My grandparents visited in one way or another, all 50 states. Alaska was the last one, and they took a cruise on what was one of their last big trips together.
Of course, not every trip was the big deal that Alaska was; for instance, they only drove through a northern portion of Florida on their way someplace else. But they did it. Whether they planned to or not, whether they wanted to or not; they made it to all 50 states.
I think about that as I have just returned from a trip of some 3600 miles, where I was able to cross 5 states off my own list toward visiting all 50 states.
Granted there were times during both the planning and the execution of this trip, where the question of flying was broached. Would you not enjoy more of your vacation if you were not cooped up in a car for a third of it? Would you not spend the same amount on plane tickets as you would on gas and hotels and food?
And yet for better or for worse, we drove; and I’m glad we did. First and foremost: flying only saves you money when you travel alone. Gas and hotels are going to cost the same whether it is one person or 4, whereas each individual needs to purchase their own plane ticket.
But more importantly, was that while we spent a great deal of time in the car, it was not wasted hours; we got to see America. We drove through the Rocky Mountains, which was quite incredible. We drove through the Mojave Desert; which was far different than anything we had ever seen. And because we drove, we were able to stop in Moab, Utah and explore Arches National Park; as well as St. George, Utah, and visit a Mormon Temple; not to mention seeing the Hoover Dam in Nevada. We also got to stop at a variety of Welcome Centers, and dream of future trips.
None of which would have happened if we were in a plane.
Technology is an amazing thing; and it is a wonder of wonders that planes can cross the country in just a few hours, cutting travel time by literally days from what our ancestors traveled in covered wagons. But for as impressive as it is to fly into New York City and peer down at the skyscrapers from above, I would rather drive and see all that is between here and there, and discover America all over again.
I am reminded of the scene in The Muppet Movie, where driving cross-county in his trusty Studebaker, Fozzie Bear sings America the Beautiful. Truer words were never spoken: America is beautiful, and it is even more so when you are driving around, seeing the sights and the places that are impossible to see 20,000 feet in the air.
Who knows if we’ll make it to all 50 states; Hawaii may have to wait a while; and Montana and Idaho are kind of out of the way and may end up being like Florida was for my grandparents, just a drive through on the way to someplace else.
But the road maps are ready should the opportunity arise. We pray it does, if for no other reason than while the bathrooms in airports may be cleaner and more easily accessible, the scenery is not nearly as impressive on your way to them.