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9:43 a.m. - March 09, 2007
Know Your States, Part III
Oh, my, I havenít done this in a while, but you know, itís time that I did.


Know Your States, Part 3.

Now where did we leave off??? Oh, yeahÖ

Massachusettes - Technically, itís not a state, itís a commonwealth. Technically, you canít get there from here, at least thatís what they say. And it may be true, because I went to a friends wedding in Cohasset and the reception was in Scituate, and they didnít have ANY street signs anywhere! What are ya supposed to do, guess?

Liz and I made a tragic error by actually renting a car when we went to Boston the last time. Never, EVER do that. Though we did see a game at Fenway Park when Pedro Martinez was pitching, and that made up for all of the hassle. The Sox was 9-0, but they cut the beer sales off after 4 Ĺ innings. What? What?

The official marine mammal of Massachusetts is the right whale. I guess Mitt Romney got that through the state legislature, and Ted Kennedy must have been asleep.

Michigan - I have nothing but good things to say about the people I know from Michigan, since I know several of them, now. Theyíre all wondermous individuals that I bestow good tidings and great joy and all that. Sometimes, I donít feel that Iím worthy to lick their shoes cleanÖoh waitÖthatís a bit too deep. Dial it back a bit.

My one complaint about Michigan is that they think itís a crime to put up road signs telling you how far it is to town X or Y on your travels. Oh, and they seem to have something against keeping historical US highways intact. No sense of history there!

Oh, and my third complaint about Michigan is Flint. Ew.

The state stone is Petoskey stone. Now, I had to go look up what Petoskey stone is, and this is what I found. I also found this. Well, I guess itís important to name the state stone after a material that you can make overpriced gift shop fodder out of, right?

Minnesota - Another state where I know people, and the people I know are wondermous. You know what, the ones Iíve talked to donít sound MUCH like the movie Fargo either, you betcha.

Iíve always liked driving in Minnesota, especially the back roads. It just seems so placid and tranquil, especially the drive between Duluth and International Falls, and US 2 from East Grand Forks on through the state.

Contrary to popular belief, the state bird is NOT the mosquito (they grow Ďem big up there, especially in canoe country near Ely), but the common loon. Just the common loon, Minnesota?

Mississippi - Of all of the states Iíve been to, this is one that disappointed me. Perhaps I chose the wrong area to drive through, but it just didnít really trip my trigger. And driving toward Memphis along the river, instead of nice scenery, all I saw were billboards for the riverboat casinos. Depressing, I say.

The state beverage of Mississippi is milk. Really? Milk?? HmmmÖ

Missouri - In an earlier essay, I wrote about the plethora of adult businesses along I-70 in rural Missouri. Some of my readers have said that rural Missouri has a lot of people who would enjoy just stores, so itís not just truckers. Ah, OK.

Missouri, for some reason, has more than itís share of compounds and religious cult-like operations in its backwoods. I mean, itís not Idaho, and Iíve always met a lot of nice, tolerant people there, and they seem to elect liberals as well as conservatives. But inevitably, if itís some racist or weird cult operation happening in the lower 48, itís in Missouri. This may be what Branson does to people.

The highest point in Missouri is Taum Sauk Mountain, only 1,772 feet. Well, thatís not much of a mountain. I call a foul on Missouri for that assertion.

Montana - Frank Zappa was going to be a dental floss tycoon in Montana. For me, it is a place that I wouldnít mind retiring to if we can get our crapola together and work to save the natural beauty and resources and halt what weíre doing to the Earth. There HAS to be a reason that the glaciers in Glacier National Park is melting, and I donít think itís all a climate cycle, ya know. But the senators that are in pocket with the fossil fuel companies may want to believe otherwise, however, we all know who writes their checks?

Western Montana is gorgeous with mountains and all, but eastern Montana has its own beauty in its placid, tranquil, nothingness for miles. I can deal with that, really.

The state fish of Montana is the blackspotted cutthroat trout. A cutthroat trout? Better be careful, fishermen. That trout will try to win at all costs.

Nebraska - Nebraska is another state that has received a bad rap from the beauty brigade. The western park, in the panhandle, is beautiful in its desolation. Thereís more than meets the eye, there.

Whilst I was heading west one vacation, I stopped at a diner in Chadron for lunch. It was on a Sunday, and right after church. I was wearing a tie-dye Neil Young concert T-shirt and plaid shorts. Needless to say, I got a few looks, but the young waitress liked me and gave me free pie. MmmÖfree pie.

The official soil of Nebraska is the Ďsoil of the Holdrege seriesí. You know you want to click to find out more, right? Thatís some mighty fine soil, eh?

Nevada - Nevada is a total contrast. You have the total glitz of Las Vegas, whatever you classify Reno as (the place for the REAL gamblers?), and the smaller towns that have a few casinos here and there. And then, a whole state oí nuttiní (a pretty nuttiní but still nuttiní honey), except some space aliens, ALLEGEDLY!

When we were driving through Nevada, the town of Caliente made it clear as day what the speed limit was with a ginormous sign and made sure you didnít speed at all through the town, as they had cops at each end of the town checking speed.

The state grass of Nevada is the Indian ricegrass. Having gone through Nevada, I wonder just WHERE the grass grows out in the wild? Shouldnít the state grass be whatever is growing on the 8th fairway?

New Hampshire - ďHey, weíre not as crabby as VermontĒ should be their motto! I kid! I kid! There are no income or sales taxes in New Hampshire, but of course, that doesnít mean there arenít OTHER taxes.

I enjoyed my time in New Hampshire. It was scenic in the part I drove through (between Vermont and Maine) but even though I drove through the widest part, it didnít take long. That was odd.

The state amphibian is the spotted newt. No word on whether she turned him into the spotted newt, nor if he did, in fact, get better.

New Jersey - Hey, yo! Itís Jersey! Yo! Who you lookiní at? Huh? Iíll give you somethiní to look at! Yo!

Anyone who has driven through Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City, Camden, or Trenton would scoff at the notion that New Jersey is the ďGarden StateĒ but there are some really nice areas that havenít been totally killed by urban blight. No, really.

The pine barrens are neat and rugged too, but you have to watch out because thereís a crazy Russian out there that Paulie and Chrissy didnít quite get rid of one day.

The state insect is the honeybee. Of course, many other states have the honeybee as an insect, but I think the Jersey honeybees can take Ďem all. ďYou really want to give us some nectar, flower, or it will be too bad what happens to your seeds, TOMORROW!Ē

Do you think Iím overplaying this Jersey mob thing?

Anyway, there are 10 more states for ya! Tune in sometime for another installment of KNOW YOUR STATES!


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