I went to America again and had lots of fun there. I guess there is no surprise here. It was quite a few weeks ago but since then I’m still battling my laziness to come up with more blog posts. But don’t you worry, some of them might be coming quite soon.
In the meantime, in a rare moment of mobilisation, I decided to create a map of my American experiences up to date. The results of my effort is this awesome map showing all the places I have visited during my travels since 2001. And it was quite an effort as I had to place more than 200 markers indicating cities, towns and villages as well as natural and man made attractions which I got under my belt. Being a geek I even marked all the airports I used during my trips, including their IATA (International Air Transport Association) codes. I’m actually quite proud of my map.
However as a side effect of this whole mapmaking exercise I realised that I might be a bit of a cheat. Let me explain.
Do you remember how some time ago, after stopping in Rhode Island, I claimed that I have visited all the lower 48 states? Well, there is a bit of a problem. If you look at my map you might realize that Montana and Alabama look devoid of the markers. I can probably get away with Montana as if you look closely you can spot lonely marker in West Yellowstone, a small town just outside of Yellowstone National Park, located in a small bit of Montana wedged between Wyoming and Idaho. I definitely stopped there for a few hours and I even remember chatting with a Subway franchise owner about his experiences with employing Eastern European students during the summers.
If my claim of visiting Montana is a bit of a stretch then Alabama is a huge problem. I definitely drove across its gulf panhandle during my first transcontinental journey in 2001 as we followed the I-10 back then. But I don’t really think we stopped there. Well, we might have briefly stopped for a loo but even that is dubious. Besides, stopping for a gas or a toilet break doesn’t really count according to my own rules. It seems that if I want to be honest with myself I have to remove Alabama from my list of visited states.
Am I disappointed? Maybe a bit, but on the other hand I now have an excuse to visit the Southern USA again. I even started peeking at maps looking for ideas about driving around Alabama. There is a slight problem however with finding guidebooks as it seems that there is very little written about the Yellowhammer State (as it is sometimes called). In fact I had the same problem before going to Mississippi. Both states are not really well covered by guidebooks. Neither of them gets more than a few pages in guidebooks covering the whole USA. I understand that it is a big country and that it is difficult to cover all the 50 states in detail in one book (especially if we don’t want the book to be the size of Titanic) but I struggle to understand the lack of specific guidebooks. Maybe not necessarily for Alabama alone but at least for the whole Deep South. I know from my professional experience that there is an interest (at least among the Brits) but somehow all the big publishers ignore the region. I’m not sure if Lonely Planet will really sell more guidebooks to Vanuatu, Rarotonga or East Timor or Bradt for Sierra Leone or Sudan, than they would for the Deep South.
But all this will only make planning my future trip to Alabama more interesting. Maybe when I come back I should offer a helping hand to LP or Rough Guide?
Anyway, my next US trip will not be any time soon as I promised my girlfriend that for our next holiday we’ll go somewhere else. And honestly I have to agree that I can’t drag her there all the time. As we know life is all full of compromises. But Alabama is definitely hanging out there as a possible option when I have some spare holiday to use.
In the meantime I promise stories from my latest trip which was of course full of big destinations and popular attractions as well as some lesser, or even absolute niche sites.