State #37

“Back in 2014 I made a New Year’s resolution to visit as many new states as possible. By the end of that year the number of states I had personally visited rose from 27 to 33, thanks to an East Coast road trip and a Yellowstone National Park vacation. 6 new states in one year wasn’t too bad. Then in 2015 I added another two states to the list (New Jersey and Alaska). But since then my travel has stagnated somewhat. However, I am happy to announce that in 2018 I have finally added state #36 – Oregon! It’s hard to believe I’d never been there before considering how long I’ve been living on the West Coast.”
09/10/18 webpage post

I went more than a year without setting foot in a new state. What a disappointment! In early 2019 I realized that I didn’t have any trips planned to unvisited states, so I checked the University of Florida football schedule to see if there were any away games that would fit the bill. My first idea was to go to the Mizzou game in Columbia, MO on 11/16, but I already had plans that weekend. My second choice was the South Carolina game on 10/19, which fit perfectly in my schedule.

I flew into Columbia, SC a couple of days ahead of time (it’s funny that both games I considered attending took place in cities named Columbia) and my parents drove up from Florida to meet me. The Friday before the football game we took advantage of the beautiful weather and visited Congaree National Park. We also walked along the river a bit and had an incredible BBQ meal, complete with banana pudding for dessert. You can’t visit South Carolina without sampling their BBQ. On Saturday morning we spent some time walking around the lovely state capitol complex (except for the many disconcerting Confederate monuments), which was close to our hotel, but then the weather took an unfortunate turn. Tropical Storm Nestor barreled onto the scene around midday and it started raining cats and dogs. My parents and I had really great seats for the football game, but we would have to brave the cold, wet weather in order to use them. And football games aren’t short either. We weighed our options all morning, and eventually decided that we would be much happier watching from the warmth and comfort of our hotel room rather than getting soaked at the stadium. Luckily Florida still won. Go Gators!

On Sunday morning we visited the Riverbanks Zoo before I had to go to the airport. It’s a fantastic zoo and we all really enjoyed it. Lots of interesting animals. We saw a mama gorilla with a baby on her back, got pretty close to some giraffes as they were feeding, and watched a penguin perform the same trick over and over to amuse his fans. Plus, I took some really silly pictures with a llama for Instagram. We would have liked to stay longer, but I had a flight back to California to catch. I wasn’t at all disappointed that we missed seeing the football game in person on Saturday because that wasn’t the only reason for this trip. Not only did I get to fill in South Carolina on my states visited map (see above), but I also got to see my parents for the first time since Christmas. Plus, SC is really beautiful. I want to go back sometime and see more.