How Many States?

Sunday drives and cross-country road trips were a memorable part of boomer life for many of us. You?  Flying has been a dominating travel choice for the past few decades but driving was much more popular in the 60s and 70s. For more than ten years of my youth, my family of four took an annual road trip. The shortest was two nights and ninety miles, the longest was thirteen nights and a few thousand miles.

“Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona and such a fine site to see.”

I think I was 10 for the first trip. It was my first time out of Louisiana (all the way to neighboring Mississippi), first time in a hotel (probably a Holiday Inn), first time seeing an 'ocean' (Gulf of Mexico). The longest trip was Louisiana to New Mexico, which included our second time in Texas, a state I eventually lived in.

I took my first two plane trips in my 20s on a very small airline that only flew in Louisiana. I was in the Army and stationed at the other end of the state from home. My third flight was several years later for a job interview in Wisconsin.

“Nighttime on The City of New Orleans
Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee
Half way home, we'll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea.”

My first train trip was Milwaukee to New Orleans. The Chicago to
New Orleans part of that route is called "City of New Orleans" and is the inspiration for the song of the same name.

I have visited 40 states. Some of those 'visits' were drive-throughs but that's still a decent number. I'd like to see all 50 at some point and revisit a few.

Memorable big cities: New York and Chicago (even lived in that one briefly). Memorable smaller cities: Asheville NC and Moab UT.  Memorable non-city places: Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

“Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St Louis, down to Missouri
Oklahoma city looks oh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstaw, San Bernadino”

At some point in the 1990s I stopped taking road trips, except for a few 5-hour drives to the NC beaches. Flying is easier and faster. After Hurricane Katrina, I took a road trip out of some necessity, helping my sister move to my Maryland home for a few weeks. The trip to move her back to New Orleans began a 9-year string of road trips. My last one was two years ago and sometimes I miss them.

The ultimate road trip for me would be an open-ended adventure, maybe a month or two, with drives of 5-hours every two or three days, and leisurely stops along the way. Road trips slow you down and give you a chance to relax and really see America. And I've still gotten more stares to visit.


elizinashe said…
I miss a good road trip. Think I might need to plan one in the near future. Even if it's for a day.