Stateside challenge 2012

New Year’s resolutions can be really annoying.

As a friend recently pointed out to me, we learned in business school that goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. You can’t say “I want to lose weight” without a clear direction – you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Whereas if you say “I want to lose 10 pounds in 3 months” you have set yourself an achievable goal, and you can measure your progress against said goal.

So while I don’t resolve to do anything in particular, I think I just might see a new state each month of this year. As a Northeast native, I’ve run up and down the Right Coast for most of my stateside life. The month of March is on hold due to international travel (Nicaragua), but here are the top candidates for Stateside 2012:

usa

courtesy of waistnotblog

1. New Orleans, Louisiana (January)
I started the year off right with a delicious 3 nights in the Crescent City. I tried so many new dishes, my tastebuds could hardly keep up. Except now that I know what a muffuletta is, I’m having a hard time forgetting about it.

2. Madison, Wisconsin (February)
With friends newly relocated to this beautiful place, it gives me an excuse to explore a city I’ve had my eye on for a while. It is also within road trippable distance (to me, 5 hours in a car with a friend is acceptable.)

3. Louisville, Kentucky (May)
Yes, I am bound for the Kentucky Derby this year, with glorious hat in hand. Holly and I decided to take advantage of our proximity to the world’s largest gathering of hats (horses? whatever) and plan a trip in early May.

4. Hawai’i (November)
A very tropical Thanksgiving is in the works.

5. Tennessee
With family nearby and Music City lying in wait, this is also a five hour drive from home.

6. Indiana
It’s two hours away. Really I’m not sure why else I should go there. The Formula One is back in the US, but in Austin TX. The Indy 500 does not interest me. And the NCAA tournament is everywhere but here in 2012. So … ?

7. Michigan
Again, why not? One thing I know for sure is that I will definitely not be going in the winter.

8. Rhode Island
Hoping to take a break in the Northeast this summer and rest my bones / see family in New Hampshire. This year a trip to nearby RI might be in order, along with a Pawtucket game.

yellowstone

courtesy of nationalgeographic.com

Up for Discussion:
9. Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon?
Or .. both. I have a long standing date with the west, and this will be the year I take advantage of it. No, I’ve never been to California either but that feels like less of a mission. And how do I even begin in a long state like that with so much to offer?

10. The land of National Parks: Lots of options here.
Yellowstone (Montana), Grand Teton (Wyoming), Bryce Canyon / Zion (Utah). Hike, bike, jump off a mountain or go canyoning (my personal favorite). I just read a brilliant article in AAA Traveler by a self-defined city slicker who visited several of these beautiful parks. The photos alone make me itch for the mountains.

Have you traveled the continental US? Where did you go?

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6 thoughts on “Stateside challenge 2012

  1. Being in the Midwest does give one multiple options– nothing is terribly far away! I have utopian visions of wide open Western driving for this summer… like, a Montana/Dakotas kind of thing. Who knows what those look like???

  2. Michigan is a great summer trip! I remember going camping in the Upper Peninsula as a kid–it can be a challenge getting there, but seriously beautiful and worth the trip. Also, Sleeping Bear Dunes (http://www.sleepingbeardunes.com/). I’ve never been to Ann Arbor but if you want to visit a Big 10 college town that’s supposed to be nice… there’s another Michigan option.

    And Indiana’s not so bad. I’ve got family in Evansville and I’m not sure there’s much to see there; however, growing up in the ‘burbs my family made a lot of beach trips to Michigan City, IN (yes, Indiana). The Indiana Dunes are nearby. Not sure if it’s worth a trip up from Charleston or not, but Lake Michigan from any state is always a good late-summer trip. Unrelated, but there are lakes downstate by you, too! I’ve spent a whoooole lot of time at Lake Sara in Effingham (grandparents live there).

    Alright, this is a novel. I’ll leave it here. But the Midwest has its encanto :)

  3. If you go to Indiana, you have to check out Bloomington, where IU is located. (I’m very biased, of course, because I’m an alumnus). But it’s a beautiful, old campus that just sprouts up out of Indiana farmland. They have a pretty cool foodie/brewery scene too, and the Little 500 bike race in late spring isn’t to be missed. Just don’t go to a football game. They’re terrible :)

  4. Highly recommend the Pacific Northwest…. driving along the Oregon coast (and basically through all of Oregon and Washington) is beautiful, Seattle is wonderful, and I hear great things about Portland. And as a Cali girl, I have to recommend you go someday… San Francisco is my fave. It’s almost embarrassing how little I have travelled within the U.S….

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