Many of you know that I was on a quest to visit all fifty of our United States. For you kind souls outside of the U.S., this means quite a bit of air travel, years of flying on business, and now more flights in semi-retirement. I will enumerate the states, in roughly the order in which I encountered them, and also lead you to the final countdown, since the number, as of today, January 7, 2013 is down to just ten states.
California-I was born and raised here, and would not trade it for anything. Some consider Los Angeles and Southern California separate state. I grew up as a young boy, in the very middle of the state.
Nevada-The cities of Reno and Las Vegas are the big draw here, and I probably set foot in Nevada, probably near Lake Tahoe, before the age of 3, with my parents on a family vacation. Of course, Las Vegas is now one of the most often visited cities in the world. But it was not always so.
Hawaii-Many of our family vacations with my kids were spent here. I have been to all of the islands except Molokai. Kauai is my favorite, although Oahu and Maui are close behind. And I love the food here. Haleakala at sunrise is fabulous! Another reason for a yearly visit is owning a timeshare here. And visiting lots of friends.
Maine-Most planes refueled in Bangor on the way to Europe, back in the day of the polar route. But a return visit in the Fall to see the colors is a must see and do. And an all day visit to LL Bean flagship store is another, where the store does not have any locks! Open 24 hours. And love those Maine lobster rolls. And we had to see the summer home of Bush 41 in Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor, as well as Acadia National Park.
Oregon-Another great place for summer vacations, great golf at Bandon Dunes, and Sunriver, and the cities of Eugene and Portland, which have become real foodie towns. The mountains, along with Crater Lake are great outdoor attractions. Back in the Seventies, they preferred that Californians stay home! Bandon Dunes has some fabulous golf courses.
Arizona-Spring training with the SF Giants is always a treat, along with the beautiful desert, and places like the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Antelope Canyon. This is another golf mecca, where the sun shines most of the time, and plastic surgery is one of their main industries. I visit Arizona yearly now. Also, home to the Sartorial Superman!
Missouri-Surprised you, but I first visited here for some business training back in the early Seventies, in St. Louis. But St. Louis (besides the Arch) has the best Italian food at “The Hill”, an enclave of old Italian family restaurants. I remember canoeing down the Merrimac River one summer. It is not as bad here as you might have been told.
Utah-Fresh powder skiing is the main draw here, but lately, I have enjoyed their National Parks, like Bryce Canyon, Arches, Zion, and Canyonlands. St. George is one of my favorite places, along with the luxurious Inn at Entrada. Winter or summer is fine with me. No Mormon jokes, please!
Colorado-I spent many a day skiing here with good friends, and drinking ourselves to sleep at night in Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Steamboat, and outside of Denver. Boulder is a really neat college town, and the Rocky Mountains are spectacular. Red Rocks is a great place to attend a rock concert. This is the place for a real Rocky Mountain High, right John? And the Continental Divide.
District of Columbia-Many trips here to work and play. It is always special, our nation’s Capitol, the sights, the Smithsonians, and all of the great buildings and history. Georgetown is always a kick. I never get bored here. And I finally saw the cherry blossoms in full bloom! Love the food trucks here. Fourth of July is a great celebration to attend.
Virginia-One of the prettiest states, along with lots of civil war history. Though it is considered a suburb of DC, it has a character of its own, like the highest per capita income in the US, and fabulous homes. Dear friends live here, so why not?
Maryland-Besides crab cakes, it is home to most of the professional sports in the DC area, along with the Naval Academy in Annapolis. I almost went to grad school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, until I found out it was a ghetto. This is the home of new friend, Dirty Pat, who I met at the Super Bowl 47 on Nawlins.
Illinois-My parents actually lived here before I came along, having left Relocation Camp in Arizona. My first business trips were great fun, whether in the dead of winter, or humidity of summer. The architecture and food here are most interesting and enjoyable. Chicago is a very underrated city, more easily navigated than New York City, and home to Garrett’s Popcorn, Chicago beef, Chicago dogs, deep dish pizza, and Second City.
Pennsylvania-On a consulting job here, I was introduced to the virtues of a Philly Cheesesteak. I never saw “Rocky” climb the steps, but did get to see Dr. J play basketball, went to a Dan Fogelberg concert and visited the Liberty Bell. I would like to visit the Poconos. Pittsburg is a place to avoid.
