The furthest away from home I’ve ever been was when I traveled to Waikiki with the football team for our season closer against the University of Hawaii in 2016. I’d never been on a flight for more than three hours, so I was nervous at the prospect of a 4 1/2 flight to Utah and then another 6 hour flight to Hawaii. Who wouldn’t be if they’re phobic of turbulence and averse to using a bathroom at 30,000 feet? There wasn’t much I could do about that if I wanted to go, so I sucked it up and have absolutely no regrets that I did so. We chartered a flight on Allegiant (a/k/a Cheap Bastard Air) out of Barnes Air National Guard base in Westfield, and of course since it’s UMass Football, we took the Tina Turner approach to travel: “we don’t do nice and easy!” -there was a bomb threat that put us almost three hours behind schedule; add to that a two hour time change in Utah and I had no idea which end was up by the time we got to Provo. While we were there, I met the lovely Kara, one of my favorite cross stitch YouTubers and we went to Ogden to do some stitch shopping at Shepherd’s Bush. The day of the BYU game, I got a private tour of the facilities by a couple of alums who played basketball in the 60’s – just the nicest group of people ever. We got our butts kicked in the game and on Sunday morning, we left for Waikiki. I was too excited to be terribly nervous about the flight and the view from 30,000 feet as we flew over the southwest was amazing and before I knew it we were over the Pacific. As we landed, we flew in over Pearl Harbor, and even at that distance, it was a sobering sight. The time change really messed me up, but there was a party at a tiki bar across from the hotel that the athletic director had planned, so after a quick change of clothes, I was there. The view was beautiful and I tried some wild foods including calamari that came from the belly of the squid instead of the tentacles (quite mild and not chewy), taro bread (taro is a root vegetable and it’s like our potato bread, only purple with a slightly vanilla taste) and Hawaiian barbeque. I got lei’d and took a lot of pictures, but I hit the wall around 7:00 (1 a.m. back home). The next morning, I was up at 5:00 a.m. (11:00 back home) and went for a walk on the beach. By Tuesday, I had acclimated to the time change and was surprised by how quickly I got used to it. I bought my first Swatch in 30 years, experienced the most heartbreaking moment in our history (pre 9/11) at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, helped my husband film practice at Aloha Stadium, got a massage, tried a lychee nut (ewwww!), had dinner with one of Bill’s colleagues, learned that the closest approximation of my name in Polyneisan is Kini and that “meli kalikimaka” isn’t actually a real Hawaiian phrase, walked around everywhere in my bare feet, and cheered like mad for my team, even when the refs blew a pass interference call that cost us the game. We left around midnight and arrived in Las Vegas around 6:00 a.m. and after an hour layover (where I stood the whole time and many of the coaches departed for recruiting trips), we headed back to Westfield. I’d never been so glad to be off a plane in my life, but it was an amazing adventure and the best trip I’ve ever taken.