I wrote a blog post in November, 2011 about my achieving the goal of being in each of the 50 states (full disclosure: I do count airports as long as I am in the terminal). It was quite an accomplishment and since then, I’ve been searching for new travel goals to set for myself.
I currently am working on two such goals. The first is to visit the burial sites of our presidents. I’m making progress on that goal: my most recent journey was to Marion, Ohio to visit the memorial to Warren G. Harding. Lots of sites remain and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
The other goal is to visit each of the state capitals. I’m making slow progress on that goal and that promises to be a very difficult goal indeed because some of the state capitals are, frankly, a bit difficult to get to.
Having grown up in the capital of Massachusetts and being accustomed to seeing the grand State House overlooking the Boston Common on the edge of Beacon Hill in the middle of the largest city in the state, you could forgive me for thinking, as a kid, that each capital was the same.
But, as I grew, I realized that wasn’t the case. Albany might be a nice city but it would never be mistaken for New York City. Harrisburg sits somewhere between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. You can’t even reach Juneau by car from any significant distance.
And as I have found big cities that I’ve found fascinating: Chicago, San Francisco, Kansas City, Detroit, to name just a few, it never made sense to me that the capitals of those states were to be found in far away corners, or hiding in plain sight in the middle of the state. Those cities are smaller and less exciting in most cases and frankly, it’s hard to justify making a long journey to go to Jefferson City, Bismarck or Springfield.
But, there is still something exciting about being in a state capital and some of the smaller ones that I have been in: Augusta, ME, Concord, NH and Dover, DE to name a few still are interesting places to see, if for no other reason than that they are the capitals.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent a lovely weekend at the Conservative Synagogue in Tallahassee, Florida as a scholar in residence. I spent the vast majority of my time in the synagogue and felt very much welcomed by a group of wonderful people. I even had the surprising pleasure of seeing old friends I hadn’t seen for many years. But, the last piece to the weekend, a trip to the airport through the center of the city was important too as it reminded me that I could add one more state capital to the list of those I visited. Passing by the state capitol building in Tallahassee was the piece de resistance of a wonderful weekend.
It’s fairly clear to me why I am so fascinated with state capitals. I love geography and maps. I love to travel and I am have discovered more and more of an interest in American history in the past few years. So, I hope I can continue my travels and maybe, one day, reach all 50.
For now, I’ll have to be satisfied with some good memories: stopping in Concord NH for a few minutes when Avi was 2 years old so that we could get him out of the car for a few minutes to play at a playground; taking advantage of the public restrooms at the state capitol building in Juneau, Alaska, a stop which turned out to be fortuitous as we turned a corner shortly afterward our unscheduled stop and bumped into the only people we knew who lived in Juneau; the two days of our honeymoon that Ellen and I spent in Santa Fe, NM, a place we have promised each other we would return to but haven’t yet; and, a quick visit to the capitol in Honolulu, HI as we explored the city.
I hope to get to the others. But, again, it might be difficult to plan a trip to Pierre or Cheyenne when there is so much more of this country to see. Still, I dream of the day when I can do what a couple of my friends have done: get behind the wheel of their car and drive as long as it takes to fulfill this particular goal. With Tallahassee added to the list, I’m a little bit closer and it’s time to plan for a next trip.
I’ll gladly take suggestions!