One of my goals has always been to visit all 50 states by age 50

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One of my goals has always been to visit all 50 states by age 50. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before? You know…“50 by 50 Travel Goal.” So, when I decided to take on visiting all six New England states earlier this year, I just knew I had to make it happen despite how exhausting it sounded. I was determined to visit 8 new states this year as this would leave me with only three more states to visit before completing all 50 next year in 2019. I had already taken on Oregon and Idaho.

 

It sounded so exhausting for me to visit all six New England states for a couple of minuscule reasons. 1) We’re talking about me flying into New York City, renting a car and driving through all six New England states ALONE!! Oh? I didn’t mention this was a SOLO roadtrip for me? Well, it was and if you’ve done a road trip for several hours in the past, then you know exactly where I’m coming from. Lol! 2) The thought of driving through six states although they were only a couple of hours apart from each other was mentally exhausting within itself. I had to fly into New York City, rent a car, drive through 2-3 boroughs just to get out of NYC and away from that intense Labor Day traffic (Yep, I went during Labor Day weekend…I know…I know…I was asking for it! Lol!), then drive through each state hitting up a couple of notables, and doing some overnight stays in three states. But at least I was able to rest and take a pause during my overnight stays before I got up and started my hectic day all over again. So, I’m here to map out my trip for those of you who may be curious in pulling off a similar solo road trip excursion and to explain to you just how I accomplished this awesome solo journey!

 

CONNECTICUT:  VISIT TO MY 1ST NEW ENGLAND STATE

 

My first stop the Five-Mile Lighthouse as I’ve always wanted to visit a lighthouse on the Eastcoast. There are several lighthouses situated throughout the New England states. Some are more popular than others but I wasn’t being picky as I just wanted to document visiting one as part of my travel journey. The lighthouse was definitely appealing and all of its massiveness but what appealed to me even more is there was a nice little beach with a great waterfront. Surprisingly, it was in the 80’s during Labor Day weekend when I visited so many families were in the water and taking full advantage of the day. There were also a beach house that housed a carousel with horses and a wedding was being prepared for as there were wedding chairs situated on the beach. It was definitely a great decision to stop at the Five-Mile Lighthouse before moving on to my next stop.

 

My next stop was to Yale University. No main reason to visit other than it’s Yale! Hahaa…and because it’s located in New Haven, Connecticut at which I was already passing through. Based on my short-lived visit, it’s a nice size campus with old-century buildings, tall trees throughout the fraternity and sorority houses, and your typical college setting. So after driving through the campus, I settled for a quick photo of a ‘Yale University’ sign at which I asked a nice friendly campus security officer to take of me.

 

RHODE ISLAND:  VISIT TO MY 2ND NEW ENGLAND STATE

 

My next stop was Newport, Rhode Island and I didn’t arrive until the sunset. Upon my arrival to my hotel, I was soooo sleepy just driving from Stamford, Connecticut. But I think the real reason I was so tired was because I flew from Las Vegas to New York, then drove from New York to Connecticut to Rhode Island all within the same afternoon. I think this amount of business will make anyone tired. LOL!

 

Also, please keep in mind that I decided to do a solo trip so nobody else was driving but….ME! Lol…therefore; I had to cut out certain stops if time was against me so I could check into my hotel by the time the sun set. That was a hidden agreement between my husband and I when I travel alone…to check into my house before it gets dark outside. So, I decided to take a lengthy nap and because I woke up really, really hungry and I knew I couldn’t leave Rhode Island without having some seafood for dinner (especially since seafood can be caught right off the water), I decided to get dressed and go out to explore Newport’s nightlife. I totally regretted not arriving sooner to see the infamous and beautiful Newport mansions, but decided I would just come back and visit at another time.

 

I had no idea on where to eat in Newport as I didn’t really research one particular seafood restaurant. I decided to Google a few places in hopes of knowing where to go. One thing I probably will never do again is to take the solo drive from Warwick to Newport, Rhode Island….AT NIGHT!!! Smh….I was so hungry and so determined to stop through Newport that I didn’t care about the time and the fact that it was so dark with limited street lighting while going down a winding road. If I had to do it all over again…I would definitely make sure to drive through Newport during the daytime. All I can continuously think about is how I missed seeing those amazing mansions alongside the waterfront. Newport has its own water skyline as I like to call it with boats lounging in the water and extended marinas that greet you.

