Sunday, April 20, 2014

See The USA!

The Brave Astronaut Clan is on Spring Break this week.  Time to see the USA - or at least a little corner of it.  The Huffington Post put out this list of the ONE thing that you need to see in each state.
  1. ALABAMA - Go to space camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Aspiring astronauts ages 9 to 99 come to Huntsville for a chance to sleep in bunks, spin in the Multi-Axis Trainer, and handle a crisis on simulated intergalactic missions - I've been to Huntsville.  I've seen the Rocket Center.  The rest of my time in Alabama is a story for another time.
  2. ALASKA - Hang with polar bears in their real home at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge The villages of Kaktovik and Barrow, located on Alaska's 19 million-acre wildlife refuge, are especially spectacular spots to stay the night, meet a guide, and watch polar bears live wild and freely. polar bears - I've not been to Alaska
  3. ARIZONA - Spend a night on the floor of the Grand Canyon Yes, you could settle for a standard daytime walk around the rim. But that way, you wouldn't see Havasu Falls - I've been to Arizona, but not yet to the Grand Canyon.
  4. ARKANSAS - Visit Anthony Chapel in Garvan Woodland Gardens Nestled within 210 acres of flowers, streams and waterfalls is a sky-high (okay, six stories high) chapel made of pine beams and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. You can practically hear Mother Nature singing - I haven't been to Arkansas.
  5. CALIFORNIA - Drive State Route 1 through Big Sur Nothing is more California than a coastal road trip, and this one will take you past some of the most precious views on Earth. Stop at Nepenthe for sunset cocktails on cliffs over the water - I have not been to Northern California
  6. COLORADO - Go sandboarding at Great Sand Dunes National Park If you thought Colorado's mountains were shreddable, wait till you speed down the tallest dunes in North America on a fiberglass board. Don't worry; you can usually still see snowcapped peaks in the background - I've been to Colorado, but only to Denver, and I'm not really a "boarding" guy.
  7. CONNECTICUT - Order the white clam pizza at Frank Pepe Pizzeria "Pepe's" is one of the oldest pizza joints in the country. It was Frank Pepe himself who invented apizza -- now a New Haven delicacy -- by subtracting mozzarella, adding oregano, and thinning the crust of the average slice. Pepe's white clam apizza has been called the best pizza in America - I've been to Connecticut, I've been to New Haven, I may have even been here - but I'm not sure.
  8. WASHINGTON, D.C. - Go paddle boating on the Tidal Basin There's something about seeing D.C.'s biggest monuments from the water. On a warm spring day, you can paddle past the Jefferson Memorial and catch sun between the cherry trees - check
  9. DELAWARE - Walk the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk Finally, a U.S. boardwalk that hasn't lost its vintage vibe. At precisely one mile long, your stroll will last the perfect amount of time to finish a Kohr Brothers cone. Stop at Arena's Deli for a sandwich if you're still hungry - check
  10. FLORIDA - Climb the Shark Valley tower Take a tram tour or brave the humidity and bike around this zone of Everglades National Park. Halfway through, there's an observation tower you can climb-- it lets you realize, from above, just how many zillions of alligators have been lurking in the swamps all along - been to Florida but not into the Everglades
  11. GEORGIA - Eat at the Olde Pink House in Savannah This refined Southern restaurant has played many roles as a residence, a bank and an army headquarters - this is something James Habersham, the home's original owner, is apparently not happy about. Patrons have reportedly seen Mr. Habersham's ghost hanging around the bar... so take your spiked raspberry lemonade to go and walk along the Savannah River outside - I've been to Savannah, but maybe I can check this off the list when we are back this summer.
  12. HAWAII - Climb the Stairway to Heaven Ok, we can't exactly promote this hike, since it's technically illegal. But the view is actually spectacular - not been to Hawaii. 
  13. IDAHO - Drive Interstate 90 across the Panhandle This fast, furious, 75-mile zoom across Idaho's top portion will remind you why driving is an American pastime. Stop in scenic Coeur d'Alene for a cold PBR - I've haven't been to the Potato State.
  14. ILLINOIS - Have a drink at the top of the Hancock Building Whether it's the sunset hour or late at night, the best way to see Chicago is from a table at The Signature Lounge on the 95th floor... with an esquire martini in hand - I've done most of the sights in Chicago but not this one. 
  15. INDIANA - Try the tenderloin sandwich at Ivanhoes This family-run restaurant in Upland has 100 shakes and sundaes to choose from. For a total Midwest experience, complement yours with thin-pounded, deep-fried pork loin on a hamburger bun - I haven't been here but it sounds like I should.
  16. IOWA - Visit the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair A dynasty of five master artists have sculpted the Butter Cow over the years... he's been a State Fair tradition since 1911. At 600 pounds, the Butter Cow could butter 19,200 slices of toast - I would like to see a butter cow. 
  17. KANSAS - Sample the No. 6 Oatmeal Stout at Gella's Diner & Lb. Brewing Co. One day, Gerald Wyman's wife told him to please stop brewing beer in their kitchen. A few years later, Wyman had a charming-yet-modern storefront and a Gold World Beer Cup Award for his Oatmeal Stout - I haven't been to Kansas.
