I am quickly closing in on my goal of visiting all 50 states. I actually was already quite close when I received my National Geographic mini atlas in the mail. I began marking all of the places I’d been and states I’ve visited and realized that I only have a handful left.
I used the criteria that our Habitat for Humanity global village team created in Belfast. We were all ticking off the places we’d been. Some of the long time builder volunteers had been to the “Stans” and other far flung places. Other people sheepishly admitted they were on their first trip out of the country. We congratulated them. Inevitably the conversation about what counts as a visit came up. I posited that until you are 18 any visit–including a layover at the Amsterdam airport counts. You want children to be excited about travel and don’t want to squash enthusiasm by saying passing through a country on a train or bus don’t count.
Once you are an adult you must meet a higher standards. Our group debated what this meant. We determined that it “counted” if you left the airport or train station and either did a bit of shopping or eat a meal. The next weekend the group of first time travelers intrepidly took a ferry to Scotland, then a train to Glasgow and did some shopping and ate a meal. Good on them!
I thought of this as I ticked off the states. New Hampshire made me pause. I had only driven through it on my way from Boston to Maine. I don’t even know if we stopped to get gas. I asked my son if, on our way to eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Portland, ME, we could explore New Hampshire.
This posed a problem. If you go on Trip Advisor and ask what there is to do in New Hampshire it comes up with lots of mountains to climb or ski. It was only after we got the recommendation from a NH native to check out Portsmouth that we could do a more refined search and get some ideas. We left Boston at 11:00 a.m. and needed to stop at The Container Store, and then we hit a lot of traffic. We didn’t get to Portsmouth until after 1:00 p.m. I was feeling peckish and yet we wanted to save room for dinner.
Portsmouth is a terrific town for fossicking around the Market Square all day, occasionally popping into one of the many restaurants for a meal or a drink. We grabbed a quick bite a Popovers. I tried the clam chowder (solid 4 out of 5) and split a giant popover with my son–a real taste of New England. We walked all around town hopping in and out of shops. Funny how now in adulthood both my son and I love a good kitchen supply store.
After a few hours we ran out of downtown blocks to explore and we got back in the car in continued on our way to Portland. We decided to go via Highway 1 for a more scenic experience until the traffic delays made the highway more attractive.
The only states now remaining are Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, plus Puerto Rico because Puerto Rico should be a state.