Our Aloha Move

October 1st, 2014

by Lauren Verboncouer

A Day’s Journey

Temporary homeless/eve of our move

On the last day in town, Andrew and I did some final packing up and cleaning out of our duplex. Keona was such a trooper for all the hustle and bustle that was going on leading up to this last day.  I think being so consumed with the packing, making trips over to our storage unit and overall cleaning of the duplex made it a bit easier for us to say goodbye to our first place together as husband and wife. We will forever cherish both the memories shared and the dreams created under that roof in De Pere, WI. Our adventure really began to feel real the moment we left our keys behind and we were officially without a home for the next 24 hours.

Our last night in Wisconsin was a peaceful one. We were able to visit with my Dad one last time when we returned the trailer we borrowed to haul all of our belongings into storage.  Andrew and I then headed over to his Grandma’s house for a relaxing evening with a delicious dinner prepared by Dorothy and homemade Wisconsin Old Fashioneds with Gregg, Stephanie, and Eric. After heading to Stephanie and Eric’s house where we spent the night before our big day, we were surprised with a special visit from our best friend Kris Eul. We previously had one last get together with some family and friends at Fox Harbor but Kris was unable to attend since he lives in Milwaukee. It was so great to see him one last time before our move and he was so helpful with us finalizing our suitcases and packing the Rover. My mom also came over to Stephanie and Eric’s house that evening after dinner. Having her there not only that night, but throughout this whole moving process really meant a lot to me. There is just something about having your mom there during the big moments in life to make you feel at peace. After all of our emotional goodbyes, I just remember thinking how lucky Andrew and I are to have such amazing friends and family.

2am wake up


All Packed & Ready To Leave Early!

Andrew and I laid down for the last time in the spare bedroom at Steph and Eric’s. We have been very blessed to have so many sleepovers together with them over the years. From the cozy college dorms days, to damp cold basements to Eric and Stephanie’s first home together, the four of us having sleepovers were always a special treat.  It seemed quite fitting to spend our last night in Wisconsin at a sleepover with them.

The morning of our move came by very quickly. With just a few hours of sleep, our alarms rang at 2 am. It was officially the day of our aloha move! I remember  peaking in to make sure Stephanie had time to wake up before we were set to pick up Andrew’s dad for our drive down to Chicago. Saying goodbye to Stephanie and Eric was not easy, as we had expected.  After a final group prayer together, Andrew, Keona and I hopped into the Rover. We stopped at the closest Shell gas station nearby to get gas and check our coolant level. (We made sure the LandRover would be set for our journey down to Chicago in the weeks prior with an oil change. Our mechanic had noticed a very small leak but nothing of great concern. Or so we had thought..but more on that in a bit.)

Chicago Airport

Andrew’s dad was kind enough to drive myself, Andrew, Keona, a pet carrier, and 4 suitcases down to Chicago for our direct flight to Honolulu. Surprisingly, all of our luggage and large pet carrier fit in the Rover. Keona and I had just enough space in the back to sit comfortably for our drive down. I of course gave her the more spacious seat next to the window :) She mostly slept during our trip down to Chicago. The roads were quiet that early in the morning and there was a sense of excitement in the air.

Once arriving in Chicago, our first task was to make sure we got Keona to her special United PetSafe building which was a completely separate location on the airport grounds. I had done extensive research on flying with her. Luckily, I had friends who had flown with pets, specifically with United, and I was also working with several Veterinarians who had first hand knowledge of pets traveling by aircraft. After doing some behavior modification and desensitization exercises with Keona over the past several months, I was confident that she was prepared for her own adventure of flying for the first time. We arrived at the United PetSafe building and Keona was probably more calm than I was. The staff at the desk were so kind and made a special effort to acknowledge Keona and her comfort throughout the entire check in process.

We had made it to Chicago, Keona was all set for her flight and now all we had to do was make it 1 mile to the departures drop off  spotfor Andrew and I. It sure seemed easy enough. Well that whole quick note about checking the coolant in Green Bay earlier that morning when we were still groggy from lack of sleep and loads of excitement turned out to hit us in our last stretch to the airport. Apparently, even if you have enough coolant in your tank, if you don’t screw the cap on enough, then there is no seal to suck the coolant down into the engine. With less than 1 mile left to the airport drop off point, the LandRover started sounding like a diesel truck with metal on metal clanking around under the hood. Then came the smoke and all of the check engine lights flashing on. Gregg pulled off the busy airport highway so we could take a look to see what was going on. It sure felt like we had angels with us that day because after some prayers and waiting around to see if we could have the engine cool down a bit, we made it to the departures drop off. We came in smoking and loud metal clanking so we drew a couple heads but we made it. As soon as we started unloading the Rover, Gregg checked the tank again and the lid along with whatever coolant was in there went flying off about 5 feet in the air. At that point all I could do was laugh and feel beyond thankful that we somehow made it 3 hours to Chicago safely in a suv without coolant being sucked into the engine. God bless Gregg for taking the time to drive us down to Chicago and remain calm throughout this vehicular mishap.