 

So, I finally made it to the cute and laidback town of Newport while I was having the above and mentioned thoughts about not seeing the mansions and water skyline during the day. I was headed to one of the suggested seafood restaurants off of Google when my inner foodie senses directed me towards a local security guard manning the parking lot in which I parked my rental car. I simply approached him and asked, “Excuse me…but can you tell me where the locals eat at? That’s where I wanna eat at tonight.” He smirked and without hesitation, pointed across the street to Benjamin’s Raw Bar.  He told me they were known for their crabcakes, scallops, and it was a place similar to the TV-sitcom series, “Cheers”…where everybody knows your name (if you are a local that is). Hahaha…

 

I definitely didn’t regret dinner as I ordered the local suggestions from the security guard along with a small bottle of sparkling wine…just for one. As I saw in the quaint and rustic seafood restaurant, locals definitely were checking me out but I believe out of pure curiosity as I owned the table I sat at while people watching myself.   I suppose you can say I’m very confident when I travel and rarely feel uncomfortable around my surroundings. I throw off an energy to let others know…I’m here to stay. Needless to say, everyone was very friendly and approachable. I even engaged in conversation with a small family of relatives next to me. Before I decided to wrap up my night in Newport, I decided to take in a quick brief view of the town in the most fastest and efficient way I could think of…via Pedicab (My new favorite mode of transport)!! I hired a Pedicab to take me around downtown Newport alongside the marina for 10 minutes. What a joyride as we rode across the bump cobblestone roads. That was an adventure within itself! My Pedicab driver even allowed me to jump out onto the Wharf Marina and to walk about for about five minutes or so to take in some nighttime marina shots which were priceless.  Mark my words as I WILL BE BACK to view Newport’s notorious mansions along the coast!  😉

 

MASSACHUSETTS: VISIT TO MY 3RD NEW ENGLAND STATE 

 

 I must admit…when I was preparing to visit Boston, I was tad bit nervous and curious. Reason being and the reasons I’m going to disclose doesn’t hold any real validity, only other than me watching hard-core action and/or suspense movies based in Boston with actors who carry a Bostonian accent (or possibly fake if they’re not actually from Boston) who portrays a hard-core demeanor and known to be quasi-“Massholes” (Get it??  Lol!).  In addition; I’ve heard how racially segregated Boston is yet it was no surprise to me if this really were the case as I was born and raised in Chicago which is notorious for being racially segregated as well. So, I really didn’t know what to expect as I was entering the city limits of Boston.

 

I must admit…when I was preparing to visit Boston, I was tad bit nervous and curious. Reason being and the reasons I’m going to disclose doesn’t hold any real validity, only other than me watching hard-core action and/or suspense movies based in Boston with actors who carry a Bostonian accent (or possibly fake if they’re not actually from Boston) who portrays a hard-core demeanor and known to be quasi-“Massholes” (Get it??  Lol!).  In addition; I’ve heard how racially segregated Boston is yet it was no surprise to me if this really were the case as I was born and raised in Chicago which is notorious for being racially segregated as well. So, I really didn’t know what to expect as I was entering the city limits of Boston.

 

One of the highlights for me visiting Boston for several hours was the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) located by the Boston Harbor. It’s located in the Seaport District of South Boston and exhibits contemporary art. Boy did I arrive on the right day which was Labor Day (2018) as admission was free! I love FREE ANYTHING!!! LOL!!

 

There were several interesting contemporary art exhibitions but there was one that really stuck out on me during this day – “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-1985.” The thought-provoking exhibit focused on the work of Black women artists examining the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic priorities of women of color during the emergence of second-wave feminism.

 

MAINE:  VISIT TO MY 4TH NEW ENGLAND STATE  

 I was so excited to finally arrive into Maine just because I’ve always been curious about the small state that sits at the top of the New England states. Plus, I’ve always heard that Maine and the New England states in general is known for its seafood (although I’m visibly allergic to shrimp and crab legs…I still eat them time from time).  I wanted to explore a little of the port town before making my way West headed to New Hampshire.

 

Portland is a quaint town with added charm and an ambiance that exudes a laidback vibe throughout the entire area. There are seafood and savory restaurants within a short distance of each other, sailboats to admire by the Harbor, shopping on Commercial Street, taking in the view of Casco Bay, admiring Victoria-era homes, and taking in river and mountain views from near and afar.

 

I knew it would be a long shot but I decided to look up any type of savory and/or comfort foods in Portland…you know…foods that would stick to the bones. Surprisingly, I came across this cute little quaint restaurant that was set up in a house called “The Sinful Kitchen.” I was too ecstatic when I arrived because they served shrimp and grits and I just knew you couldn’t go wrong with this dish. I decided to order them along with Lamb Bacon which sounded so different. The Lamb Bacon had a nice taste to it although a tad bit too oily for my taste buds. Overall; I was really impressed with the breakfast and warm ambiance of the restaurant. They also played some really cool 90’s R&B Jams which was really shocking to me…I’ll have to admit. The restaurant had flavor in more ways than one.  Lol!!

 

Needless to say…I discovered “extra” flavor continuously driving throughout Maine. I literally stumbled upon a Jamaican flag (Yellow, Green, & Black) and nearly slammed on the brakes. Once I looked in my rear-view mirror and realized it was indeed a Jamaican flag, I bust a U-Turn and drove into the pebble-stoned parking lot. Here was an old wooden jerk shack in the middle of the road selling Jerk Chicken, meat pies, and Ting drinks! The fact that I was already famished looking for something savory to eat in a small town named York with limited food choices, I knew that Jerk food was going to be on the menu today for me. Lol! 

