Ninety minutes North of Anchorage is a place called Happy Trails Kennel. It is the home of Martin Buser, a four-time Iditarod champion. They have dozens of strong dogs, lots of warm clothes, and this week they welcomed the Stucki family for some mushing.
We had an exciting ride through the white fields and over the frozen lakes. The dogs were so impressive to watch. They’d respond so quickly to commands. They never slowed down. As we raced along the tracks, you’d see them swipe a bit of snow from the side so they could hydrate and keep running.
This trip was to complete my goal to visit all fifty states in the USA. Alaska was the last state to see and everyone came along to mark the occasion. It took 42 years (and only really matters to me) but I did it.
What are the rules?
When it comes to visiting a state, I had a couple guidelines.
First, there has to be an act of commerce or community. You can have a meal, visit a location, or make a new friend. In other words, there needs to be an experience of some sort.
And the second rule: airport layovers don’t count.
A few memories
In June 1991, I took my first flight in an airplane and visited Texas. The occasion was a wedding reception for my uncle and new aunt. I got to travel because at the last minute, a family member couldn’t make it. At that time, you could just swap out the ticket for someone else with no issue. Simpler times.
In Houston I learned what humidity was and that it was not for me. I also tried Gumbo for the first time and realized it was for me. Ironically, both of them made me sweat.
My first time in New England was 19 years ago this week. I wrote about it as one of my very first entries on this blog. Blogging was still pretty new back then so it’s fun for me to go back and read it.
Candace and I recently went to Arkansas. We used a Dwight Yoakum concert as the reason to visit. We were definitely the least “country” in the audience. I was surprised how little I know about that state. It was totally new to me.
What did I learn?
As I look back through my journal entries about state visits, I’m encouraged that there is so much good throughout this country. Every town has a history and every community has a different feel. Sometimes it’s dramatically different just across the state line.
The common theme to remember is that there are great people “from sea to shining sea.” It’s worthwhile to travel a bit and be reminded that we all have more in common than we have differences.
I’m glad that we live in this beautiful world.