Monday, September 24, 2012

A Light-Hearted Continental Scribble

The elusive sign that I have yet to see.

I've always had a deep fondness for maps and cartography.  Ever since I can remember, I would stare at maps for hours and wish somehow that I could visit the far away places I was looking at.  I would imagine what it would be like to set foot in some of these places. Sometimes I think that I was born in the wrong century and that I was supposed to be an explorer.  Perhaps you could argue that I still am an explorer, just in a different sort-of way.  Maybe this explains, at least in part, why I find myself in places like Antarctica, Labrador, and amongst the strangest back-corners of remote trails. 

Last week after completing a road-trip back from Texas, it occurred to me that I have now visited every state in these here fine United States.  Every state.....but one.  It got me thinking just what the timeline of my "Visit-map" would look like.  Me, being the map dork that I am, found a wonderful little website that allows me to do just that.  So, just for fun, I felt like walking myself through my travels.  So, bear with me and and feel free to follow along as I take a ride down a map-filled memory lane.  Obviously, many of these trips have much deeper story content (e.g. my A.T. thru-hike), but I decided to keep this post simple and just focus on which states were checked off.  

I've decided for ease of reading to use the following color scheme:

Green:  A state that I've lived in (permanent mailing address).

Blue:  A state visited and set foot in.  Airports don't count.

Orange:  A state I thru-hiked in. This is kind of arbitrary, but it is a defining part of my lifestyle so I thought it should get it's own color.

White: A state NOT YET visited.

1.  A long time time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.....kidding kidding.
Sometime during the strange time we know as "The 70's", I was born in Rochester, NY...and grew up in the suburb of West Webster.

My home for 17 years in West Webster.  (image: google street viewer - seriously)

2.  During my childhood my family went on several vacations (usually during the Summer months).  Specifically I can remember a handful of these vacations (I'm probably forgetting a bunch).  When I was about 6 years old, we all flew to Disney Land in California.  My dad had to go for business, and so we all tagged along.  I can remember actually getting a full meal on the plane.  Ahhh the good ol' days.  A couple years later we visited Disney World in Florida along with Sanibel Island.  There were also trips to Gettysburg, Washington D.C., Plymouth MA, Stowe VT, and Virginia Beach.  Lastly, we also made yearly trips to Northern NY (and Ontario Canada) as well as Long Island to visit family (often going through New Jersey).  These trips knocked out CA, FL, VA, MD, DE, PA, NJ, MA, and VT.

California, circa 1982? 

Sanibel Island, circa 1984?

3.  When I was 17, I graduated from high school and headed off to Cleveland, Ohio to attend college at Case Western Reserve University.  During my second year of college, I took a road trip to Indiana to visit my friend at Notre Dame...and got to attend a football game in the stadium!  This knocked out OH and IN.

4.  A few years later, just after graduating college, buying my first new car, and settling down in Cleveland,  I decided that a larger road trip was in order.  This time it would be to the New England States and parts of Northern Canada.  I set out with a destination of the inland region of Labrador Canada (part of what was then the Province of Newfoundland....but now the province of "Newfoundland and Labrador").  During this trip, I was able to knock out New Hampshire, Maine,  New Brunswick, Quebec, and Labrador.  It was an amazing road trip that brought me to some of the more remote areas that can be visited by car in North America. the middle of nowhere (near Labrador City)

5.  The road-trip bug had now bitten permanently and I was hooked on seeing new places.  The following year I made my way south to Key West Florida...another place I'd always wanted to see.  My parents were coming in from a cruise there, so I decided to pop on down.  On the drive down, I passed through, and visited several new states, including West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Kill Devil Hills, NC

Key West, FL

6.  The next big road trip was the grand-daddy of them all.  Alaska.  In 2003, the road trip of all road trips started in Cleveland Ohio, and ended in Fairbanks Alaska.  Along the way, I visited my first new states west of the Mississippi since I was 6 years old.  On the outbound trip, I took Interstate 90 all the way to Seattle Washington through Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.  While in Montana, I also took a detour to visit Glacier National Park....truly an amazing side-trip.  From there I turned north going through British Columbia and Yukon on my way to Alaska,  After a week in the north country, I came back via the Alaskan Highway and then through Alberta where I eventually met back up with I-90 in Butte, Montana.

kayaking up to Wild Goose Island on St. Mary's Lake (Glacier Nat. Park)

Yukon....Canada's True North

Backpacking in Denali....with an ENORMOUS pack.  My thru-hiking
pack now probably weighs about 40 pounds less than this.

