New York Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
When I was seventeen, I was given the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and New York City with others my age and without my parents. It was a chaperoned trip, but there was such a freedom traveling with contemporaries instead of family. My past trips had been with family to Six Flags Over Everywhere, to the mountains of Tennessee and once to the Redneck Riviera (the Mississippi Gulf Coast). While in New York, our teen constituency visited the United Nations and I felt the world I knew shrink. This experience changed my view of the world, but was slow to change how I participated in this new bigger world.
Until traveling to Washington D.C. and New York, I considered myself well traveled! Travel was not a priority for many in my small southern town. My counterparts at school were envious of my travel experiences. I had traveled to six states other than my home state of Mississippi. I had been to Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia. I had schoolmates that had never traveled outside of Mississippi. As small as my world did seem, I wanted to see more. I was grateful that I had the life experiences I had already had, but my view was still limited. The New York trip added Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
I once visited the Louisiana state capitol building. There are 48 steps leading to the entrance one for each state at the time it was constructed (Alaska & Hawaii share a step with Arizona now). I was amazed at how many steps that represented states I had never traveled to or knew nothing about. Then as I got to Washington D.C., I was reminded of that feeling. So much of my own country, I knew nothing about. I made a decision then that by the time I was 40 years-old, I would travel to all 48 contiguous states and by 45 years of age, add Alaska and Hawaii to complete travel to all 50 states. I had 12 under my belt before graduating high school; this would not be a difficult goal - I thought!
Then after arriving in New York, country boy had come to town! The big city lights lit areas of my mind that had been in the shadows for too long! One of the scheduled activities for us was to visit the United Nations. I walked into the lobby with my mouth open wide! For the first time in my life, I was seeing the world. These people were not on tv, they were in front of my eyes! As will walked into the General Assembly and a small flag for each country was displayed on the desk in front of each seat representing all the countries that were members of the United Nations, I knew my small world would never be seen again, my eyes were opened to how insignificant me and my small world I had lived in was. I changed future travel goals. My new goals included international travel.
I turned 20 years old, then 30 and I had only added like two more states; Florida, Georgia and Kentucky, to my list bringing the total to only 15 states traveled to. I took a job that was 60 - 70 % travel. With this job, I was able to add North and South Carolina, Ohio, Indiana and Arkansas bringing me to 20. Then by 35 I was traveling Monday - Friday three weeks out of each month. I also made a good many trips each year outside of my territory enabling me to add California to my list and some Mexico border town visits. I celebrated my divorce with a Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Taos vacation adding Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. By 37 years old, I was actually at 24 states and 1 country other than the U.S., so I had made some really good progress in 7 years I felt. My job relocated me to Las Vegas and decided I was going to take a creative route to driving cross country to Las Vegas and in that one trip added 4 more states Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Utah making my total 28 states visited. I also added a quick visit to Wyoming. After 4 years in Las Vegas, I retired (yes at 41 years old I retired) and I spent the next year traveling. Since, I have added 2 more states Oregon and Washington and even 2 countries, Canada and Colombia to my list.
Now at 42 years old, I stand at 31 states and 2 countries traveled to. I already have a trip in the works to add 2 more states Idaho and Montana by June 09 to visit Yellowstone National Park. I also hope to add 3 additional states; Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan by year end, helping get closer to the goal. Even though I fell short on the planned time line, I now have more time and a focus to accomplish my travel goals, but less money for travel. So instead of solo travel, I hope to find travel companions to help share the cost and experience. As of right now, my world is 10 times larger than when I began my teenage travel adventure, but I still see how much larger my world can be and look forward to the travel adventures ahead!