South Carolina

We travel south, then back to the coast, for our visit to South Carolina.

This state, the eighth to ratify the US Constitution, is rich in history. The Spanish and then the French attempted and failed to establish viable colonies.  More than a century later, in 1670, the English established a settlement. When conditions proved too harsh, they moved it to the present site of Charleston and named it Charles Town after the English King Charles I.

Battles took place within the state in the Revolutionary War and the first shots of the Civil War were fired here. While many of these sites are remembered in parks and museums, the state also has modern agriculture and industry.

My visit occurred in 2006. It was the first of several trips to interesting places with a college friend. Our destination was Charleston and we picked up many interesting facts about history and architecture. Of course we had to visit the beach. It was a charming place at both sunrise and later in the day.

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Afternoon surf at Isle of Palms

North Carolina

Three ladies, friends since college, invaded the western portion of this state in 2011.

Early spring in the mountains including watching snow melt on the approach one morning. We also had a delightful time learning with a group collected from several states. We listened to lectures on the Scots-Irish heritage of the area. Learned to appreciate the unique sound of mountain music. Plus, we were given a peek into Cherokee history and culture.

There’s more to this state than we experienced. The eastern coast has a reputation for secluded beaches, lighthouses, and fine resorts. Cities with thriving, modern industry and education comprise the  Research Triangle.

Marine Corps and Army veterans are sure to have either experienced or heard personal stories of Camp LeJeune or Fort Bragg.

Be sure to take your sense of adventure as well as your sense of humor along when you visit.

How to make a North Carolina lake.

How to make a
North Carolina lake.

Virginia

Over the river… (come on, you can sing this)

Over the river is also the only way to get from our previous stop – Washington DC – to the state of Virginia.

The history inside this state is rich and varied. Rivers and seacoast were the early highways of the state. And harbors remain important. The US Navy facilities at Norfolk are some of the largest in the world.

Do you like fine old houses? Then make a point to visit the homes of several of our early presidents. Do you enjoy walking a civil war battlefield? Virginia has many. Or do you prefer a peek at Colonial life in Williamsburg? In the mood for scenery? Drive a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The most recent time I visited this state (aside from an airport layover) was way back when I was a teenager. Thus the black and white film in the camera my parents loaned me for the trip.

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On the grounds of Mount Vernon

Washington D. C.D

Bonus points. This is not a state. It is a city, apart from any state, created to serve as the national capital.

The original plan was for the capital, Washington City, to be build on 100 square miles of land donated by Maryland and Virginia. Life happens. The current city, District of Columbia, is entirely on the north shore of the Potomac River, land donated by Maryland. An area of 68.25 square miles.

The business of the city is government. Tourism followed and thrives in this city of monuments, public buildings, and museums.

My second visit to the city took place when I was young, hopeful, and eager to live a life which would make a difference in the world. (During the first visit I was very young and my impression of the city was: steps. Lots and lots of steps.) I urge every American to put this on their list of travel destinations.

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Yes, the photo really was taken with black & white film.

 

Maryland

Water, water, water. The economy of this state is closely tied to Chesapeake Bay. A rich source of oysters, crabs, fish, and shellfish, the bay with all of the inlets gives this small state one of the larger coastlines in the nation.

Annapolis, the state capital and home to the US Naval Academy, takes advantage of a location on the western side of the bay.

What did they teach Midwestern children about this state in social studies? Lord Baltimore and his  Catholic colonists. More than half a century later I can recall the black and white photo (of a painting done later) of the settlers lifting a banner up on the hill.

I visited this state three times in my life. The first, a family vacation, I was too young to appreciate most of the sights. The second, as a teen, impressed me with pastoral scenery from the bus heading to the nation’s capital. The third, most recent visit, occurred in 2013 and I had the presence of mind to take a photo.

We entered the state in the narrow, western arm and stopped to enjoy the view at a welcome center.

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Delaware

The first state to ratify the US Constitution happened to be the 49th state I visited.  My time as a tourist in this state showed me two things: Small places can have a rich history. It is possible to get lost in northern Delaware. (Don’t put all your reliance into the maps distributed with tourist materials. — they leave things out– important things.)

European settlement in Delaware began with the Dutch.  The Swedish attempted the next colony. The Dutch returned several years later, and finally the British established a presence and incorporated the area into William Penn’s colony. The Three Southern Counties (Delaware) separated into their own entity prior to the Revolutionary War.

