A story in the Houston Chronicle a few years ago caught my attention. It was about a man who had a goal to visit all 50 states of the USA, and he was called a “50 Stater.” The story piqued my interest since I had traveled to most of the states by the time I read the story. Last month’s column told of my travels through 46 states.
In 2009, my husband and I took our last, long road trip together. Our plans for the journey included visits with friends we hadn’t seen in a long time and sights that were on our list of things to see someday. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip – the visits with friends were precious. The sights in Great Falls, through The Badlands, at Custer’s Last Stand, and in Dodge City created wonderful memories. The day at Wall Drug gave us stories to tell. Our last stop in Missouri was to spend time with two of our grandchildren.
My husband passed away in the summer of 2010. When the summer of 2011 approached, I realized that I no longer had my traveling companion. However, I wanted to visit my children in Washington State and Missouri and attend a wedding in Michigan. This seemed the perfect time to visit three of the four states I had left to see. I chose to not allow being alone stop me from becoming an “almost 50 Stater” and began planning another road trip.
The first leg of my trip was to Snohomish, Wash. to visit one son and his family. After spending four weeks in Washington, it was time to see North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. After traveling the Upper Cascade Highway, I made my way through Idaho and Montana. I stopped for a tour through Glacier National Park and then headed to North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin on the way to Michigan for the wedding. At the end of 2011, I had only one state left to visit – Hawaii. It would take more time and planning to mark off the 50th state.
Finally, in March 2016, I was able to cross the 50th state off my list. My sister and I embarked on a cruise to Hawaii. After 51 years of traveling, I had visited all 50 states of the USA, seven provinces of Canada and two areas of Mexico. It has been exciting to visit so many places on the North American Continent. I have been truly blessed by getting to see so many natural wonders, including Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, Arches National Park and the mountains of Big Bend, as well as the man-made wonders of the lights of Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Cooley Dam, sculptures along the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota, the monuments in Washington, D.C., the buildings of New York City, and the Astrodome in my own home state. Visiting the 50 states is just the beginning of the sights throughout our great, wonderful country. I’m happy to be a “50 Stater” and look forward to exploring more sights and locations during many additional travels.