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    Posted May 9, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Visited all 50 states?

    All 48 Continental States for This Homeschooling Gang


    Hitting all 50 states by the time I was 18 was the sole item on my young bucket list.


    I failed miserably, of course, but that didn't stop me from dedicating my life to making sure my children had the best opportunity to follow in my gas fumes...


    By the time my oldest daughter, Alysia, was 2, we had already traipsed through all 48 continental states, and into Canada and Mexico. And we actually hit them all in two road trips within about 4 months during the Spring/Summer of 2002.


    On our first trip in March and April, we headed from Georgia; down into the Florida Keys; up the Gulf Coast; over to Texas; and down into Matamoros, Mexico. From there, we meandered through the various borders to hit all the states from Texas to Fargo, North Dakota. From Fargo, we came back East along the Great Lakes; crossing over into Windsor, Ontario via the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, Michigan; and then back down to I-80, eventually into New York City. From the Big Apple, we headed north up into Biddeford, Maine; cruised through New England; and then began the Southward descent back to Georgia.


    In June of 2002, we hit everything in the West. Starting again out of Georgia, we took the interstate routes into El Paso, Texas; and from there we wandered through the breathtaking deserts of New Mexico and Arizona; into the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and over to Hollywood. From there, we took the Pacific Coast Highway and a few other routes all the way into Seattle. Next, we headed into Montana, down through Idaho, and into Salt Lake City, Utah. We began the leisurely stroll homeward through Wyoming and Colorado, until hitting the more familiar highways east of the Mississippi, back down to Georgia.


    Both trips combined totaled about 20,000 miles. Ah... That was back in the day where gas was usually around a dollar, and definitely less than two, even in Los Angeles. So, despite my Mitsubishi Montero only getting about 16 miles per gallon, it didn't cost a fraction of what it does these days to accomplish a similar journey...


    Fast forward 12 years, and a few dollars per gallon, Alysia is now 14; with two younger siblings, sister Trillian, age 10, and brother Logan, age 6. The younger two have been through 41 continental states, with the exception of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.


    In all of these states we have visited, we have been through almost every major city in this nation. As well as hundreds of smaller cities, and thousands of towns and rural areas. Our cumulative mileage over the years on our educational journeys as a family is well over a million, easily pushing two. My current vehicle, a Honda Odyssey, has over 360,000 miles; and we have been through a few other cars and trucks that have easily hit the 300,000-500,000 mile mark before being retired.


    Every year, we continue to travel through dozens of states on our homeschooling adventures. We tend to average about 200 nights annually on the road.


    We've visited thousands upon thousands of cultural institutions and attractions such as museums of all sorts; zoos, aquariums, and nature centers; state and national parks; state and federal government buildings, such as capitols and courthouses; natural formations; historic homes and sites; factories and businesses; live performances from ballet to opera, and so much more; hospitals and research centers; colleges and universities; sporting events from community leagues all the way to college and professional; and even theme parks, concerts, movie sets, Hollywood premieres, Broadway musicals, NASCAR races, and other areas of pop culture significance.


    We've enjoyed countless, absolutely priceless, experiences: piroguing through the bayous of Rural Acadiana; dining with the Navajo during their celebration of Navajo Treaty Days; basket weaving in the Carolina Low Country with the Gullah; snorkeling with tropical fish along historic forts almost 200 miles from the American mainland; getting blasted with all the force the Niagara Falls could bestow upon us; dancing in Pacific sunsets; letterboxing in the Valley of Fire; paying homage to those we lost at Ground Zero...


    We've met and interacted with hundreds of actors, dancers, singers, musicians, authors, artists, athletes, scientists, engineers, inventors, esteemed doctors and researchers, government leaders, and so many more important contributors to our society.


    I couldn't even begin to calculate the magic of exploring our great nation and its many people in such intimate detail as we have been so fortunate to experience. The educational value of the sights and sounds of everything from the melting pot that is New York City, to the fading customs of more removed cultural pockets of our nation, is simply unparalleled. Without these traditions, customs, holidays, celebrations, foods, music, and so much more; America simply wouldn't be the grand beauty that it is today. I want to ensure that my children do not simply gloss over each of these people and places as just another page in a dusty old book, but that they live them, breathe them, and experience everything they can with ALL of their senses...


    And, yes, one day, we'll get to Hawaii and Alaska...


    But, first, we have to do the first 48 all over again, because I'm expecting another passenger before the end of July.


    Happy Travels!


    (PS... As far as photos go, it was REALLY hard choosing a handful... I have over 500 albums on my Facebook page, and literally millions of shots on my hard drives...)

    Photo Captions:

    1) Rock Scrambling on Egg Island in the Great Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, Utah)


    2) Alpine Level Altitude in the Rocky Mountain National Park (outside of Estes Park, Colorado)


    3) Saying Hello to the Blue Man Group at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (Nashville, Tennessee)


    4) Cruising the Delaware Bay on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry (Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey)


    5) Snorkeling at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park (Gulf of Mexico)


    6) Hanging with the King and Queen at the Georgia Rennaisance Festival (Fairburn, Georgia)


    7) Slot Canyon Hike at Jenny's Canyon in Snow Canyon State Park (St. George, Utah)


    8) Gators Galore (Everglades City, Florida)

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