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It was the summer of 2017 and I was getting antsy. Several neighbors and local friends had left the neighborhood and after 11+ years of living in Lynn, MA I was ready for a change. No longer could I walk downstairs in my pajamas to my neighbor who lived one floor beneath me because she moved out of state. No longer could I walk downstairs to the 2nd floor (maybe also in my pajamas) to visit other friends and spend time with my favorite chihuahuas because they moved out of state. Other people who I knew socially from the neighborhood also began selling and moving on for various reasons; a house for the kids to grow up in or a new job. For the first time in almost 10 years the property values were coming back up enough where you could sell without taking a bath.

I was feeling anxious, ready for a change and that fall I opted to put my condo on the market. It didn’t take long to sell. It went up for sale in November and it sold in January all cash, no contingencies for financing which made the sale go through quickly. Luck smiled upon me a second time when I put my bedroom set up for sale and the first man who came to see it asked if I was selling anything else. I explained that I would be selling all my furniture but I first wanted to test the waters with the bedroom set. Then came the best thing he could have said, “If I buy everything what price would you offer?”. Everything?!?!?! My synapses began to fire with excitement. I wouldn’t have to make multiple posts, deal with multiple people who make online sales of second hand furniture a test of patience with humanity or worry about what to do with stuff that didn’t sell. I made him an offer, he accepted. A couple hours later after having rented a van, he cleaned me out. All I kept were my clothes, personal items and some kitchen ware.

The sale occurred and there I was, no home and very few possessions to speak of. Now what? I thought about a few options and then one day it hit me. Get up and GO! Go see the country. Go to all the places you never thought you would go and visit all 50 states before you turn 50 years old. I hatched a plan to work backwards from my 50th birthday to January 2018 and plotted.

To qualify as visiting a state I gave myself the following two criteria: 1) Spend at least one night and 2) Have a memorable experience. Up to this point I had been New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Florida, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, Oregon, California and Hawaii. Eighteen states in total, not a bad start but a far cry from 50.

My first road trip in May of 2018 added Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. (now up to 26 states)

My second road trip in February 2019 added Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and West Virginia. (now up to 31 states)

My third road trip in September 2019 added Arkansas and Oklahoma. (now up to 33 states)

My 4th road trip in January 2020 added Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (now up to 40 states)

My 5th road trip in May 2021 added Delaware. (now up to 41 states)

My 6th road trip in February & March 2022 added Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. (now up to 49 states)

And here we are. 49 states visited. 49 states where I spent the night or nights. 49 states where I had a memorable experience such as visiting a museum, a distillery, a sought after restaurant or a hike in a state park. I just had one more to go, the last frontier. Alaska is calling! My 50th state trip is planned for August. In about 5 weeks I will finally achieve my goal and you better believe I will be getting an updated certificate as well as the engraved plaque!

Almost all of the travel I’ve done since 2018 has been on my own in my trusty hybrid car thankfully getting 600 miles to the tank. I’ve listened to hours of podcasts, stopped in dozens of fancy rest stations along the way and flew threw the Dakotas where the posted speed limit is 80. But all of that will be coming to a conclusion soon and all I ask myself now is, what’s next?

(My 35 state certificate hand delivered to me by Alicia Rovey while visiting Tennessee. At that point I was at 33 states but had my 2020 trip planned. She gave this to me since I would hit 35 states in a few months from then.)

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