States of Mind – Part 8

For the past ten years I have been making an effort to visit all 50 states. As my personal quest nears its completion, I decided to write down recollections of the 46 I’ve seen so far, listed roughly in chronological order of my first visit. This multi-part series began on July 1.

Knoxville is tantalizingly close to Tennessee’s border with North Carolina. When my wife and I went to Asheville to celebrate our wedding anniversary, we stayed in a budget motel but went out to dinner at the ritzy Grove Park Inn. The next day we toured Biltmore Mansion, liking the parts that reminded us of Hearst Castle in California. A year later, when planning a family trip to Myrtle Beach, we found an inexpensive place to stay across the border in Calabash, North Carolina. The town is known for deep-fried seafood and for Jimmy Durante’s sign-off, “Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”

I had never been to Myrtle Beach and was happy to add South Carolina to the list of states I had visited. My wife showed us the state park campground where her parents would take them each summer. On the last day of our vacation, my son and I went to Alligator Adventure and found it to be much better than we expected. They had tons of gators, an enormous crocodile and many, many other reptiles and amphibians. I would consider going again if I ever get back to Myrtle Beach. When my son was looking at colleges, we made another trip to South Carolina to tour the Clemson campus.

The summer before his senior year of high school, my son was thinking about a wide array of colleges. My wife and I plotted out a 3,000 mile loop that would take us as far west as St. Louis and as far north as Boston. I saw an opportunity to route the trip through three states that I needed for my quest. I was excited about Ohio because we could stop by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I was disappointed to find that they had closed for the day when we arrived. Shouldn’t the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame open at 5: p.m.? Instead, they keep banker’s hours. My Cleveland experience was limited to looking at the Hall of Fame and Browns Stadium from the outside. I did pose for a picture next to the sculpture of the world’s largest rubber stamp.

I vaguely remember going to Boston Pops concert as a child. My parents told me the show was at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. However, I didn’t officially count it among my states until we drove across it and toured M.I.T. We got back to Massachusetts again two years later on our New England vacation, making a point of seeing Lexington and Concord.

Rhode Island was just a drive-through the first time I was there. Two years later, we made an effort to see something more interesting than I-95. The beautiful seashore and mansions of Newport are must-see if you are in the area. We bought some live lobsters right before leaving town and cooked them when we reached our destination in New York.

More states tomorrow!

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