This Trip Up North (Part 1)

While on the phone with my friend last night (planning ‘Bahamas’ and weighing the consequences of sending my passport so my visa can be processed), she interjected asking me how many states I have covered so far. I thought, maybe nine or ten. I have been keeping track of the states I have visited here in the US but have not really counted them. So I thought, yes, how many now?

map as of feb 19

This is how unplanned my trip is.

As of the 19th of February, 11.

11 states. 11 wonderful places discovered (rediscovered by friends and family who took me back there even though they have been there a gazillion times). 11 magnets for my brother. 9 flights, 2 round trip bus rides, 4 state-to-state road trips, and a hundred amazing experiences. Happy me couldn’t be happier (well I could be maybe but right now I just couldn’t be) and I’ll tell you why.

Illinois.

illinois

My cousin, whom I have not seen for *beep* years, was kind enough to drive me to places I needed to get to. Thank God or I would have gone crazy roaming around this city. Let’s not also discount my rendezvous sessions with great friends which allowed me to get to know Chicago even more despite the crazy wind and the pouring rain (Hurrah, Oregon boots! You are totally worth it). Illinois highlights – Cloud Gate, Navy Pier, the candy-like homes in State and Roosevelt Streets, Lion King Musical, barn houses, River Walk, Naperville, deep dish pizza, and rows and rows of skyscrapers creating that mesmerizing Chicago Skyline which I think is most beautiful at night.

Louisiana.

Louisiana

I guess the photo says it all. I am partial to Louisiana. When people ask me what is my favorite state so far, I would (without blinking) say “Louisiana” in the calmest manner. I don’t know why  I sound so calm every time I say it but I just find it more appropriate to phrase it in such a manner despite knowing that the infamous wildest streak of the country is in this state and there’s nothing calm about that definition. There is more to Louisiana than wild nights in Bourbon Street. The whole neighborhood, the French Quarter, where Bourbon Street is stationed in is itself a character that cannot be defined with one label. Other highlights include the scrumptious food (gumbos, anyone?), the delicious booze, Cajun and Creole culture, bayous, plantations, colonial houses, and cemeteries just to name a few. If given a chance to live and work here, I will. Ah, wishful thinking.

New York and New Jersey.

NY

Ah, the maze. The streets feel like the interstate and New Yorkers will remind you of fast cars that go vroom, vroom, vroom. People have no time for small talks, silence and nonchalant stares are commodities that an aspirant resident will need to master. Flashy lights, reels of ads, productions, funky billboards, and preppy clothes do all the talking. They always have time for coffee though, interestingly, and boy do they like to shop! The faves so far – Central Park, the MET Museum and Theater, MoMa, The Barber of Seville opera night, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Grand Central Station, 9/11 Memorial Plaza, Brooklyn Bridge (well, all of Brooklyn really), Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Wall Street Bull, and that Love sculpture in the Ave of the Americas.

Washington DC.

DC

After that hullabaloo over my flight from Chicago to New York, I was glad that my cousin intervened with my decision. I was so close to not pushing through with my Washington DC trip because of Spirit Airlines and like Tiger Airways, I will never book a flight through this low cost airline again (I have a whole rant article about Spirit Airlines which I will publish separately). So this is the capital. I finally saw for myself where one of the most beautiful speeches I have read was immortalized (my major in the university is Speech so sue me),

“…Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God and each invokes his aid against the other.

It may seem strange that any man should dare ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces…”

– excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s speech

and was introduced to the concept of a ‘mall’ which was so different from my understanding of the term. The 2-day walkathon was exactly how I expected it to turn out, accented by that slip and hair grabbing in front of the National Monument, not to mention a clogged toilet which forced a stranger to fix the nasty problem at one in the morning.

Idaho.

Idaho

No, Idaho is not just about potatoes. Let’s just get that straight once and for all. So many people ask me why I included Idaho in my itinerary. In the beginning, I would always explain that I will be visiting my friend and her family, with the hope of discovering something new. The usual response would be a snicker and a joke about the state being famous only for its potatoes. I would admit that after hearing discouraging remarks from people about the place, I have decided to not set my expectations too high. I thought, the goal is to catch-up with my friend and anything more than that will be well appreciated. Surprise, surprise—Idaho went beyond. Let’s see —amazing scenery, snowy mountains are perfect for hiking with a bit of ump, not to mention snow tubing, snow boarding, and skiing, the old Pen is there, Idaho City will give you the old town feel while Downtown Boise will give you the city fuzz without the hassle of bumper-to-bumper traffic or rude people which is often felt in uppity cities, and locals love to greet and wave so you can’t help to greet and wave back.

(I’ll write about Part 2 on my next article. Until then.)

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