MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Where Did My Summer Go?

As days have noticeably shortened and the evenings have become increasingly cooler, I have to ask where summer went. I am a summer lover. Love the sun, love the warm weather, the insects calling (most insects), the clouds and can appreciate the beauty of a good thunderstorm… it can’t be over already, can it? Did the season skip me? I am not ready for fall. My Summer of 2013 was filled with plenty of activity to keep me busy. Without work travel, my plan initial plan was to enjoy the summer locally… that did not last. My travel bug reared its head and the weather was truly not warm enough to warrant weekend by my condo’s amazing pool. So, I kept busy in plenty of other ways.

[Before I start, I have to thank Mother Nature for trying to drown my spirits this summer. Every trip I went on (every one) had a rain event. Some serious, like my Buffalo trip where the trip was almost cancelled due to winds, rain and general enough insanity the plan could not take off or due to impermeable fog after thunderstorms in Bayfield where the boat could on leave. I had rain while walking around the battlefield in Gettysburg, rain on every NYC trip, rain getting to Indy, rain in Iowa and Michigan… it was a wet summer. ]

My state quest was front and center this summer. I only visited 1 new state in 2012. This summer I made up some ground and knocked out 3 to 4, depending on how you view my stopover in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I jumped into 3 new states at the very beginning of the summer. And while a trip to Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan may not be everyone’s way to spend a week around a birthday, it was exactly what I needed - Some time outdoors, fresh air, new landscapes and new adventures. Seared into my mind are the black fly clouds of Northern Wisconsin, lovely hikes insects be damned, the rolling farms of greens, the cold waters of Lake Superior, the expanse of the Mississippi River between Wisconsin and Iowa (so far north of my typical view point in NOLA), and the incredibly sweet family from Minnesota who celebrate my birthday with me. I learned about Summerfest (and went to opening day), I tried curds – both fresh and fried, and still remain confused as to why Dubuque Iowa has so many Statues of Liberty replicas (and yes, I did try to find out why – no one knew).

In August I was able to cross Indiana off my list with some incentive by my favorite group – hello, major Blockhead here! Near the end of the New Kids on the Block tour, I was given a gift by the group, the fan club, their company, whatever – point is I (and a few others) was offered free tickets to the closing show of the tour…and it was in Indianapolis. A quick search on United pulled up a weekend special rate… so off I went to see my band one more time. A concert, a new state, a new capital city and time to site-see – perfect weekend. There I took in more rolling farm land (the apparent theme of the summer), visited the Indianapolis Zoo, the Art Museum and some city sites. I marveled at the amazing dog jump show; I remain convinced that this is the same group that preformed at the Alaska State Fair last summer. Ever want to see a dog high jump over 6 feet in the air, or catch 10 Frisbees in a row, you gotta see this show! At the zoo I was treated to childhood memories of my parakeets Tweety and Turbo when I visited their aviaries willed with their twins, cousins and extended family. I took in a dolphin show at the aquarium section of the zoo and smiled at the dolphins dancing to Katy Perry. And I was astounded with the educational outreach that the zoo did – lots of very informed patrons roamed around limiting my typical cringe factor. The Art museum was a site to behold even if some staff were a bit rude. As I expected, they had more Renaissance art than I could stomach, but their contemporary section was a site to behold. I am still enraptured by a sculpture by Tara Donovan – (sorry, no pic since we were not allowed to take photos in this section).

Besides knocking off a bunch of new states, I am feeling good about catching up on my Broadway. Since my move to DC, my inner theatre geek has been screaming of thirst. Too many shows have been missed… well, not this year, I gorged. I have gone to shows with friends and family – I have made more than a few trips home to knock off another… and I made all amazing choices and there was not one show that I would not highly recommend. Pippen, Cinderella, Once, Newsies, Once More If You Can Get It (now closed), First Date, Forever Tango and a few off Broadway shows – I feel more plugged in… and I have another weekend coming up! YEAH!!! (fingers crossed for Kinky Boots)

As that self proclaimed Blockhead, I fully admit that I went to three NKOTB concerts this summer. I did my first in Philly with my sister and niece (and she was adorable with her Joey love). I did another in Atlantic City with my sister and my step-mom (and she was awesome with her Donnie love). And I did that last one with new friends in Indy. Lots of singing, dancing, laughing and omg’ing. BUT my New Kids were not the only bands for me this summer – I saw my NOLA fav Trombone Shorty at Wolf Trap and got my jazz/funk groove on… good thing too since my trip to Jazzfest was rained on this year. I saw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Summerfest. I took in the symphony for a night of music on a trip to Buffalo/Niagara with my mom.

That trip to Buffalo was just about perfect – the weather was fantastic, the crowds were manageable and the falls were as mesmerizing as ever. The trip to the zoo was filled with smiles and “ohhhs” as the polar bear cubs played their way into our hearts. We learned about historic carousels at the factory and took in some history in Buffalo… that World’s Expo must have been a site to behold.

I went to parks – lots of parks. I visited Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Effigy Mounds National Monument on my Wisconsin/Iowa trip. While in Buffalo, I took the tour of Teddy Roosevelt’s Inaugural Historic Site (one of only a handful of presidents not sworn in at the Capital). And I capped off the summer at Gettysburg National Battlefield. (I should be at a national “park” in a few weeks finally experiencing Olympic).

It was a packed summer. And yet I know I missed a few things. I need to visit friends in San Diego and Denver (I keep promising and I DO MEAN IT). I wanted a good beach weekend – AC was great but traffic was a nightmare and I lost my beach time. … Oh, I need to stop, because I really did have a packed summer. It was food for this travel girl’s soul. Now, I need to hit the lottery to sustain my plans for the next summer…

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