My interest in visiting all 50 of the states began years ago when an uncle mentioned that he had done so. Then my own parents retired and began their travels throughout the U.S. Although my dad had been to Hawaii, it was the one state that momma did not get to visit. As a result, visiting every state became a mainstay on the family bucket-list. On occasion we compare each other's list of visited states. I'm pretty far behind most of my sisters, but I'll retire soon and, hopefully, catch up to them.
Tonight, though, I thought I'd figure out which ones I have visited.
I have to start with Louisiana, of course! But I also have Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Nineteen in all.
A few of those are thanks to layovers in airports on the way to someplace else, a few were the "go to" place, and a few were pass-through states.
My young boys called our vacation destinations our "go to" place. They would ask are we almost at the "go to" place yet?
This photo (left) of Dead Horse Ranch State Park just south of Sedona, AZ, is both a reminder of the place and a bit of a joke for me. We spent two weeks traipsing around Arizona, from Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon to the Black Hills with their saguaro cacti.
It was August. It was hot. It was dry. No, it was really dry. Brown dry. Crunchy grass dry. Bleeding noses dry. We lived out of the truck camper and a tent. Every morning we'd break camp and pack into the truck, off on a new adventure. Traveling south by southeast and looking for adventure. Mostly I was looking for a shower. It was glorious.
The boys loved every minute of tent life and by day three we had figured out how to set up camp so that it became a game. Us against our best time. Everyone had a job: mom directed. We got so good at setting up camp that other campers were amazed.
I learned to appreciate the beauty of the cacti more than the sand and grit and heat. But there's always something to appreciate. The colors, the adaptations, the beautiful blooms. I wanted to take home some of every type. I didn't actually do that, but I wanted to.
Until I accidentally brushed against one particularly prickly one. Ah, that was pain! Searing, sharp, burning pain. And the desire to relocate the cacti decreased with each sticker that I had to carefully remove. There was no help from the wild ones....they were too busy adding to the sand collection in their pockets.
If you are planning a visit to Arizona, let me suggest that you go in the spring or perhaps in fall. The Sonora Desert may not be as beautiful or as colorful, but you will likely not fight the heat as much as I did. Of course, staying in an air conditioned hotel may alleviate some of the heat issues.
I've had many friends ask me whether I'd go back and my answer is always a resounding "YES!" I am now too old to consider roughing it with a crew of teenage boys as ranch hands, but I thoroughly enjoyed the cities and the parks. I'd just enjoy them with a cool shower and hotel bed waiting for my return from wild.