Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maui: The Helicopter Tour

My sweet hubbers, Alan, planned a fun surprise for Kelly while we were in Maui - a helicopter tour of the island!  We were going to surprise Mom, but I wasn't sure that she would embrace the thought of hovering over a dormant volcanic crater in a little helicopter just like she didn't embrace snowmobiling in Utah about 5 Christmases ago.  Apparently, snowmobiles rides are too fume-y and bumpy for her tastes.

I told Kelly that we had scheduled a private tour of a museum in which ancient tribal costumes were on display.  "We will be there for about 2 hours listening to excruciating details about the reign of 'King Kehmehalahgotchee' [not a real name].  Mimi has really been looking forward to this tour!  If you get bored, you can sit on a bench and listen to your iPod!  Then, later this afternoon, we will totally go to the pool and hang out!"  Then, I handed her the driving directions to the heliport.

Entering the parking lot of the heliport, we had to stop at a parking attendant booth.  Kelly was still oblivious.  That's how excited she was about spending a day with King Kehmehalahgotchee [not a real name].  The attendant asked, "Who are you flying with today?"  Caught off guard by the intricate web of deception woven to trick Kelly, I mumbled, "Uh...Blue Hawaiian."  "OK.  It's two doors down on the left."  I rolled my window up as I pulled into the parking lot.  Kelly was laughing, "Did you just totally make that up so that we can park here?!"  It was then that Mimi and I let go of our long kept secret!  "We're going on a helicopter tour of the island!!!"

Upon our arrival at the Blue Hawaiian Helicopter office, we were asked to step on the scales so that they could "confirm" our weights.  This came as a surprise to me me since I filled in all of our weights on the online form when we booked the tour.  I gulped just before I stepped up because it was at that point I realized that they were actually "lie dectector" scales.  I guess the girl checking us in is wise to people like me who tend to, flat out lie, on any form that has a "weight" blank.  She didn't say a word as I mumbled something about all the fresh pineapple I had eaten in the one day that we'd been in Maui.
Next, we were required to watch a "safety" video.  It's the kind of video that you really don't want to watch just before taking off on any sort of flight on a windy day.  There was talk of water landings and how to open the doors in case of emergencies.  The person sitting next to the pilot was instructed NOT to pick up anything that he or she dropped on the floor.  Instead he or she was supposed to gesture to the pilot who would retrieve the dropped object.  I wish that the videos would include reasons for such instructions like "One time this lady dropped her Sassy Coral lip liner between her seat and the pilot's and when she reached down for it, she accidentally pulled the ejector lever which is shaped kind of like a lip liner.  The flight ended abruptly." 

After a short wait, we were herded out to the tarmac where we were taken one at a time to be buckled into our seats on the helicopter.  We shared our tour with a couple from some midwest state.  Our seats in the helicopter were determined by a "computer" according to our weights, Kelly and I won the front 2 seats leaving Mimi in the back seat with our new friends.  For once, my true weight was my friend. 

Slowly the blades began to spin, and soon we were floating above the heliport.  Our pilot introduced himself as we soared over the sugar cane fields in Central Maui.  "Now, I'd like for each of you to introduce yourselves using the mikes provided.  There is one in the front and one in the back," he instructed.  After he saw Kelly and me looking around cluelessly, he reached over and handed us a mike attached to the dashboard.

"My name is Carolyn, and I'm from Lubbock, TX!"  "My name is Kelly, and I'm from Maryland!"  Then, silence.  Followed by crackling and static, "Am I supposed to hold..."  More crackling.  In the rearview mirror, I could see the man sitting next to Mom coaching her on how to hold the button down while she talks.  "Like this?  Can they hear me?  Oh!  Good!  I'm a Baylor Bear fan!"  I quickly filled in the details, "She's from Waco, Texas.  That's where Baylor is."  A "Baylor Bear fan?!"  Interesting.  She hasn't been to a Baylor sporting event in ye--e--e--ars.

After all the introductions, our pilot began to tell us about the sugar cane fields below and about how Oprah spent $16 million on a private drive to her home on the island so that she wouldn't have such a far drive from the airport.  "Feel free to ask questions at any time!" he said.  Oh, no he di-ant.  Please God.  No questions from Mimi.  It was only an hour long flight.

We soared over the volcanic crater weaving back and forth so that everyone would get a good view.  "Left side, take a look!"  The helicopter was slowly turned.  "OK, now the right side!  We can't actually fly over the crater because it's against the law."  He pointed out all of the small cinder cones that had formed within the big crater before we eased away towards the rain forest ahead.  Sure enough, the Meems reached for the microphone.  Crackle, crackle.  "Like this?"  Crackle crackle.  Again, in the rearview mirror, I could see the man showing her how to "push and hold."  "Can they hear me?"  He nodded.  In true Mimi form she asked, "Are we going to fly over the crater?"  The pilot politely responded, "No, Ma'am.  It's against the law."  "Tell me when we fly by it!"  Kelly and I looked at each other and shook our heads.

Rounding the north side of the island, we soared over lush rain forests.  The pilot maneuvered into narrow valleys so that we could drink in the beauty of the waterfalls.  When he was silent, beautiful music filled our ears creating a multi-sensory magic that brought tears to my eyes.  Then, crackle.  Crackle.  Uh oh.  She was at it again.  The man next to Meems was now holding the mike to her mouth so that he could "push and hold" on her behalf.  "I live at Raider Ranch in Lubbock now.  It's like a resort hotel.  I moved there to be close to my daughter."  I watched to see how the pilot reacted to random bits of information blurted out by octogenarians.  If he was polite, I would owe him a big tip.  If he was rude, I would have to kill him while screaming "D0-NOT-DISRESPECT-MY-MAMA!"  He lives on today a richer man.

At least she didn't say any of the following:
  • I need a Kleenex out of my purse.  (Our purses were back at the heliport.)
  • And to think!  I came all the way to Hah-Y-Yuh, and the water's too cold to swim in!
  • We get 2 free breakfasts at our hotel!  I get scrambled eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, fruit, pastries, coffee and pineapple juice.  Then, I'm not hungry for lunch!
  • And to think!  The best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich I've ever had was all the way in Hah-Y-Yuh at our hotel.
  • Most people think that I look really young for my age!  How old do you think I am?
  • When will we fly over the crater?
And to think! In Huh-Y-Yuh they
put fresh orchid in your drinks!
I have learned over the past year of spending a great deal of quality time with my little mother that all bets are off when you round the 80-year-old mark.  Let people stare when she dances the hula at the airport.  Let people roll their eyes when she asks "When did we fly over the crater?"  Let people chuckle when she forgets that her scooter is on the "rabbit" setting and burns off on the sidewalk.  She's an adventurer.  She still likes to learn and see and do.  She's the queen of random tidbits of information.

She's Helen K. Kinzbach!  Go, Meems, go!  

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