Fifty States and Weezie

It started with a train ride across the U.S. of A. and it ends with a monumental (at least in my mind) road trip.

Louise Plage Neilon was a remarkable woman and one of the most influential forces that has ever entered my life. Affectionately called Weezie by her younger daughter (my mom being the elder of the two) – also the youngest of six children, all of whom are still alive – my Gram was a ball of unstoppable energy. She loved antiques and postcards and traveling and driving and experiencing life in all its eccentric glory. And I loved her. She taught me a lot about life and it’s because of her that I try to live mine to the fullest.

The summer after my eighth grade year, my Gram invited my cousin and me on the adventure of a lifetime. And, despite years and numerous adventures since, I still consider it as such.

Amtrak took the three of us stop-hopping through the northernmost states then down through California and back through Nevada, Utah, etc until we reached Penn Station once more. I had previously visited many of the East Coast states as a result of family trips up to Vermont for our yearly two-week mountain vacation that required our dad to rouse his three young children and thrown them in our minivan at 2am to “miss the traffic.” Train trekking threw a lot more onto my now growing list – a pretty formidable one for someone only 13.

I was with my Gram when she stepped off the train onto the Oregon soil and declared, “I have now visited all fifty states.” While it seemed significant at the time, it seems even more so now that I am about to follow in her footsteps and make the same declaration.

Two states stand between me and my goal: Arkansas and Kentucky.  I’ll drive down to Lexington (check KY off the list) then down through Nashville (where I’m picking up my mom who coincidentally will be there at the time and who is continuing the journey with me) and on to Memphis. From Memphis it’s only about an hour to the border of Arkansas where I will cross the state line, celebrate, and takes lots of pics to document the occasion! 🙂

This trip is my homage to my Gram, an amazing woman with a big heart.

  1. Sam, That’s awesome! I’m not sure how many states I’ve visited, but it’s probably closer to 20. Very cool that both your grandmother and soon you have been to all 50. Of course, this all makes me think of that Judith Viorst poem “Someday Someone Will Bet That You Can’t Name All 50 States.” You probably already know it, but if not it’s in her book Sad Underwear.

  2. I didn’t know that poem but I’m going to go find it @ the library! 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Alissa!

  3. wow..i dont even do that for my own country!*LOL*and what you did for your gram is really sweet.. =)

    i wish i could do something for my grandmom too..

      • Samantha
      • March 28th, 2010

      Thanks, darlyn, it feels great to be planning it in her honor. Now I just need to figure out what I should do to commemorate the occasion…

  1. June 30th, 2010

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