Well, it’s official. I’m now a member of the 50-state club. A journey that started on a whim, almost 12 years ago when I had a free summer and decided to try and see as much of America as possible finally reached its conclusion when we landed in Hawaii.
It’s… a really odd feeling actually. I’m obviously really happy and excited to have reached this point. It’s been almost five years since I was within striking distance, but then fatherhood intervened, and then Covid happened, and I wasn’t really sure I would ever be able to pull this off.
But there’s also this feeling of… what now? For so long I thought about trying to reach this goal, it’s even on my work bio that I’ve “been to 49 states and I bet you’ll never guess which one I haven’t been to.” But now that has to change. So what’s next? Visiting every country in the world is not likely being that countries like North Korea (and now Russia I guess?) are really no-go zones for Americans. And for me, going to places like Iran or Saudi Arabia are really off the table.
I was thinking it would be cool to try and visit all the US territories, but is that even a thing that people do? I’ve always been interested in places like Guam, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands. And I’m sure at some point I’ll get to Puerto Rico. But like… how am I supposed to get to places like Midway or Palmyra? How about Johnston Atoll? I mean I guess I would dimly aim to try and do this, but it’s going to be pretty hard to get Ariel to agree to prioritize the Northern Mariana Islands over say… Spain, or Costa Rica, or Iceland for example. Or if we’re talking far-flung places, the Galapagos Islands. And to be fair, I’d rank all of those higher on my list of priorities than most of the territories.
You can’t even do the “seven wonders” thing because there are so many of these lists, and so little agreement on what they even are that it’s pretty pointless to even bother.
Obviously I need to do the continents. Sadly and somewhat pathetically I’m still missing Africa despite being to Israel dozens of times in my life. Maybe next time I’m there I’ll take a day-trip into Egypt to at least cross that off the list. Australia is definitely in my top 10 places to visit, but getting there with a child is a major challenge. When Ariel and I went to New Zealand, at one point I entertained the notion of maybe spending a weekend in Australia, but that would have meant giving something up, which we just weren’t going to do. And the closest I’ve gotten to Antartica is Ushuaia in Argentina, where many cruises to Antarctica leave from. So I suppose that’s the next goal, although I don’t know when I’ll be able to make any progress in that direction over the next few years.
I also really want to get to the true American extremes. I’ve been to all four points within the continental United States, for example like the northernmost point in the Lower 48 (the Northwest Angle in Minnesota), but the REAL northernmost point is much harder to get to in Barrow, Alaska. Ditto for the westernmost point which in the lower 48 is Cape Alava, in Washington but ACTUALLY is in Guam. The easternmost point within the 50 states is actually in Lubec, Maine which I’ve been to, but then there’s the US Virgin Islands east of there. The southernmost point in the lower 48 is in Key West, but the REAL southernmost point in a state is actually in Hawaii on the big island (have to come back I guess!) and past that of course is American Samoa. So, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. Hmmm…
But anyway, we’re here in Hawaii right now! And we’re having an amazing time. I’ll have more posts coming about what we’re actually doing here. Our first week is in Oahu, and our second week is in Maui. Aside from the typical Hawaii stuff like scarfing down pineapples, checking out unreal beaches, experiencing Hawaiian culture, and of paying my respects at Pearl Harbor, I have a minor sidequest to try and see some locations from the TV show LOST, which I have an extreme love/hate relationship with.
I feel so lucky to be here and really happy about the fact that I’m now a member of the 50-state club. I just can’t help thinking about what to do next!