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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Why a Van Trip? State Bucket List, of course

Our van trip was a good chance for Dan to tick some states off his list. It was also going to help me as I had decided that my goal of seeing all 50 states by my 50th birthday. I had just a few left to go: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Hawaii. My criteria to check it off was if I had stayed overnight or eaten a meal there - airports do not count for me!

Since I lived in Kansas and Utah, I had the chance to drive across a lot of the United States. When I was 12 we moved from Boston to Leavenworth. My parents decided we should visit friends in Louisiana along the way. Even if you aren’t great with geography, you probably know that those two places aren’t particularly close but that is what we did not when we moved to Kansas but also again 9 months later when we moved to Virginia. I won’t talk about the trip later that summer from Northern Virginia to Florida- seven people in a minivan. Road trips for my family are nothing new. 

When I decided to go to graduate school in Utah, my dad and I left Fairfax and headed west. We went via Kansas, even though it wasn’t the fastest way because, of course there were people to visit. I needed my car in the summer between my first and second year of school, so it was back and forth again. The final time leaving, my mom and aunt flew out to drive with me, my mom’s only request was to skip Wyoming. I think twice across the state was enough for her. My aunt wanted to see Niagara Falls, so we had a unique itinerary. 

The great 2023 van adventure got me two more states: New Mexico and Oklahoma. We didn’t stay over in OK but we ate there and we drove across the whole thing, so in my book, that counts! So now, I am down to 4: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Hawaii. Have I tried plotting how to knock three out of  four in one trip? Of course, I have. I just need to convince Dan that maybe we need another road trip.

Where is Dan on this list you ask? I am not sure he is going to get his 50 by my 50th! He hasn’t been to Idaho, Wisconsin, or Arkansas yet, so not sure if we can get those random three in but I do love a good challenge AND a good trip.

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