I remember the limo pulling up in front of the house in the dark. Everyone was up - a homemade coffee drink put to work to ease the stinging fatigue behind my eyes. The limo driver, a kind, older, grey, receding hairline of a man, loaded our bags into the trunk. Everyone piled into the hot car - he had the heat on fuller than full blast. I'll never forget driving through our little neighborhood, looking out onto the dark streets from inside that vehicle, the kids chattering excitedly about the possibility of friends seeing them (at 4AM). Bliss.
(See Sara's face?)
We drove the entire way to the airport trying different buttons for the radio and the lights - we jammed out to Joy FM on the radio. And drank ice water in champagne glasses. Darkness covered us the whole way as I tried at times to look out the window and acclimate myself to where we were on the highway. We pulled in and before we knew it, found our way onto the kids' first airplane ride. Almost as soon as we sat down, we were asked to move - to First Class. We rode in luxurious style for an hour up to Chicago. We even got a brief look into the cockpit before disembarking (some benefits of being "The Make A Wish family."
Our lay over was a couple of hours, long enough to grab some carbs for breakfast, plug Pookie's nebulizer into an airport outlet, play video games, and watch planes come and go.
Finally, finally, finally. We boarded the plane to Honolulu. Nine hours. Oh man the kids were great. We left Chicago mid-morning and arrived in Hawaii around dinnertime. Exhausted.
Upon arriving in Hawaii, we found Julius - who Lei'd us. We met Barbara Hannum, a random University of Hawaii associate who actually coordinates fundraising for Make A Wish with her student athletes. We took a family photo upon her request and later sent it to her and struck up quite an email friendship for a period of time after our trip.
We landed outside our hotel on the strip in the cover of darkness, and just in time to run in to a relatively creepy street performer. He knew what he was doing - swarmed us from the moment we stepped foot out the door. We snapped some photos of his "best friends" - his various feathered creatures (for some ca$h), then meandered down the street to find dinner.
By this time, it was pretty late, but the streets were lit up and packed with all kinds of people, the air temperature perfectly gorgeous, the beach and the Pacific Ocean a stone's throw away, and our family - though literally wiped out - ready for our adventure to come!