As Harry Caray used to say, “Hello again, everybody.”
It was ten days ago that I left to head to the great Northwest. My last post was published while I was sitting on a plane headed to Seattle. Pretty tricky how you learn to do these things after ten years of writing here. A few hours later, we boarded a cruise ship headed to Alaska. We arrived in Juneau on Tuesday afternoon, where the above photo was taken. That made it official. Goal accomplished!
The cruise was spectacular. I’ll detail it for you later this week. Today is about the how, when and why of this journey.
Someone asked me if this obsession began as a child. The answer is an emphatic NO! I can only remember day trips to neighboring states back then. There was one vacation to Niagara Falls, which notched Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York; places I’ve been to many times since then. SIGH!
There were three trips that made this accomplishment possible:
First, in college, I drove from Oklahoma to Florida for winter break. The drive went through the deep South. It was more than a little frightening cruising through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the darkness of night, with hair down to your shoulders, in 1972. Thanks, Nixon. Thanks, George Wallace.
A few years later came a vacation to the New England states. That added six new states in only a few days. Included was a baseball game at Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play the Yankees. Rick Miller hit a late-inning grand slam home run to win the game for the Sawx. Hmmm…I wonder if he’s been to all fifty states? Hmmm…I wonder if he’s still alive? Google? Google says yes. He’s seventy-four years old.
At this point, the hunt for the elusive fifty wasn’t a part of my mindset. Too many other life things going on; I didn’t even have an exact number then. I’d pick up a new state occasionally, but it didn’t get serious until I sat down one day to do the math. The number I came up with was thirty-nine. That meant the magic number was eleven! Doable!
It took some time to whittle down that number. Obligations got in the way. But in the last five or so years, I found the time. In 2017, I decided to visit the Carolinas. Two days, two states. Next came trips to Seattle and Portland. You’d think I would have made it there during my years living in California, but you’d be wrong. Hard to believe I’ve now been to Washington state three more times since then. Go figure. But, two more states came off the list.
The third big trip came in the summer of 2019. A week long car driving tour starting at Mt. Rushmore and ending at Yellowstone. Hello and goodbye to South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It was down to the final three.
Covid made getting to these states impossible for a couple of years, but last year I made it to Nebraska, while I headed to North Dakota in May.
All that was left was Alaska. The cruise that was planned for 2019 became a 70th birthday present. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I’ll tell you about Alaska on Friday, provided this site still exists by then, which is another story for another day….hopefully Monday. Anyway…
That’s the story of the fifty-state journey. Would I do it again? Sure, why not. Seeing different places and the way their residents live is always fun and educational.
What’s next? Hmmm….I’ve only been to two countries in Europe and none in Asia, Africa or South America. Maybe it’s time to go international?
Hmmm….I wonder how many countries there are in Europe? Google says forty-one. Can I get them all?
Related Post: Does anyone know if there’s Wi-Fi in Juneau?
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