One thing I would like to accomplish is to step foot in all 50 US states. I even have a map I keep in a 3-ring binder in which I color in the states as I visit them. Back in 1998, I stepped foot in Texas for the first time. When I got home, I colored in Texas…and that was the last time I touched the map for over 17 years.
Thankfully, 2015 has been most fruitful in attaining my goal. Here, here’s what the map looked like back in March of this year…
See? The same 19 states colored in since before this millennium even began.
But here’s what it looks like now…
In case you can’t quite tell, there are now a whopping five more states colored. In April, I stepped foot in Washington, Idaho, and Utah. In June, I visited Rhode Island for the first time. And, just back in September, my wife and I spent a few days in Oregon.
When I showed this to my son Owen, his second question (following “How many have you been to?) was: “Which states have you been to the most?”
Ah…now there’s an interesting question. And not one I had given much thought to. The amount of time I’ve spent in each of these 24 states varies tremendously…from mere minutes in Tennessee, to a single night in Rhode Island, to several days in Illinois, to years in Minnesota. But which ones have taken the lion’s share of my time? The answer surprised me. Here are the top five…
Okay, so this one didn’t surprise me. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life, so it’s my default place of existence. If I say I’ve spent 95% of my time in Minnesota, that might be a low exaggeration. It’s almost certainly somewhere between 98 and 99%.
Okay, so this was another no-brainer. I’ve never lived more than 90 minutes away from Minnesota’s border with Wisconsin. Besides Minnesota, it’s the only state that I’ve been to most of the years I’ve been alive. When I was three, I spent five days in Milwaukee when my parents attended a religious convention. I spent another week there on a work trip when I was 20. Jennifer and I honeymooned there, and then went back for our 8- and 10-year anniversaries. We’ve stayed at the family cabin there a half dozen times, for several days each time. When I was a teen, I drove with my friends Jeremy and Tim for a weekend trip to a grad party. In 2002, my wife and I went on vacation there with her brother and his wife. In 2012, I was in Jaynesville for a work trip. I’ve also driven out there for the day to visit with friends lots of times. All told, I’ve easily spent 75 days of my life in the Badger State.
Unlike Wisconsin, I know exactly how many times I’ve visited Florida: five.
The first was when I was 12 – my parents, sister, and I spent two weeks there. Four years later, I was back for my cousin’s wedding. That added another six days. I wasn’t there again until I was 27, when Jennifer and I traveled there for my uncle’s wedding. We stayed there for seven nights. A year-and-a-half later, we were there again, and we went on a cruise. Obviously, the cruise ship didn’t stay in Florida, but Jennifer and I spent three days in Florida before and three more after the cruise. Plus, the ship visited Key West one day, so this trip added another seven days to the Florida column. Another year-and-a-half passed, and this time Jennifer and I went down to Florida with Owen. This added another nine days to my time in Florida.
All told, I’ve spent 43 days in the Sunshine State, barely edging out…
4. New York
By sheer coincidence, I have also been to New York five times.
When I was just a few weeks old, I took a week-long trip there with my parents. The very next year, we went again, only that time we drove instead of flew. Just before I turned four, my mom and I went there again. That vacation lasted ten days, though part of that vacation was in nearby Massachusetts. Then over fourteen years went by, until I took a bus trip there. The trip itself was nine days, but much of that was travel, and we stopped in Ontario, too. But we did spend a day in Niagara Falls, another near Wallkill, and then a couple in New York City. But on those days in the city, we actually stayed in a hotel in New Jersey. Regardless, by that point in my life I had spent about 21 days in the State of New York.
But then I nearly doubled that the very next year, spending 20 days in New York City during October and November of 1994, for a grand total of 41 days in the Empire State.
So this was the most surprising state on this for me. The other four, I was able to immediately guess (though I had pegged New York at #3). But after some reflection, I guess this makes sense. Of the other 19 states I’ve been to, many have consisted of only one visit. Some I’ve been to more than once, such as Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois, but all of those have been shorter visits.
This leaves me with Massachusetts. As mentioned above, my mom and I spent a few days there when I was three years old. Back in 2013, I went there for a work trip, where I spent three days there. Then, earlier this year, I spent another four days there, bringing my total in the Bay State to approximately 14 days.
If I extended this list further, I believe Michigan would lie at #6.
How about you? In which five states have you spent the biggest chunks of you life?