The Wild Honey Buzz, October 2021: State of Affairs
"The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem." ~Walt Whitman
"I'm in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even affection. But with Montana it is love." ~John Steinbeck (who never resided in Montana, only visited briefly!)
Happy Fall to those in the Northern Hemisphere, and Happy Spring to those Down Under! I just returned not long ago from a road trip to the beautiful state of Montana and Glacier National Park, a one million acre stunningly beautiful wilderness. It's difficult not to fall in love with Montana, but I also agree with Steinbeck who wrote that the only thing Montana lacks is an ocean. Though I have "admiration, respect, recognition and even affection" for the mountains, I have love for the ocean and prefer living near a coast, especially the West Coast of America.
My recent trip to Montana and Walt Whitman's quote about the United States being the greatest poem inspired me to blog about the 50 states and my experience/impressions of the ones I've visited. There are only six states where I've not been, and several in which I've only driven through or seen a brief portion. Although Whitman was probably referring to the United States as a country in his quote, I'm choosing to focus on their individual physical landscape features and how I experienced them for the purposes of this blog post.
What about you? How many states have you visited? Which is your favorite? If you could choose to live in any one, which one would it be and why? Are you happier in proximity to the ocean, mountains, or flat lands? Do you prefer the city life, suburbia or the country?
So here is my list of impressions in alphabetical order:
Alabama.....my daughter graduated from Auburn University, so we spent some time in Auburn and visited Mobile. Watching a bald eagle fly around Jordan Hare Stadium at Auburn while the students chanted "War Eagle" was memorable.
Alaska....I've been to the Southeast part of the state but not the interior. I have fond memories of visiting the Mendenhall Glacier and Anan Wildlife Observatory where we stood on an observation deck and watched brown and black bears catch spawning salmon from the creek below.
Arizona....the Grand Canyon is indeed grand but I feel nervous and unsettled in the desert, probably due to the absence of trees and water. The hottest temperature I've ever experienced was in Arizona...116 degrees in July of 2017.
Arkansas...I was in Northwest Arkansas once around Memorial Day and remember standing in a large field of beautiful red poppies, blue corn flowers and white flowers.
California...my husband's birthplace and my son's chosen state. How I love the coastline and the giant sequoia trees! I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for two years prior to moving to Washington State.
Colorado....My husband and son are graduates of Denver University. When my son lived there he complained about being "landlocked!" The Rocky Mountains are extraordinarily beautiful, but like his mom, he really needs to be near the ocean, so after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles!
Connecticut...We drove through this state once so my personal experience of it is limited. However, I feel some affection for it since it's the state where my daughter sought refuge when the pandemic struck in 2020 and she had to leave New York City where she was living at the time. She stayed with her roommate's family in Connecticut during the first harrowing weeks of the lockdown.
Deleware....Drove through this tiny state once.
Florida...I lived in the sunshine state for a year after I graduated from high school...love the sun, palm trees and beaches, and have a lot of extended family there.
Georgia...Savannah is a charming town!
Hawaii....Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on the planet! I cry every time I visit and it's time to leave! I've been to the big island of Hawaii, to Maui, Oahu and Kauai. My father received his basic training on Oahu during WWII, so it is also a place of historical significance to our family. This is the state I hope to hibernate in during winter in the very near future.
Idaho....survived white water rafting (stage 4 rapids!) on one of Idaho's wild rivers and feasted on their famous trout and potatoes...a gorgeous state!
Illinois...don't know much about this state but visited Chicago once upon a time.
Indiana....I have not been to this state.
Iowa....never been to Iowa.
Kansas...so the wheat fields seem endless! I remember stopping in a small town during a cross country road trip once and seeing Amish folks in traditional wear and riding in buggies being pulled by horses. I have not seen a sunflower field in Kansas..that would most likely blow my mind as I love sunflowers.
Kentucky...I have deep affection for the mountains of Eastern Kentucky where many of my ancestors settled, especially the beautiful Cumberland Gap area which borders the Virginia county where I was born.
Louisiana...wild times in New Orleans! (Where the Bible Belt comes unbuckled...lol)
Maine....Drove through this state on a trip to the Northeast once.
Maryland...another state I've only driven through.
Massachusetts....been to Boston.