Florida-Miami Beach has changed a lot, but the Everglades make a great visit, along with Little Havana in Miami and the Keys. I would skip Epcot and Disney World unless you have young kids. I met Muhammad Ali here in Miami back in the Seventies. But it is crazy humid here! Golf is fine as long as you can avoid the gators.
Ohio-I can’t say I enjoyed it here, although I visited Columbus, Cleveland, Canton, and Akron. They are wild about football here, and the state is home to many glass manufacturers as I recall. Ohio also means “hello” in Japanese. I do plan to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland soon.
Oklahoma-Where the waving wheat, sure smells sweet. I was in OK City for business, but ended up in Norman, home of Oklahoma University and football mania. It was a dry state as I recall, and not much fun. I have not been back.
Wyoming-home of Cheyenne Frontier Days, and my search for a tie that was not wider than the Grand Canyon. Later, I found Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole to be much better, in every way. Winters are not much fun here, neither is summer.
Alaska-I actually had a hospital client up here using our satellite communications back in the day. But the fresh fish, and reindeer sausage stand out for me. And yes, the sun stays out all day in the summer, or so it seems. Need to see more of the state, along with the Aurora Borealis and Denali.
North Carolina-Pinehurst is golfing nirvana, and Chapel Hill is a great college town, where I did post-graduate studies. The state is quite green, and very conservative. UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest are a 3 wood away from each other. I would like to visit the Outer Banks someday, but not in hurricane season. Too much smoking still hanging around everywhere.
Louisiana-Never made it to Mardi Gras, but it is always party time here. I had to attend Super Bowl 47 with the Niners. The above ground cemeteries are unique, along with Cajun and Creole cooking, and those fabulous beignets from Cafe du Monde in Nawlins. And a po’ boy too!
Tennessee-You must visit Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry, as well as Memphis and Graceland. Barbecue here is as good as North Carolina or Texas. And the people are nice too! Beale Street, though touristy, is a must see and listen. In fact, I prefer Memphis to Nashville.
Wisconsin-Do not miss the Friday night fish fry, but the steaks and ice cream are also great. I wish the Whistling Straits Golf Club in Kohler had treated me better. Watch out for stray cheeseheads! This is the home of Harley-Davidson.
New York-My first visit was to the US Tennis Open in Flushing Meadow. But I also enjoyed the great NY sights, Broadway shows, Times Square, 30 Rock, and mostly Yankee Stadium. As the shogun said, this place is not my cup of tea. And their subways are cleaner than BART!! Stay away from the airports.
Texas-Houston and Dallas I can forget. But San Antonio was fun with its Riverwalk and The Alamo. It is a big place, and very flat. They say Austin is a great place for good and music, so I may return. I have changed planes here many times, and also stopped on my way to Mexico.
New Mexico-Home to Georgia O’Keefe, and Sheri’s brother. Skip Albuquerque, and head directly to Santa Fe, a wonderful city for a long weekend stay. The food is interesting, and the O’Keefe Museum is a revelation into this remarkable lady. Taos is great for skiing, and Ghost Ranch is a must see.
South Carolina-Charleston is a great city, and offers interesting southern charm. The antebellum homes are a great reminder of a country much different than today. Gershwin was greatly influenced by the music here. Great golf courses in Hilton Head, too! Love the food as well. Golf in Myrtle Beach is cheap and cheerful, too!
Georgia-Hotlanta is a interesting city, but the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta is the big event. But you must visit the Varsity, the Fox, and Merry Mac’s Tea Room. And Buckhead is fun for a night of drunken revelry. Home to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.
Indiana-Home of the greatest spectacle in racing, The Indianapolis 500! I went 5 times, because my Dad went, and one multi winner was from our hometown. Sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” with Jim Nabors at the 500 race!
Massachusetts-I had to see the baked beans, Boston Garden, and Harvard, where I never matriculated. I also looked for Charlie on the “T”, and dined at JFK’s favorite, the Union Oyster House. Salem and Beacon Hill were fantastic Halloween experiences. I would once love to see the fireworks and concert on the Fourth of July here. And listen to the famous Boston Pops Orchestra.
Kentucky-Another must see is the Run for the Roses, known as the Kentucky Derby, on the first Saturday in May. What a spectacle, and everyone wearing great hats. A visit to a horse breeding farm and some bourbon tasting will complete your trip. Big Brown won!
Idaho-Both trips were enjoyable, first to Coeur d’Alene and the fabulous floating island green, then to Tamarack and McCall to visit Grandma Velma. So, really, what did Ida hoe? Her potato patch?
