So, let me rephrase this. I don’t really hate traveling. I’m moderately uncomfortable with flying (which sucks, considering how much I do it), but the only thing I really don’t like about travel is being away from my family. It bugs me to look at something really cool on the road and not have someone there to share it with. When they’re with me on a trip, it’s a blast. (Our kids were always the type to break out the nuclear weapons on each other’s asses going to McDonald’s while being eerily well-behaved on thousand-mile car rides.)
So, I thought I’d extend the meme a bit and share more specifics about exactly where I’ve been and why. (NOTE: I apologize in advance to residents of Texas. I don’t mean I hate your part of the state, of course.)
Alabama: Don’t remember much about Alabama, except that it was fricking hot. My mother’s sister and her family lived there for a time, and we took a trip to visit them in 1968(?). I’m not even sure if it was near Mobile or Birmingham, both sound familiar, though I don’t think there was any water nearby.
Alaska: Never been. It’s the one place my wife will kill me for if I go without her.
Arizona: I’ve been to Phoenix twice, and both times it was in August. I’m sure it’s very lovely there when you don’t have to wear a heat suit to take out the trash.
Arkansas: Fort Smith, Little Rock and El Dorado. I was in Little Rock when the Oklahoma City bombing happened, and the city shut down so fast it was scary. Another time I was there during one of the worst storms I’ve ever witnessed. Tornadoes and everything. El Dorado is everything you think of when you say tiny Arkansas town. I actually flew into the El Dorado airport. The wings of the plane touched the high grass along the edge of the runway.
California: Only stopped over at LAX. I’d like to visit San Francisco and the northern part of the state. The family of one of my father’s sisters lives in San Diego.
Colorado: Another of my dad’s sisters lived in Aurora. We visited with them during a trip in the 70’s. That was a cool trip. We did all the Colorado touristy things–driving up Pike’s Peak, visiting Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs. I got the bug to go to the Air Force Academy from that trip. A (very) tiny part of me wishes I’d gone through with that.
Connecticut: When I was a tyke, we lived in Wallingford, which is about half-way between Meriden and New Haven. I went to kindergarten and first grade there. I remember it better than almost anything else from my youngest days. I walked to school. I used to walk down the hill, stop at a little girl’s house (I can’t remember her name, only that she used to get mad and scratch me, but we were bestest friends), and we’d walk 3 or 4 blocks to school, including going across a busy street with the help of the friendly traffic cop. Very surreal. I can’t even imagine letting a five-year-old walk to school anywhere anymore, much less Wallingford, Connecticut (I’ve been back since then, you see).
Delaware: Not too much memorable about Delaware. We stayed at a little Jellystone (you know, Yogi Bear?) themed campground on the way back home from a trip to Georgia.
Florida: I’ve lived here since 1994. I don’t think I’d want to live anyplace in the state other than Central Florida. Sarasota and Naples are nice to visit. I’m not a big fan of Tampa or Jacksonville. I think I like the Gulf Coast beaches better than the Atlantic ones. I still need to get down to Miami and the Keys someday.
Georgia: My dad was from the Chickamauga, Fort Oglethorpe, Ringgold area, up near Chattanooga, Tennessee. We made several trips to visit family in that area, and it was always fun when I was a kid. Chasing fireflies, working at my papaw’s vegetable stand, catching and eating some catfish. Good times.
Hawaii: Been to Honolulu twice on business. The first time, I walked into the office of our client and they kicked me out. I was wearing a suit and tie. They made me go back to the hotel and put on a Hawaiian shirt. (And, no, this isn’t some rinky-dink little company. They’re a multi-billion dollar firm.) I’ve only visited the “city”. I can’t imagine how much better some of the less-traveled islands must be. I love Hawaii, and I really need to go back.
Idaho: Never been. Not much desire to go.
Illinois: Chicago is one of the coldest places I’ve ever been in my entire life. And I lived in Maine for 32 years! Chicago is also completely unlike the rest of the state. I’ve been to Rockford, Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, Springfield and Quincy (not counting the areas around St. Louis and Davenport, Iowa).
Indiana: One of our company’s offices is in LaPorte. I’ve also been to Columbus, Anderson, Indianapolis, and (shudder) Gary. I had the most horrible experience with a biker gang in Hammond, too.
Iowa: Besides last year’s trip to Gnomedex in Des Moines, I’ve visited Davenport and Rock Island a few times, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Ames.
Kansas: Don’t remember much about Kansas except that it was flat. Been to Kansas City (the Kansas one and the Missouri one).
Kentucky: When I was a young high school geek, I went to the National Debate Tournament in Lexington. I remember it as being very pretty and very green.
Louisiana: New Orleans is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once. It’s not my favorite place in the world, but it’s definitely different. You can’t really beat a beignet and a cafe au lait on a Sunday morning at the Cafe du Monde. Driving through the rest of the state was not the high point of my life, however.
Maine: I love Maine and hate it at the same time. If I were rich, I’d have a summer home in Maine. But I never want to shovel snow again. Ever.
Maryland: I’d like to spend more time in the nicer parts of Baltimore, I think. Unfortunately, my only experience thus far has been in really cheap hotels on the seedier fringes.
Massachusetts: My wife’s father and his family were from the Boston area. Boston was always one of those 6-hour drives that you’d take to visit relatives or for a debate trip or to see a Red Sox game. We lived in Haverhill, Mass, when I was a very wee tyke. I found on my last trip that the area around Quincy is really nice, and I like western Mass, too.
Michigan: Muskegon is nice, and I kinda liked the Saginaw area. Detroit’s airport is one of the seediest ones I remember ever passing through.
Minnesota: I’ve been to Minnesota in the winter and in the summer. Guess which one I prefer? Dayam, it’s cold. But Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Rochester are all nice cities.
