My 50 state travels started with family road trips. Back before seat belts were required, my brother, sister and I played all kinds of ridiculous car games and slept on a fold-down couch in the back of an extended van on our way from Arizona to Florida to visit grandparents. I remember being scared on a Carlsbad Caverns tour when all the lights were turned off to experience complete darkness. I remember the Alamo and walking down a seedy street in New Orleans while my Mom kept saying “Straight ahead, just walk straight ahead.” In the late 80’s our family took another epic trip traveling the East Coast from Virginia to Maine in a Cruise America RV. We saw the classic Washington D.C. sights, Rhode Island (my father’s birthplace) and zillions of other places of interest. When I was 9, I made my own map to color in the states that I had been to. I kept it all these years in hopes that someday I would color them all in!
I realized on this trip even more how deliberate and specific one has to be to visit all 50. Very few (if any) end up going to all fifty states by chance. Life can take many twists and turns but likely not to North Dakota and Kansas! The goal is attainable but it requires focus and dedication. Tough choices have to be made with limited vacation time and limited dollars. Should we go to a new state or return to somewhere that we know is fantastic? The 50 state goal is completely worth it. The return is way beyond the investment. It provides a better appreciation of what makes up our country and the similarities and differences of the American people. The incredible landscapes of different regions of the country awe and thrill you, and can even take your breath away. Lifelong memories are created by what you have seen and experienced, be they treasured moments alone or with family and friends. You gain a deeper understanding of the past by being at places where history actually took place. No matter how exhausting the trip is, traveling gives you life and vigor.
Many people say "What next?" I'm not sure, but I know that visiting all 50 has expanded the list of places I want to go by a hundredfold. There are not seven wonders of the world but seven bazillion. I look forward to more travels and encouraging others to go to All Fifty and beyond.
Thanks for reading my journey. I hope you share yours too!
Safe and Happy Travels, Alicia