We felt a mix of exhaustion, anticipation and sadness when our cab picked us up at 5 am this morning to take us to the airport, and we said goodbye to our house for the last time.

Our driver was so sweet and patient with us. We were running a few minutes behind, because it seems there is always something to pack at the last minute.

Chatting with him,  we found out he had been stationed near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the 1970s and still spoke some German. He left Germany shortly before the 1972 Munich Olympics, but is planning to return this year with his wife for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Our itinerary stops for the next 13 weeks in one screenshot.

Our driver obviously knew his way around town, as he automatically took the river road to get to the airport, and we got to see our beloved walking and biking routes one last time. The trip was off to a good start.

At the airport, the usual insanity set in. We had overpacked our rolling duffle by 9 pounds, so we had to shuffle some stuff between our bags before they would allow them. We also had the “option” of paying a $100 overage charge, as the attendant cheerfully told us. I realize they have to deal with stupid folk like us all the time, but that was a bit much.

This morning, the TSA had a K9 unit on location that sniffed every passenger as we walked by. It reminded me of the scene in the movie “Ratatouille,” when the rat Remi has to sniff all the scavenged food for poison. The dog was very businesslike but looked a little bored. Hope they pay her well.

The flights were uneventful, with the exception of a bumpy hour on the way from Phoenix to Kona. I counted 7 golf courses along our flight path as we approached the Phoenix airport. The way people think about water usage in the desert — or don’t — was astonishing.

On the flight to Kona, my latent cold finally came in with a roar, so much so that my ears didn’t adjust well and I missed a lot of the conversation between Beth and her seat neighbor, a retiree from Wisconsin who, with her husband, comes to Hawaii for 2 months every January/February and was planning to close on a house  on this trip.

Driving with no hearing in my right ear was tricky. I had to ask Beth to shout directions so I knew where to turn to get to our B&B for the night, the Hale Hualalei on a little farm in the hills above Kona. We had a nice room with a deck that overlooked town, with the ocean as the backdrop. While we gorged on Korean barbecue pork jerky on the deck (being too tired to drive anywhere for a nice meal), we saw a beautiful sunset over the ocean. Then we caught up on emails.

Beth updated the world clock on her iPhone to match mine, which shows the current time in Minneapolis, Honolulu, Auckland, Melbourne, Bangkok and Munich and took a screen shot to post on Facebook. Then she burst into tears. I had teared up leaving the house for the last time, but the magnitude of our trip had finally hit her.

Our other emails mostly related to our vacation-rental license application for our little house in Duluth. For the last few days, there had been a heated discussion on the online neighborhood bulletin board NextDoor about our request.

The city made us post a giant (20″ x 30″) zoning notice signs on our house, and a neighbor from 10 blocks away saw it. He posted a heated message about “investors (from the Twin Cities) buying a residential home and requesting a zoning change” so we could “put a motel next to your home.”

That caused a stir that bordered on the hysterical — some neighbors were afraid our guests would start meth labs — and we were still trying to calm the waters from our room in Kona, Hawaii.

The planning-commission meeting was the next day, and we felt bad that Rod and Jackie, our friends, neighbors and now property managers, would have to take the brunt of the ill will for us. But despite the big hullabaloo, Rod reported, in the end nobody spoke up against our application. Whew, one less thing to worry about.