Category Archives: 50 States

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