The Best Thing about Each of the 50 States and DC

These are my fondest/most mind-searing travel memories from each state. What are some of yours?

Alabama: (It’s the only state where I can’t think of anything, good or bad. This list gets better, I promise.)

Alaska: Sharing a salmon jerky on a bus with a Vietnam vet from Fort Yukon. He comes to town twice a year for a medical check-up. He has a baseball cap with the Intel logo that reads “Jesus Inside”.

Arizona: Running back and forth across Hoover Dam to reach the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones.

Arkansas: Getting room service (club sandwiches) at a Hilton Garden Inn outside Little Rock.

California: Visiting 20 of the 21 Spanish missions from Sonoma to San Diego in three days.

Colorado: The mess that is the Denver airport.

Connecticut: Getting lost and scared in Bridgeport. I had always imagined Connecticut to be all Who’s the Boss?. Bridgeport was the projects, yo.

Delaware: Following my friend’s recommendation and vacationing at Rehobeth Beach– and realizing that this was his way of coming out to me.

District of Columbia: Push-starting my friend Ian’s car at night while a group of ladies of the night cheer us on.

Florida: Skipping the key lime pies and darting straight to the southernmost point in the Lower 48.

Georgia: A hot dog and Coke at The Varsity in Athens.

Hawai’i: Looking back at Maui as I cross the Auau Channel and head for Lana’i.

Idaho: Driving next to the curvy and meandering Snake River.

Illinois: Meeting Sue the Dinosaur at Chicago’s Field Museum.

Indiana: Spending the night in a fraternity house at Purdue. During the summers, everyone slept in a large common room that was called the Cold Box. It was the only room in the house that was air conditioned.

Iowa: Eating a loose meat sandwich at Tastee Inn & Out in Sioux City.

Kansas: Taking a quarter mile detour from Interstate 44 just to set foot in Kansas.

Kentucky: Driving to Kentucky less than an hour after meeting my future in-laws for the first time in nearby Knoxville because, hey, I’ve never been to Kentucky before.

Louisiana: The impeccable service at Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter.

Maine: Getting a crab roll at McDonald’s.

Maryland: Birdwatching along the Eastern Shore.

Massachusetts: Getting a parking ticket in Cambridge– and getting tracked down in California a year later by a collection agency.

Michigan: Climbing, and running down, Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Minnesota: The SPAM museum. The entire town smelled of Hormel processed meat products.

Mississippi: Visiting the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. It’s a whole different world down here.

Missouri: Eating Chinese food in a small town, where my Mongolian beef looks identical to my companion’s broccoli chicken. Outside, bored kids are doing burnouts with their cars.

Montana: Strolling the streets of Butte.

Nebraska: Hiding from a tornado in a sports bar in Lincoln.

Nevada: Election night in Reno, in 2008.

New Hampshire: Chatting with a gas station attendant. His girlfriend works at the station across the street. I ask for directions to Boston, which is 50 miles away. He admits that he has never left his hometown his entire life.

New Jersey: An impromptu road trip to Atlantic City, with stops at Wawas along the way.

New Mexico: Approaching Albuquerque city limits and finding almost a dozen alternative music stations and a station dedicated to Tibetan chants. (This was the ’90s).

New York: A pastrami sandwich at Katz’s.

North Carolina: Picking up a case of beer at a Brew Thru, a drive-through refrigerator/liquor store.

North Dakota: Teddy Roosevelt National Park, the most underrated park in America.

Ohio: Learning that Rio Grande is pronounced rie-oh grand.

Oklahoma: Cleaning the wall of dead green bugs on my windshield, grill, headlights, and bumper.

Oregon: Watching The Merchant of Venice at an outdoor theater in Ashland under the stars.

Pennsylvania: Low rolling hills, ad infinitum.

Rhode Island: (Too small to comment.)

South Carolina: Pumping gas at a station festooned with Confederate flags.

South Dakota: The Crazy Horse memorial (in progress).

Tennessee: Learning about the history of country music at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Texas: Flying to Austin for an appointment, only to find out upon arriving that the appointment has been canceled.

Utah: Being served a bologna sandwich on Wonder Bread at a family joint by a waitress with long hair and an even longer dress.

Vermont: Green, everywhere.

Virginia: Reading a novel next to the James River near downtown Richmond.

Washington: Visiting the Hoh Rain Forest.

West Virginia: Bubba, the John Popper-look-a-like who gave me two bottles of Bubba Cola and his matronly sister’s contact information when he learned that I was broke and freaking out.

Wisconsin: Where cheese is the highlight of every sandwich.

Wyoming: The Devil’s Tower.

Image source: Maxichamp

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