Hawaii

Tropical paradise. According to the travel brochures, a visit to Hawaii will raise your spirits and reduce your stress levels.

The sample I experienced on my one visit to the Aloha State supports the statement — at least the trend. I live in the Midwest and timed my visit to shorten a winter. The sweater worn under the windbreaker remained stashed in the luggage from arrival to departure.

Enjoy a stop in the youngest of the United States, a former Kingdom with British ties and influences. It became a portion of the US in 1898 and a state in 1959.

Got for a stroll. Evening on the beach. Music. A stray surfer or two. Tourists and locals swimming. Minimum tides (that surprised me). Fruits and flowers new to me.

As part of a tour group, I was kept busy. We visited historical sites. Received an introduction to Island Culture. Enjoyed some wonders of nature – waterfalls, beaches, and forests. Our bus took us up the side of a volcano (and safely back down). Yield to the downhill bicyclists. (I didn’t notice any biking up.)

Lots of things to experience on this multi-island state. My personal list has plenty to fill another two or three visits.

The view from Diamond Head goes for miles, and miles, and miles.                     (Allow plenty of time to catch your breath after the climb.)

Alaska

The Last Frontier. Steward’s Folly. The Frozen North.

While the first of those phrases may be correct, don’t believe the other two. The purchase of the territory from Russia, negotiated by Sec of State Wm. H. Seward in 1867, turned out to be a bargain. And while the region is in the far north, it’s certainly not all frozen thanks in part to the warm waters of the Japanese Current.

I suggest you purchase an airplane ticket for your visit. Or one of the popular cruises. If you insist you may drive, but expect services to be spaced far apart and take your passport since you will enter and exit Canada.

My one and only visit to the state was in 1976 when we went to visit relatives on their homestead. We timed our visit to avoid the long northern nights and limited our exploring in the brush and woods due to mosquitoes and other wildlife. (They grow them large to match the state.)

If you enjoy looking at: mountains, glaciers, wildlife, oceans, whales, fishing boats, or totem poles this belongs on your list of places to go.

Taken on the road from Fairbanks to Anchorage.

Please pass the salmon. Thinking about this place makes me hungry.

Washington

The state. The one in the Pacific Northwest. Please do not confuse with the city 2700 miles to the east and south.

My family has had ties to this state since 1906, when a great aunt and her family moved from Wisconsin to Washington. My personal experience with this state began with a visit in my teen years. Then I lived there for a decade after college. And I’ve returned for a visit again.

Variety is the word I’d pick to describe Washington. East of the mountains, the Cascades, the climate is dry, sunny, and excellent for orchard crops, wheat, and ranching. From the coast to the mountains the climate is wetter, the forests thicker, and sunshine less frequent.

As early as 1792, English naval officer George Vancouver mapped the Puget Sound area. Small, medium, and large islands make residents watchful of the tides as well as the weather. Ferry service is an extension of the highway system.

I’m prejudiced. I think the state is beautiful in every season. But the photo below shows a spring highlight of one of the rich delta regions north of Seattle.

Tulip fields encourage photographers each spring.

Oregon

We turn our footsteps north and enter Oregon. Divided north to south by the Cascade Range, this state has two distinct climates. The coast and western plain is mild and humid (great for growing fruits and vegetables). The eastern portion of the state is high, dry plains more suited to ranching.

The Columbia River forms the northern boundary of the state. Long seen as an important river, the navigational hazards at the mouth (the bar), has claimed many ships through the centuries. Lewis and Clark traveled down the river and wintered in Oregon.

Large numbers of settlers arrived via the Oregon Trail beginning in the 1840’s. By 1848 the area became a territory and statehood arrived in 1859.

Slow down and enjoy the coast. Roll down the windows and take in the scent of the forest. Enjoy some fresh, very fresh, seafood. Or drive east and catch a rodeo.

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This peaceful scene is in Salem,

not far from the State Capitol and other office buildings.

California

Hollywood. Silicon Valley. Pacific Coast Highway.

The name California may bring any or all of the above to mind. Currently the most populated of the states, it also claims the third largest land area. With a natural border of the Pacific Ocean on the west, it come with great advantages as a port of entry and natural resources.

The area was explored in the mid-1500’s by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and Sir Francis Drake. However, the first Spanish settlement was not built until 1769 when the first in the string of missions which reached from present day San Diego to San Francisco Bay was established.

All of my life, I’ve had a least one relative live in the state. At first it was a great-aunt who would send tree ripened oranges to my grandmother some years. Later it was a mother-in-law. Currently a nephew calls California home.

