We have mentioned before just how we started on our fifty state journey, but for those who may not know we will recap.
Shortly before K was born a friend mentioned that she would be the only kid in kindergarten that had visited all fifty states. At the time we did not thing much of it because it was extremely unlikely - then we started traveling with her.We did not quite make it before kindergarten started, but did complete it before she finished first grade!
Her very first trip was to St. Louis. This was mainly because we could take a short, direct flight from Atlanta. This was where she visited her very first National Park Service site. This was the place she went to her first major league baseball game. The place she first was mesmerized by the mighty Mississippi.
Most of our early trips were somewhere within Eastern or Central Time Zone so that we could keep her as close to her normal schedule as possible. As she continued to get older we pushed our travels further west into Mountain Time by age two and into Pacific Time by age three.
We are really financial conscious so many of our trip choices were economically based. We would visit the locations that it was the cheapest to get to. It was incredibly easy for the first few years. It got much more difficult (but not impossible!) once we had visited most states. K's last three states were Alaska, Michigan, and Hawaii. Two of those are quite a hike from our home on the east coast!
When we visited Montana (which was close to the end) we took the Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago to Whitefish. We spent a little more than we had budgeted because we had an opportunity to get a bedroom on the train. (Highly recommend!!) We think everyone needs to take a long Amtrak ride at least once!
We visited much of the desert Southwest and New England on fly then drive road trips! We visited some of the midwest on long weekend drives from home. Sometimes dad would not be thrilled with our itinerary because he's the family chauffeur. Mama is the planner and if it looks reasonable it MUST be drivable.
We cruised to Alaska. K loved it so much we are about to cruise to Alaska again this year for her birthday. Same ship, same captain, slightly different itinerary. To be honest, Alaska was a life changing trip for us. We parents had been before ten years prior. We set some long term goals and set the ball in motion to make those goals happen.
Michigan was a state 50 (parents) road trip over Labor Day weekend. We learned a lot along the way by making stops at the William Taft House in Cincinnati, a Wright Brothers aviation lesson in Dayton, and a war of 1812 stop in Michigan.
The final piece of the puzzle was Hawaii over Spring Break in April! We were able to visit both Oahu and the Big Island on our trip. The Big Island was a huge surprise for us! We absolutely loved it but deep down wished we could have seen some flowing lava! Hey, maybe one day!
In the end, it took us just under 6.5 years from the time K first visited another state until she visited number fifty. She visited most states numerous times. She visited all fifty at least once in just under 5 years. There are only eleven states that she has only been in one time. While the fifty state journey may be over our United States travels definitely are not!
For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with maps, globes, and wanting to see the world. Now I'm trying to make all of those childhood dreams into a reality.