My first time in Louisiana was on the same trip that took me to Alabama and the other states that hug the Gulf. I’ve seen pictures of my family walking around New Orleans, but I don’t really remember the visit.
Years later, when I was a Sophomore in High School, my father, sister, and I went to New Orleans over Spring Break. We took the City of New Orleans train there and back, so this trip was also my first time sleeping on a train. My other memories of the train itself consist of Kerry and I watching Mr Bean on loop in the media car (not by choice) and me hunched over an AP Euro text book, reading (also, not by choice).
In the city, we ate beignets at Cafe du Monde, wandered the French Quarter, and took a mule-carriage ride past some voodoo hot-spots. I saw a man propose to his girlfriend in Jackson Square and my 15 year-old heart nearly exploded.
My favorite part of the trip, however, was outside of the city. We took a boat ride through the bayou which, gorgeous enough on its own, was enhanced by legions of baby alligators (it was spring, after all). Our tour guide threw mini marshmallows into the water to get the wee gators to surface. It was the best thing ever.
Kentucky and Maine were, for a long time, the only two states east of the Mississippi to which I had not been. It’s just south of us here in Illinois, but my family’s trips east long cut across Indiana and Ohio along the way to North Carolina. With a horse-mad sister, it’s a little surprising that it took us so long to get to the blue grass state.
One summer, on the way home from a visit to my grandmother just west of Asheville, we made our way to a horse farm in Kentucky. What I remember most is the sense of personal satisfaction of checking another state off my list.
Several summers later, my parents and I stopped in Berea, Kentucky, on the way down to North Carolina. We ate lunch downtown and then checked out the art fair at the well-known local art college. I bought two magnets featuring wildflowers trapped in resin.
Since then, I’ve passed through Kentucky a few times on trips with friends to Tennessee or West Virginia.
Oh, Kansas, you saucy minx. I’ll get there someday.
Between sophomore and junior year of high school I spent two weeks at the University of Iowa for a youth science program. We were using our mad computer skills to design a program that calculated the volume of heart ventricles between heart beats. It was a seemingly impressive endeavor and married my two interests at the time – computers and medical science.
However, I had another, larger interest: male attention. Science camp put the odds very severely in my favor. With only four girls attending (two of whom had no real interest in male-female cahoots and were actually there to learn), I had my pick.
I was so caught up in being pretty, popular, and in-demand that I conveniently ignored my kind, loyal boyfriend at home. To be completely clear, I was a pretty innocent fifteen year-old. We are talking about stolen kisses only. But stolen kisses were far more than I should have been doing that summer, and I really hurt someone who cared a lot about me.
I learned very little about computer science that summer, but I learned a lot about honesty and self-control. And consequences. I had no friends when word got out at home about what I’d been doing in Iowa. I started my junior year of high school with a very bleak social outlook.
Honestly, my initial memories of Indiana are of the rest stops we visited as we passed through. Moving from Texas to New York and then New York to Illinois two years later (with a visit for house-hunting) meant time spent using the facilities in Indiana. And what fine facilities they were! I remember speaking to other travel-weary pre-teens about how clean and nice the rest stops in Indiana were. I believe Indiana is the first place I saw automatic faucets. Cool stuff, Indiana.
Since then, I’ve been to Indiana (with Indiana being the actual destination) a few times to visit Turkey Run State Park. Turkey Run was a popular trip from Champaign for college kids looking for a place to hike, canoe, and generally be outside. I remember going with the International Illini (which, admittedly, I did because I still had designs on one of the Brits on that trip). The soft hills of Turkey Run remind you how flat Central Illinois is.
We all know I have memories of Illinois as I’ve lived here from ninth grade on. However, I still remember my first visit.
In the summer between sixth and seventh grade, my family moved from Midland, Texas, to Victor, New York. Along the way, fresh off a trip up the Arch in St Louis, we entered the Land of Lincoln. We drove straight up the center on our way to visit my paternal grandmother’s cousins who lived in DeKalb.
There would be many trips to DeKalb later in my life (though, of course, I knew nothing of that on the first visit). My grandmother’s cousin, Dorothy, and her husband, Bob, were incredible people and Dorothy had such a trove of memories of my grandmother as a young girl.
(Fun fact: Dorothy and her sister, Louise, married twins so they are sisters and sisters-in-law!)
Dorothy and Bob lived in a beautiful, old home in DeKalb. I loved wandering through with my journal and documenting the contents and layout of every room. My notes are frightfully detailed – like I knew this house needed to be recorded for use in a future novel. My father showed us the playroom on the top floor where he and his siblings would hang out and play pool when they visited as children.
We moved to Illinois in 1996 and, from the northern suburbs of Chicago, were much closer to DeKalb. We visited Bob and Dorothy as they moved from their fantastic home to what is possibly the greatest assisted living center I’ve ever seen. We always brought flowers to lay on the many family graves in the local Catholic cemetery. DeKalb was a special place for my father’s family.
With Idaho, we first get into the game of “what counts” as visiting a state. I’ve been to Idaho, but on a train.
In 2011, Will and I took the Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle. Yep, two nights on a train. We opted for the larger private room, so I had a lovely time (I’m a reader, so it’s hard for me not to have a lovely time when there’s little else I can do). Anyway, this trip took us through Idaho – the tippy-top of her panhandle.
Does this count? Do I have to re-visit Idaho? (and if so, who wants to go to Sun Valley with me?)
Hawaii is one of the Four Remaining States.
While I haven’t been (yet), Will and I planned a trip to Hawaii about 10 minutes after we first met. We checked out books and took quizzes to see which island was best for us (as we are both not really beach people…). March was going to be a good month to visit – there’s lots of whale watching to be done, apparently.
We went to Portland, Oregon instead.
Georgia is a state of Firsts for me.
When I was about three, my mom’s oldest sister was living outside of Atlanta. Mom and I were going to take a trip to visit her – on a plane. This wasn’t my first time in Georgia (I’ve seen pictures of me in a pinafore and matching ruffly diaper cover – likely handmade by said Aunt – at Stone Mountain shortly after I’d mastered standing), but this was my first plane ride.
This plane ride is also source of one of my earliest memories. I have no recollection of the plane itself, but I remember trying to understand how long the ride itself would take. Time is an odd thing to a child.
Many years later, Georgia was the site of my first Business Trip. I was quite excited; I even bought new luggage. On the way home, I bought a peach-shaped magnet at the airport for commemorative purposes.
My first trip to Florida was the week before my 7th birthday. My father had won a trip to Disney World through his company and I was convinced my upcoming birthday helped us win. My only memories of this visit, however, are of the hotel pool and the sweatshirt my mother bought me in EPCOT center (which I promptly lost at school once returning from vacation).
I was in Florida again my senior year of high school. Our school’s music program (band, orchestra, and choir) were there to take workshops (in theory) and spend time at Disney World (in reality).
My work took me back to Florida several times (and not only to go to the Magic Kingdom, though the number of tax conferences held in that area would blow your mind). Twice, my mother and I made an extended vacation out of my work trips and spent a long weekend at Cocoa Beach before I was due back in Orlando. Once, my coworkers and I stayed at a resort in Bar Harbor. The proximity of the clubs in South Beach caused my memories of this event to be largely non-work related.