Category Archives: 50 States

Where To Next?

Sunset over the bay in Chincoteague, Virginia

One of my favorite questions from friends and neighbors is “so, where are you off to next?”  One of our neighbors is certain that we’re trying to spend all of our retirement dollars on vacations, but since we like having a place to come home to, we only spend part of it! 😉  I guess we’ve developed a well-earned reputation, and one that we’re just a bit proud of. 🙂

In a few days Kathy & I will be setting out to bag a few more states on our path toward 50.  We’re looking forward to cooler temperatures and meeting up with some friends along the way.  I plan to send “Postcards” from the road as we go, although they likely won’t be daily.  Stay tuned!

A Visit To Cape May

Cape May, New Jersey

The third “new” state on our recent DelMarVa excursion was New Jersey.  We debated how to do New Jersey, realizing that the state is very diverse in terms of urban vs. rural, city vs. shore, crowded vs. not so crowded.  At first we were thinking in terms of Atlantic City or Wildwood, but then we discovered (or remembered) Cape May.

Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey

While just barely in New Jersey, and the very southern tip of the peninsula, Cape May represented “enough” of New Jersey for us to say that we had visited.  Nothing wrong with visiting the rest of the state, but we like to do things our way, and finding a town where we could park the car and leave it for a few days suits us.  And Cape May fit that bill just fine.

Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May is recognized as the country’s oldest seaside resort, and the beach has been recognized by many “Top 10” lists, including the Travel Channel.  Beach Avenue is lined with amazing homes – hilariously called “cottages” although they are often huge! – and hotels.  Very little to no chain restaurants or hotels.  They don’t even have a McDonald’s, a Starbucks or a Walmart!  Our kind of place.

Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey

Other than the fact that our hotel was full of families enjoying one last hurrah before school started, complete with loud, misbehaving children, we enjoyed our visit very much.  The great part is that we spent most of our day walking around town while they were at the beach or the pool, and by the time we got back and showered for cocktails and dinner, all of the noisy families were headed off to dinner.  Ahhhh!

Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey

Three days in New Jersey were plenty, we’re glad we went and glad to say we were there.  And here are a few photos to prove it!

Cape May, New Jersey

A Quick Stop in Delaware

The beach in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

One of the challenges of deciding to “visit” all 50 states is defining how much is “enough” to qualify as a visit.  As an example, I’ve been in both New Jersey and Texas before, but only saw the inside of the Newark and Dallas airports.  That hardly qualifies as a “visit.”

Along the Boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Along the Boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Along the Boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

In order to keep this project from taking another 20 years, Kathy & I decided that in order to count a state as visited, we needed to have a representative grouping of photos from that state.  It doesn’t mean that we have to (a) hit all of the Chamber of Commerce sites or (b) create a photo essay worthy of National Geographic.  It just means that we need to be there long enough to come back with some representative photographs.

Indian River Inlet Lifesaving Station Museum, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Indian River Inlet Lifesaving Station Museum, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

I’ll be the first to admit that spending a few hours in a state like Delaware is hardly enough to satisfy either of those above requirements.   And while 3 days in New Jersey was plenty, thank you very much, there are states that, out of necessity, we will only get to spend a few hours.  We’ll try to keep those to a minimum of course, but that is what we’ve decided.

Indian River Inlet Lifesaving Station Museum, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Indian River Inlet Lifesaving Station Museum, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

The other part of the equation is that there will be states where we don’t get to the Big Name places.  In Indiana, for example, I’d love to get to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  But we’re going to find something else, partly because that’s our style, and partly because we need to keep it simple from the standpoint of time and money.  As much as I want to go to Glacier National Park, I’ll probably make do with something like Little Bighorn.  For now!

So anyway, here is a collection of photos from Delaware.  If you are from the Delaware Chamber of Commerce – sorry!  Otherwise, enjoy!

Ferry from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey
Ferry from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey

A Day In Maryland

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

The main purpose for our recent visit to the DelMarVa area was to cross Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey off our “states visited” list.  While I’m pretty sure I have been in Maryland previously, we hadn’t counted it under the terms of our “50 States” project, so it was time for a do-over.  We spent a day traipsing around part of the state, visiting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Historic Site, Hooper’s Island and Crisfield.

Rural Maryland countryside enroute to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
Visitor Center at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
Lodgepole Pine at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
Lodgepole Pine at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
Blackwater River seen from the Marsh Edge Trail at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
Remnants of stakes and fencing used to restore marsh areas at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
Unoccupied Eagle nest along Wildlife Drive at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

Hooper’s Island had been mentioned to us by a guide at the Blackwater visitor center, and that made for an interesting and unexpected detour.  A place – not exactly a town, although they have a Zip code – called Hoopersville sits literally at the end of the world, accessible by a narrow strip of land and an interesting bridge over the Honga River.  There wasn’t much going on out there besides some fishing, and it was a very scenic and quiet place

Boats on Back Creek as viewed from Hoopers Island Road in Hoopers Island, Maryland
Marshland at the end of Hoopersville Road on Hoopers Island, Maryland
Bridge over the Honga River on Hoopers Island Road, Maryland

Crisfield we had heard about previously.  Self-proclaimed Crab Capital of the World, it is a nice quiet town on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay.  We had dinner there before calling it a day and heading back for some rest.  Because the following day we were to conquer Delaware and head for the Jersey Shore!