New Hampshire-Falls colors of course, and just a stone’s throw from Boston. The countryside is quite rustic and colorful in the Fall.
Vermont-My cousin and her husband went to Dartmouth, but the state has the most toxic waste of any. Pretty fall colors could not get us to stay overnight, on our way to Maine. It is one of our least populous states.
Montana-What a pleasant surprise here, along with Glacier National Park and Yellowstone, we also enjoyed Whitefish and Bigfork. We also renewed a friendship (Becky) down in Billings, made a new one (Megan) in Bigfork, and drove over to Livingston, a picture book town. And huckleberry pies.
Rhode Island-Providence proved to be nothing like the scenes from the TV show of the same name. But one day here was enough.
Connecticutt-Home of ESPN (Bristol), and lots of rich suburbanites who commute into Manhattan. Also, the home of Yale University. I was looking for “Back, back, back” but he (ESPN’s Chris Berman) was on assignment. So, I settled for Hannah Storm.
Nebraska-I stopped in McCook on my Amtrak trip from Chicago to SF. The home of Warren Buffett might warrant a real visit. And what about the famous Omaha steaks? Omaha is also home to the annual College World Series.
Iowa-I stopped in the mythical hometown of Radar O’Reilly (from TV show MASH), Ottumwa, on my Amtrak trip. My sis and brother in law went to the University of Iowa back in the 70s.
Minnesota-I just had to see the Great Mall, and Andrew Zimmern’s (Bizarre Foods) hometown on Minneapolis. Turns out they have a James Beard winning restaurant and some decent theater. I found out people here are large and need a shower or bath!
Mississippi-I just kept going down the road after a stop at Graceland to pay my respects to the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. I even stayed long enough (1/10/13) to have lunch!
Arkansas-Actually, I stopped here twice, once to visit (1/10/13), and once to get gas…..for the car (1/11/13). The home of Slick Willie, perhaps someday soon to become “First Man” if Hillary becomes President!
Alabama-It was a short visit (1/12/13), not short enough in my opinion. But it was within a few hours driving distance of Memphis. I gladly checked it off the list, though I wanted to stand where Forrest Gump once stood when he was listening to Governor Wallace. Of course, they are better known for their college football team.
Update (April 2013):
Delaware-Another short visit, as a stop, Wilmington, along the Amtrak line to New Jersey. I guess it should get more respect since it is the home of our current VP, Joe Biden. And I do support his gun control efforts.
New Jersey-It just so happens that the Amtrak line from DC up to New England passes through several states, including New Jersey. I am almost certain I have at least changed planes here, or even attended a meeting here sometime in the past. But I want to make sure. After all, it is the home of my musical hero, “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen. Trenton is not a very interesting place!
West Virginia-Only a short drive from our dear friend’s home in Great Falls, VA, we took the short drive up to WV (4/15/13) and visited famous Harpers Ferry. Harpers is famous for its involvement in the Civil War, specifically John Brown’s raid on the Armory in 1859.
South Dakota-It took the Sturgis Bike Rally (August, 2013) to get me to this great state, as I discovered beautiful areas, like Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, Crazy Horse, and Sturgis itself. The roar of the Harleys got me there, but the beauty of the state will get me to visit again.
North Dakota-It was just a short two hour drive up to the border. Oil is booming here, but it is still mostly farmland and amber waves of grain. The number of oil wells is probably reaching the number of cattle. It was enough. A friend’s grandson wass going to college here, and playing football. He left after his first year, too cold!
That leaves two: Kansas and Michigan.
Update: October 11, 2013
Kansas-Is it really the home of Dorothy of Wizard fame, or just waving fields of wheat? Kansas City straddles Kansas and Missouri. Nice people, just not very handsome/beautiful, but strong Midwestern roots. This is one of the few times that I actually felt “forced” to go, even tough I enjoyed myself. And Arthur Bryant’s barbecue is excellent.
April 16, 2014
Michigan-The journey is over, or has it just begun? Many stories abound about the depressing Detroit area. I decided the U town of Ann Arbor would be a better fit for me. I took Amtrak here from Chicago, stayed one night, had a glass of bubbly, and went back to the Windy City. It does not feel particularly eventful. Perhaps when I am done traveling?
What might be next? More of Canada, South America, SE Asia, Africa, Europe? Maybe I will just stay home for a while. I doubt it!
PS: I am not sure if I mentioned all fifty, but I guarantee I have been to all fifty.