In my last post I speculated on some of the different places my wife and I may move to (Big Decision, Where to Move to in the Future?). This brought back memories of the places I have already visited. I feel that I’ve been rather fortunate thus far. Between working in national parks seasonally and living in a few different states, the list is extensive. While most of my time traveling has been in the United States, I have also seen two other countries. Many of the places on the list are part of the National Park system. States that I have only drove through are left off the list. Only those that I’ve spent any time in are included. Alphabetical order seemed like the best way to sort the list as well.
As a teenager I traveled with a friend and their family to somewhere outside of Flagstaff. What is interesting about this trip was that we were headed home on March 13, 1997. That’s the date of the famous Phoenix Lights. We pulled over off the side of the road to view them, and at one point I even had video footage.
In Arkansas I visited Hot Springs National Park, which is the only national park located within a city. There was also a short drive to see Little Rock Central High School on the same trip.
It’s easy to fall in love with Colorado. The cliff pueblos at Mesa Verde are inspiring. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a scenic site. I’ve also checked out historic Silverton and survived the Million Dollar Highway.
My family took a vacation to Orlando when I was young. However, Tampa stands out more. I’ve spent 2 summers here with my aunt. One summer I was working for Atlas Van Lines to make some money. We were fortunate enough to move the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensive Tackle Warren Sapp was a big name in the NFL. It was really cool being in the locker room and seeing his bags.
It may have been a drive through on the way to North Carolina, but I did get the chance to visit Chickamauga and Chattanooga military park.
The shopping in Chicago was cool, as was seeing the city’s architecture. I ate a deep dish pizza for the purpose of saying I did it, but I’m not truly a fan. Next, a stop at Lincoln Home historic site was just okay.
There’s a spot in Iowa that my family from Missouri goes to for deer hunting. An Amish community is in the same vicinity too.
In the Upper Peninsula I have seen Keweenaw historical park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. In the Lower Peninsula I spent a few months in Grand Rapids. Sleeping Bear Dunes was my favorite site in Michigan.
The pink colored Split Rock Lighthouse stands out on the drive up Lake Superior’s North Shore. Other than North Carolina, this is home to some of the best seafood I’ve ever eaten. Grand Portage and Voyageurs National Park cap off the drive north.
In Mississippi there are 3 different park sites all close to one another: Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo Battlefield, and Brice Cross Roads.
I was actually born in Saint Louis and most of my family still lives here. My grandpa even worked for the Cardinals and the Rams. He probably could have opened a small museum including all of the signed memorabilia he gathered over the years. My grandmother also worked for the Cardinals at one time. Even though Saint Louis is my birth city, my favorite places are Meramec Caverns, Mark Twain Lake and Branson.
Named Big Sky Country, the state lives up to its name. I’ve been to Big Hole Battlefield and Grant-Kohrs Farm here. Many of us that worked at Yellowstone would go to Montana if we wanted to shop.
New Mexico has many park sites, and I’ve been to most. Carlsbad Caverns consists of limestone caves. Capulin Volcano was once an active volcano. White Sands is known for weapons testing. Bandelier is certainly one of my personal favorites among park sites. There’s also sites like Petroglyph Monument, Pecos Historical Park, and the Aztec Ruins. Lincoln National Forest was beautiful as well as snow filled when I stayed the night.
I claim NC as my home twice over. I’ve lived there as a child when my father was stationed at Fort Bragg. Then, I also returned as an adult to live in Asheville. The city is home to the best chocolate truffles in the U.S., the most authentic Mexican restaurant I’ve ever ate at, and the best Asian buffet. The Blue Ridge Parkway was my backdoor. Many waterfalls also can found here. The Great Smoky Mountains is somewhere I’ve visited multiple times. The Outer Banks are incredible too.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in North Dakota. But more than that, this state boasts the friendliest people in the nation. I broke down here and they took care of me, gave me a place to wait, fed me smoked trout, and kept me company until it was time to hit the road again.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a great place to cool off inside of the springs here. The Wichita Mountains is probably the second most well known refuge for Buffalo (Yellowstone being the first).
While living in North Carolina, I visited here one weekend to see Cowpens Battlefield and pick my own strawberries.
I drove through Sturgis although it’s extremely quiet unless it’s motorcycle rally time. Next, I visited all the park sites: Badlands, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Minuteman Missile site, and Mount Rushmore. However, I’m still bitter at the cost of parking at Rushmore.
Part of the Great Smoky Mountains are actually in Tennessee. Other than seeing all of the park and Gatlinburg, most of my time through Tennessee has been on the road.
I’ve been about everywhere north, south, and west in Texas. Corpus Christi is even home to my sister. Padre Island National Seashore is located in Corpus Christi too (and the location of my sister’s wedding). I’ve worked in Big Bend National Park on the Mexican border. Other park sites I’ve stopped at include Fort Davis, Guadalupe Mountains, Chamiza Memorial in the west. Up north there is Lake Meredith and Alibates Flint Quarries.
Arches National Park is a unique site in Utah, along with Canyonlands. I’ve also been to Golden Spike and explored a bit of Salt Lake City.
Apostle Islands is a picturesque site in Wisconsin. However, I really would like to have seen more of the state. A trip to Lambeau Field is on my bucket list…Go Pack Go!
Most people visit Yellowstone for a short vacation. I’ve actually worked here and had a summer long vacation. It has all the wildlife you could ask for…bears, moose, bison, wolves and bighorn sheep. Plus all the sites from the stinky sulphur springs to Old Faithful. I’ve also made trips outside of the park to see neighboring Grand Tetons and the Devil’s Tower in the east.
My first trip outside of the U.S. was a family vacation to Niagara Falls. As an adult I had plans to stay at Vancouver, but they fell through. However, Vancouver still tops my list of places to see.
Obviously, I’ve been to Thailand too. This is my wife’s home. We married in a village outside of Roi Et. Ping and her sister have taken me to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand (then known as Siam). Then there is Bangkok, the most visited city in the entire world.
Because of writing this post, I realize just how fortunate I have been. I’ve seen so many places and I’m only 36 years old too. The future still holds a lot for me as well. More importantly than what I will see in the future is the places my wife will see. Ping has never been outside of Thailand. I look forward to creating new memories and traveling to new places together. The past has been great, but the future looks even more wonderful.