  18. KENTUCKY - Drive and drink (but don't drink and drive!) along the Bourbon Trail This pre-planned route leads you past eight of Kentucky's distilleries, from Jim Beam to Maker's Mark. If you can't be trusted to operate a motor vehicle, hire a party bus - I don't do the brown liquor and I haven't been to Kentucky. 
  19. LOUISIANA - Go to the French Quarter Festival New Orleans's classic neighborhood hits its prime during this free three-day music festival every spring. It's also the best way to fit every local delicacy into your stomach at once: restaurants sell little sample-size plates at the "world's largest jazz brunch" - I've been to New Orleans a few times, but never for the jazz festival.
  20. MAINE - Watch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain Most of the year, this is the first place the sun comes up in the whole United States. It's also the most famous hike in beautiful Acadia National Park - check, well not the sunrise, but I've been to the top of Cadillac.
  21. MARYLAND - Crack a crab at Cantler's You can drive your boat directly up to this "riverside inn," where they sort crabs in a wash basin right before your eyes. Accompany with LOTS of Old Bay seasoning - I've been meaning to go, this summer it will happen.
  22. MASSACHUSETTS - Dance at The Beachcomber on Cape Cod This rollicking, old-school dance bar is parked right on the beach in a former lifesaving station. After a few mudslide cocktails, the live reggae and rock will make you feel supercharged enough to sprint into the ocean - been to the Bay State, but not to the Cape. 
  23. MICHIGAN - Visit the Shinola Store Shinola is aiming to "reinvigorate the storied American brand" - and reinvigorate Detroit in general - by manufacturing quality watches, bikes and leather goods right in the heart of the city. At their hipster-licious storefront, you can shop for timepieces and watch the bicycle assembly line - I've not been to Michigan.
  24. MINNESOTA - Canoe the Boundary Waters There are over a thousand individual lakes in this slice of Superior National Forest. Many of them are only reachable if you paddle past majestic pine groves and hulking rock formations - I've not been to Minnesota.
  25. MISSISSIPPI - Listen to blues at The Lyric in Oxford When you need - if you need - a break from the beer bars and battle cries of the Ole Miss students in Oxford, hide out in this movie-theater-turned-concert-hall. It first served as a stable for William Faulkner's family - I can spell it, but I haven't been there.
  26. MISSOURI - Explore the Ozark Caverns Out of thousands of caves in Missouri, the most famous feature is Angel Showers, where water constantly flows from the ceiling like a waterfall. During your tour, you might also encounter the rare blind salamander - Haven't been to the Show-Me State.
  27. MONTANA - Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road You'll feel like you're in one of those nature-themed IMAX movies during this 50-mile drive through Glacier National Park - haven't been to Big Sky Country 
  28. NEBRASKA - Throw horseshoes during Popcorn Days in North Loup At this festival, Nebraskans pay tribute to their state's most prosperous crop with three days of polka dancing, turtle racing, bull riding, and UNLIMITED FREE POPCORN! - one of the flyover states, that I haven't been to.
  29. NEVADA - Order a late-night Awful Awful Burger at The Nugget Gamblers say they're coming to Reno for the refreshingly low-key vibe at Peppermill Casino. What they're actually after, however, is probably just The Nugget's world-famous Awful Awful Burger, served with a "mountain of fries" - Haven't been to Nevada. 
  30. NEW HAMPSHIRE - Add your pumpkin to the wall at the Keene Pumpkin Festival Every year, people from far and wide lug pumpkins to Keene-- they're battling to either defend or win back the official world record for "most jack-o'-lanterns in one place." Last year, they successfully snagged the title back from Boston - I've been to New Hampshire but haven't done this. 
  31. NEW JERSEY - Climb Barnegat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island There are 217 steps in this tower, which locals affectionately refer to as "Barney." It's clearly not the tacky Jersey shore you've seen on TV - I've climbed New Jersey lighthouses, but not this one. 
  32. NEW MEXICO - Watch a Balloon Glow at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta At the biggest balloon rally in the world, hundreds of hot air balloons hit the big blue sky at once. When they light up for a Balloon Glow night ascent, you feel all magical and ticklish inside - I've been to New Mexico, but not amongst the balloons.
  33. NEW YORK - Go wine (and pie) tasting on Long Island's North Fork You'd never guess that 30 picture-perfect wineries were so close to the city - or so insanely cheap to tour. A strawberry pie from Briermere Farms will further alter your life - check
  34. NORTH CAROLINA - Tour the Biltmore Estate Exploring the largest private residence in the United States feels like being at the Palace of Versailles . . . except you're in America. And you can rent bikes to whiz freely around the gigantic property - This is on the list of things to do - but it hasn't happened yet. 
  35. NORTH DAKOTA - Climb White Butte This massive hill outside the town of Amidon is the highest point in the whole state, at 3,507 feet above sea level. The hike (or "wilderness stroll," shall we say) to the top only takes about an hour, but climbers from all over the world come to conquer it because the trail is littered with dangerous rattlesnakes. Pack a celebratory picnic in case you survive - I've not been to either of the Dakotas. 
