And Then It Was Done

Sunday, October 12, 2014 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Days 37 - 41:  Auckland to Honolulu to Home

Thanks to the incredible soundproofing at the Novotel Hotel, we had a great night’s sleep, even though we were literally on the property of Auckland’s busy airport Wednesday evening. Our 11 am Air New Zealand flight to Honolulu afforded the opportunity for a relaxed morning. The flight departed on time, and in a muddle of confusion created by crossing the International Date Line, we arrived in Honolulu about 9 pm the previous night.  After picking up a rental car at the airport, we made a beeline for our hotel near Diamond Head, ready for rest after the exhausting 9-hour flight. 
We had three purposes for our stop in Hawaii. Our primary motivation was to break up the trip. Flying from Auckland to Atlanta in a more direct fashion would require about 20 hours of flying time interrupted by 12 or more hours of layovers with no rest. No, thank you. In addition, we wanted to find a letterbox and plant a letterbox in Hawaii. We had done both in all the 48 contiguous states in 2012 but still had Alaska and Hawaii to go. 

Thirdly, we had a yen to visit the Hawaii state capitol building (pictured above) since checking out statehouses has also become a passion of ours. Two days seemed the perfect length of time for these modest goals.

On our first day, we were happy to get a late start before setting out to find a letterbox and plant one in Honolulu.  Those two tasks took us some time but we were well fortified by an incredible treat we found at the local McDonald's.  Stopping there for a coffee and Diet Coke, we noticed something different on their menu.  Rather than the apple pie featured at mainland Mickey D's, the Hawaii restaurant offered up a delicious alternative—banana pie.  And was it ever delicious!  Tasted so good you knew automatically it had to be bad for you.  At least we needn't worry about it becoming a habit since we had only one more day in Hawaii.
After we accomplished both our letterboxing objectives, we decided to visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.  When we arrived, however, it was so impossibly crowded that we decided to skip it for this trip.  The following day we went to check out the Hawaii state capitol, a much less crowded location.

At a cost of $25 million, the Hawaii statehouse was constructed of concrete after statehood was granted in the 1960s.  Unlike most capitol buildings in other states, its design is decidedly modern, reflecting the architecture of the period in which it was built.  

Like Honolulu's airport terminal, the Hawaii statehouse was designed with an open-air style.  Reflecting pools symbolize the seas which surround the islands.  On its perimeter, the capitol has eight pillars shaped like royal palms to represent the eight islands.  
Open air dome & courtyard
The building's open-air rotunda and dome represent a volcano with the building a symbol of an island.  Aquarius, the 36-by-36-foot mosaic on the courtyard’s floor, is made of 600,000 ceramic tiles that are no bigger than a fingernail. It’s a replica of a painting by Tadashi Sato, who was born and raised on Maui.  The design represents the changing colors of the Pacific Ocean that surrounds Hawaii.  
Senate Chamber
Both the legislative chambers are cone-shaped, also symbolizing the volcanoes which formed the islands millions of years ago.  The Senate's home is adorned in colors of the sea and sky and features a sculptural chandelier symbolizing the moon.  The fixture was created with 620 nautilus shells.  The 40-ft. tapestry on the wall behind the podium also features blue tones representing cloud patterns and double-hulled canoes on the Pacific Ocean.
House Chamber
The House Chamber is decorated with the warmer tones of brown, red, and orange to represent the earth, or island. The gold-plated brass chandelier represents the sun.  The tapestry displayed behind the speaker's podium represents palm trees growing out of the earth.  The work is also nearly 40 feet high and was made with 900,000 wool knots on a linen backing.
Koa wood in furniture and paneling
Throughout the capitol, the wood used for both furniture and paneling is an indigenous Hawaiian hardwood called koa wood, including a large ceremonial desk used by the governor for important signings and other events.

Running on fumes by the end of our tour, we limped back to the hotel for some rest.  Too tired to go out to eat, we were delighted to find a brochure for a food delivery service in our room.  We kicked back and waited for our California Pizza Kitchen meal to arrive and packed for our flight home tomorrow.

Again we deliberately chose flights that would break up the trip home and save us from another 9 to ten hour flight.  So after 5.5 hours, we stopped in Los Angeles, where we ate dinner and moved around a bit for a couple of hours before the final 4.5 hour flight to Atlanta.  When we arrived at Hartsfield Airport at 6 am, we were very happy to see the faithful Faisal, who picked us up and returned us back home.
Final Stats:
  • Started in Auckland, ended in Atlanta
  • Mileage - 9,073  (Trip total:  24,905)

Yum to the 10th power!