And Then There Were None
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a goal of visiting all 50 states. I’m not exactly sure why. Visiting every state seemed to promise a life of travel and adventure, and it gave me something to look forward to. It also appealed to the analytical side of my brain, one that speaks in facts and figures and percentages. So after a fairly well-traveled childhood and a cross-country road trip with my sister 15 years ago, I’ve been chipping away at the stragglers one by one. One of the highlights of this trip was the prospect (and eventual reality) of checking off the final three states—North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho—on my list.
Reaching the first of the three, North Dakota, was relatively uneventful and occurred during the first week of the trip. We crossed the Red River from Minnesota at Grand Forks and barely had time to snap a picture of the bridge sign before we slid into state #48. Things got more interesting when we made it to Rugby, ND, where we encountered a strange monument declaring Rugby to be the geographical center of North America. Who knew? We also stumbled upon a large road painting of the U.S. at the International Peace Garden on the border North Dakota shares with Manitoba. It provided the perfect opportunity to plank across my final three states (which seemed like a normal thing to do at the time).
The second (and next to last) state we tackled was Montana one week later, and my arrival celebration was fit for a bad car commercial. We crossed into the state at the Canadian border in Alberta and emerged on the Blackfoot Reservation. My jump for joy at seeing the sign was partly due to my excitement at nabbing state #49 and partly because we were back in the U.S. after a strange and expensive few days in Canada. We were in Montana for a week, and it proved to be one of my favorite stops of the trip.
And then there was one: Idaho. I had to wait nearly two weeks to arrive there while we worked our way down through Montana and Wyoming. I was ready. We crossed into Idaho in the middle of nowhere on a Friday morning, emerging from a mountain pass into a deserted valley. We pulled over and took our time capturing the moment. My plan to scale the sign was both (a) ill-advised and (b) unsuccessful, even after switching shoes. (Evidently vertical, industrial, polished metal provides zero traction…and has very sharp edges.) I settled for a partial split into soft gravel. We can’t win ‘em all.
But I did notch them all! 50 states, thousands of miles, hundreds of stories, and countless adventures. On this particular trip, M was also able to scratch a few states off his list, visiting for the first time a total of eight new states. And while I started the trip with three states to go, that’s how he ended it: with three states left. I’m not psyched about going back to Arkansas with him, but you won’t hear me complain when I have to return to Alaska and Hawaii. Maybe next year… -J.