Day Ten: Good-Bye Maui, Hello AT&T, Shopping and Manta Rays

Since experiencing our previous early-morning-flight fiasco, we adjusted our schedule and had a successful morning departing from our condo in Maui. In fact we were 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and everyone was smiling and making fun of me in record time.

We went to fill up with gas and found this guy on the hood of our Jeep. I think he wanted to come back to Minnesota with us! Not. Who would want to do that? Seriously.
Annelies is eating pudding through a straw (and avoiding the camera). See? A well thought out plan can always lead to a happy morning of trying to eat a viscous liquid through a 1 mm straw.
We boarded a puddle-jumper to Hilo (Hawai'i, or the Big Island). It was another quick flight. 
We stopped at the Hilo Farmer's Market. The girls picked up a couple souvenirs. 
I couldn't resist posting this sign. I just want to call Jim myself ...
Following a few days of Paradis' phone battery not holding a charge, we stopped at a Mac store to diagnose the problem. It was quickly determined her battery would need replacing. So we stopped at the AT&T store and bought a new phone. You would think taking your kid to Hawaii for two weeks would make a kid happy, but buying them a functioning phone (to communicate with the boy at home) seems to bring just as much joy. If this applies, you may want to add this to your Hawaii Tips.
The Farmer's Market, and brief stop for the phone took more of our day than I had planned so we drove to Kona along the northeast coast without any stops. The drive was beautiful. The land was very green and plush. We walked around the boardwalk in Kona and did some more shopping. I bought a couple banana leaf baskets from a guy weaving them on the street. I'm confident he was high on something, but very talented and lovely none-the-less.

We ate at Bubba Gumps. You can find a Bubba Gumps resteraunt at any touristy beachside town. When rounding out a nearly two-week trip away from home, sometimes the comfort of a familiar meal (and drink) is simply what you seek.

We drove to the Sheraton, where we spent some time looking for manta rays in the ocean. The hotel shines a bright light in the water, which attracts plankton, which in turn attracts the manta rays. I'm sad to say we didn't see any manta rays before leaving but it was fun hanging out with one another (well, until Annelies starting itching from the tiny raindrops and acting as if her skin was going to fall off if we didn't get her to the hotel for a shower).
We had a great day in Hilo and Kona. Tomorrow will be our last full day in Hawaii and we head back to Minnesota. One of my most important goals of any trip is to end with everyone in a good mood. You can create some awesome memories over two weeks, but the attitutudes of the last couple days is what seems to stick most in one's mind. My traveling companions may call me the Nazi-Vacation-Planner, but I work hard at adjusting our schedule as needed, based on everyone's attitudes. And trust me, adjusting to the diversely different personalities of my traveling team is no easy task at times. But I wouldn't chose any other diversely different personalities that I would rather be with on this journey. 

Day Ten: Gas $0 ($39.55 total); Lodging FREE (points) ($3,304.86 total); Souvenirs $145 ($331.70 total); Tourist Traps $0 ($765.60 total); Fights 0 (1 total). || Airfare for entire trip: $8,470.08 (of which $7,228.08 was free, using miles). Car Rental for entire trip: $469.76. Note: I'm not tracking driving miles, Redbox rentals or states (2 total) on this trip.

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