Figuring out where I’ve been is tough task

A few weeks ago my in-laws took some vacation time and told us they were going to Wisconsin.

My wife, Erin, and I had the same question — why Wisconsin?

They told us they wanted to visit all 50 states and decided the Badger State was as good a place to go as any.

I love traveling and would also like to visit each of the states. I sat down and figured out which of the states I have been to and which ones were waiting for me to show up.

Erin quickly informed me that states I visited before we were married did not count, so I made a list of states I have visited and a list of states we have visited together.

That is when I found out both of us had a different definition of the word visit.

Under my definition we had visited 17 states together. Under her definition we had visited only eight states together.

I mark a state off the list if I have: 1) spent the night in the state, 2) driven through a majority of the state, 3) contributed to the economy of the state, 4) have been to a major tourist attraction in the state, 5) worked there, or 6) lived there.

I do not count layovers in airports — thus I can’t count Michigan, Illinois or Texas on my list even though I have been to airports in Detroit, Chicago and Dallas. I did miss a flight in Denver one time and stayed at a hotel 15 miles from the airport, so I do count that.

I drove the entire length of Interstate 81 through West Virginia one time – therefore, I have visited West Virginia.

Erin said driving through a state or spending the night does not count. She said you have to interact with people and culture of a state.

My argument to that is Kansas. I have never visited Kansas, but I know several people who have and they have reached one conclusion — There is nothing but corn in Kansas.

If I drive the length of Interstate 70 from east to west I have seen the corn and therefore have experienced the culture of the state without talking to anybody or spending several days within its borders.

I know saying Kansas is full of corn is using a stereotype, but the minor league hockey team located in Topeka is called the Scarecrows. Need I say more?

Erin and I argued over the semantics of the phrase visiting when applied to states. We reached an agreement that her definition was the best for the phrase “visit a state” while my definition was best for the phrase “been to a state.”

Having reached that agreement, she asked if I would rather visit a state or go to a state.

Of course I would rather visit, but on a limited budget I will settle for going to a state.

The final tally of states I have been to so far is 29, but I have only visited 19.

Either way, I feel fortunate that I have been able to travel as extensively as I have. Seeing so much of the country provides a good perspective not only on what other areas of the United States are like, but it also gives you an appreciation for home.

Many of the states I have either visited or been to have not been with my wife, therefore there are many I will have to revisit in the coming years.

The list sure would be shorter though if she would settle on going to a state.

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