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Penny Zeplowitz: Adventures abound when we hit the road

Recently, a major domestic airline announced a new restrictive policy on carry-on bags. Although traveling is more difficult today, I still love doing it. Seeing new sights and experiencing different cultures, both here and in other countries, is always an exciting adventure.

On our honeymoon, my husband and I drove out West to see the spectacular mountains and lush valleys in Wyoming. On the way we stopped at Yellowstone National Park, only to discover that all motels were filled in the nearby town. Unfazed, we decided to sleep in our car in the park. The next morning we were awakened by a large brown bear peering at us through the car window. As he began pawing the side of the car, the novelty of seeing a bear close up vanished and our departure from the park was speedy.

Our most “eventful” vacation, though, was our trip to Hawaii in 2011. That trip involved a pre-dawn cancellation of our flight and a frantic drive to Toronto to board a replacement Canadian flight.

When we finally arrived at our B&B in Maui the first day of our vacation, we had no idea what was in store for us that evening. We spent a lovely afternoon lying on a sunny beach, exploring the interesting shops in the little town of Lahaina and watching a beautiful sunset over the ocean. But a severe attack of food poisoning resulted in a middle-of-the-night ride in an ambulance to the Maui Medical Center.

After we recovered from the food poisoning, our two-week vacation vastly improved, with a series of lazy, sunny days and moonlit walks along the beach.

On the morning we were scheduled to leave Maui, we received an unexpected wake-up call from our inn keeper. He said a tsunami was forecast. They were evacuating the inn, and all roads, gas stations and restaurants would be shut down. We immediately gassed up our rental car, drove to the airport and then spent a nerve-wracking seven hours with about 30 other travelers in a tiny bar across from the shuttered airport waiting to see if the tsunami would strike Maui. When it didn’t, we thankfully boarded a plane to Honolulu for our last night in Hawaii.

Our final adventure occurred when we got to our hotel on Waikiki Beach. As we stood at the front desk, long lines of impatient, angry people were also trying to get a room. Because the hotel was short-staffed, few clean rooms were available. We didn’t care. We were just happy to be there.

When we got to the front of the line, we kiddingly said to the hassled receptionist, “A piece of the rug will do anywhere.” She smiled and a few minutes later handed us a key. Upstairs, as my husband started to move our suitcases into the hotel room, I walked in ahead of him, stopped dead and said, “You won’t believe this.”

Misunderstanding my comment, he said consolingly, “Remember, it’s only for one night.” Then he, too, stood speechless.

Instead of the basic room we had reserved was a lavish corner suite complete with a living room, kitchen, two bathrooms and, most amazingly, two balconies overlooking the famed Waikiki Beach. Although the room rate was listed at $5,000 a night, we were still paying for our basic room. So, incredibly, that’s how we spent our last night in Hawaii. Wonder if George Clooney ever slept there.