room (pillows, lamp, wastebasket, etc.). Once that was done we came back to our room to cool off and relax for the evening – none of us felt like going out again, even to eat dinner.

Today was move in day! After enjoying our free breakfast at the hotel, we loaded up the car and headed over to Bryn Mawr and got YaYu settled into her dorm room. Brett and I made her bed, and set up her desk while she put away her clothes and other things. At noon she had to attend her first meeting, so we said our good-byes and Brett and I headed back into Philadelphia to catch our flight down to Miami, which is still delayed as I write this. We enjoyed meeting YaYu’s roommate and her parents (from California, near my hometown). We had a tearful goodbye – we were saying goodbye to our littlest bird and it was hard to let her go. She grabbed the golden ring though and we know she’ll have a wonderful time at Bryn Mawr.

We will not be flying American Airlines ever again. We knew we would pay $25 per checked bag fee and then $100 for YaYu’s second bag (overweight), but on our flight to Philadelphia from Dallas we were charged both the 2nd bag fee of $35 AND the $100 overweight fee. Every other airline so far had charged us an overweight price and then waived any other lower fee, but not American, so her two bags ended up costing us $160 instead of $125. Then, when we checked in for our Philadelphia to Miami flight we discovered American had somehow “lost” our original seat assignments, and we ended up having to pay $67 for two regular seats mid-plane so we could sit together (as well as the $50 luggage fee for our two suitcases). The very few “free” seats still available on our flight were way at the back of the plane, no two of them together, and people in those seats are not allowed to bring any carry-on other than a purse. There was no way we were going to check our backpacks with our computers, medication, etc. so we had to pony up for the new seats. They offered us a chance to board early for only $31 each – no thanks. When we checked in our bags in Philadelphia we were told they were overweight even though nothing had been added to them since our last flight. We rearranged a couple of things and were able to squeak through on our $25 fee, but something was up with their scale. Finally, to add insult to injury, our flight was supposed to take off at 5:45 p.m. but we’ve been delayed for a second time until 10:40, and now won’t get into Miami until 1:45 a.m. which means we’ll have to pay for a taxi to our hotel vs. the free shuttle. That’s if American actually ever gets us on a plane with our luggage. Let’s just say American has completely and totally failed to impress me in ANY way. 😡😡😡

But, tomorrow morning Brett and I still plan to head to Argentina, the “official” start of our Big Adventure! We’ve been communicating with our host there, Feliciana, who has arranged for a private taxi to meet us at the airport and take us to our apartment. The driver, Hugo, will be waiting for us when we come out of immigration. The flight down to Buenos Aires will be a long one – nine hours from Miami – but we are equipped with snacks and other entertainments to hopefully make it easier. And yes, I wish we were in first class again! All our fingers are crossed that we make it to Miami on time.

31 thoughts on “A Mainland Rendezvous or Two (or Three)

  1. Vivian says:

    I haven’t flown in years. Never heard of free seats and paying extra for seats and I didn’t know the rules weren’t the same for all areas of the plane. Thanks for the update. When I am able to fly again I will be careful to question everything.
    I remember my first day at college. I was 17 and had never been away from home. The first thing my mother said when we drove up to the school was “You don’t have to stay.” Love my mom.

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    • Laura says:

      American appears to have a way to take your money every step of the way – we have never experienced anything like this, ever.

      YaYu is excited to be at college, but the act of actually separating was hard for both of us. She’s my baby and it was hard to part even though we have exciting things awaiting us.

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  2. Ginger says:

    Thank you so much for the update! I’ve been thinking of you. It is so good to hear that WaYu is set up at Bryn Mawr. What a wonderful school, and it will be fun to hear of both your younger daughters’ experiences as “East Coast Women”. Safe and happy travels to you and Brett–by the way, you both look gorgeous in the photo–and do check in with us when you can. Thanks for letting us join you vicariously!

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    • Laura says:

      Yes, YaYu and WenYu are pretty close to each other and plan to get together sometime this semester. WenYu stayed back in Massachusetts this summer and said she has had a wonderful time back there.