Start of the AlCan

Sign Post Forest, Northern British Columbia.

7.  In 2007 I took a major fork in my life-road when I decided to leave my life in Ohio, and go back to graduate school in Pennsylvania.  As a way to clear my head first, I took a short road-trip to the Canadian Atlantic provinces with an old friend in March.  We met in Providence,  Rhode Island and drove up to Canada visiting Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  When I returned, I started what would be my life changing milestone: My A.T. thru-hike.  During the summer, I walked from Georgia to Maine, visiting 14 total states along the way (knocking out Tennessee and Connecticut in the process).

Bay of Fundy, Canada...watching the tide go out.

Day 1 of AT Hike

Harpers Ferry, WV

Starting Maine

8.  After a successful first year of graduate school, I headed out to Colorado to do some lab work.  It was after this work, that I also Thru-hiked the 500-mile Colorado Trail.

Somewhere along the Colorado Trail (2008)

9.  During the Summer of 2009, I volunteered to TA the undergraduate field camp.  This involved driving from Pennsylvania out to several of the Rocky Mountain states.  This trip not only allowed me to teach my first class, but it allowed me to visit beautiful Utah, and drive through both Iowa and Nebraska.

Ahhh...lovely Nebraska. Home of....arbor day?

Red Lodge, MT

Sketching the Book Cliffs of Utah in our field books

Grand Tetons!

Old Faithful

10.  During the Summer of 2010, after completing my Masters degree (and before starting my PhD), I decided to Thru-Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  I spent exactly four months walking up the mountainous spine of the three Pacific States (CA, OR, WA) seeing a level of beauty I didn't think possible.  2010 was also the year that I stopped-over in Hawaii on the way back form Antarctica.  I had such a long layover at the airport, that I actually left with some friends and spent the afternoon on Waikiki Beach.

At the beach in Hawaii

At the Start of the PCT in California (Mexican Border)

Oregon Border

Washington Border

Canadian Border

11.  During the Fall of 2011, I headed out to New Mexico Tech (Socorro NM) for a training class.  This was my first and only Jaunt to New Mexico thus far.  

12.  In June of this year, I was back to road tripping.  This time it involved a quick jaunt down to Houston.  Along the way, I stopped in Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and of course....Texas

Straddling the VA/KY State Line

Alabama Border....along the Natchez-Trace Parkway

Mississippi border along the Natchez-Trace Parkway

New Orleans, on a Saturday Night.

....and Texas.  Yep that's about all I care to say about Texas.

13.  In July came the big daddy....Badwater.  I headed out to Vegas to run the 135-mile beast of beasts. A few days before the race, I managed to sneak in a quick visit over to Hoover Dam and visit Arizona in the process.

At Hoover Dam

Straddling the border!

Back in the Nevada

14.  In August, I made a trip out to Colorado again.  This time it was for more work in the ice-core lab, and to run Leadville a third time.  On a random Monday night in Denver I found myself looking for something to do.  So....naturally, I drove to Kansas for a visit.  Why?  Well, because it was there.

Yay....uhhh....Kansas!  Yeah!

My lovely visit to Briggs Park in Kanorado, KS

15.  And then last week came my second Texas road trip.  This time it was in the opposite direction.  On the return trip, I was able to visit Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Michigan before arriving back home in State College, PA.

On the AR border

Climbing in Oklahoma

The St. Louis Arch!

A quick pop up over in lower Michigan.

And so....that is where it stands.  With one solitary state remaining to be seen and visited.  Lonely North Dakota.  I'm sure that one day, I will pop on over for visit there, but for now I will sit comfortably with my wonderful map.  49 states seen, 49 states experienced, 49 states full of memories.

So my friends,
hike on,
run on,
travel on,
and see the world.


Oh, and as far as North American perspective (including Canada), here is where I have left to visit.


Aaron Nolan said...

Glad I could play a role in helping with Indiana and the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the smallest state with the longest official name). Looking forward to when you take that road trip through North Dakota to Nunavut.
My state total rests at a paltry 30, just about equal to number of countries visited:)

Mike said...

A very interesting life...thank you for sharing your adventures.

UltraChris said...

thanks for sharing, john. i live vicariously through you ...

Troy Sosa said...

Thanks for wwriting