Wind turbine in Crisfield, Maryland. When the turbine was erected in 2016 it was stated that at 302 feet tall it was not only the tallest structure in Crisfield, but the tallest wind turbine on the Eastern Shore
Sunset over Daugherty Creek in Crisfield, Maryland
Sunset over Daugherty Creek in Crisfield, Maryland

Our “50 States” Project

Cable Car in San Francisco, California

Kathy & I have set a goal to visit all 50 of the US states by the end of 2020.  Well, all except one.  If everything goes according to plan we’ll cap the project off with a trip to Hawaii in 2021 to capture that elusive #50.  We have a long way to go, but do have a plan to get there.

The Queen and her Throne. Key West, Florida

The first challenge was to define a “visit.” Do we need to sleep there, have a meal there, drink a beer there, or what? For us it is easy…we need to take photographs!  There are a number of states that we have actually been to through the years, but we have not counted them as visited yet because we don’t have photographs.  I know I’ve been to Arizona, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois & Indiana and others but I don’t have photos from those states, at least none I’m willing to use for this project.  We’ve been to airports in Dallas and Newark, but those don’t count as Texas or New Jersey!

County Road 90 North of Fort Collins, Colorado

Every state has it’s “Best Of” locations, but we aren’t necessarily looking to do that.  We’d eventually like to visit the famous places like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite or Mount Rushmore, but those are places that justify longer stays than just a “drive-by” long enough to take a picture or three.  For now we’ll be happy to get photos from more off-the-beaten-path kinds of places.  It’s our project so we get to decide.  I love being able to make the rules!

Foggy scene in Hensley Settlement, Cumberland Gap National Historic Area, Kentucky

I’ve recently added a new section to my website titled – amazingly enough – “50 States” with a separate gallery for each state that we have visited so far.  This gallery is a collection of representative photographs from each of the states that we are counting as “visited” according to our definition of having a collection of photographs. These are not intended to be the “top” anything or most famous locations from these states, simply photographs that show that we were there.

Booker Noe Statue, Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont, KY

We’re planning a trip up the DelMarVa peninsula in August to catch Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.  Then later this fall we’re hoping to make a road trip out west to catch a dozen or so states in the middle part of the country.  I’ll update the photo gallery and the accompanying map as we go, and of course I’ll post about it here on the blog.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC

If anyone has suggestions about “must see” locations, feel free to pass them along in the comments or via email!

Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA. Built in 1868, spanning the Shenango River. The only remaining bridge in Pennsylvania with an all-wooden truss design patented by Robert Smith of Tippecanoe City, Ohio. The last historic covered bridge in Mercer County, extending 120 feet in length and restored in 1990.

Yes, It’s Rocket Science!

Docents in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

As a kid I was a real space geek, and followed everything about the space program that I could get my hands on.  As part of our recent trip to Alabama and beyond, Kathy & I spent a day at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville and took the bus tour.  It was a fascinating experience and brought back a lot of memories.

Space Shuttle replica “Pathfinder” on display at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Saturn V rocket replica on display at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Saturn V rocket replica on display at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

It would be possible to just tour the exhibits at the museum, but it was really special to take the narrated tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center grounds, with visits to several operating facilities.  We visited a the Payload Operations Center, training center with mockups of some of the actual ISS modules that are used to recreate situations on earth to help the astronauts deal with problems or answer questions aboard the station.

Payload Operations & Integration Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

The Payload Operations Integration Center is the “mission control” for all of the scientific activities that are happening on the space station.  The folks at the various workstations monitor these operations remotely, as we learned the the majority of experiments happening on board are not actually handled by the astronauts themselves unless hands-on is required.

Astronaut toilet in the International Space Station exhibit at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

The Environmental Control & Life Support Systems facility deals with the systems required to sustain life aboard the station.  A lot of the work done here deals with developing systems to maintain the environmental and sanitary needs of the crew aboard the ISS.

Exhibits at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Docents in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

The entire day was great, but the highlight for me was the visit to the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, which is a huge building that houses an actual Saturn V rocket along with tons and tons of memorabilia from the early days of manned space exploration through the Apollo moon landings.  One of the things I thought was really cool is that they employ retired scientists as docents, so it is not unusual to find yourself talking to one of the heros of the space program.  In fact, I didn’t realize it at the time, but one of my photos is of Brooks Moore, who headed the Astrionics Laboratory and is actually in the black & white photo in the picture of the old computer hardware!

An actual Saturn V rocket on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
An actual Saturn V rocket on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
An actual Saturn V rocket on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Apollo 16 command module on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

It was a great day and an excellent way to highlight our visit to Alabama!

Moon rock on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Redstone Missle Test Stand, a National Historic Landmark, at the Marshall Space Flight Center at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama