For 2015, there were two places we wanted to go, Palau and French Polynesia, but their dry seasons don't overlap, and it's not remotely convenient to travel between them (the connections went back through either Honolulu or Los Angeles), so we decided to do two separate trips, one in January and one in August. Palau, unlike most of the places we've traveled in the past, is actually reachable on U.S. airlines, so we booked our travel using points, and since Palau isn't a huge hotspot and we were booking from Carlsbad (as opposed to LAX), the amount of points was actually quite low (70,000 points per person).

The flipside, however, was multiple stops. The night before we took the short flight from Carlsbad to LAX, and booked one night at the Sheraton Gateway near the hotel (also using points). The Sheraton is supposedly a "5 star" hotel, but we beg to differ. But it was clean and inexpensive, and we got a good enough night of sleep. At the airport this morning, it was a little odd to not be flying out of the International Terminal, just the third time we could remember. It was also odd because we travel through the LAX United terminal all the time, but always connecting (to/from Carlsbad), and we couldn't remember having to go through security before.

Anyway, our first stop today (and second of the journey) was Honolulu. Unlike the flights we take to Hilo, this one had more fanfare (flight attendants wearing leis, for example), and the plane was much larger, with a 2-5-2 format (as opposed to the 3-3 on the flights to Hilo). The flight was quite boring, all the moreso because the seats had no movie screens, either in the seatbacks or in the ceiling. For a 5+ hour flight, that seemed very odd to us. But we had music, podcasts, magazines, Kindles, so we "survived."

After 5 hours, we saw home on the left, with the whole Big Island fairly cloud free. We could see snow atop both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea from the storms around Christmas. Sadly, it has not rained or snowed since then, and as of today (the 17th) we haven't had a drop of rain all year. Hopefully all of the plants are doing okay in Pahoa. When we landed in Honolulu, we checked where our next gate was, and we were a bit confused, since the gate we were arriving at was the one we were theoretically departing on, and it took a second to realize we would just be getting back on the same plane. We had a 2 hour layover, so we went over to Kona Brewing Company, got gouged on food and drink prices (not the first time, and it won't be the last), and then walked back to where we came from.

When we got back on the plane, we had a sad realization - we weren't going to have any entertainment for the next flight either, so 8 more hours of staring at the seatback in front of us, and 8 more hours of no meals, since we were on a domestic rather than international flight. We read some more, listened some more, and got some sleep. Somewhere in the process, we passed over the International Date Line, and our Saturday was done.