Mississippi: I used to think it was the moldy fungus between the toes of the country. My aunt lived there, near Natchez, and I was not impressed. I’ve since been back to visit clients in Charleston and Greenville, driving through such stellar places as Yazoo City. Somehow, that didn’t help.
Missouri: Been all over the place in Missouri… Kansas City, St. Joseph, Springfield, Washington, St. Louis (another airport I hate). I could drive the route down I-44 from St. Louis to Cuba in my sleep.
Montana: Never been there. I think I’d like to go someday. Just not in the winter.
Nebraska: Grand Island and central Nebraska. It’s like Kansas, only with more corn. Or less. I forget.
Nevada: Been to Las Vegas too many times on business. I need to go sometime and just see shows. The problem is that I just can’t do that kind of stuff by myself. I don’t even like to eat in a restaurant alone. Reno is a nice mini-me version of Vegas.
New Hampshire: The White Mountains was a favorite family trip when I was a kid. We took ours to Santa’s Village with their grandparents, and that’s one of my favorite memories. Been to Keene and Nashua and Concord and all over the place there. We used to stay with my great aunt in Portsmouth, too.
New Jersey: The last time we drove to Maine, we slept in a parking lot on the Jersey Turnpike. I think I’d like to visit more of the state, because that’s about the only parts of it I’ve seen.
New Mexico: On one trip, I had to drive from El Paso to Albuquerque (and I didn’t take a wrong toin). I passed through Alamogordo where my dad was stationed in the Air Force and thought about going up to Roswell (I didn’t). While that trip wasn’t the greatest, subsequent ones led me to the Santa Fe area which is just beautiful. Oh, and I saw the balloon festival in Albuquerque, too. That’s really cool.
New York: My experience with New York and New Yorkers is exactly the opposite of what I stereotypically thought I’d encounter. In quiet, green upstate New York (Syracuse and Rochester), I ran into the most negative, foul-mouthed people ever. In Brooklyn, I was treated like royalty, dined at an awesome neighborhood German restaurant and shown all over Manhattan (of course, the guy was a complete maniac and I never, ever, want to be in a car with him again).
North Carolina: I practically lived in the Winston-Salem and Greensboro area for the first couple of years with the company. We had a ton of clients up there. I really like western NC. My experiences in Ahoskie and the eastern part of the state weren’t up to that standard. It is the longest state in the universe when you’re driving from Florida to Maine.
North Dakota: Washburn. This state’s another one of those big flat stretches of highway. I’m really, really glad I wasn’t there in the winter.
Ohio: A pleasant enough state. Nothing too spectacular. I kinda liked Bellefontaine, and Sandusky was ok. When they were building the new Reds stadium, I took a boat trip down the Ohio River through Cincinnati and stopped at one of the Kentucky-side restaurants. That was pretty cool.
Oklahoma: Another state I practically lived in for a while. I stayed in Edmond while working with a client in Oklahoma City. More scary tornado stories there.
Oregon: I have a great friend in Oregon. When I first got hired in Florida, one of my early trips was to go to Eugene. Well, I landed in Portland and found that I’d left my wallet home (I wouldn’t get past security these days). So, without a license or credit card, I couldn’t rent a car. He and his wife came to my rescue and drove me there. Oregon is like Maine without the snow (usually… I hear they’re getting a bit of it this year).
Pennsylvania: I’ve been through there a lot, especially Philadelphia. The only place I’ve ever actually stayed is some little town in the mountains on 81 that I can’t remember the name of. I had to visit Gettysburg on the move down from Maine to Florida, though.
Rhode Island: OK, this one gets put in with California on the list of places just passed through. I’ve flown into the Providence airport a couple of times and driven up to Mass. I’d like to explore there a bit more.
South Carolina: Greenville, Columbia and the western part of the state is pretty. I really like Charleston. We had a traffic accident with a horse-drawn carriage there. Long story. The horse won. The parked car lost.
South Dakota: Aberdeen. Had to drive there from Sioux Falls. Long and boring. Though I did stop at a Laura Ingalls Wilder historic site.
Tennessee: My dad was born in Chattanooga, and we visited Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls and all that stuff a few times. I like the Knoxville area and Nashville was always neat. I passed through Memphis (drove past Graceland), but I didn’t explore there much.
Texas: Texas is a very big state. You’d think that if you visited enough parts of it, you’d find one that you like. You’d think that. I’ve been to El Paso (arm pit of the universe), McAllen, San Antonio, Victoria, Houston (during the choking smoke from Mexican fires), Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington (and places in between). I’ve heard that Austin is nice. Only Austin and the panhandle remain untested. Sorry Texicans. I loathe Texas.
Utah: Salt Lake City holds a major attraction for me–the Family History Library. I bury myself in there every visit. I need to get out more.
Virginia: Virginia is the only place in the South that I’ve actually witnessed stereotypical southern hospitality. Every place I’ve been there, the people just oozed with charm. Kinda scary, actually.
Vermont: There’s no there there! It’s very pretty, and Burlington is a nice town, but driving up to Stowe and St. Albans and staying in places like that, you realize that not every square inch of the country is populated. Though there was a McDonald’s up there.
Washington: Once when flying out of Portland, Oregon, I had to go up and visit Vancouver, Washington, just to say I’d been there. Fortunately, it wasn’t my only trip to the state. I visited Seattle once, and I’d really like to go back again. I spent a week in the state capitol, Olympia, too.
West Virginia: Haven’t spent much time there. I’d put it into the California class.
Wisconsin: Been up to Appleton and all around Madison and La Crosse. Nice state. Lovely cheese.
Wyoming: Never been.