Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Vacation: Day One

A rather inauspicious beginning, I’m sad to say. (We’re on the Big Island in Hawai’i. Looking back I’m not sure I ever mentioned where we were going. Anyway: it’s both a vacation, and some research for Grim Tides, the manuscript of which has several sections that say “Fill in details after you go back to Hawai’i.)

The travel itself wasn’t bad at all — we got to the airport late, but arrived at the gate just in time to stroll on board our flight, which was only about half full, so that was fine. The kid was very good on the trip, really quite patient, and all was well… except for his ear.

He’d told us late the night before that his ear hurt, and it still hurt in the morning. We got on the plane — unwilling to cancel our trip over an ear infection — and his ear began oozing a little gunk on the flight. No good. After we landed Heather spent literally hours on the phone to our insurance provider (who, after we expressed dismay at the prospect of being forced to go to a hospital a couple of hours away, said in bewildered tones, “But Hawaii’s not that big, is it?”) and calling various hospitals and clinics to see if we could get a doctor to see River on a Sunday — for less than five hundred bucks at a random emergency room, which turned out to be pretty much the only option. (And as for whether or not we’d ever actually get reimbursed by our own insurance for that? Who knows.)

Eventually we talked to a nurse who said, assuming the kid wasn’t in distress (he wasn’t — he didn’t even complain about it hurting after the flight, and has had no fever, etc.), that we could wait until Monday morning and go to the clinic, which is vastly cheaper. So that’s the current plan. Not the most fun way to spend day two, and the kid won’t be able to put his head in the water, which rather sucks for a tropical swim-based vacation. But at least it’s not any kind of serious illness.

After all that was settled, we tried to enjoy the day a bit… but it was windy. Really windy. Like, palm fronds torn from the trees and flung through the air at thirty miles per hour, outdoor chairs flipped over, paddle boats trying to tear loose from their moorings in the lagoon, pools filled with random crap blown from all over the island, type windy. Really rather windy. And the forecast, as I write this, is for the winds to continue until, oh, around Thursday. There are red flag warnings so we can’t swim at the beach, and our attempt to use the hotel’s little fake beach failed when a few gusts picked up sufficient sand to create what felt like a wind of knives, making my kid literally scream in pain. (Doesn’t Nalo Hopkinson have a story about windstorms of broken glass? Like that.)

The name of the place we’re staying means “Windy City,” which should’ve been a tip-off, though everyone here says this is unusually bad. It is warm and actually gorgeous weather-wise when the wind dies down.

The hotel is very pretty, too. There’s no in-room wifi, but to my surprise, there’s free wifi in some of the common areas, and we can even slurp the wifi from a nearby hotel restaurant if we sit on the balcony. Of course, with the wind blowing so hard, the balcony isn’t very pleasant, and I risk having my laptop torn from my hands every time I go outside… but still! It’s a nice surprise. I doubt I’ll be online much, but I won’t be as entirely disconnected as I’d expected.

This litany of sadness isn’t even touching on the annoyance of all the expenses that aren’t covered in the package deal we bought. (It was a pretty good deal, but once you buy insurance for the rental car, and upgrade to a car that’s actually large enough to fit a kid’s carseat and our luggage, and pay for hotel parking, it kinda eats into one’s mai tai budget. Fortunately, we’d already decided this trip was pretty much a big family Christmas present, so we’ll just be getting small gifts this year. I just hope the rest of the vacation goes better than today has.)

Wish us luck, a sympathetic doctor, cheap antibiotics, and calm winds…

But! Lest I sound too sad: I mean, we’re in Hawai’i. A bad day in Hawai’i is still pretty fantastic. (Mostly I’m just tired from traveling and generally grumpy. I think it’ll pass.) So good things: The artwork at the hotel is amazing, and there’s a lot of it. We spent lunch sitting outside eating and looking at dolphins, including a very boisterous baby dolphin. The vast resort where we’re staying has boats that run in canals, and a train line, to get to various areas of said vast resort — the kid loves, loves, loves riding on the boats, and doesn’t think the trains are too shabby, either. (And honestly, the boats are quite fun.) The pools here are lovely, and the staff has been amazingly friendly and helpful.

I’m feeling more hopeful now than I was when I started writing this account a couple of hours ago. We have a week ahead of us. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

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