  36. OHIO - Get a scoop of black raspberry chocolate chip at Graeter's Ice Cream This adorable store in Cincinnati has been selling its famous, ultra-thick ice cream (made in tiny two-gallon batches) for well over a hundred years . . . and it's sooo good - I will travel pretty far for ice cream - I could get there in about 8 hours, DAY TRIP!
  37. OKLAHOMA - Go to the Norman Music Festival What started in 2008 as a tiny, one-day music fest has exploded into a three-day concert experience with multiple stages, art walks, and local food tastings... all for free. That's the Oklahoman way - Not been to the Sooner State 
  38. OREGON - Get lost in Powell's City of Books This bookstore in Portland claims it's the largest one in the world . . . and considering 1.6 acres of bookshelves and nine color-coded rooms, we're inclined to believe them - it's a bookstore - but it's somewhere I haven't been.
  39. PENNSYLVANIA - Go to a mud sale in Lancaster County Mud sales (named for the wet ground in springtime) are the live auctions and craft sales that happen every year in Amish Country. Pennsylvanians - both Amish and not - haggle with each other to score a handmade quilt or home-baked pie. Take a tour of the quaint Amish countryside afterward! - Been through most of PA, and the Amish country, but not to a Mud Sale. 
  40. RHODE ISLAND - Take the Cliff Walk in Newport Ocean on one side, gigantic Gilded Age mansions on the other. Your only problem in life will be deciding which view to look at - check.
  41. SOUTH CAROLINA - Taste the barbecue hash at Sweatman's BBQ They call this 100-mile barbecue because it's totally worth the long drive to Bub Sweatman's house-turned-buffet-room in the town of Holly Hill - Been to South Carolina, but not for this BBQ
  42. SOUTH DAKOTA - Visit the Mitchell Corn Palace This multi-use facility isn't all that interesting on the inside. But the outside, it's truly a sight. The building is actually decorated with crop art and is redesigned each year with a new theme! - This over Mount Rushmore? Someday maybe. 
  43. TENNESSEE - Spend a day in Dollywood It's the most awesomely kitschy and fabulously delicious experience in all of Tennessee. The park, in Pigeon Forge, is run in a partnership between the great Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment. Think food, waterslides and all things Dolly - Haven't been to Tennessee and don't feel the need to visit this particular amusement park. 
  44. TEXAS - Tube the Guadalupe River Nothin' says Texas like drifting down the river on a toasty summer day with all your best friends and a massive floating cooler of Coors - been to Texas, but not to tube 
  45. UTAH - Hike to Delicate Arch It's the most famous sandstone formation in Arches National Park and the same one you'll see on Utah's license plates. The Olympic torch even passed through the arch in 2002, making this hike both beautiful and historic - Haven't been to Utah.
  46. VERMONT - Take a brewery tour For a small state, Vermont packs an alcoholic punch-- it has the most breweries per capita of any state. Visit as many breweries as possible, without having to travel very far! The Vermont Breweries Association offers a full list of options. Make sure to check out Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington and take a free guided tour - been to Vermont, and to Ben and Jerry's factory but not for beer.
  47. VIRGINIA - See a movie at The Byrd Theater in Carytown, Richmond's cutesy shopping district, and The Byrd is the big, glamorous old-time movie palace that's been showing films since 1928 - on Saturdays, you can still hear an organ performance before your movie. Tickets are $1.99, which means you have more than enough spare change for a french toast donut from Dixie Donuts - Been to Richmond and other places in Virginia, but not to the movies here. 
  48. WASHINGTON - Hike the Ape Caves They're actually ultra-long lava tubes near Mount St. Helens, one of our country's "highest threat" volcanoes. Wander through the dark, cold tubes with a headlamp, and pop out in a sunny forest on the other side - Haven't been to Washington. 
  49. WEST VIRGINIA - Eat a pepperoni roll from Country Club Bakery Never heard of a pepperoni roll? That's because they're basically only in West Virginia. The Country Club Bakery in Fairmont is where it all began, when Italian immigrant Giuseppe Argiro first stuffed freshly-seasoned pepperoni into a warm roll - Been to Charleston but not for pepperoni rolls.
  50. WISCONSIN - Shop the Dane County Farmer's Market Everyone in Madison - from hippies to soccer moms - shops the Saturday smorgasbord that sets up around the Capitol building (they're open almost all year round!). Be sure to pick up some classic Wisconsin cheese curds - I've been to Wisconsin but not to Madison
  51. WYOMING - Go to Cheyenne Frontier Days On your way to Cheyenne, pass through Wyoming's seven national parks to get a feel for the state's supreme scenery. Then, meet their supreme people at "The Daddy of 'em All," a 10-day rodeo-meets-small-town-bonanza with free pancake breakfasts and concerts from the likes of Brad Paisley - Haven't been to Wyoming.

1 comment:

Anna van Schurman said...

I have to call bullshit on this list. There is no reason NO REASON anyone should ever go to Keene, NH. There are so many better places to go that are off the beaten path. And Pennsylvania, mud sales? The birth of the nation and the best we can do is go shopping?

However, saying Powells is "a bookstore" demonstrates exactly why you need to go to Portland.