Like many folks here, my husband and I have a goal to travel to all 50 states in the USA. Between the two of us, we’ve already hit most of them long before we met and our earlier travels together we spent mostly in the various tropical islands. In order to make the 50 state challenge a little, well challenging, we are only going to count a state as having been traveled if we’ve been there together and we’ve stopped and explored for a bit. Driving through or pitstops do not count, otherwise we’d already have been able to check off many additional states off our list.
Initially, I wanted our son to be in on the challenge and only count the states we’ve visited as a family. But since he is already 11, I imagine he won’t always want to travel with his parents. The hardest part, I am finding, is having the desire to visit all of the states, or not wanting to return to some we really like in order to explore some less appealing especially after having been to some amazing places. It’s forcing me to be more open minded about states I may have preconceived ideas of and when in doubt, I always turn to Mother Nature and natural wonders – every state has something beautiful Mother Nature has given us, even if the rest of the state leaves something to be desired, thanks to man. It feels like quite some time since our last vacation, other than short weekend trips. Our son has missed quite a bit of school this year due to “illness” that mysteriously improves once he knows he’s allowed to stay home and finding reliable care we feel comfortable with for our furry family members always adds an extra challenge to getting away because Lord knows they are not travel dogs.
Traveling always makes me more in tune with my privilege as doing it is an immense privilege in and of itself – having the funds no matter how thrifty, being able to take time off of work, having transportation, and many other resources that traveling requires. Being a white couple also adds to that privilege as we don’t always have the same worries about traveling to certain parts of the country. This is not something I’m taking for granted, especially in this political climate, and it also makes me slow down and ask myself if I’m being respectful of the land and cultures we encounter. We all seem to know that one yogi that traveled to India for their practice and completely appropriated the culture. I don’t want to be that person. Speaking of political climate, our next road trip is going to be hitting some of our southern states, and to be honest, traveling through some heavy Trump supporting territory has me more hesitant than I’ve ever been about traveling. Originally we were trying to decide between our current route and a few west coast states that might be a little more progressive. Even then there is definite pause when you hear a councilman of New Mexico “joke” about slapping women*. I’m sure there are many comments like this all over the world that aren’t always reported so to write off a state because of one comment by one person that doesn’t represent all of the people sounds extreme but it certainly taints my vision during this sensitive time. With all that said, here is our route after much deliberation between flying somewhere else in the country, returning to my beloved Puerto Rico, and a few other ideas we’ve batted around.
We all really enjoyed our last road trip with multiple stops so that is what won us over again. I am excited about getting away for a bit and seeking out vegan gems in new-to-us lands. Even having been to some of these states before, I had actually lived in Atlanta for a year, being there as a now vegan always proves to provide a completely different experience. I’ve done a cursory search for vegan food options for each destination but I’m always looking for recommendations from those who have experienced it themselves. A timely article in the last issue Driftwood magazine on New Orleans was really useful but feel free to point me to any must see or eat places, it might be sometime before I revisit any of these places and I’d hate to miss something memorable. I’ll actually be celebrating my 40th birthday in Atlanta, thanks to this year’s Easter holiday and spring break dates so I’ve already scoped out the all vegan cinnamon bun place (!!!) that I’m all to excited about popping a few candles in my custom bun and making a wish.
Despite all of my anxieties, I know they will all melt away once we have our car loaded up – only 2 months away. Sigh.
*I’m aware this is a very biased source but it was one of the few I found online that didn’t require surveys to be completed and other hoops in order to access the article.