50 @ 50

the first few years of my life I didn’t get around much.
I suppose the fact that I couldn’t walk, talk or feed myself
hindered me somewhat, so I didn’t travel much, or I don’t
remember it if I did.

As I
grew, childhood summers found me in the waaaaay back seat
(you know, the one that faced backwards) of a fake wood
paneled, school bus sized Pontiac station wagon pounding
down the two lane blacktop of the Rocky Mountain West. Yellowstone,
The Grand Canyon,
Four Corners, Mesa Verde, The Great Sand Dunes… we made all the
hot spots… mom, dad, five kids and a pop-up trailer. Funny, I
don’t remember ever actually being inside the trailer.

By my teenage
years I was fortunate enough to really start seeing some of the
world. I looked into a volcano in Hawaii, swam with sharks in
the Yucatan and listened to great music in Montreaux. My dad is
a geologist and sometimes took me along, he is also a musician
and didn’t want to listen alone, lucky for me. The wanderlust
took hold.

In my adult
life I chose a profession that required insane amounts of travel…
and liked it. Playing music gave me the opportunity to see new
places, try new things and learn about the world. I never understood
the guys who would just hole up all day in the hotel until the

As a touring
musician, sometimes I was on the road over three hundred days
out of the year. Some years I was overseas more than I was here
in the states. Buses, airplanes, vans, limos, boats, trains, cars,
trams, water taxis, cable cars, subways, you name it, if it can
carry people, I’ve had one carry me to a gig somewhere.

I’m not sure
when, but somewhere along the road, I started keeping track of
where I had been. Perhaps it was waking up in Delaware or falling
asleep in Idaho and wondering “if I’m here, where else have
I been?” Looking at a map, it was easy to pick out the states
that I had visited at one time or another. By the time my crazy
road trips had slowed to a crawl, I had been to 48 out of our
50 states. I lacked Maine and Oregon. I had a mission… coast
to coast from Portland to Portland.

When we embarked
on our GypsyNester journey I saw my chance to check off these
final two destinations. New England beckoned, neither of us had
spent much time there, so Maine would be the first to get crossed
off the list. We headed Down East and spent several wonderful
summer days along the rocky Atlantic shore, canoeing, fishing
and eating lobster in The Pine Tree State. Forty nine down, one
to go.

We spent the
rest of our summer and into the fall meandering around the northern
U.S. and parts of Canada, all the while working our way westward.
By the time autumn had fully set in, we found ourselves on the
Pacific coast in Washington. It was time to start heading south
to avoid the chill and finish my Portland to Portland mission.

highway 101 down the coast — literally in the spray of the
surf — the Columbia River bridge into The Beaver State loomed
ahead. It’s a massive structure across the broad waterway
where Lewis and Clark
finished their journey. An enormous amount of water flows down from
the Cascades into the Pacific because it rains all the

time in the Pacific Northwest.

When we finished
the nearly four mile trek across the bridge and back onto terra
firma in Oregon, Veronica asked if I wanted to kiss the ground.
I didn’t really feel compelled to pull a Pope’s-arrival-to-a-new-country-move,
but I had made it. I had visited all 50 states and it only took
me 50 years. That‘s right, the feat had been accomplished
in the same year that I turned the calendar from my 49th to my
50th year.

This seemed
like a pretty big achievement to me, so I set out to investigate
just how big. How rare is it to have set foot in all fifty states?
Many people would like to do it, at least according to the sites
that come up when Googling “visit all fifty states.”
Some have succeeded. Some are trying to see them all in one year.
Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as 50 @ 50 if you ask me,
but hey, power to them.

I found that
Richard Nixon was the first president to visit all 50 states and
several since then, including our current one, have done it. But
try as I may, I simply could not find out how rare it is to have
touched ’em all. Five percent of Americans? One percent? Less?

I think so.
It’s not often that Google doesn’t have an answer but I’ll take
that to mean it’s a pretty rare feat indeed. Makes a guy feel
kinda special.

With this
accomplishment under my belt, I began to wonder how many countries
there are on earth. There are, depending on who you ask, somewhere
between 189 and 195. Most almanacs agree on 193, so I’ll go with
that. By my count I have been to 23 of them. Geez, I’m way behind
schedule cuz I sure don’t see myself living to 193. But it’s
good to have goals.

I’d better
get busy before I can’t walk, talk or feed myself again.

David, GypsyNester.com

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17 thoughts on “50 @ 50”

  1. Oh interesting! I’m surprised it was Oregon. I have 6 states left, though quite a few years to get that done for 50 at 50 🙂 but I’m missing some strange ones like North Dakota, Arkansas, and Oklahoma…can’t quite bring myself to spend time or money to book a trip to those, yet.

  2. Alaska was my 50th state, which I think is probably typical, based on the very few people I have talked to about it. I want to visit all 7 continents but do not care how many countries I visit. Happy travels.

  3. I have just Alaska and Hawaii and missed the chance to visit son when stationed there to go visit. Otherwise I have no real desire to see Hawaii. Now Alaska, I can’t wait to visit someday soon. Think I would like to do the cruise and train deal. Hopefully soon!

  4. As always, I love your posts D & V. I’ve worked at myriad states over 30 yrs. w//IBM.. but spending 6 mos/ or so at one city, doesn’t make a happy event. I love the meandering aspect and not holding to a firm itinerary. Precisely why you guys hold my interest, and now? Friendship. xxxrobvogt

  5. Hawaii was one of the last ones I hit. Vermont and Main are tuff ones to get to also. I’m surprized Dave didn’t hit them all years ago. I’ve been to a bunch of them with him.

  6. Veronica here! I’ve got 6 states to go. First the obvious ones –Alaska and Hawaii. Then the “darts on the map” — South Carolina, North Dakota, Vermont & Delaware. How am I ever going to route THAT trip?

    How common is this? How many states have you been to?

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