forty-four

As you may or may not have noticed, a few days ago the trip had another milestone, as I crossed into state #44 on Saturday! The mountain air of Colorado has sure provided a nice respite during the heat of summer…

This is also a particularly important milestone because, as best I can figure, I probably won’t reach a 45th state in the next few weeks. While I still plan to head to New Mexico, Arizona, and ultimately back to Texas, Colorado is probably the last new state visit of the Road Trip.

(Of course… there have been surprises on this trip before. Utah and Nevada both loom awfully close to Arizona…)

Just as I’ve jotted some “quick thoughts” about each of the campuses I’ve visited, I’m going to do the same with the states. These are “top of the mind” sorts of thoughts, and – notably – they’re based on my first visit to the state.

So, these aren’t my only memories or even necessarily my most lasting impressions! They’re simply some first impressions of these incredible United States of America. (Or at least 22/25 of them.)

The 44, in order of first visit:

States first visited during the Preface: The trip to Chicago (that short Itinerary)

  • #1: Texas (The nighttime flight from my home state was an exciting first night of an incredible adventure.)
  • #2: Oklahoma (I slept in my car a couple of different places that first night… this is gonna be a long road trip…)
  • #3: Missouri (My first campus stop of the trip!)
  • #4: Illinois (Lunchtime arrival at Trinity International – and Chapter One begins!)

Chapters 1 & 2 were spent entirely in Illinois (New Student Orientations Itinerary and Chicagoland Itinerary)

States first visited during the trip to Atlanta & back up to Boston (Itinerary)

  • #5: Indiana (2 eventful hours at Purdue.)
  • #6: Kentucky (The Duncan Hines museum at WKU was truly inspiring.)
  • #7: Tennessee (While I would come back for a longer visit later, I think I remember trees from that first drive…)
  • #8: Georgia (Catalyst Conference was mind-stretching indeed!)
  • #9: South Carolina (A great hang-out weekend with my college minister buddy Brooks!)
  • #10: North Carolina (One treasure discovered on this trip was the enormous selection of milkshakes at Cook Out.)
  • #11: Virginia (Virginia Tech was the best campus visit of the trip.)
  • #12: West Virginia (This time around, I only traveled through one of the “ears” of the state – but I thought that was kinda cool.)
  • #13: Maryland (Boy, you can get through this state quick, at least when traveling “vertically.”)
  • #14: Pennsylvania (A rainy night in Scranton – complete with The Office – was one of the most randomfun events all year!)
  • #15: New York (One of those rare chances for a southerner to see the non-NYC New York! There’s a whole state up there!)
  • #16: Connecticut (The first visit to CT involved a crazy fuel spill on the highway – and time was short…)
  • #17: Massachusetts (…Arrived at BU just as the Passion event was starting!)

States first visited in Chapter 3: Boston & more New England (Itinerary)

  • #18: New Hampshire (I think this might have been where I created vanilla pudding-sushi at a Chinese buffet.)
  • #19: Vermont (A great conference with some great Northeast college ministries!)
  • #20: Rhode Island (Brown University… one of the most interesting of all the college-campus-mission-fields I explored this year.)

States first visited in Chapter 4: Headed down to Florida and the Southern Blitz (Itinerary)

  • #21: New Jersey (Seeing my cousin John at magnificent Princeton was a treat.)
  • #22: Delaware (Little friend, I hardly knew thee.)
  • #23: Florida (Ivy Jungle Collegiate Conference – always superb.)
  • #24: Alabama (Birmingham was a surprise on this trip. What a neato town for college ministry.)
  • #25: Mississippi (Always fun seeing a friend and former student! Thanks, Maggie!)
  • #26: Louisiana (No better place to be for an amazing football weekend.)
  • #27: New Mexico (Watching a Tobey Maguire movie shoot? Really?)

Winter Break in Dallas was spent in Texas (Itinerary)

States first visited in Chapter 5: California – from bottom to top (Itinerary)

  • #28: Arizona (Another quick drive-thru as I rushed to church in San Diego… but I’ll be back, ‘Zona.)
  • #29: California (First impression? What a stinkin’ beautiful state.)

States first visited in Chapter 6: The Northwest (Itinerary)

  • #30: Oregon (You can’t pump your own gas! Don’t forget!)
  • #31: Washington (One of the coolest housing situations of the trip – the Purple Door!)
  • #32: Idaho (Moscow, Idaho, was probably THE most intriguing city of the trip!)

States first visited during the amazing TRECC from Portland to North Carolina (Itinerary, including TRECC posts)

  • #33: Montana (This is definitely some big country up here!)
  • #34: North Dakota (I won’t forget a snowy college ministry visit at North Dakota State!)
  • #35: Minnesota (First visit meant exploring a good, chilly bunch of churches.)
  • #36: Wisconsin (I went the Milwaukee way, just to see the city. I didn’t see much, though, so I’m not sure if I missed it, or…)
  • #37: Ohio (Another quick drive, but I would explore Ohio plenty later.)

Chapter 7: The NC Triangle was spent in North Carolina (Itinerary)

States first visited during Chapter 8: Summer I in the Midwest (Itinerary)

  • #38: Michigan (The suspenders of the Bible belt? Grand Rapids, indeed.)
  • Ontario, Canada (And suddenly – by accident – this became an international road trip.)
  • #39: Iowa (I hunted for a T-shirt for awhile, in a pretty dead campus neighborhood on Memorial Day.)
  • #40: Kansas (This first visit involved popping over the border for church, following 2 weddings in Missouri in 2 days.)

States first visited in Chapter 9: Summer II in D.C. and the Southeast (Itinerary)

  • Washington, D.C. (The weight of history – monument after beautiful monument – was dramatic and awe-inspiring.)
  • #41: Arkansas (It was a little surprising I hadn’t made my way there yet! At first, I only barely clipped the corner on the way to Louisiana. More would come.)

States first visited in Chapter 10: Westward Push (Itinerary)

  • #42: Nebraska (Corn. Lots and lots of corn. Awaiting the ‘husking.)
  • #43: Wyoming (Exploring University of Wyoming felt like an incredible accomplishment. This is pretty remote country for a Dallas boy.)
  • #44: Colorado (Mountains, all around. How can you help but notice?)
  • Chihuahua, Mexico (No bilingual help meant I circled Juárez for awhile… but I found the University eventually… I’m like a college campus bloodhound…)

So there you have it.

It would have been a joy to explore all 50 states, but as I’ve learned all year… we have a big country. And two of its states aren’t exactly road-trip-probable… although I have road-tripped to Hawaii before. Sorta.)

The 6 I didn’t get to see during this road trip? Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, South Dakota, Utah, and Nevada. But one of these days…

This trip was never designed to see everything, but it’s been phenomenal to get a really, really broad view of Collegiate Ministry just the same.

Written from Colorado Springs, Colorado

One Comment

  1. Hey Ben!
    Hope you enjoyed Colorado :-) It has been a really hot summer here compared to usual, but I’m sure it is still a little bit of a relief from other parts of the country. Are you still anywhere near Denver? I wish I’d been keeping up better with where you have been traveling – would have loved to catch up with you while you were here.
    We will be in Dallas quite a bit this autumn so hopefully we’ll cross paths then at some point :-)
    ~Jill

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