 

 As much as I wanted to further explore Portland, Maine, I couldn’t due to my serious time crunch of trying to get through two more states (New Hampshire and Vermont) before dusk.  But before I hopped back onto the road, it was recommended for me to check out a hidden gem beach called, Higgins Beach which was located about 25 minutes outside of downtown Portland, Maine.  I thought I would take full advantage as the weather in Maine was quite favorable considering I was traveling in September.  The temperature was in the mid 80’s with slight humidity.  I didn’t know the next time I would be able to say I visited the New England states when it was warm outside…so I took full advantage!  

 

Higgins Beach did not disappoint as the scenery took over any forms of verbal expression I may have wanted to form into words (Just watch me on the video below).  It had such a breathless view with beach homes situated right off the beach.  It was quiet and peaceful with only the sounds of waves and seagulls circling the shores.  If I had more time, I probably would have glided my feet through the sands a bit more and took in some serious quiet time.  But next time right?  Maybe…you just never know the next time you’ll be back at a particular destination that you truly have embraced.  So, why not take full advantage when you can.  *shrug*

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE: VISIT TO MY 5TH NEW ENGLAND STATE 

 

  I have to be honest…I had absolutely no idea what to see and/or do in New Hampshire.  I decided to visit Portsmouth since it was the closest city to the border after leaving Portland, Maine.  I just wanted to “touch” New Hampshire (and Vermont) to say I actually visited…Lol!  I’m just saying!  So when I entered into the sleepy town, it looked just like I envisioned from seeing postcards and listening to how my mom described it when she visited New Hampshire.  Portsmouth is a port city and is known for 17th & 18th century houses.  I absolutely loved viewing some of the big homes laid out throughout the town of Portsmouth.

 

The highlight of my trip to Portsmouth not only stuck out but left me with a  sentimental impression.  I visited the African Burying Ground Memorial downtown Portsmouth and became enlightened about the history of this prodigious memorial.  

 

The memorial opened on May 23, 2015 re-dedicating a site that may contain as many as 200 Africans, enslaved and free, in a city cemetery.  It was identified on city maps as early as 1705 and were still in use during the early 1800’s, the site had been paved over, built on, and largely overlooked except for inclusion in 1995 as a site on the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail. In 2003, street excavation unearthed human remains.

There is also a ribbon of pink granite engraved with a quotation from a 1779 petition for Emancipation made by 20 Africans enslaved in Portsmouth households in which the petition was adopted by the New Hampshire Legislature in 2013.  It reads (I included a brief video highlighting the quote):

 

“Natives of Africa, now forcibly detained in Slavery in said State most humbly Sheweth, That the God of Nature gave them Life and Freedom, upon the Terms of the most perfect Equality with other men we fondly Hope that the Eye of Pitty and the Heart of Justice and Humanity May commiserate our Situation and put us upon the Equality of Freemen and give us an Opportunity of evincing to the World.” 

 

 VERMONT: VISIT TO MY 6TH NEW ENGLAND STATE

 

FINALLY….I’ve arrived to my 6th and final New England state during my solo roadtrip…Vermont!  Oh my goodness, you have no idea how excited I was just to see signs of me aimlessly entering into the state of Vermont within minutes.  It’s like I was able to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  At this point, I believe I was delirious as I managed to drive just about straight through from Maine, New Hampshire, and then into Vermont right before the sun set.

 

Initially, I had ever intention on visiting Burlington, Vermont as it was a main and popular city within the beautiful Evergreen state.  However; due to time being against me, I didn’t want to chance driving up north to Burlington, get sleepy, and drive off the road.  Sooo….I settled for Brattleboro, VT as it was located at the southern border of Vermont.  I thought I would literally peek my head into the state and off I go to drive back to New York before catching my flight back to Las Vegas the next day.

 

From what I visually observed of Vermont, I was not surprised at the beautiful landscape that stuck out especially witnessing Evergreen trees as I drove on the state road.  Although I would have rather experienced Vermont when the foliage on the trees really turned into the rich reds, oranges, yellows, and browns, I still enjoyed my view.

 

Brattleboro is small quaint town that has a thriving arts community.  As I drove through downtown Brattleboro, I observed some of the cutest galleries, artists, and unique stores displaying art work or announcing an upcoming performance.  Although I didn’t stay in Brattleboro for no more than an hour (literally because I had to hustle back on the road to get to New York before it became too late), the people I encountered were warm and friendly towards me.  Brattelboro has a laid-back and lazy town vibe to it which I really liked!

 

So…there you have it!  You have just witnessed how I traveled and drove through all six New England states solo within FOUR DAYS!!  I may have looked a little tired throughout my pictures and videos but when I tell you that it WAS SO WELL WORTH IT!!!  It was just that…SO WORTH IT!!!  

 

You now have my mapped out plans on how I connected to each state.  Now I would like to ask you…do you desire to visit all six New England states?  Also; if you don’t have anyone to travel with you (just like me), will you brave the open roads and explore on your own?

 

Nicky

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