      We’ve arrived in Buenos Aires, but are relaxing today – we went out for a little while to get some cash from the ATM and do some grocery shopping. The Argentine peso dropped quite a bit against the dollar yesterday so many ATMs were out of service – I guess there was a sort of “run” yesterday. Food is very cheap here too – we bought a huge bag of healthy food for just $27.

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  3. Sandi Kenworthy Farestrand says:

    Hey there, was hoping we would run into you guys while you were here, even thought about asking you to get together for lunch or ???? but didn’t know how to get ahold of you! Maybe at Christmas? Sorry about your issues with American, haven’t ever flown with them, so thanks for the info. Look forward to traveling along with you on your Great Adventure! Have fun!

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    • Laura says:

      Hey Sandi – we were only in PDX for three days and most of that time was spent down at the mall helping YaYu get fitted out for college. We wished we had had more time to get together with everyone, but Marcie has offered to put together one of her famous get togethers when we’re all there in December. We arrive early in the month and then girls will be trickling in as their terms end.

      I had never flown American before either and will definitely be avoiding them from now on!

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  4. Laurel Hill says:

    Flying can be a real trial nowadays, but it sounds like American has taken it (down) to a new level. Wow. Hope you get to Miami in time.

    Lots of great adventures on the mainland though. Sounds like fun. Hard to let that last one go. But at least you’re off on the Big Adventure. Best of luck and always happy to see your updates!

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    • Laura says:

      We finally arrived in Miami at 2:35 in the morning! By the time we got our luggage (we had literally a 15 minute walk from our gate to baggage claim and then waited another 10 minutes for our bags), and had a taxi take us to our hotel it was after 3:00 a.m. After getting everything ready we finally got to bed at 4:00 only to have to get up at 6:00 to get over to the airport to catch our flight to Buenos Aires! We somehow lucked out and the other two seats in our row were empty so we could stretch out a bit and get some sleep. That flight left on time and arrived early in Buenos Aires! We fell asleep last night in our apartment at 10:00 p.m. local time and didn’t wake up until 1:00 p.m. today – we were exhausted!

      We’ve found our local ATM and been to the nearby grocery store and bakery so far. Lots of lovely people have stopped to help us find our way. I’ve got to finish unpacking my suitcase, and then we’re going out for empanadas for our dinner tonight.

      I’ve figured out I am the only woman in the city with gray hair! Brett said I’m easy to pick out in a crowd.

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  5. Bob Lowry/Satisfying Retirement says:

    Each Airline has its own fans and distracters. I have had miserable experiences with United so I avoid them at all costs.

    Wow, your first week and a half sounds like a full adventure already and you haven’t really started. It will be fun to follow along. BTW, we fly (on American!) to Portland tomorrow for a week’s visit. Here’s keeping our fingers crossed.

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    • Laura says:

      I know what you mean about airlines – lots of people complain about United but I’ve never had a bad experience with them. All of my flights with them have taken off and arrived on time (or a little early) and we’ve received good service. This was my first time flying American though and I was not impressed in the least.

      Buenos Aires is cold right now – 45 degrees and rainy last night when we arrived, and colder today (but no rain). Quite the change for us.

      Have a wonderful time in Portland – I am genuinely sorry our visit and yours did not overlap this time.

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  6. Debbie says:

    What an incredible journey you are embarking on! In some ways I am so jealous! Brian and I had talked about a six-month around the world cruise a few years back, but I balked because of my dogs and now there are grandchildren! I love them all so dearly, I cannot imagine leaving, but it would have been wonderful to do it between the time the kids were grown and the grandchildren arrived. I will use voyeur on your trip as I snuggle my little ones close. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and best, best wishes!

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    • Laura says:

      Hi Debbie! We had originally only planned to visit one place, but had a list and couldn’t decide where to go first. One day Brett said “I wish we could just go see them all.” We looked at each other for a moment and asked “could we do that?” and eventually came up with our itinerary. It’s a good time for us to travel – all the girls are at college, we’ll meet in Portland for the holidays, and then they go back to school and we’ll hit the road again. I’m especially looking forward to our time in Tokyo – we’ll have three months living near our grandkids and are already planning sleepovers and outings.

      Funny thing – yesterday I woke up from a nap on our flight to Argentina and my first thought was, “What in heaven’s name are we doing?” I quickly realized it was too late to turn around (LOL!) and the thought passed quickly and excitement returned.

