The “M” States: Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, & Montana

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Maine is a joy in the summer. But the soul of Maine is more apparent in the winter.”

— Paul Theroux, American Travel Writer (2003 Trip)

Maine is the perfect state for all seasons. In fact, it was my first out-of-state adventure that I embarked on in the warm summer months of 2003! Although I may not remember any of it, I can say, after reflecting on many pictures, Maine is the state for adventurers. The setting is simply breathtaking year-round from the small cities to the lighthouse sceneries that are most commonly found on calendars and even desktop computer backgrounds! In 2003, we went to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park which has retained their tourist value throughout the years. I found that the northeasternmost state is renowned for its lobster-inspired delicacies such as lobster rolls and even lobster bisque.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No state can match the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay, our beaches and farms, or the mountains of Western Maryland, the Port of Baltimore, or the historic charm of every corner of our state.”

— Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland (2016 Road Trip)

Maryland, coined the “Old Line State,” surrounds the Chesapeake Bay and is located between West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Its waterways and coastlines are indicative of its long lineage as one of the most well-known ports in American history. A clear memory of mine is watching as the waterways flow by when we passed through Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It crosses over and under open water and connects Virginia and Delaware which cuts out 95 miles of driving on land. It was selected as one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. But it made me nervous that we were driving under water for nearly 18 miles! Although our time in the state was limited, Maryland is a distinct point of interest for many and is worth seeing.

Welcome to Massachusetts, The Spirit of America.”

— A Road Sign (2017 Trip)

Approximately three years ago, my family and I ventured to Massachusetts, the “Bay State.” Plymouth Rock offered an interactive and insightful experience, as I stood before the landmark that represents the Mayflower Pilgrims and the establishment of Plymouth Colony. Not to mention seeing a precise replica of the Mayflower offered valuable insight into the Dawn of American History. During our stay in Massachusetts, we toured through Martha’s Vineyard and even visited the official Vineyard Vines Store!

Welcome to Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes.”

— A Road Sign (2018 River Cruise Trip)

Before we began our 7-day, 5-state paddle boat cruise on the Upper Mississippi, my family and I spent the day in Minnesota where we toured the different amenities that it offered. Soon after we arrived at the hotel, we went to the National Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. One of my favorite memories was the musical staircase in the museum where each step played a different tune as I ran up and down. You can create your own unique tune by changing your speed and motion running up and down the stairs! After my scientific journey, we walked to the Cathedral of Saint Paul and its interior architecture was magnificent to gaze up at. The next morning, we visited Red Wing which was the initiation of our River Cruise Trip to a memorable journey on the Upper Mississippi River!

 

Mississippi is, indeed, the epitome of the Deep South! I was instantly captivated by the numerous oil pumps that effortlessly pumped oil hydrocarbons from the Earth. It was no surprise that Mississippi produces millions of gallons of oil each year. When we drove to Vicksburg National Military Park, we embarked on a maze lined with actual cannons that were used in the Civil War. I never thought that a battlefield scene was capable of becoming a real-life experience instead of a mere textbook image. It is difficult to imagine the northern soldiers fighting for justice by trudging through the vegetation that draped the steep hills while wearing blistering uniforms, carrying heavy ammunition, all with minimal food and water. After this captivating moment, we drove to Natchez and crossed over the Mississippi River. However, this was not my first encounter with the river; it was actually less than a year ago, in 2018, when we initially sailed along the Upper Mississippi River. Ironically, the confluence of two famous American Rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, is located near St. Louis!

The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise.”

— Mark Twain, American Writer

Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto. (Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.)”

— Missouri’s State Motto (2018 River Cruise Trip)

Missouri, also known as the “Show Me State,” was quite an adventure! When we docked in Hannibal, we saw Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home which made me recognize his humble beginnings before becoming a renowned author of American literature. While it catered to my appreciation of literature, we soon arrived in Saint Louis where I received the opportunity to go inside the Gateway Arch National Park (previously known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial). Historically, the Arch became synonymous with the concept of freedom and directly corresponded to the renewed sense of American adventure in the 1800s. In essence, the new era of westward expansion and excitement invoked a new hope of job opportunities in America. At the top of the arch, you can see up to 30 miles east and west. It still stands tall and I was invoked with an endearing sense of American pride. When we were inside the pod, we were carried along the curve of the arch until we reached the apex, which was 630 feet above the ground. I can still sense the arch’s curvature and the swaying movement… but the views were worth the small fear of heights!

 

 

 

 

Many often perceive Montana, among other states, as one of the “flyover states.” As I often heard this phrase in casual conversation, visiting Montana altered my perception a bit. Before our trip in 2017, I often pondered the meaning behind “flyover states;” while my intention is not to criticize those who may have reiterated the phrase, for I myself have too, my observations and memories that I have from Montana, particularly, contradict the denotation that glosses over the beauty of the Great West. Driving through Montana was similar to looking at a Thomas Kinkade painting: the mountains ever so detailed in their white tops, the valleys of vegetation in Glacier National Park, the trees that complimented the lakes, thus forming a work of art. Along our journey, we went to the Cathedral of Saint Helena which provided us a reflective experience amidst the heavenly environment outside. While we were at a horse-ranch, I vividly remember pausing on my horse named Nancy, to admire the open sky while on top of a mountain. In essence, describing Montana can never replace the experience of actually visiting and seeing the majestic landscapes and views.

I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love.”

— John Steinbeck, American Author (2017 Trip)

The journey to Michigan has not yet been fulfilled, come back soon to hear how it went!

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