Now that I’ve had some time to mentally process maybe the most epic trip I’ve ever taken, some things stand out. First, It was a long and unusual combination of circumstances that led me to go to Hawaii at all. After getting fully vaccinated in mid-April, I was overjoyed and positively salivating to go somewhere… but where? April was a weird time for COVID in the U.S.; vaccinations were progressing at a tremendous rate but cases were still fairly high and on a plateau, not declining. Europe at that point was still in much worse shape than us, and to be honest, I was pretty doubtful that Americans would be allowed to visit Spain this summer (I’m very happy to report that Spain has allowed us in, and I’m going for more than three weeks at the end of June!). Plus, the science wasn’t as clear at that point about how effectively the vaccines protect against all infection (not just illness), so even though I was fully vaccinated, I wasn’t eager to go someplace that looked like it might be or develop into a hotspot.
Those circumstances, plus just my urgent pent-up desire to travel anywhere after the pandemic, made me be open to places that I wouldn’t normally be, or at least be willing to go someplace unexpected kind of on the spur of the moment. Iceland was attractive as someplace with quite low COVID, plus it was one of the only places in Europe allowing vaccinated Americans to enter without quarantining, and for a time I looked seriously at going there. But then airline ticket prices jumped way up, and it started to look like maybe I would be able to go to Spain after all, and I wasn’t going to fly to both Iceland and Spain in the same summer.
Hmm… what about Hawaii? It’s always had the lowest infection rate in the entire country. I could get there pretty cheaply with frequent flier miles (if you don’t have a credit card tied to the frequent-flier program of your favored airline, you’re missing out). It’s faraway and completely different from anywhere I’ve been. It’s beautiful. I was guaranteed to be allowed to go (although I did have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there, which I won’t bore you with). I’m not necessarily naturally drawn to tropical locations, but like I said, after 14 months of not being able to travel, I was desperate to go somewhere, and I didn’t really care where! Besides, I already had a trip plan sketched out and ready to go (though I didn’t imagine I’d use it for years), and I’ve long had a goal of traveling to all fifty states (Hawaii turned out to be number 43!). So… why not? Early one morning at the end of April I booked my flights and hotels all at once. In less than four weeks, I would be in the Aloha State!
So, on May 25, with my vaccination card and negative test uploaded to my TravelPass app, I headed to the airport for an awesome adventure on the Big Island of Hawaii!
Why the Big Island? Well, a friend of mine who has spent a lot of time on the islands told me, “If you want to see the real Hawaii, go to the Big Island.” So that was where I went! I don’t know whether what I saw was any more “real” than what I would have found on other islands or not, but I encountered mind-blowing flora and fauna totally different from anything I had ever seen before, lots of delicious and very new food, an incredible variety of landscapes and microclimates, jaw-dropping scenery, a culture that was a fascinating mix of strange and familiar, very friendly people, and a “tropical climate” that was quite different than I expected.
Join me over the next few weeks as I share my Hawaii adventures and pictures day-by-day! See you soon!