States of Mind – Part 9

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.

Wisconsin is another state where I had changed planes, but that doesn’t count as far as I’m concerned. I need to see something other than the inside of an airport to feel that I have visited a state. A colleague at a sister station is a huge fan of the New York Mets. When he planned a trip to Milwaukee to see the Mets play the Brewers, I tagged along. He had arranged for tickets through our parent company, which also owns the flagship station of the Brewers. We saw two games and we had great seats.

Arkansas is a short hop from Branson, Missouri. After spending a night in Branson, my wife and I continued on to Hot Springs, Arkansas. We enjoyed an old-time bath and massage at one of the historic bath houses located in Hot Springs National Park. From there, we found a locally-famous barbeque joint and then met up with my friend Tim, who was on location with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

By 2009, the map of states I had visited showed two glaring holes: New England and the Great Plains. That summer, we decided to fill in the missing northeastern states. Vermont was pretty good. We liked visiting a maple farm and having dinner at the Trapp Family Lodge. Unfortunately the tour of Ben & Jerry’s was just as bad as most online reviewers said it would be. The Mayfield Dairy tour in Athens, Tennessee, was a hundred times better than Ben & Jerry’s. After a night in a motel, we had a nice time walking around Montpelier, the state capital.

New Hampshire was a pleasant surprise. We had put most of our energy into planning things to do in the other states on our itinerary. When we got to Lake Winnipesaukee, we wished we had more time to spend there. We changed into our bathing suits and swam in the lake. It’s on our list of places to definitely see again.

We’ll need to go to Maine again too. As opposed to a disappointing ice cream tour, the weather was the culprit there. Next time we will have more than a day to spend in Vacationland and we will look for a place with lobster rolls that are less expensive than those at the much-hyped Red’s Eats. On the plus side, L.L. Bean and Wicked Whoopies were both great.

More states tomorrow!

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