Aware of a time constraint on our visit, my traveling companion and I limited our visit to Wilmington. We managed to get confused in traffic, arrive the one day a week a museum we found was closed, and actually find (thanks to some locals) the site of Fort Christina. The quality of our visit soared the next day as we toured Hagley Mills – learned a lot about black powder and the DuPont family – in mild September weather.

One of my favorite sights on the visit is below. Creek or River? The Brandywine is a local treasure.

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Pennsylvania

The Keystone State. The Quaker State. Penn. PA.

We’ve taken a giant step across a few state lines to get here. That’s what happens when you’re not thinking ahead enough to take a photo in every state you visit. (Or can’t find them years afterward.)

History books in the United States are filled with references to the features and events which occurred in Pennsylvania. One of the original 13 Colonies, it was the location for Continental Congresses (first and second), the Constitutional Convention, Valley Forge, and Fort Pitt. The state lacks a seacoast, but the fine port of Philadelphia on the Delaware River enabled trade and growth during the colonial and early decades of independence.

While I’ve ridden through or “set foot” in the state more than once, today’s photo comes from a trip in 1998. We entered at the western border, south of Pittsburgh, and drove east — toward the historic sites of Philadelphia and a visit with relatives. On our return trip, on a roughly parallel route to the north, we encountered signs of progress. After a few miles my travelling companion, a sharp young man, decided the business to make money in was manufacturing orange construction zone barrels.

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The mother bumped her head touring the submarine.

The son forgot to duck on the ship.

 

Massachusetts

This month, in elementary schools across the nation, students learn of Pilgrims and Puritans. The Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. Some will dress in the costumes of stern Immigrants or friendly Natives. For the roots of our current Thanksgiving holiday extend back to a time of feasting and thanksgiving for an abundant harvest.

While history takes an important place in Massachusetts – you can’t study the Revolutionary War without mention of Boston, Concord, and Lexington – it is also a modern place. Education, trade, and manufacturing all thrive in the present day.

My travels have taken me to Massachusetts twice – three times if you count an airport arrival followed by a bus trip out of state. In 2013 my travelling companion and I met some very cordial residents in the Western portion of the state. (If you must have a flat tire away from home this is a helpful place.)

In 1998, with a different companion, we visited Salem. What can I say — 17 year old boys have a unique idea of what is interesting. It was an excellent visit. Quality explanations and memorials to the witchcraft trials of 1692. But my favorite part of the town was the waterfront. Imagine men going down to the docks each day. Loading timber and fish into the holds of Clipper Ships. Or unloading the treasures of the Orient from those same ships at the return of the voyage.

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Sail away on an adventure from Salem, MA.

 

Vermont

By taking one step west on the map we exit New Hampshire and enter Vermont. While you may often think of them together, they have some differences.

Did you know Vermont was once a Republic? From 1777 to 1791 is was independent. (That’s longer than the Republic of Texas, folks.) In 1791 they were admitted as the 14th state, the first growth in numbers after the ratification of the US Constitution.

During my brief visit in 2013, I saw many interesting things and interacted with many friendly people. Yes, we stopped at tourist attractions — we were, after all, tourists. My goal was a boat trip on Lake Champlain — sometimes called the 6th Great Lake. (No we didn’t see Champy — guess he was hiding that day.)

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Not fond of the water? Try visiting either a marble or granite quarry. They have art galleries tucked into small towns. A toy factory with tour guides free with the corny jokes. And beautiful forested hills and mountains. Expect to see dairy farms and signs to ski resorts. Be sure to treat yourself to some of the local delicacies – maple syrup, ice cream, or apples.

 

New Hampshire

On this election day 2016, we stop in for a visit at one of the original 13 states.

New Hampshire has a small amount of coast line. Yet it was this very portion which I visited in 2008. A previous vacation in 1998 included a dinner and a short time of lost-due-to-road-construction a little further west.

Historical sites mixed with modern shops blended for a fine visit. Our group visited Strawberry Bankes, an extensive array of historic buildings. It’s difficult to label just one thing as the best. But the clockwork to turn the meat on the spit in the tavern was impressive.

Don’t get the impression the city of Portsmouth is only history. A freighter was in port, unloading a small mountain of salt (for winter roads), during our visit.

Small, but mighty. While it may take less than five hours to drive the north-south axis of the state — they have created a total of 72 State Parks for citizens and visitors to enjoy.

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North Church in Portsmouth is “picture perfect” for tourists.