Monday, July 6, 2015

50 States Goal

Once upon a time, I made a goal to visit all 50 states before I turned 50.  As a young, naive gal in my teens and 20s, with my whole life and what seemed like an endless amount of time ahead of me, I figured that goal was certainly doable.  I mean, hey, that's only one state per year!  Almost sounds too easy, doesn't it?

Ha ha ha!  Well, fast forward twenty years to the present.  The forty-something gal I am today looks at that goal, considers how many states I've visited to date (33) and how many years I have remaining in my 40s and thinks, "Seventeen states in under nine years...  I don't think I'm gonna make it."  I know, I know...  From a mathematical point of view, that's two states per year and that doesn't sound too bad.  But, let's take a look at the map above.  Unfortunately, the remaining states I have yet to visit fall into one of these categories:  1) they are in the far opposite corners of the country and nowhere close to Kentucky (Pacific Northwest and New England), 2) they require a substantial flight, boat ride, and/or trek through the western provinces of Canada to get to (Alaska and Hawaii), or 3) they are in the middle of the country, which is certainly closer to Kentucky than the others, but where there isn't much to see other than oil, corn, and wheat fields from what I've heard.  

I was doing fairly well, or so I believed, when I visited my 29th state (Montana) by the age of thirty-two.  I wasn't too far off the "one state per year" pace and I considered myself in good shape for meeting the goal.  That's when the "states visited drought" began and it lasted for, I kid you not, eight years.  Eight.  Years.  Eight very long years, it seemed...  Ironically, during that time, despite not visiting any new states whatsoever, I did travel to six new countries and two continents.  So, it's not like I was sitting around and going nowhere.  I traveled during that time and I had many meaningful and memorable travel experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything.  It's just that during that time, my travels didn't take me to any new US state. 

With my best friend at the Delaware Welcome Center.  7.2014
Last summer, eager to break the drought, while on a road trip with my best friend of 25+ years, I drove us slightly out of our way through Delaware so that I could finally cross that elusive little state off my "to visit" list.  Somehow during my 40 years on this planet, I had managed to visit every surrounding state and miss Delaware completely.  It was such a relief to break the drought and to finally hit 30.

As I mentioned earlier, I am up to 33 now, having traveled through Vermont,
Massachusetts, and Connecticut a few weeks ago while returning home from Quebec.  33!  Woo-hoo!  I know for many people, 33 states would be considered as small potatoes, but for me it is a super big deal.  Several times while in Vermont, I think I was so close to New Hampshire that I could've tossed a rock over the state line, but since I never actually set my feet on New Hampshire soil, I will not count it.  I am tempted, but I will refrain.

Visiting Quechee Gorge in Vermont with my aunt (middle) and mom (right) 6.2015

33 down.  17 to go.  T-minus 8 years, 7 months, so many odd days and counting.

I don't think I'm gonna make it.

So, I am making an executive decision and amending my goal by lifting the time constraint and simply saying that I will visit all 50 states before I... 


Yeah, as morbid as that sounds, I'm going to go with that.  Guess this goal is truly a bucket list item now...

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