Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where's Eric?

In the aftermath of our Dakotas trip, brother Dave posted an entry on the number of states he has now been to. Since this is a periodic topic of conversation amongst the guys, like any good little brother, I will follow suit and post my tally.

I have done less traveling in the United States than most of the guys, although I dare say I have done more international travel than any of them. According to the guys' rules, to be able to count a state (or country for that matter), airport-only stops do not count (which is a reasonable disqualification). For me, the no-airport-only rule disqualifies the states of Arizona, Colorado and Michigan, as well as the countries of Japan and South Korea. I have seen the inside of the airports in Denver, Phoenix, Detroit, Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul, but never left the airport grounds so can't count them.

Going into this trip, I had been to 27 states. I have also been to 16 countries. The states are too numerous to list, but the countries I have been to are:
  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. England
  4. France
  5. Belgium
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Netherlands
  8. Switzerland
  9. Liechtenstein
  10. Belgium
  11. Austria
  12. Hungary (behind the Iron Curtain in 1985)
  13. West Germany (when there was a West Germany in 1985)
  14. East Germany (travelled through on a train between Cologne and West Berlin, but the machine gun toting guards with dog teams searching the train grant me the "i'm claiming this one anyway" privilege) 
  15. Greece
  16. The Philippines
I have looked into Italy from halfway up the Matterhorn in Switzerland, but never actually set foot in it. As close as we live to Mexico and the Caribbean nations, I have never been to any. Sadly, all non-US travel was before my geocaching days, so my geocaching country count remains one.
Back to the subject at hand... US states. The Dakotas trip added six states to my tally: Colorado (non-airport), Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, bringing my total to a modest 33 out of 50.

States remaining to be conquered (17 in number) are:

New England (1) - Maine. The final northeastern frontier. Beautiful.

The Southeast (3) - Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. Tennessee for some Civil War sites, or music and barbecue, but other than that...

Pacific Northwest (4) - Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. I was so close to Idaho on my Park City, Utah business trip, but was a couple hours of daylight short of being able to bag this on the same geocaching run that got me Wyoming. I still regret the "so close but so far" feeling on Idaho. I have a brother in law who lives in Portland, and I keep thinking that while he is still out there the family ought to visit...

Southwest (3) - Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Never having been to this part of the country, I am nonetheless fascinated by Navajo culture and mythology. As an aside, anyone interested in a good mystery novel with lots of character should dive into anything by the late Tony Hillerman...My wife has been here on a couple of occasions, and raves about it. Overall, this area is very high on my "must see" list. And there is, of course, the Grand Canyon, which I have only seen from 35,000 feet in an airplane.

Mid-South (3) - I'm not exactly sure how to classify this area, but I am putting Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas into it. General definition, I guess, is north of Texas... No real reason to go to any of these places, but Kansas has a business connection, so maybe someday I will end up there.

Upper Midwest (3) - Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. Difficult; I am not sure why I would ever be here, and doubt that I would ever plan a trip, but who knows. Business travel to Detroit is the most likely possibility I guess.

So that's where I stand. The geocaching states "to do" list stands at a much more imposing 32, but that is the subject for another post.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary

September 7, 1963. The day my parents got married. Today would have been their 48th anniversary, but Dad isn't here. Another one of those firsts since his passing last November. 47 years married is a long time. Something to aspire to, and something which is almost hard to imagine. 20 years seems a very long time. 27 more beyond this seems... hard to comprehend. Congratulations Mom and Dad. Happy Anniversary!


All this rain around here recently brings to mind a few different songs, one of which I hadn't thought of in a while, but I like very much. The song is a Moody Blues song (shocking!) off the Keys of the Kingdom album from 1991. The album itself is from the period of over-produced too-keyboard-oriented Moodies, but does have several very good songs on it. Which also brings back a memory of attending a Moodies show at the Tower Theater in the mid-90's with Leo, but that is a whole other story...

August 19, a rare break in the rains (from my deck)
...The changes we go through are making us strong
The shelter of friendship is where we belong
Look into the future knowing what we see

And never blame the rainbows for the rain
And learn to forget the memories
That cause you pain

The last whispered wish of age
Is to live it all again
So never blame the rainbows for the rain...

      --Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), "Never Blame the Rainbows for the Rain"

I recognize that many of Hayward's songs would put a lot of people into a diabetic coma, but they suit me... :-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Another New Project... Really

A little bit of a teaser... I have found myself with a little more spare time in the evenings these days, and the painting bug has bitten again. An interest that I have had for a while but not really given in to seems to have taken hold. So I am prepping a few things for painting. Something completely different. Which I will take some pictures of and show here soon...