We’ve Seen it All; All 50, and…..

…it turned out more like watching a no hitter baseball game. You know…the game is rather boring, nothing exciting is happening (because.there.are.no.hits.) when all of a sudden people start standing at the end of the 7th inning, the excitement and momentum starts building and there’s no way that pitcher is coming out of the game to turn the game over to the relief pitcher. No, he’s in it to win it and the entire ballpark is now on their feet waiting and watching in anticipation for him to make history, a new record, and pitch that no hitter!

It wasn’t on our bucket list. In fact, we don’t have a bucket list, but as we checked off the states we’d visited on a map we were keeping, and saw how few were left to explore, excitement and momentum began to grow with great anticipation! So, these two type “A” personalities set out to complete our last few states (read through to the end for our last states-but take some guesses what they were!)

Could we really check off and accomplish exploring all 50 states? Could we really do it? What will we find in the remaining uncharted territory? When we came into home plate as we landed in that 50th state, would it be as exciting as that no hitter?

We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, and have learned in all our travels that what it takes to be brave is often seen in our military and in the people who work to make this country what it is: our politicians from the top down, the workers in little and big communities, little families struggling to make ends meet and wealthy people whom we often found to be the most generous. It’s made us appreciate those who’ve fought to keep our country free, and frustrated when others fight instead of talk and legislate. We’ve met people who very much want to be a part of the solutions and are doing so while not trying to be more of the problems. There is such diversity in the United States of America, and a true “melting pot” it is! It’s as diverse in culture as it is in landscape; as different in the colors of our skin, race, ethnicity and creed as in the many regional differences of food, flavor, festivities, and celebrations. There are valleys and vistas and triumphs and failures in this country. Planning a trip to Disney World will be fun and enjoyable, but you’ll be missing the real true culture and real true people when you go to their hometowns. Nowhere did we visit that there was any restriction on who could visit-it was all-inclusive. Handicapped accessible, too! Venture out. We hope you’ll get to meet some of these people we’ve met when you get to enjoy your own travels. We have observed and learned so much.

While as kids, our travels took us to homes of family members, or to Florida for spring vacation; our first recollection is not having seat belts for those long drives! No infant or child safety seats; mom got to hold the little one the whole time! I remember sleeping on the floor for the full 24-hour drive south, and sleeping just fine when our heads hit our hotel pillows. Dad always found a nice place to stay; but who would have known, as long as it had a pool! A trend we carried into our family life:

As we had our own family, certain family limitations (a child with special needs) kept us in our own state of Ohio for those young years seeing all the state parks, zoos, museums, landmarks, etc. and as they grew, so did the excitement to see many states and check off their own map of our country. While we didn’t see all 50 states with the family, we got them off to a good start to continue it with theirs!

HISTORY BUFF:

Our country is so rich in history, not like Europe, but just right for each of us who live in this country! We’ve walked battlefields, observed great historical statues commemorating those battles, and driven lands inhabited by our forefathers. One doesn’t have to be a history buff to learn how our country came to be and the heritage we all share.

(Tops on our list include our trip from Cleveland, to Gettysburg, up the coast of the eastern states to Maine, and home through New Hampshire and New York. We stumbled upon a large Bed and Breakfast that was so pleasant we stayed two nights instead of one; arriving for a late dinner and fire-pit ended our day in a lovely way; awaking to a glorious lake and learning to skeet shoot as well as learn about Norman Rockwell nearby were two highlights. A great place to stumble!)

LIBRARIES:

Tours of presidential libraries (of both parties) are impressive in not only the design of each building, but also the documentation of all that was accomplished under that presidency. So much we don’t know that these places teach us.

(Tops on our list so far were Lyndon Johnson, and both the Bushes: treasures in our country keeping history alive. We also the Clinton library but were surprised to see one big piece of history totally ignored.)

MUSEUMS:

From amazing Civil Rights Museums that have educated us like nothing else could, to art museums that culture us in ways we are not skilled, to history and science museums that show us the intelligence of others who’ve paved the way of discovery in this country. We should be so proud of this country!

(Tops on our lists have been several Civil Rights Museums: Alabama and Atlanta were tops. Art Museums: The Georgia O’Keeffee Museum in Santa Fe, NM had her lovely landscapes and flowers that were easy to enjoy and some really abstract works that were interesting!)

SCENERY and BOTANICAL GARDENS:

There is so much to see, experience, and enjoy. Seeing cities and country, National parks, each coast, and all the land in between, we could never choose one top viewpoint, but we’ll share our top memories after you read the best way to tell the story of the landscape in the song America the Beautiful. Google search your favorite artist and listen to them sing:

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL by Katherine Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above thy fruited plain

America, America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness

America, America
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self control
Thy liberty in law

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life

America, America
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears

America, America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea

(Tops for us: Alaska…flying over the miles and miles of the black mountains with pure white snowcaps. A special excursion prop plane flight from Talkeetna to Mt. Denali gave us views of glaciers that were the most incredible pure translucent turquoise blue we’ve ever seen. Landing on the top of Mt. Denali on a glacier-a base camp for climbers-gave us the most pure experience of dead silence except for our own voices. The 25-year old gal who took care of this base camp was impressive! It was expensive but priceless; and a once in a lifetime experience. Hawaii: A mountaintop sunrise at the top of Mt. Haleakala was like watching a fast motion movie of the sun greeting us all while freezing high on the mountaintop. It was truly extravagant! National Parks: through Wyoming, Utah, South and North Dakota, and much more; camping in the Grand Tetons in our rented van when no rooms could be found in Jackson Hole were such highlights. Our little camping rental site was our room as we “layered on clothing” to keep warm in the night time air in the 30’s as Joe continued to warm up the van from time to time while the three of us (us and our son Joey) snuggled the best we could. It was the darkest night we’d even seen. Arizona: Some call The Grand Canyon a ‘big hole’, but we challenge them to actually see it! While being fearful of heights –that happened somewhere else in AZ-I was happy to view it from the top and not hike it! Atlanta, GA: The 1994 Olympics were….amazing! Favorite Cities: Washington DC, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleansand in the end…while it’s been an amazing trip around this grand country, and while our last states were Wisconsin for Joe and Oklahoma for Cindi, we can clearly say our favorite place is:

Cleveland, Ohio!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Little Italy

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra

Cleveland Indians, Browns, Cavaliers

Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes

And the list goes on and on!

(and the Columbus OSU Buckeyes)

We challenged you to get a map, check off your travels, and if you happen through Ohio, we’ll show you around….because for us:

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

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