There's a certain melancholy that I feel every time I see the last person off to the airport after a tour.
The fun is over, the lights have turned off, and it's time to go home.
All good things must come to an end.
But that joy, those memories - those brand new friendships - they last for long, long after I finish another one of these blog posts.
The goal of Hawaii Sports Fans is to always provide the highest fan experience and value for your money, but moreover, we want to see you smile every time you look back on your time with us.
I know we accomplished that once again.
As I run into many of you, those that have joined us at least once in the last 11 years, it's truly amazing how vividly those memories come into focus.
It's incredible how lucky I've been to have accomplished so much with all of you. I am humbled by so many of you who have been so willing to come along for the ride. Mahalo!
The fun kicked off Friday (11/25) night at San Jose's Hukilau Restaurant. Run by local braddahs from the Islands, the food was authentic and 'ono.
Those night-befores have always been a reunion for our Road Warrior ohana who travel from near and far to support the 'Bows. Few people understand the devotion to spend your own money to travel to support total strangers. Grateful to be in the company of so many others as passionate as myself.
We checked into out hotel for the weekend as well, conveniently located on the block with casinos, Starbucks and several eateries just steps away.
Saturday was #HawaiiFB #GameDAY, and it started early with one of our favorite things to do-- TAILGATING. We welcomed in so many friends that we hadn't seen in while, including Bay Area sports reporter and Local Boy, Larry Beil, who even shouted out our tailgate on the news later that night. It was wonderful to catch up with Leon & Kelly Cordeiro - Chevan's parents - who were even sporting Warrior gear (well at least 1/2 of the couple :)).
We met Krazy George, San Jose SuperFan who also invented the wave, and even had a moment with the Spartan mascot and marching band, who also rolled on through. We even participated in some family Christmas games, like swinging your hips back and forth to get the dangling ornament between your legs into a flimsy plastic cup, even when your line is too long. (OK, some of us might still be bitter about what place we came in.)
Beer, wine, spirits, soju and more were present to wash down the ube pancakes, musubi, Rainbow rice krispy treats among so many delicious items for our tour attendees.
The game itself was disappointing for the 'Bows, 14-27, but we made so many memories in the stands, including one that will always stand out to me: one of the youngest members of our tours, sporting Timmy Chang's #14 jersey, was able to meet the head coach himself on the field and get her shirt signed. There were many tears in the stands as well, as she was representing her late cousin at the game, who loved that jersey for so many years.
After our fun postgame tailgate, we had a chance to rest - hit the hot tub and heated pool, even - before it was dinner time at one of San Jose's most popular taco joints, La Victoria. "La Vic's" Orange Sauce is a South Bay must-try along with their selection of super burritos, carne asada nacho fries and so much more!
Of course, there was only one way to top off that savory meal: homemade, natural & small-batch ice cream! The Cauldron has quickly turned famous in California, and it was the perfect time to take advantage of their San Jose location.
Sunday started off much like the day before, with an early tailgate. This time we spent it with the "Bang Bang Niner Gang" starting about three hours before kickoff between San Fran and New Orleans, right outside of Levi's. We enjoyed more libations and some Loco Moco and Lumpia! Mahalo Candi and Josie for all their work at both tailgates.
Before you knew it, it was time to pack up and head on in. We were seated in the lower end zone corner, 105, right on the aisles in four rows, so everyone would have easy access to getting out of their seat.
The 49ers shutout the Saints in a low-scoring affair, 13-0, but the amazing game day atmosphere in and out of the stadium, the energy in the crowd, the hot dogs, lobster rolls, brews, popcorn and candy we enjoyed, and all the new friends we made made it another beautiful Sunday Funday for each and everyone of us.
After the game, we continued one of our tour traditions at Phở Bel Air, conveniently located in front of our hotel. From the steaming broth to the crunchy chả giò egg rolls, Vietnamese food hits like no other.
And the last excursion of the tour? Hint: it's a local person's tradition every time they leave the mainland-- Trader Joe's. And we all came away with quite the load!
Monday morning it was back home, all flying on Hawaiian Air, making it back to the Islands just in time to have lunch and to think about the next Hawaii Sports Fans trip!
A hui hou!