Tentucky, Anyone?

I was reading an article the other day about states with the most appealing shapes. This piece declared Montana the winner. I’m a little suspicious though, because the article in question was printed in a Montana newspaper.

Conflict of interest much?

I have actually given a lot of thought to states’ shapes over the years. I used to work in an office with a giant map of the U.S. hanging on the wall, and my eye was often drawn to it. One day I was gazing extra intently and made a few observations about America. Our states may be united, but they are not equal – at least when it comes to their shapes and sizes.

Take Tennessee, for starters. The poor thing looks as if it’s been squashed beneath somebody’s foot, a fate deserving of a cockroach perhaps, but not the Volunteer State. It certainly doesn’t have the vivacious, full-bodied look of an Ohio. How ’bout they volunteer to annex Kentucky? That would be one pleasant-looking state. Tentucky, maybe?

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Introducing Tentucky.

Tennessee is far from the only state to have drawn the short end of the geographical straw. At least it isn’t Rhode Island, so tiny it looks like it was tacked onto Connecticut as an afterthought. Plus, hello: it isn’t even an island. Our forefathers were either naive, drunk, ironic, or sarcastic when they named it. Possibly some combination of the four. Delaware, with size issues of its own, is a relative giant in comparison.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, why is Texas so big? You could fit approximately two hundred Rhode Islands within its borders, and still have room for a Delaware or two. Do you think Oklahoma ever looks at its neighbor to the south with anything short of derision? Texas already spills over into a good portion of what should rightfully be the Sooner State, leaving it with a thin little sliver of a panhandle. By the way, panhandles are stupid. They’re like a consolation prize or something. I’d be insulted if I were stuck with a panhandle! Whoever cooked up that idea must have been begging for ridicule.

They say Idaho has a panhandle, but it looks more like a chimney to me. Unless you’re balancing your pan on its side, in which case all your food is going to spill onto the stove, leaving you with one hell of a mess to clean up. Like I said: stupid.

At least Texas has an interesting shape. Colorado and Wyoming are just squares. Yawn. New Mexico is spared their fate by a little hanging piece in the southwest corner, which by all rights should be a part of regular Mexico. Speaking of that, I’d be offended if my name were lifted from someplace else. Sorry, all you “New” states. That doesn’t disguise the fact that your name has been recycled.

Nevada’s a freakin’ trapezoid. How badass is that?

Wouldn’t a perfectly round state be fun? Imagine driving around it. You’d just keep your steering wheel turned to the left or right the whole trip!

Do you think Florida ever gets lonely, dangling out there all by itself in the bottom corner of the country? They always say California is in danger of breaking apart and floating away, but if you ask me, Florida’s the real trouble spot. Especially with the constant threat of hurricanes pounding at their door. If any state is going to break off, it’ll be the Sunshine State. Hey, if that happens, maybe they can swap names with Rhode Island.

What’s the deal with Michigan, anyway? It’s like somebody with Parkinson’s disease was tasked with drawing the outline. While sitting in the passenger seat of a car traveling down a bumpy road. And, it’s like two states in one – an upper and lower peninsula. Are they even connected? Hawaii, for that matter, consists of seven islands, yet it’s a single state. And one of those islands is named Hawaii, but the others are…not. Somebody was smoking Maui Wowie that day.

Finally, answer me this. There are two Dakotas and two Carolinas, both distinguished by North and South. Why, then, is there a West Virginia, but no East Virginia?

And you thought geography was no fun…

Countdown: 80 Days

Not Montana

I was in the kitchen at work the other day and one of the RMs walked in for a cup of coffee. “So, I hear you’re moving!” he said to me. “Montana, is it?”

I corrected him, but couldn’t help chuckling over it later. I get this all the time; people know I’m moving to the Midwest somewhere, but can’t quite put a finger on the proper state. They’ll guess all the states surrounding South Dakota, but never seem to land on that one. It’s like they’re throwing darts at a map of the northern U.S. and seeing where they land. I have heard that I’m moving to North Dakota, Wyoming, and Minnesota, too. Even my good friend Heidi mentioned how different Grand Rapids, Michigan, is going to be. More than once. But she later admitted to thinking of the Midwest as “one big glob” anyway.275_5564b464d3a0c7.40098105_mw-map-poster-white_1500x

And maybe it’s just my imagination (running away with me), but I’d swear there is often an underlying note of pity in their voices, as if I’m being forced into something I do not want. Like I’ve drawn a short straw and am being exiled to a far-off land where it snows a lot and there are more bison than people. When I tell them no, this is a good thing, I’m leaving on purpose and looking forward to the change in scenery, a glint of relief appears in their eyes, followed by the inevitable question, “Why there?”

It’s okay. Everybody is well-intentioned, and I understand their curiosity. People in the PNW tend to be snobs about where they live. I don’t begrudge them for this; the upper left corner of the U.S. is beautiful, the climate temperate. A lot of people want to move here, while those itching to leave are in the minority. This makes me the weird exception to the rule.

By now I can recite my stock answer in my sleep. It goes along the lines of, my dad was in the Air Force, I went to high school there, loved the area, I want a simpler and cheaper way of life. That does the trick nicely.


Tara is headed home today and should be back by early afternoon. I’ll be glad to see her. A friend asked me today how I enjoyed my bachelorhood, but really, it was uneventful. I mostly watched a bunch of documentaries and cooked foods she would not like. This is what a forty-something party animal looks like, I guess.

My Saturday hike was definitely the highlight. While my last post might give you the impression that the whole hike was one big winter wonderland, that’s not the case. The first couple of miles were green and damp. Here’s proof.

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Countdown: 87 Days