Friday, June 18, 2010

Fifty Nifty United States

This month I finished a project that has taken nearly 63 years to complete. People who know me well know that I'm a collector. (Okay, some of those people would say I'm a hoarder, but I'm trying to put a positive spin on this trait.)

This particular project, or collection, began the day I was born, giving Oklahoma the distinction of being the first state I'd see. My parents, who were teachers, believed that travel was an educational and worthwhile experience. They did not wait long to expose me to other places, beginning with neighboring states. By the age of nine, when we moved to California, I had traveled in most of the central states of the USA, and in some of the western states. A few highlights I remember include Pikes Peak in Colorado, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and Taos in New Mexico.

Trips were a wonderful part of my growing up years. Now, having experienced travel with my own kids at various ages, I marvel at how many places my parents took us. (I also marvel at their patience for "Are we there yet?") They weren't wealthy people (they were teachers, remember?) but they were willing to spend time and money to expand our experiences. One ambitious trip that stands out in my mind is going to the World's Fair in Seattle in 1962. That trip also included time in San Francisco and western Canada.

One memorable summer (intentionally planned for the summer before I took U.S. History my junior year of high school), we went to Washington, D.C. That trip included seeing part of the south and a visit to New York City.

Our summers always included the obligatory trip to Oklahoma to see the relatives. By the time I finished high school (and subsequently enrolled at the University of Oklahoma), I had become quite familiar with Route 66.

Marriage to Dr. Lobo brought more travel. During our early years of married life, he was in the military. Thanks to the U.S. Army, we lived briefly in Massachussetts and then Virginia. Part way through his year in Viet Nam, we were able to meet for a few days of "R & R" in Hawaii.

My sister lived in Alaska for seven years. Although she repeatedly urged me to visit her, I postponed an Alaskan vacation until the month before she moved to the Lower 48. "The Last Frontier" was not only beautiful, but a relatively inexpensive place to visit at that time, thanks to the no-cost "motel."

I don't remember when I started keeping track of all the states I had visited, but somewhere along the way, I began to deliberately plan trips to add new states to the list.

This summer there were only two states left. We went to Number 49.

And finally, we entered Number 50.

The South Carolina Welcome Center employee was a little confused by my enthusiasm. Shall we just say I was excited?


Wednesday, June 9, 2010


All day long, I've done the math, and each time the answer comes out the same. 2010 minus 1980 equals thirty. Little Guy, my baby boy, turned THIRTY today! Now, I know my "big" kids are in their thirties. I've adjusted to that idea. But Little Guy? The baby? No way!

Just a few years ago, my kids looked like this:

Now that baby is the tallest of the bunch at about six feet, four inches. He has turned into a fine young man who makes me proud to be his mama.

Little Guy may be all grown up, but he humors me by playing with me on occasion. He works in a bookstore and he shares my enthusiasm for children's books. Sometimes he even reads to me.

Happy Birthday, Little Guy. I hope you live happily ever after.