Michigan...been to Jackson of all places! (long story) ...need to get to Mackinaw Island when the lilacs bloom there and to Lansing to visit a good friend who lives there.
Minnesota...been to the Mall of America.
Mississippi....drove through a small portion once.
Missouri...remember the view from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the pretty countryside that borders Northwest Arkansas.
Montana...wild and stunningly gorgeous! Been to Glacier National Park and the portion of Yellowstone located in Montana. The Big Sky is all it's cracked up to be and Steinbeck is so right about this state's unparalleled beauty...but I still think Hawaii tops it.
Nebraska....One of the six states I've never visited. My husband has been to all 50 states, and Nebraska was the last one he checked off his list. He enjoyed his visit.
Nevada...Did some hiking there and though the desert is lovely in its own way, it isn't my favorite landscape. I drove through Los Vegas once and never got out of the car. Not a gambler, ha!
New Hampshire....hiked once in the White Mountains and loved the beautiful, rugged terrain. Would love to return to see the famous fall foliage there some day.
New Jersey....have ridden the train from New Jersey to New York City and drove through a small portion of this state.
New Mexico....my husband has family in New Mexico (his grandmother grew up there); I remember Santa Fe, the incredible sunsets and the magnificent saguaro cacti.
New York....My husband's Irish, French and Dutch ancestors came through Ellis Island and his mother grew up in Queens. My daughter lived in New York City for a time and I've visited upstate, the Hudson Valley and all of the NYC boroughs. I'm not a big city girl, but I do love the natural urban oasis that is beautiful Central Park.
North Carolina...the mountains of this beautiful state are some of my ancestral homelands. The drive from Kingsport, Tennessee to Asheville is one of my favorites, especially in the fall.
North Dakota...I often wonder if I will ever get to North Dakota! It was one of the last states my husband visited in his endeavor to get to all 50. I have a very dear friend who grew up there.
Ohio...attended a family reunion in Columbus once and drove north to Cedar Park Amusement park in Sandusky where I survived a wild ride on a wooden roller coaster!
Oklahoma....drove through a section on a cross country road trip.
Oregon....what. a. beautiful. state!!! Crater Lake is one of the most stunning sights I've ever seen, and the Oregon coast is exquisite!
Pennsylvania...been to Philly and the beautiful Longwood Gardens.
Rhode Island...drove through this tiny state.
South Carolina....lovely beaches. My fondest memory of South Carolina is watching my mother sit on the balcony of our hotel in Myrtle Beach that faced the ocean and sketch the dolphins that were jumping out of the water. It was the last trip I took with her before she passed away. I also cherish another trip I took with my daughter to Charleston.
South Dakota...I've never been to SD, but hope one day to visit my former student who lives on a farm there.
Tennessee....Since I grew up in Virginia, on the border of Tennessee, I claim it as one of my birthplaces! Sometimes, when people hear my Southern accent and ask where I'm from, I answer Tennessee instead of Virginia because my accent sounds more Tennessean than Virginian. My ancestors settled in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee just North of the Great Smokey Mountains.
Texas....been to Austin, San Antonio, and drove across West Texas on a cross country trip once. Been to the Alamo, but what I remember most is watching thousands of bats fly out of the bat cave located underneath the Congress Avenue bridge in Austin and over Lady Bird Lake under a full moon.
Utah...so, since my nickname is Wild Honey, I enjoyed hiking in the Beehive state.
Vermont...I sort of view Vermont and Maine as the East Coast equivalents of WA State. I stayed in Vermont during a trip to the Northeast once and would like to explore more of the state, especially when the fall foliage is at its peak.
Virginia...my beautiful birthplace! One of the most beautiful places on the planet is the farm I grew up on that is nestled in this heart of Appalachia where the state borders KY, TN and NC. This is the place where I first fell in love with the natural world, and the place for which I'm frequently "homesick."
Washington...the gorgeous Evergreen State where I've resided for 33 years in the shadow of majestic Mount Rainier (Mount Tahoma) and near the shores of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound). This state will always be my second home and place of nostalgia since it is where I raised my children. I deeply love this land in all of its lushness and diversity.
West Virginia....drove on some of the famous country roads in this state.
Wisconsin...I've never been there.
Wyoming....been to Yellowstone, America's Serengeti...a wild and wonderful national park in a beautiful state.
And that's my state of affairs....44 down, 6 to go.