Thursday, February 19, 2009

Post-Hawaii Ak-Chin

We are back on the mainland and staying tonight at the Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino (map) in Maricopa, where we've stayed before.

We had a great time in Hawaii. The resort is just as we remembered it, and, this time, we were well-prepared for the nickle-and-dime treatment, wherein they charge for every little thing. At least they gave up on charging for the in-room coffee, which, last visit, prompted us to buy a package of pre-loaded filter packets. Good thing, too, since the new coffee makers are the cup-at-a-time type, and I don't think we'd find the right packets on-island.

This time, though, we managed to buy only a single meal on-property, and that was by calculated choice. Now that our Hilton HHonors status is Gold (vs. Silver on our last visit), they threw in daily coupons for breakfast. It did take us a couple days to figure out that we could get eggs and sausage by going to the cafeteria-style joint at the other end of the property, rather than settling for cold items at the continental buffet (upgrading the buffet to include hot items was a whopping $20 pp).

The wedding, which was the underlying cause of the whole trip, was quite beautiful. A small, casual service at sunset on one of the nicest beaches, with public access through the Four Seasons Resort, one of the island's well-kept secrets. We were the only non-family guests, and we felt privileged to be there.

The happy couple also invited us to many of their other activities throughout the week, including a family visit to a Luau Friday night, the reception dinner Saturday at a sushi restaurant near the hotel, and dinner Monday and Tuesday after the rest of their folks left. So we had a great visit with them, in addition to the lovely wedding.

We also managed to do two things we missed on our last couple of visits to the big island: We drove the saddle road from the Kona side to Hilo (the road was off-limits for most rental cars on our first visit), including a jaunt up to the Mauna Kea visitor center at 9,200' (we skipped the last 5,000' to the observatories, since that involved a dirt road that was forbidden in the rental car). We also drove down to South Point, the southernmost spot in the US, along with the newlyweds, stopping for lunch at the southernmost restaurant as well.

The low point of the trip was the flight back, mostly because it was a red-eye. At least we had an empty seat between us, and could sleep most of the way. While we were at our departure gate at the Kona airport, one of our Red Cross acquaintances wandered by -- he often heads the safety and security department when we work with him, and, in his off time, he is an airport police officer in Kona. It was nice to catch up with him.

Our return flight landed in Phoenix yesterday around 9am, and our friends here picked us up, which was really above and beyond the call. Somewhere on the return flight or just before it, I managed to come down with a head cold, and so yesterday was lost to a fog of jet-lag and illness. We did not want to overstay our welcome in our friends' driveway, so we scraped ourselves together enough around mid-day today to get packed, loaded, and rolling, landing here just 30 miles or so from where we spent last night.

We did manage to squeeze in dinner last night, still in a fog, at the restaurant we co-own in downtown Phoenix. The food is as good as ever, and there was a bit of traffic in the bar, but only two tables of dinner guests the whole time we were there. We are hoping the traffic will increase now that the light rail is running -- we are just across the street from the main station. All you folks in Phoenix, please go visit Sonoma Casual Dining, on Van Buren at First.

Tonight we'll eat here in the casino -- I'm still feeling too crummy to cook. Tomorrow we will head west to Yuma, where we will visit with friends for an evening before heading on towards San Diego and TrawlerFest, where we are still working on a place to park.

1 comment:

  1. I just asked a fellow member of the Bayliner's Owner's Club (who lives in San Diego) if he had any ideas where you might park. He suggested checking with boat yards in the area. He figures those might be your best bet.


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