We rented a Jeep during our visit to Kauai, and it was a Humongous Deal in our family.

We’re talking Humongous Deal as in the kids discussed “our Jeep” in the weeks leading up to the trip relentlessly.  No matter how hard I’d try to temper their expectations – yes, kiddos, they SAY we’ve confirmed a Jeep, but that doesn’t always mean there’ll be one in the lot – they kept right on bouncing off the walls.

This was their car.  This was their groove.  They were ready to get their Jeep on and rock it out.

All I can say is thank God and all the stars above that the rental car company did indeed have a Jeep available for us.  After the trauma of the 17 hour travel day, next to no food in our bellies, and another 4 hours to go before the welcome dinner, I don’t think the kids would have rolled too well with a Jeep letdown.  And while I fully acknowledge that this was most certainly a first world problem, let’s just say I was in no state to de-escalate a DEFCON 1 meltdown over a car.

BrightSide had gone to the car rental center to pick up the car while the kids and I waited for our luggage.  Since I was in a ridiculous amount of pain from my back – like, “cry silent tears in my airplane seat” sort of pain – T-man was in charge of lifting the suitcase off the carousel.  (I really should get something done about my back, except the only thing I know to do is have back surgery, and THAT option is severely unappealing at the moment.)  So after T-man collected our luggage I rallied and we headed outside.

An interesting note about the Kauai airport: like airports everywhere, they have a disembodied voice making typical announcements on a loop over the intercom.  Except these announcements were made by the velvety smooth voice of a beautiful woman, one who sounded ready to luau ’til the cows came home, and it was creating a weird dissonance with the messages being broadcast.

While waiting for BrightSide we’d hear announcements like, “Attention.  Due to heightened security, please be aware of your surroundings.  Maintain control of your possessions at all times, and do not accept bags from others.  Mahalo.”  Or, “Attention.  The area in front of the terminal is for loading and unloading only.  Do not leave your vehicle unattended or it will be towed. Mahalo.”  There was something about her gentle, soothing tone combined with the peaceful “Mahalo” at the end that made it seem like absolutely anything would come off as pleasant.  (“Attention.  Beginning immediately, all passengers will be detained for an invasive search and seizure.  Mahalo.”)

At any rate, we stood in the oppressive mugginess with bags (maintained under our control) and waited for BrightSide to pick us up.  Bear passed the time with an absolutely enchanting game of “Maybe THAT’S dad!” as we watched the cars go by.  No amount of explanation that he’d be driving slowly in the lane closest to the sidewalk could deter her from repeated exclamations:  “Maybe that’s him!  No, there are two people in that Jeep.  Maybe THAT one?!  No, that’s a lady.  Hey, maybe it’s that one…no, he’s too short.”

After what seemed like an eternity of hot, sweaty, exhausted, woozy, hungry waiting, we finally saw BrightSide pulling up to the sidewalk.  In a Jeep.  A white, rugged, “drive me off-road to hike some crazy trail” kind of vehicle.  It was as if the heavens had opened, sending sunbeams to shine on the Jeep’s glorious form as a choir of angels sang…the look on Bear’s face as she realized she was getting her dream Jeep for the week was priceless.

It was a long, hard day of travel but the kids’ gleeful bliss about a rental car, for heaven’s sake, somehow made the hours melt away.