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  7. Diane C. says:

    Airline travel can be challenging these days! Not sure if you and Brett are aware of potential compensation. In the US, compensation is definitely YMMV. However, delays in Europe of three hours or more fall under EC 261/2004 which guarantees up to 600 euros per passenger.
    The Points Guy did a comprehensive blog post on Aug 11, 2016 called How to Get Compensation When Flights Go Wrong. Although my fingers are crossed that it doesn’t happen again, it helps to know what options are available to you.
    I’ve been reading your blogs since your Losing It Here days and am delighted to follow along with your journeys. Thanks so much for posting!

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    • Laura says:

      All American promised to do was get us to Miami so we could make our flight to Buenos Aires. We were told they would pay for the next flight out if we missed our flight. But, they did get us there (at 2:35 in the morning) and we did catch our flight. Good to know about compensation in Europe.

      After everything that had gone wrong with our flight before getting to Miami, we were super worried that our luggage wouldn’t get there, but it did, although Brett’s bag was broken into (no note from TSA and one of his locks missing). Thankfully nothing appeared to be missing.

      It’s kind of strange/wonderful to think we won’t be back in the U.S. for more than three months!

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  8. Josie says:

    Hi Laura. We live in Perth, Australia as I mentioned on Instagram today. Perth is a very spread out city and we live in the southern suburbs. Not sure if you have booked accommodation – there is always a bed at our home as we are empty nesters. I think we would be back at school for the beginning of the school year late Jan. but we have an oldish truck you could borrow to get around.

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    • Laura says:

      Hi Josie! We are in Perth for six days, staying in Highgate. We tried to pick someplace close to the train station and it looks like we’ll be able to walk to the station from our apartment.

      We have no plans for Perth, although I think we’ll be rather exhausted after our visits to India and Hong Kong. We would love to get together with you if you’d like. I’ll stay in touch and write again before we arrive and hopefully we can set something up. Thanks for the offer of a truck, although our goal for this trip is to use public transportation or walk!

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  9. JJ says:

    Wow, just reading your post is exhausting! You certainly did a lot in a short time. I live not far from Bryn Mawr and the heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing is oppressive. I’ve only left the house a couple of times the past few days. Anyway, glad to hear YaYu is settled and it all went well. I know it’s tough to say good-bye, but it sounds like she’ll do fine. Looking forward to reading about your adventures!

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    • Laura says:

      Our time on the mainland was rather exhausting, more than we realized. It didn’t help that we had that extremely long wait in the Philadelphia airport at the end – that in itself was exhausting. But, we got to Argentina on schedule and things are going well here so far.

      YaYu was the most difficult of all our children to say goodbye to – I guess it’s because she’s the youngest. New places and situations are difficult for her too, so we worry a bit more about her as well. But, once she finds her “tribe” and gets settled into her classes and schedule, we know she will soar.

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      • JJ says:

        I’ve never flown American, but it seems these types of issues are too common nowadays. But at least you’re in Argentina now, relatively unscathed!

        I’m happy to report that it’s in the 70s here now and should stay that way for a few days, but then it’s back to the 90+ temps next week. Is YaYu’s dorm air conditioned? My nephew went back to college yesterday. He went to college in Virginia last year, but didn’t like it and transferred locally, so he’s close by now, which is nice. It seems YaYu has a nice roommate and that helps so much with the transition. Plus, Bryn Mawr is so close to so many things and other colleges, she certainly will never be bored! I liked living in that area and will probably move back there at some point. Maybe when I retire. Is she planning to join some clubs? That’s another great way to meet new kids.

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    • Laura says:

      It feels good to be at our first destination! I sure wish I spoke Spanish though. Thankfully I can read signs and figure most things out here in Buenos Aires (and Google Maps is invaluable), but getting anything understandable out of my mouth other than “Gracias” is not happening.

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  10. DIANA says:

    We have had nothing but bad experiences with American Airlines. We have points that we have been trying to use with absolutely no success. We were delayed 5 times on a trip from California to Ohio. (in all fairness) some were weather related. When we were finally able to depart I was put in economy (I had paid for 1st class, my husband had been injured in a skiing accident so a necessity rather than luxury) I was seated in economy and my ticket was never properly refunded. Their customer service is a disaster. Unfortunately, it is one of the only carriers that flies out of my local airport. We travel frequently and are constantly exploring alternatives. Good Luck with your travels. I am so impressed with the thoroughness of your itinerary. Looking forward to following along on your adventure..

