There are some states that I spend more time in than others. There are also some states where I take way more pictures than other states. The two might have a correlation but some days I really don’t feel like taking pictures. The couple days I spent in Delaware and New Jersey I didn’t much feel like taking photos, but there were really cool clouds and I have a great sun roof that afforded me the opportunity to take some upward shots (while pulled over of course).
Making a plan to travel through all 50 states is no small task. It took hours of planning, mapping, re-planning, re-mapping, looking up interesting stops, coordinating dates with people I wanted to visit and figuring out how long each day would take and what was feasible driving time. Some days that are only three hours of driving turn into eight hours, because I like to pull over and follow signs on the road leading me to interesting places (or on the rare occasions totally uninteresting places that do not live up to the interest that was originally invoked in their name). Two things I forgot to factor into my road trip planning were time changes and toll charges. Entering Delaware began my deluge of having to pay tolls in different areas. When driving across a few states with toll roads, it’s baffling how much you end up paying in toll fees.
In my planning and as I have been traveling, one of the questions that has come up is what it means to be in a place. For me specifically the question is what does it mean to have been in a state. I have driven a few hours in every state I have passed through, enjoying the scenery along the way. I have usually had some sort of rest stop. I have eaten a meal in every state. I have taken a picture in every state. I’ve chatted with people in every state (especially during the ten days I had by myself…). Is it necessary to do something spectacular or see the main attraction to have been in a state or is it just enough to have been there and created your own experience?
If someone came to visit me in BC and I picked them up at the airport and brought them to my house and they never set foot out of my house or did any activities (which would never happen by the way), would they still have been in BC? My answer would be yes but it would have been a different experience.
Traditionally my nature has been to tackle everything when I go somewhere. When I was 13, our first international family trip took us to Ireland for a few weeks. My mom researched everything there was to see and do in Ireland and we did it all. She rented a giant van (which is a horrible idea in a country with narrow, windy roads) and wanted to make sure we didn’t miss anything in case we never had the chance to go back. So perhaps this is where this mentality began. And yet as I grow older, I realize just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. Just because there is a great experience to be had does not necessitate that I do it. Sometimes moderation and saying no is a good thing and makes the other experiences even better.
I have not seen what every state has to offer, but I am being present wherever I am and taking in the experience that my itinerary in each state offers me. I’m thankful for the rhythm of busier days and more relaxed days. And if I return to any of these places, I know there will be other things to see and do and that will be a new experience. My experiences in each state and being present where I am is good and worthwhile and I’m thankful for each moment of being in a place as I go along.