The second thing I can think of is my general interest in geography growing up. I loved learning about the world. States, countries, capitals, etc. I desperately wanted to go on the show Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego (never made it), and played all of the Carmen Sandiego games. I always loved looking at maps and desire to visit everywhere there is to visit. I remember when we started doing slightly bigger trips (like driving to Florida) that I got a license plate sticker book. The goal is to see every state (and Canadian province) plates and place stickers of them on the map when you do see them. It was a big deal to me when I finally saw my last one. I honestly don't remember which state that was or when I finished it. It would be interesting to see if I could find that book in my parents house. But I digress...
I have done a decent amount of travel in my life, though you could say I don't feel like I have done enough. It is difficult to balance life and travel unless you make your lifestyle more about travel. I've done my best, and having a job that I travel for sometimes has certainly helped. And that leads me to this post.
Last week I had a work trip to Wisconsin. While there, I took a little detour to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have sort of been in Michigan before at the Detroit airport, but I don't like counting that. It was just a layover and I didn't leave the airport. So by visiting Michigan last week I reached a very important milestone with a final goal within reach. I had visited my 49th state in the US. Over the last few years working my current job, I have made it to several states for the first time. This list includes Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Iowa. The rest have come from personal travels throughout my life. And now I'm staring at my final state, Louisiana, with a trip already booked for Memorial Day weekend coming up next month.
- England, France (2001)
- Italy, Vatican City, France, Monaco (2002)
- England for a class in London (2004)
- England for New Year's (2004-2005)
- England, Belgium (2006)
It's safe to say I liked England, specifically London. At this point I had only been to a handful of states, and honestly traveling to western Europe was just as easy as travelling to the western United States from New England. I remember when I was going on these international trips (and later trips to Europe, Mexico and Peru) that people would say things like "There is plenty to see in this country." I get that not everyone is as interested in international travel, but they certainly had a good point. This is a beautiful country with so many unique and different places to visit. So when I moved out to New Mexico away from the comfort of the Northeast, I took full advantage of the opportunity to start seeing what this country has to offer. Now when people continue to say things like how I need to see this country, I can say, "I have." Of course there are plenty of places I still want to visit in the US, mostly certain National Parks, but I've really seen a lot.
This blog entry has become more than what I initially intended. I just wanted to mention the accomplishment and I thought it would be fun to list the states I have visited in order. I will still do this. I don't remember exact order of some of my early life visited states around the Northeast, but I'll do my best.
EARLY LIFE (1983-1990)
Well, I was born in Connecticut and my family all live in the neighboring states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so the first few are easy. I then had some family trips at a young age to other neighboring states.
2. Rhode Island
4. New Hampshire
6. New York
FAMILY VACATIONS EXPANDED (1991-1992)
After mostly visiting northern New England and upstate New York for our first vacations, we started to branch out, hitting DC and Florida in separate trips. At this point we weren't flying. In fact I hadn't flown yet for the first time. So a lot of opportunity for driving through, stopping in and staying in states. I won't include Washington D.C. on the list, but it would fit in between Maryland and Virginia.
7. New Jersey
12. North Carolina
13. South Carolina
ADDITIONAL TRAVELS (1993-2005)
Throughout the rest of my time growing up in Connecticut and then going to college in Massachusetts, I hardly got off the east coast. There was a trip up to Kittery, ME to buy a TV (and later white water rafting in ME), a trip out to Cedar Point in high school to attend the opening of the world's largest roller coaster at the time (Millennium Force), and a family vacation to Chicago. During this time the international trips began. These included a few trips to Canada (Quebec, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Toronto) and the Europe trips listed above. None of which are US states and therefore not on the list.
SOUTHWEST ARRIVAL (2006-2007)
So for 23 years of my life, a total of 18 states (and several countries) visited. I certainly didn't have the idea of visiting all the states in my head at this point. But then a HUGE turning point arrived in my life. I graduated college and struggled to find a job in the Northeast. I had an interview in Colorado, then landed a job in Albuquerque, NM. This would introduce me to the Southwest and provide the launching point for several small regional trips. This would see the start of my love for the US National Park System, with visits to Arches, Canyonlands, White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns. Also in this year I had a big trip to Europe that included some new countries for me (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Germany and Netherlands).
20. New Mexico
WESTWARD EXPANSION (2008-2010)
During this time, my relationship provided the opportunity for a travel companion to go on more and bigger trips. This included some international trips (Mexico, Peru, Vancouver Canada) plus visiting two of the more difficult states to reach, Alaska and Hawaii. My love for National Parks continued to grow with visits to Grand Canyon, Guadaloupe Mountains, Denali, Haleakala, Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Yellowstone, Glacier, Olympic Forest, Mount Ranier, Bandalier, Rocky Mountain among others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Additionally, this would be the period of my life that included yearly camping trips with Grant Ritter. He is included in almost all of the states below (with the exceptions of Hawaii and Idaho).
29. South Dakota
KIMBLE FACTOR (2011)
At this point I had all of the western states covered. Several I had visited multiple times (Texas, California, Nevada, Colorado) and was now missing two major regions of the country, the Midwest and the South. What didn't help is the lack of desire to visit most of these places. Yes I had 33 states under my belt, but with 17 states to go the finish line wasn't in sight and aside from maybe New Orleans (which ironically is still left) and Nashville/Memphis, there wasn't a large draw for me to the remaining states. I wasn't making any specific attempts to visit these places. But then came Kimble. We have been friends for most of our lives, growing up on the same street. We have had some great travels together, including London, me visiting him in South Carolina and him spending a couple months in Albuquerque the summer of 2010. He finished up with his grad school in South Carolina and was ready to move to Colorado. The road trip was just a great opportunity to spend some time with him, but in doing so I got to visit some great places including new states, National Parks (Mammoth Cave, Gateway Arch) and cities (Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis).
As I already mentioned above, I started a new job and moved to Colorado. The new job provided an opportunity to travel and therefore bring me to new places. Two of the below states were visited on personal trips (Alabama and Nebraska), but otherwise work-related. Also during this time were MANY international trips, some for work and some for play. These included Banff and Vancouver (Canada), Brazil three times (twice for work, once for World Cup), and other work trips to India (twice), Singapore, China and Hong Kong.
43. North Dakota
In 2015, I moved to Atlanta, thus ending my almost 10-year residence in the Southwest/Rocky Mountain region. I will truly miss my time there as it was mostly an amazing experience. I not only had many amazing travels, but also met many wonderful friends, including my current girlfriend who I travelled to Georgia for. At this point, the last few states to visit are spotty and hard to hit. But somehow I have found a way. That Kimble guy returns to this list as helping me move my car from Colorado to Georgia and in doing so hitting up a couple more new states, another National Park (Fort Smith) and back to Memphis for some delicious ribs we first experienced on his move to Colorado. Also since moving to Atlanta I have one more international trip to mention to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia). And though I keep menti0ning the international trips and National Parks, what we are here for are the final few states. These were hit with the already mentioned roadtrip, an additional roadtrip with another childhood friend (Matt) from Connecticut to Georgia, and the initially mentioned work trip from last week.
48. West Virginia
This brings us to the end of the list. I hope you enjoyed this trip down [my] memory lane and my travels. I feel very fortunate to have had these experiences in my life, and I look forward to more. Since I'll be reaching the 50-state milestone, I'll have to think of another. There are a few in mind, though all fairly equally challenging. These include (with current status):
- Continents (4 of 7)
- MLB Ballparks (16 of 30)
- Canadian Provinces (4 of 13)