06 June 2006

Exotic Locations

I was reading the profile of the Headmaster of Camille's new school and was struck by the following sentence: "An avid traveler, he has visited all 50 United States and 16 foreign countries". All 50 states is really cool and not that easy to do. A quick poll of friends found that my 42 states is among the highest but that my 15 countries is just about average, dwarfed by a few friends in the high 30s.

Sailing actually brought me to many of those countries (though as a starting point for a backpacking adventure). But I have to say that the most obscure and exotic location I've been to is the Azores (currently a Portuguese Autonomous Region). We arrived in Horta after an absolutely crappy 24 hours of storms that let up around 6A as the island came into view. Daylight landfalls are always nice.

When I think about our week there, a few things are most prominent. The first was that, other than locals, every single person there arrived by water and it made for an incredible community spirit in the overcrowded marina. Second was our six-deep raft up on the seawall that included boats from Finland, Germany, UK, Holland, and the US (we were at the end and had to climb over those other boats to get to shore...the mass of docklines was incredible). Third, the hippies' and the drunken Norwegians' fight over the Norsemen's refusal to look at a pretty sunset. Fourth, spicy ketchup.

What isn't really integral to my memories of Horta is our wall painting. Oh, I remember doing it and enjoying doing it, but it really didn't crack the top 10. Yet, when I think about Horta now, I wonder whether our wall painting is still there, old and faded or if somebody has painted over that space in the subsequent 14 years. In case you aren't aware there's a tradition of mariners painting on the seawall for good luck and fair winds...stores sell overpriced little tubs of paint and just about everyone stakes out a space with beer bottles and starts painting a few days before they leave. Here's an example:

Susannah and I painted along a step where we did an underwater scene on the flat part and Zorra sailing at her mighty 4 knot speeds on the vertical section. This started my long artistic career of painting unrealistic looking fish. I even think we took a stab at creating an accurate portrayal of the keel. Probably not a masterpiece but a great reminder to others that the Azores are a very important part of my 15.


Tillerman said...

Visiting all 50 states sounds a little obsessive. Can you imagine getting the first 45 or so done and then trying to event an excuse to go to, say, Ohio (gotta to see the world's oldest traffic light in Ashville) or Nebraska (always wanted to see Pawnee City in the spring)?

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you travel for work, as I have done, you can get to most of them. Between work and vacations, I've been to 47 of the 50, and am missing Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota. I have no desire to visit North Dakota, but would like to get to Alaska and Hawaii.

But I generally drive on my shorter business trips and all of my vacations, rather than fly, and that does make it a bit easier to see more states than would be possible by flying.

I also only count states that I've spent at least a few days in... just having a plane land and waiting a few hours for a connecting flight doesn't count.

Carol Anne said...

Now, if you want a bigger challenge than just simply traveling to all 50 states, there's going to the highest point of each one. Yes, you'll occasionally need some mountain-climbing skills, but not all that often. And, believe it or not, one of the hardest high points to bag is Florida's -- it's on private property, and the landowner protects it with a shotgun.

Tillerman said...

Yes Dan - I thought of that point after I made my comment. In some jobs - sales, consultancy, auditing, travelling lecturer, trucker, hobo, fast food taster, fugitive from the law, pothole repairer ... it must be relatively easy to notch up most of the 50 states without really trying.

The question I have though is if someone just happened to visit all 50 states as part of their job is it worth mentioning it in their resume? On the other hand if he is so obsessive that he has made it a major life goal to visit all 50 states, should he really boast about it?

Either way I'm puzzled by Edward's story. I think I'm going to aim for something much higher ... along the lines of Carol Anne's suggestion ... I'm going to visit the lowest point in all 50 states. Now where's that contour map of North Dakota?

Carol Anne said...

LOL, Tillerman!

The advantage of visiting the lowest point of each of the states is that for most coastal states, the lowest point will be the seashore. Yeah, in California, you'd go to Death Valley, and in Louisiana, you'd visit the 9th Ward of New Orleans, places that are below sea level. But for the most part, you'd be somewhere on the coast, and since all of the coast is sea level, you could pick your spot.