A MEMORY FOR EVERY STATE I'VE BEEN IN

Inspired by @TruEssence
  1. TENNESSEE
    My home state. I love this place. Grew up in a small town outside of Nashville, went to university in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee, spent so many weekends in the Smoky Mountains. From Memphis to Chattanooga, Nashville to Knoxville, Tennessee oozes character. It's a place of front porches and sweet tea, Andrew Jackson and Elvis Presley; of "hey y'all" and "bless your heart," and where church is THE major social event and lawn-mowing is taken almost as seriously as football.
  2. ALABAMA (ARKANSAS, I DO LOVE MY MA AND PA)
    While my official position is that "BAMA SUCKS" (Go Vols!), Alabama has nice beaches, and I spent most family vacations at Gulf Shores. My most vivid memory is not of the beach, however, but of the trip back to TN from the beach when I was about 8. We took a MAJOR detour to Ivy Green, Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia, AL, because it was only "THIS far on the map!" my mom said, holding her thumb and forefinger about a centimeter apart. We arrived 3 hrs later to find it closed.
  3. GEORGIA
    Probably the weirdest "vacation" my family had, all five of us stayed in my cousin's apartment in Atlanta for a weekend so we could attend my mom's college-best friend's wedding. My sisters and I handed out programs in this woman's (whom we had met once before) wedding. We also went to the aquarium and bought Bare Minerals makeup. I was 13, and it felt like a very big deal.
  4. FLORIDA
    The first beach vacation I can remember was in Florida. I was 5, and I ate a huge blueberry muffin every morning before spending the day on the beach. We rode jet skis and I learned to use a boogie board and my sister was terrified of the ocean.
  5. NORTH CAROLINA
    My family and I went to Asheville to visit the Biltmore Mansion. My dad was genuinely amazed, and said the words "money was no object" a half dozen times. I learned that the Biltmore stored precious works of art from the National Gallery of Art during WWII in hidden vaults in the music room. Sidebar: not far from the Biltmore, there was a McDonald's that looked hella swanky and had a self-playing grand piano.
  6. SOUTH CAROLINA
    Another beach trip (I KNOW, I know) to Myrtle Beach this time. I don't actually remember anything special about this trip, except that my baby sister was very (VERY) small and had a hard time with the road trip.
  7. VIRGINIA
    Oh, Virginia. I fell in love with this state because it held DC, but our relationship grew when I went on a dig one summer on an historic property that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson (ole TJ). I visited Monticello and got a tour of the archaeology going on at Poplar Forest and it was AWESOME.
  8. DC
    My favorite city in the world. The National Mall is exhilarating, the Library of Congress is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever been in, and the National Cathedral is a gem. I profoundly love US history and this place is full of it. OH, and if you go, make sure you hit the historic post office. You can go up to the roof and see the entire city.
  9. ILLINOIS
    In college, a bunch of us anthropology students took a MegaBus overnight to Chicago from Nashville. We went to the Field Museum and I was in LOVE. This was during the exhibit on the 1893 Columbian Exposition, which I'd read books on and was super pumped about. However, I still think that the permanent exhibit on the Ancient Americas is extraordinary. Then sightseeing, and finished off the day at the Laugh Factory before catching another overnight bus back to Nashville.
  10. PENNSYLVANIA
    I stayed in Chinatown in Philadelphia overnight to see the historic downtown square. The tour of Independence Hall is actually really awesome, but I genuinely hated the rest of the city. I thought it smelled like urine and fry grease. No thanks.
  11. NEW YORK
    Spent Christmas here with my family a couple of years ago. Outside of seeing one of my best friends, it was kind of terrible. Everyone was in a bad mood and my parents are honestly too old and too country to handle big cities.
  12. KENTUCKY
    Every summer, my mom and I would drive up across the border to Kentucky to buy vegetables from the Mennonite markets, then spend the following week canning. It was on one of these trips that I first saw an indigo bunting. Yes, I like birding. SHUT UP. (Btw this is not my photo, I just want y'all to appreciate the majesty of this little creature). OH, also Abraham Lincoln's birthplace is here and I might have taken a rock from the dry creek-bed on the property as a memento.
  13. OHIO
    I went to Ohio with my family for my great-uncle's funeral. And that's pretty much my only memory. Oh wait, we also drove up to Lake Erie before heading home.
  14. MISSOURI
    This is the part of the list that begins to chronicle my move to California. Missouri was the first state I drove through that I'd never been to before. I started listening to the audiobook of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
  15. NEBRASKA
    So much GD corn
  16. WYOMING
    Got to Cheyenne right before a huge storm blew in. Driving the next day was beautiful and kind of scary: Wyoming introduced me to the Western landscape, which I would describe as "uncut" in many ways. I crested hills where I could see for miles, and I saw nothing—no houses, no people, no stops. Just rocky hills and boulders. The East is full of well-documented US history; traveling in the West, it's very clear that US history started not so long ago there.
  17. UTAH
    Hated every minute of this drive. Drove through the Bonneville Salt Flats and it was flat and white and hot, with a glimmering haze hanging over the white expanse, which was cool for five minutes and boring as hell for the rest of it.
  18. NEVADA
    On the way back from a conference in Boulder City, we stopped at a tiny cemetery in Goldfield, NV. I found a headstone curiously marked, reading: "Chester A Pray, Discoverer of the Queen of Sheba Mine." I did a little digging (figuratively) and found that this guy discovered a massively lucrative mine (mostly lead, I think). He died on-site of a supposed suicide, but witnesses heard between 2 and 5 shots, so you tell me. Personally, I think his business partner, John Salsbury, murdered him.
  19. CALIFORNIA
    Current location. I've been here two years for grad school, and I really like it here. This is an immensely diverse place with lots to do and see and the weather is awesome.