We dropped off Keona for her to board our plane once it was ready for take off, we made it to the departures desk to check in and we thought we are in the clear to catch our flight to Hawaii. Well not quite. All 4 of our bags were over in weight. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars in fees for each bag being a couple pounds over, we were given the option of taking however much we were over weight in each bag and combining that into 1 heavy duty plastic bag provided by the airline. Without many other options as our car was currently smoking and our dog was already checked in and set to fly to Hawaii, we weren’t about to miss our flight because of the weight of our bags. We started pulling out the heaviest things we could find in each of our 4 suitcases and threw them into the double bagged sturdy plastic that the United attendant provided us with. After several minutes of reweighing bags and finally checking into our flight, we were set to go. We said our final goodbye to Gregg and headed to our gate. The theatrical events of that morning seemed to work out as perfectly as possible because by the time we made it through security and each grabbed a bagel from a shop near our gate, it was time to board our flight to Hawaii!

HNL Airport/Divide and Conquer

As previously mentioned, a lot of thought and planning went into our move to Hawaii. Specifically, a lot of planning went into moving Keona to Hawaii due to the state’s strict quarantine regulations. One example of this would be the flights that we were able to select on the day of our travel. One of the several guidelines in order to qualify for direct airport release upon landing in Hawaii is that you pick up your pet from the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility at the Honolulu International Airport during normal inspection hours which are between 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It may take up to one hour for the airlines to transport a pet to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility so we had to make sure that our flight arrival time would fit these requirements. By the time we had landed in Hawaii, we decided we didn’t want to risk not making it to the quarantine facility. Andrew headed for Enterprise to pick up the van we rented, and I did my best to speed walk and not full out run over to the Quarantine Facility. I walked in trying to look calm and collected but the change in warm balmy temperature and anxiousness to see Keona probably gave me away. I signed the paperwork for Keona’s release and waited for Andrew to arrive with the rental van. When the animal quarantine attendant brought Keona out in her carrier any anxiety I felt immediately vanished. She was calm in her carrier with no signs of discomfort. We loaded her into our van, (pets are not allowed outside of carriers until you are off airport property) cranked the air conditioning and headed back over to the arrivals area to obtain our luggage. Keona and I patiently waited in the van as Andrew invested in one of those carts to haul all of our luggage. Our last trip of the day was just to drive another 20 minutes or so to our new home in Hawaii!

That moment!

We typed our new address into our GPS and hit the road. As soon as we made it off airport property we pulled over at the first park we saw to let Keona walk around for a bit and stretch our legs. Holding Keona on a leash while standing under the shade of the huge Hawaiian trees in that park was a proud moment for me. I remember feeling so grateful. I had made it back to Hawaii, this time with my husband Andrew and our beloved dog Keona. God is good!

Hawaii Residents

Driving up to our temporary home in Aina Haina was special. The house was nestled up in one of the ridges on a quiet cul-de-sac. I remember looking at the steep roads leading to our place and thinking that this would be a hard hike without a car during our time here. We had only planned to rent our van for the weekend and then walk everywhere we needed or take the bus. We pulled up to the house and were immediately welcomed by my friend’s golden retriever, Boisey. I let him and Keona get acquainted and we began to haul our suitcases up into our new place (there were lots of stairs leading up to the house). Later that night, Barbara, my friend’s mom who we would be renting from and living with, came home from traveling herself from the Big Island. If it weren’t for the kindness and warm welcome that we received from Barbara, our move out here wouldn’t have gone as smoothly as it has. We were very lucky to rent from Barbara for the month of October in order to allow us the opportunity to look at potential places in person instead of just online all the way back in Wisconsin. After meeting our new housemates, we were pretty tired after our long journey. Andrew, Keona and I were in bed by 8pm that night and fell asleep together as official residents of Hawaii.

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