Minnesota

Lakes. Fish. Lakes. Cornfields. Lakes. Boats. Lakes.

Land of 10,000 lakes. Possibly more. They range in size from easy to jog around to drive for most of a day along Lake Superior — a portion of this mighty lake’s, not containment. Lake Itasca enjoys the official designation as the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

Our family visited this state often. Our family would roll down the windows to enjoy the scent of linseed oil as we crossed the bridge into our favorite small city for shopping. Relatives lived in Minneapolis and introduced the “farm kids” to fine museums, parks, and theater.

Farming. Mining. Manufacturing. Minnesota is important in all of these areas. Visitors can expect a warm welcome — but don’t be in too much of a hurry. The descendants of the hardy Scandinavian and German settlers insert pauses and make leisurely conversation. Enjoy the Great Outdoors in the North Woods — or cozy up with a companion at a music festival.

Lower falls

Gooseberry Falls

We’ve made a turn on our tour of the United States. It’s time to follow the       west bank of the Mississippi River.

Wisconsin

Cheese. Beer. Sausages.  Do you see a trend here?

From the thriving cities on the shores of Lake Michigan to the quieter resort towns scattered near Lake Superior, water demonstrates importance in Wisconsin. Large portions of the state’s boundaries are water – the lakes mentioned above or the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers on the west. In addition the land is dotted with smaller lakes and rivers, creeks, and farm ponds.

Due to living in this state from birth to young adulthood, and visiting since then, I’ve too much to tell in one (or even several) blogs. Do I tell of the iconic farmstead with white house and red barn? Or catching a fish from shore, dock or boat? Visiting a university campus? The fine museums and parks of Milwaukee?

Decisions, decisions, decisions. I bid you to visit whether you are interested in a glimpse of rural America, fine art, or history. Somewhere over the hill or on the other side of the lake you’ll find it here. (You can even walk on water — in the winter.)

Glass Gallery

This fine art glass gallery is tucked away in Northern Wisconsin.

 

Illinois

The Land of Lincoln.

The Land of Windmills. Have you driven in the flat parts of this state in recent years? They have wind farms popping up everywhere. You even see their parts being transported to the building sites on long specialized trucks.

The Northeast portion of this state hugs Lake Michigan and includes the city of Chicago. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Several of my relatives migrated to Chicago for jobs immediately prior and after WWII. This made the city a place for my mother and I to visit twice during my youth. (Usually they came to see us on the farm.) It was always exciting – the people, traffic, museums, and cousins.

I’ve gone back as an adult. Even took my own children. Enjoyed the energy of the city but remain uncertain if I’d want to live there. I think I’ll content myself with the occasional visit where I can enjoy new sites and watch The Lake lap at the city edge.

illinois20080001Beautiful Chicago Lakefront in 2008

Indiana

A couple of states ago, we reached the Great Lakes. Today’s visit — to the Hoosier State — continues that theme.

The first Europeans to establish a fort in the territory were French. Then the British gained control. During the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Rogers Clark captured the important fort at Vincennes, key to control in the West.

Don’t bother to check the time when driving east or west across the state. The boundary between Eastern and Central time zones winds its way down the center. Even natives I asked when at a business meeting in Indianapolis couldn’t explain it.

Today Indiana is home to manufacturing, including steel and automobiles. Agriculture remains important with fields of corn and soybeans growing to the edge of country roads.

On a visit back in 2001, I drove some of the country roads in the Western portion of the state in search of covered bridges. And look what I found:

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New York

It’s more than a city. It’s an entire state. With forests. Mountains. Farms. Factories. An international boundary.  One of the original thirteen states, it held a key position to connect New England with the rest of the young nation.

Have you heard of The League of the Five Nations? Think history, prior to the Dutch forming settlements. Upstate New York contains many references to them in the use of names as well as historical sites.

On my second trip to visit relatives in the state, we visited one of the historical sites on the shore of Lake Ontario.

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No, this area does not have snow all year. This was taken in March. Also called the season of shrinking snowbanks.