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    • Laura says:

      I was very surprised by the service, but most especially the experience of being nickel-and-dimed the whole way for everything. As I’ve said, other airlines have always waived the lower bag fee and charged only the overweight fee, but American charged all of them. Grrrrr. I was really not impressed with their customer service at Philadelphia at any step, except for one lovely man working the customer counter – when he found out we were going to Argentina he gave us ideas of places to go and see, and was very thorough about explaining our compensation if we missed our flight.

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    • Laura says:

      Hi Joe! Those lobster noodles were amazing – our friend Sylvia chose the lobster fresh from a tank in the front of the restaurant. The dim sum was outstanding too.

      Both Brett and I are missing Kaua’i. When I’ve had trouble sleeping I close my eyes and “drive” to various places around the island, remembering the scenery, stores, etc. It’s very relaxing. At times though it seems that our life there was all a beautiful dream. I know we’ll be back some day.

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  11. Janette says:

    I am shocked that American was such a pain. We haven’t paid for bags for years with them when we show our military ID. Maybe that was just domestic airspace? Maybe it was the people in the Phili airport (never heard anything good about that airport)? As far as late, yup, they are the Queen of late.
    Soooo excited to follow your adventures. I read that the peso is collapsing. Glad you have settled in, but also have tickets out :). Great exchange rate though. Should be amazing! Travel on!

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    • Laura says:

      We were definitely not impressed with the Philadelphia airport. It was dirty – I used the restroom six times during our l-o-n-g stay there and never saw anyone come in to clean. Paper towels ran out, the self-flushing toilets didn’t work, etc. It was not a fun place to spend time (although we did share a good hamburger from one place). Also, when we finally got on the late flight to Miami, there were LOTS of empty seats so the $67 extra dollars American charged us so we could sit together were for nothing. But, that’s all water under the bridge. Our flight down to BA was nice, even in economy. They fed us twice, and we ended up having a whole row (4 seats) to ourselves so we could stretch out to sleep. Immigration was easy too.

      Yes, the Argentine peso collapsed against the US$ day before yesterday. We talked with one woman when we were having a coffee yesterday afternoon and she said it was a huge blow for Argentina and people were very upset/panicked. So, good exchange rate for us but lousy for Argentina. It took us five tries to find an ATM that would give us some cash – just around $50 US though.

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      • JJ says:

        When I went to Europe in July, I bought a TravelEx card at the airport and put money on there in the currencies of the countries I was visiting just in case I couldn’t find an ATM or in case there was some sort of emergency. That worked out well. I also carried cash, but didn’t feel comfortable carrying around large amounts.

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  12. C R Snyder says:

    I’m sorry you had such a poor experience on AA. 😦 It’s my hub airline based on where I live so I fly them a lot and never have issues. In the future, FYI, you have to purchase a “Basic Economy” fare for the restriction to only one carry-on. It has nothing to do with the location of the seat (they aren’t in the back actually. You cannot pick your seat with a Basic Econ fare so you get the leftovers after everyone else.). Unless that was the fare you bought and they made you buy up for your carryon’s, you should have been able to pick any seat that wasn’t “priority.”

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    • Laura says:

      Thanks for the information! All we knew was that the few “free” seats available were in what was always the last seating group (9) and when those seats were announced it was always with the information that no additional baggage was allowed except for what would sit under the seat. In order to sit together the only way to do that was pay extra. The irony of it though was that by the time we actually got on our flight so many people had switched to earlier flights to either Palm Beach or Ft. Lauderdale that there were many, many empty seats on our flight – we had paid extra for basically nothing! Oh well. Our daughter just flew on American from Portland back to NYC and had a terrific experience so I guess we just drew all the wrong straws for our two AA flights. The important thing is that we got where we needed to be in time to make our flight to Argentina – that’s what really mattered.

      BTW, lots and lots of people complain about flying on United but I’ve yet to ever have a bad flight or experience with them. There really seems to be no rhyme or reason to it all.

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