November 2014


49 States… plus DC and Guam

Me at the Southern Most Point

Me at the Southern Most Point of the 50 United States.

One of my long-term goals is to visit all 50 United States.

Surfing Weather...

Such a stereotypical photo of Hawaii, eh?

My 49th State was Hawaii – time zone speaking 12 (now 11) hours different from Germany. Honolulu was supposed to be a non-stop flight away from Denver, but due to a malfunctioning APU, there was an unexpected 3-hour stop in LAX.


Riding the wave… in the morning sun.

Thus, missing our scheduled connection meant a late arrival into Kona and no idea what was awaiting us at our vacation condo rental – although we knew it was next to the ocean and the sound of the waves crashing ashore was obvious.

Steam Venting

Steam Venting at Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. Looks a lot like battlefield photos, but it’s not, I promise.

I would return to Kona – although the heat and humidity is not for me. My sister and I had a nice time, doing strange things: we visited the southern most point of the 50 United States, stopped by Volcanoes National Park, drove Saddle Road, toured an artists village, toured a coffee plantation, saw a sea turtle, bought Kona Coffee, and visited the astronomy center.

Coffee on the Tree

Coffee on the tree…

Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle in the ocean.

We spent two nights in Honolulu – doing three interesting things: Pearl Harbor, the State Capitol, and the Bishop Museum. The rest of what we did in Honolulu was enough to discourage me from ever returning to the city: sit in traffic.

Honestly, I cannot remember having ever sat in so much traffic before. We spent 30 minutes to go less than a half a mile at one point. Remember that scene in LA Stories where some old man using a walker passed the traffic without breaking a sweat? Yeah – Honolulu is that bad. The Dole Plantation was, after one ate the obligatory Dole Whip, dull. The two-mile Pineapple Express Train Ride was forgettable.

USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona, poking above the water.

USS Arizona -- Leaking Oil

Oil continues to leak from the USS Arizona.

But, as I said, Honolulu’s salvation (so to speak) came in the form of three good things – although the “goodness” of Pearl Harbor is debatable. The memorial is very well done – I found it impressive, rising to the occasion. The exhibits were relatively well balanced, including explanations of what drove Japan to attack, and highlighting their goals.

Hawaiian State Capitol

Hawaiian State Capitol

The State Capitol was also quite impressive, although we were unable to visit the chambers because they were being used to help coordinate next week’s election. We stopped by the governor’s office, which is most impressive, even seeing a portrait of Governor Quinn, Hawaii’s last territorial governor, and first state governor. This was especially neat as I had watched Governor Quinn stump the panelists of a 1958 episode of What’s My Line.

The last redeeming feature of Honolulu was the Bishop Museum, which has an amazing collection of artifacts representing not just historic Hawaiian life, but also covering the peoples of the Pacific. I learned a great deal at this museum and saw some amazing artifacts.

Hawaiian Hall, Bishop Museum

This is the Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum.

One of the coolest things that I learned was that a man from Micronesia knew how to navigate using just the stars – and that he came to Hawaii in the 1970s and taught Hawaiians how to travel – a skill that they had lost over time. The skill was put to good use when a team sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti without the aid of any modern navigation equipment in 1976. There is now a team of two boats going around the world without any modern navigation equipment – a three-year journey.

As for my goal regarding all 50 US States? My goal line shifted last April when I accomplished my goal of having visited all hubs for United Airlines – by flying to both Tokyo/Narita and Guam. Guam is a US Territory and it made me realize that I should include all five inhabited (and easy to visit) US territories. I’ll be off to Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. And Alaska.

Care to join me?

2 comments to 49 States… plus DC and Guam

  • That’s awesome, and I’m a little jealous. I’ve only been to about fifteen states. I feel much better about visiting 26 other countries though. 😀

    • I’ve been to 33 different countries (although I would only say 32) — not counting definitional issues surrounding places like Hong Kong.