Prologue Part 1: Taking a Ride

On the afternoon we left Kauai, I dropped my family off at a local museum and went for my first helicopter ride. It was Saturday, February 22, 2020, and a month later, my kids’ schools would be shut, my wife would be working remotely, and I would be scrambling to shop before Massachusetts entered lockdown.

But that afternoon, my only concern was whether clouds would spoil the view. Kauai’s weather can be fickle, and the helicopter company had already urged me to shift my slot earlier just in case. As it turned out, the clouds held off just long enough, and the ride became beautiful beyond belief.

The Na Pali coast from above

As the following photo shows, even after we landed, I was still floating. It is probably my last fully positive memory from the before times.

That T-shirt entitles me to free lemonade for life. No, really.

We had a three-part flight home — first over to Honolulu, then a red eye to LA, and then a couple hours wait before our connection to Boston. My older daughter tells me there were already signs warning travelers from China to be on alert for fevers or other symptoms, but I don’t really remember that. What I do recall were the crowded waiting rooms to board the flight, and the fact that at LAX I caught a few minutes sleep underneath one of those device charging tables. My wife and I were then summoned to the gate and offered $1200 in travel vouchers if we would switch seats so another family with younger kids could sit together. We happily accepted, and our daughters spent the flight entranced by their devices while Debbie and I sat in separate middle seats a few rows away, next to strangers.

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if the virus was also on our flight.

Ah, Kauai, the only place I know where you can literally stand on a sunset. If I’d known what was in store, would I have torn up our return tickets and just stayed on the island that ended up having one of the country’s lowest rates of COVID?

4 thoughts on “Prologue Part 1: Taking a Ride

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