All travelers or tourists should find something of interest in this state of contrasts. Do you like mountains? Giant trees? High desert? Sunny beaches? Rocky coast with powerful waves? The rush of a thriving city?

During several visits to this state I manage to find something new each time. We drove past impressive Mount Shasta on my first visit. Spent a day at Disneyland on another. Toured a retired luxury liner another time. And paused long enough to confirm the reports of wonderful weather in San Diego on my most recent.

So pull out a map. Decide on a destination or two — and GO!

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When pausing to soak in the sights at Santa Monica pier, look for the descendants of these fine fellows – the class of 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevada

Glitz. Gambling. Secrets.

It’s known as the Silver State. Don’t be fooled. Gold, copper, and diatomite are also extracted from the earth and contribute to the economy. With the building of Hoover Dam making electricity available, the construction of Las Vegas as a tourist and gambling destination followed.

Look beyond the few miles of flashing lights and adult shows. You’ll find canyons to explore, historical sites to visit, and modern factories turning out electronics and other modern items.

The first time I visited this state, we booked a vacation package in Reno and added a side trip to Virginia City. Mining country. High altitude. The dry, Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.

My most recent trip, to Las Vegas centered on visiting relatives. We skipped the glitz and basked in the natural wonder of Red Rock Canyon.

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A majestic view to contemplate your results at the casino.

Arizona

Welcome to the Grand Canyon State!

The very first time I traveled across this state, as a teen with my parents, we stopped at the natural wonder only long enough to take a peek. We needed to look close to find the river far below the rim.

Fast forward more than a decade and I lived for a time in a suburb of Phoenix, the state capital. Desert living, even in an urban setting, was an adjustment. And while we did spot an occasional Roadrunner darting through the neighborhood — the Coyote behind him was invisible. Citrus and olive trees grew in the yards — beside the century plants and barrel cactus when going for a yard with light water usage.

Several years later I returned as a tourist. This time I had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area for longer than one tiny peek. We also explored other features of North Central Arizona.

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We paused for a photo opportunity at Montezuma’s Castle. (Don’t be fooled by the name. It is not a castle. And Montezuma never set foot here.)

 

Colorado

Pick up the Continental Divide at our previous state and follow it South. It will take you through the heart of Colorado. High mountain passes. Even higher peaks. If you’re hankering for a summer snowball fight — this is your place to visit.

Gold and later silver, drew people to this state of natural wonders. Ranching and mining continue to be important in the 21st Century. They have been joined in recent decades by pharmaceuticals and aerospace industry. And beer.

In the Western portion of this state we visited dinosaur fossil fields on one trip. We marveled at the scenery and highway engineers on another. And we visited Denver.  While there we watched coins being minted, visited a first class museum, and toured the capital building.

colorado-1994scan_pic0001View from the Capital in 1994.

Plenty left to see on my next trip. Mines and ski resorts and railroads.

 

Wyoming

On one of our family trips through Wyoming (Cowboy Country) we crossed three creeks – their names tell a story.

Hungry Horse Creek    – Okay, dry plains, sparse grass

Dead Horse Creek     — A bad year for grazing

Crazy Woman Creek  — What do you expect after the horse dies?

Actually, I’ve enjoyed all my travels in this state. Majestic mountains. Wide vistas. Clean air. Miles and miles of grazing land. Some come to Wyoming for the hunting. It’s even possible to buy a license to hunt the elusive Jackalope.

Bring both your sense of humor and adventure as you explore the least densely populated of the states.

Did you know Wyoming was the first US Territory to give women the vote? And they brought the right with them when granted statehood in 1890 (thirty years before the rest of the nation).

wyoming-1994scan_pic0001Posing with Ester Hobart Morris outside the state capital.

Montana

Big Sky Country!  Stop at any highway turnout and enjoy the view.

Be prepared to stay a bit. This is the fourth largest of the United States. The eastern portion of the state could easily be (and probably was) the landscape for Western movies. Cowboys. Cattle. Wheat. Native Americans. Use your imagination and the ranchers will be on horses instead of four-wheel drive pick-ups.

Continue west and you’re into the Rocky Mountains. The continental divide wanders along the crest – separating waters which end up in the Gulf of Mexico from those that flow to the Pacific Ocean. The roads here will have steep climbs, daring bridges, and tunnels. Turn off the A/C, roll down the windows, and fill up on the forest scented mountain air!

Be sure to include a visit to a National Park. Today’s photo, again from my 1969 journey, is one of the highlights in Yellowstone.

montana-yellowstone-1969-scan_pic0001Natures hot water “relief valve”.

Also known as “Old Faithful”