I must have been in my late 30’s on a trip with a girlfriend to Rome, when I came up with the idea to visit all 50 states by the time I turned 50. I call this my 50 x 50. Inspiration for this idea came from a recurring thought that whenever I visited a new country, island, whatever, the locals (ie taxi drivers, shop keepers etc..) seemed to know so much of their history, culture and their surroundings.
I thought to myself, here I am living in such a beautiful country, yet I know so little about the land of the free and the home of the brave. Each state has its own unique flavor and vibe and the fact that I love adventure and I love to travel made for the perfect bucket list.
At age 40, when I began this journey, literally speaking, I had already visited 14 states and here they are:
9. New Jersey (obviously)
10. New York (obviously too)
With 36 states to go, I thought that if I visited 4 states per year, I could easily reach my goal by the time I turned 50.
Well…at 44, I have visited 9 additional states, so just a little bit behind on my projection.
Here are the additional 9 states I visited:
6. South Carolina
So basically I have visited 23 states in all and I have 5 and 1/2 years left to visit the remaining 27 states. Mathematically speaking, I would have to visit just about 5 states per year. David, pack your bags…
Seriously speaking, I don’t know how I’m going to accomplish this but if there’s a will there’s a way!
I do have a trip planned to Nebraska in December with an author friend of mine who was invited for a book talk and I’m trying to convince my husband to go to Hawaii for winter vacation.
If I had to choose 5 states to visit this year, they would be:
1. New Mexico, in particular to Santa Fe
2-3. Take a scenic drive from Washington State through Oregon.
4. Maine for hiking and to visit lighthouses of course
5. Rhode Island, in particular to Newport
What constitutes research on the 50 states?
I went to Barnes & Noble directly to the children’s section and purchased 2 visually appealing hardcover books on the highlights of each state. I wanted the cliff notes version that targeted the must-sees of each state without being bogged down by too many details.
I am reminded about my bucket list on the daily, and I know this is going to be TMI, but I do keep the 50 states book in a basket handy for bathroom reading…
What qualifies as a legit visit that enables me to cross a state off my list?
Let me first tell you what does not – a layover at an airport does not qualify as visiting a state and if you are considering to visit all 50 states, I’m letting you know that’s cheating.
What can be considered as a legit visit:
1. At least one meal or a snack
2. A visit to one landmark or historical site OR 1 local activity ie a tour, a walk, or bike ride around the neighborhood.
3. A one night stay is preferable but not mandatory
What states have I enjoyed the most thus far?
South Carolina – In particular Charleston – charming, historical, great food and made new friends
Tennessee – Nashville – fell in love with country music and related museums, bought cowboy boots and had a good ole time.
Montana – a family trip to The Ranch at Rock Creek. Horseback riding, ATVing, flyfishing, outdoor BBQ’s and morning hikes
No matter what state I visited, I was able to find the beauty in it. That’s the beauty of the United States.
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