Early fall brings out beautiful scenes. When touches of yellow, orange, and red decorate the hills among the green. I recommend spending some time in the Finger Lakes region. Admire beauties at the glass museum. Sigh at the sight of hills and clear lakes. Enjoy fruit of the vine along a wine trail.

Yes. I plan to visit the City. But first I’ll revel in the beauties of the Country.

 

Ohio

Small name. Big welcome.

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My first tourist visit to Ohio as an adult took place in 1998. This was a multi-state trip combining visits with relatives to tourist attractions. On the tourist side– the primary attraction this visit was the Air Force Museum outside of Dayton.

Oh My! We didn’t allow near enough time. My uncle, a WWII veteran, steered us to a few “must see” sights. But we could have enjoyed much more than the hours scheduled. Something to return to.

Bounded by Lake Erie on the north and the Ohio River on the south, this state was settled in the early days of the United States. Some veterans of the Revolutionary War were paid in Ohio land. Lots of hard work to take land from forest to farm. Factories came later — along those aforementioned waterways.

If you follow college sports you’ve heard of Ohio State. (They have a top notch marching band too.) And while it may be the most well-known university in the state it is by no means the only. With a population over 11.5 million, it takes a lot of books, libraries, teachers, and laboratories to maintain a quality educated work force.

So when you’re next in the neighborhood — north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi — take a little time to explore The Buckeye State.

 

Kentucky

Race horses. Fine whiskey. Coal. The Bluegrass State has earned a reputation for all of these things.

My travels in Kentucky were limited to driving through (usually with rain) while on my way to spend a vacation in another state. That changed in 2004 when I put it on my list of places to visit and get to know a little better.

While I did not have the time to see everything — always leave something to see on the next trip — I expanded my knowledge.

Kentucky has a unique national park centered around Mammoth Cave. History and natural wonder share the space. But I did not spend my entire visit underground. A distillery tour highlighted an afternoon. History included a visit to this reproduction cabin — the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln. I topped off my visit with a stop at Fort Knox. No, they didn’t show me the gold. But I did tour a military museum and learned more about tanks and artillery than you want to read in my blog.

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Let your imagination out to run when visiting historic Kentucky sites.

Tennessee

Our journey turns takes a step north. While Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State, it has a rich heritage in music also.

Nashville, the state capitol also has a reputation as the capitol of Country Music. But don’t forget Memphis, center piece of the Blues and significant in the history of Rock ‘n Roll.

My first tourist visits (I’ll ignore a quick drive through years before) occurred in the 1990’s when friends lived there. Historical exhibits and lip-smacking BBQ made for a memorable weekend.

By 2001, the desire to visit The Hermitage outside of Nashville drew me to travel there. If you enjoy US history I recommend you add this to your list of places to go and things to see. The house is good, the visitor center is interesting, and the grounds are the best of all. In fact, this photo of an interesting rail fence was taken there.

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Merry Christmas!!!

We interrupt our United States travels to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas!

May hope, peace, joy, and love be with you now and in the future.

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Mississippi

The state, not the river, is one step west from our last pause on the map.

Piney woods. The wide Mississippi River. Catfish.

These are three of the top impressions of my visits and travels in this state. Miles and miles of pine trees line the interstates. The smell is delicious and the dirt is sandy red. The river — well — as you may have guessed from previous topics — it’s my favorite of all American rivers. While I’m more familiar with the upper (northern) portion, the wider, slower waters hosting the barge traffic have a different sort of charm. And the catfish? Well, any self-respecting cafe, diner, or restaurant should have pond raised on the menu. And if my small sampling is any indication — they know how to both raise and cook them. Yum. Yum.

Like it’s neighbors — Mississippi is rich in Civil War history. One of my very first solo tourist trips was to visit the battlefield at Vicksburg. I was there in early April. It was already warm. The siege extended from May to July. Uniforms were wool. I’m glad I wasn’t there for multiple reasons.

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Go ahead. Convince a horse to pull a cannon up one of these in July heat.