50!!! Every single state!!!!
I was probably in middle or high school when I decided it would be cool to visit every state. I am not certain that I ever believe it would be a reality. Lets break this down....at 11, I had visited as many countries as states--5. I would guess 8 by the time I graduated high school, and 2 more by the end of college. I was out of college (with "my own money") by the time I started checking them off. We had managed to get to roughly half of the US before our daughter was born. I was largely pregnant when a friend said, "K's going to be the only kid that starts kindergarten having visited all 50 states." I laughed because I knew it would not be close, but she knew better. It was on. (For the record - 43 was where K stood starting kindergarten.)
We are always intentional about incorporating learing with our travels. We pulled K out of school after a half day on Friday so that we could make it to Berea, Kentucky to have dinner with Friends and, ultimately, to just outside of Cincinnati for the night. Our first round of learning was at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. The Junior Ranger booklet was fairly easy as most of it worked in conjuction with the house tour.
K was much more interested in our next stop - Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. To be honest, I think it was our favorite as well! Due to the small amount of time we had to spend all of our time was spent at the Wright Cycle Company complex. The downstairs of the visitors center has information and exhibts about the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Wright Cycle Company is next door. The Junior Ranger booklet here was slightly tougher than the one from the Taft house, but still not hard.
Many of the exhibits are interactive. We circled back to some of them multiple times because K loved them so much. We really enjoyed the video about the Wright Brothers at the visitors center.
We crossed into Michigan around 4 PM on September 1st! We were all quite excited because that meant 50 states for the two of us and 49 for K. In hindsight, we wished we had planned a little better to have visited Michigan prior to taking K to Alaska. That would have meant states 49 and 50 would have actually been states 49 and 50. Oh well....... Anyway, we often laugh a little how our 50th state is a state in our own timezone.
Our final stop on our drive up was at River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Now, we are not so well versed in the War of 1812. We have learned about it here and there, but we are much more versed in the Revolutionary War or Civil War. We got there around 45 minutes before closing time so our time was very rushed. We, unfortunately, missed part of the video. We did learn that there are some major improvements coming to the park in the near future. We hope to visit again once the park is made more similar to how it was at the time of the battle. We were able to walk the small trail before leaving. I want to say it was about a .6 mile loop. We did it fairly briskly because we were certain a storm was rolling in. Maybe we bailed before it happened, but we never actually saw any rain.
Sunday brought new adventures! We headed over to Ontario to visit Point Pelee National Park. We were not quite sure what to expect, but we really enjoyed it! I am certain that we will return for a longer stay. The drive over to Leamington is about an hour and a half from Detroit. We crossed into Ontario via the Ambassador Bridge. It was quite possibly the easiest border crossing we have ever encountered - both directions. We sat in line to get into the parking area of an amusement park longer than the cumulative amount of time crossing the border.
We had never visited that part of Ontario before, and there were lots of crops and greenhouses in the area. It looked a lot like parts of Iowa. We made a stop in Leamington at a store to pick up a picnic lunch and headed to the park.
From what I recall, entrance fees were fairly reasonable. We have a Parks Canada pass so I am not certain exactly what the daily rate is. First stop...lunch. We chose to have our picnic at Northwest (I believe) Beach. We could not have asked for a better lunch view. There were a handful of picnic tables still open on the beach. Here's were things went south....we did not have our swimsuits! I got fired as the family travel agent. hahaha. Seriously, in my research I knew about the tip and the marsh but somehow never saw anything on the beaches. Come on, we are not mean parents. Shoes and socks were off and we at least waded in the water.
There were nice facilities for changing, rinsing off, and restrooms - wait, washrooms...we were in Canada. :)
The Marsh Boardwalk area has some construction around it so the main parking lot there is closed, but the trail from the beach to we were at to the boardwalk was an easy walk. The tower is currently closed with the construction. It was neat to walk along the boardwalk and see the lilypads, cat tails, etc. There are canoes available for rent if one wanted to canoe out in the marsh.
Next up the tip! There is a shuttle from the visitors center down to the tip area. The ride was approximately 10 minutes. The first announcement was in French. K looked confused, and we were acting as if we knew exactly what was being said....:) The park advises against swimming or even wading in the water at the tip due to the currents. There have been a number of drownings that have occurred due to people not adhering to these warnings.
Once off the shuttle there is a large "42" marker for crossing the 42nd parallel. There is also a sign about being in Carolinian Canada. Being Carolinians we had to take that photo op. Getting good photos at the actual tip was a little tough because, afterall, most people are there trying to do that!
Wild Ontario was in the park while we were visiting. They had a small falcon and an owl out for viewing, and small hands on area with wings, claws, etc. Honestly, seeing the owl up close was very neat.
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.