Sunday, June 23, 2013

I'll Take States For $1000, Alex

I recently read about a family who is attempting to take their children to all 50 American states before they finish school.  What a cool idea!  My daughter and I have been counting down the states as we travel to them.  I'm up to 41 states.  My daughter is up to 27.  50 is definitely within reach, for both of us.

I took advantage of a well-paying job and being unattached to take several big trips in my 20s.  This allowed me the opportunity to pad my state total.  The trip that had the most impact on me was my cross-country road trip that covered two weeks, most of old Route 66, and twenty states.  It was an awesome trip, and took me through places I had never seen before, which fostered a love for the American West that I just love seeing whenever I get the chance.  I started out by driving straight out to St. Louis, Missouri, and hopping on Route 66, which originates in Chicago, Illinois.  I headed southwest from there, stopping at my first Steak & Shake, and also Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, both in the St. Louis suburbs.  The next day, I continued down 66 through Missouri, skirted across the southeast Kansas corner, and continued into Oklahoma.  After stopping in Tulsa, I missed a big chunk of Oklahoma City after taking a wrong turn, but then I continued west through Clinton's Route 66 museum, into Texas and a stop at Amarillo's Big Texan Steak Ranch (home of the 72 Oz. steak), and a stop in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  Then I continued west to Santa Fe and Albuquerque and Gallup, across the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Northeastern Arizona, and to Flagstaff, then north to the Grand Canyon!  What a site that was!  I continued west across Arizona on 66 into California.  My original plan was to drive all the way to the west coast and see Los Angeles, which is where Route 66 officially ends.  Instead, I changed gears and headed north into Nevada and spent a few days in Las Vegas.  At that point, I decided to drive across Utah and into Colorado.  My original plan had been to cover this same area after going to LA, and start for home by continuing east from Colorado in Kansas.  Instead, I went north into Wyoming, then into South Dakota.  I fell in love with the Black Hills region while there.  There's so much to see!  Mt. Rushmore was a true highlight, as was the Crazy Horse Memorial.  I love Wall Drug Store, and the Badlands are fascinating.  I hated that I had to continue towards home, but I went east into Minnesota and Wisconsin, breezed through Chicago, and into Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania before arriving home in Maryland.  It was a grand and glorious trip, and I found myself wanting more.

After getting married to my wonderful wife, Teresa, I passed my love of road trips over to her (as if she needed any convincing!), and we incorporated many road trips into our vacation plans.  Our honeymoon included a fantastic trip down the West Coast, from Seattle to San Francisco.  Another trip was the reverse of my big trip outlined above.  We took a trip north through New England, and a couple of trips to Florida.

All of the trips enabled me to add to my state total, and after my daughter was born, I wanted her to experience all of the things I was able to do.  We took a big trip out west, covering Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.  Over this past Spring Break, we hit all of New England, including a great time in New York City.  I'm looking forward to taking her to so many more places!  I'm so glad she seems to share my love of road trips.

We're headed to Chicago next month, along with stops at many roller coaster amusement parks.  We can hardly wait!

Have a great Sunday, everyone!


  1. Cool post. When I was a kid, my dream was to visit all 50 states and do something significant in them by the time I turned 30. By the time I was 22 I had 40 of the 50 done with the help of my family. Thanks to a good job that allows me to go around the country making presentations, I was able to knock off the last 10 missing states with a few months to spare (Mississippi came when I was 29 years and 7 months old). Much of this was in part due to the fact that I love to get behind the wheel of a car drive. BTW...I'm so jealous of your Rt. 66 expedition.

    Now that I have a daughter, I plan on doing the same with her. Although we won't officially start counting states til she is a little older, in her 16 months of life, she has already gone to 16 states. Not bad if you ask me! :)

    Safe travels to Chicago.


  2. Thanks for your comment, Brent. I highly recommend a trip down Route 66! My trips were a blast, and there is so much to see. It is better marked now, as well, compared to when I did it, and there are many great guidebooks to the route. When your daughter gets older, definitely do it.